Home Education~Ministry Moments~Hearth and Home

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An "Extra" Day

     For those of you that may not know, today is Leap Day.  The one day every four years where February 29th is on our calendars.  Non-scientifically speaking, we get this day in order to evenly space out day/night/seasons, else they would get all wompy-jawed (or something like that!) 
     I had thought several weeks ago how meaningful it would be to do something special on this day.  You know, something to really make a difference.  I wish I could tell you my children and I will be spending the day at the nursing home, or at the soup kitchen.  But we're not.  Our day will be spent going to piano practice, the orthodontist, the grocery store and church. (With homeschool sandwiched amongst all of that!)
     The fact that I have an "extra" day this morning has given me pause.  Psalm 90:12 came to mind.  "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."  This verse is a great reminder of the brevity of life.  These words from the Bible cause me to want to focus on things of eternal vaule.  Every day is precious, none is promised.  I had this verse posted for a while in my home...I needed that daily reminder.
     I encourage you, as you go throughout your day today, to think about how you are spending or want to spend your "extra" day.  I know I will.  And I will strive to think about that everyday...because, you know...they are ALL extra.  "Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.'  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought ot say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'"

Just pitching my tent
(in a world that is not my home),


Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Good Book: The Golden Goblet


     The boys and I finished this book about a week ago.  I wanted to pass along the title/author to my readers because I know in today's world it's challenging to find books for our kids that are worth reading.  My boys loved the book.  They loved it more and more as we read it; the plot developed at a good pace and was very exciting.  I read it to my kids (ages 10 and 13), but they could easily have read it on their own. (Your child/ren will get a good history/culture lesson in the process!)

A short synopsis (from Sonlight Curriculum):
"An orphan in ancient Egypt desires nothing more than to follow in his father's footsteps as a goldsmith but is forced into a life that he despises. A story of suspense and action in which Egyptian life from impoverished hovel to magnificent palace is dramatically portrayed."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Day at the State VBS Clinic

In April, I will be leading a workshop for VBS Kindergarten teachers for our Baptist association.  This is my first year to lead something like this at the associational level.  I'm excited and nervous all at the same time.  All day Wednesday was spent preparing preparing for that.  I really enjoyed my time at the State VBS Clinic, and wanted to share some of the sights with you! 

(By the way: Lifeway's theme this year: Amazing Wonders Aviation!)

First off, was the Worship Rally~of course. 
But...this worship rally was with Jeff Slaughter himself!!! (You may not know who this is ---he is a bit of a Baptist celebrity, or at least a VBS celebrity.)  It was really neat to have him actually lead our worship.  Sadly, this is his last year.  I'm glad I had the opportunity to met the man who has had an impact on so many children.

A skit

In my first training class.  (We made paper airplanes, too!)

We made Sparkling Aurora Borealis Cookies in Preschool Snacks.


I just loved the addition of the colored Christmas tree lights, 3D tree, and "snow" to this poster.

Check out the view finder (made from a Zaxby's take out container) and the "sand" (spraypainted paper)!

Now it's time for me to get BUSY preparing for my class! 
I Love VBS!!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent: How and Why

       Why?  I know this sounds crazy, why would you go to all this trouble??  When I first heard about making homemade laundry detergent years ago, I imagined it taking hours to make, the ingredients probably being impossible to find, and figured it would be too harsh for my family's sensitive skin.  About 2 years ago, I talked to a friend at church who actually made it and used it.  I learned that all my reasons for not trying to make detergent were false.  I also have since figured out that for about $15 a year, I can provide laundry detergent for my family!  How exciting to get a bit of a "payraise" in our food/toiletries budget! (Plus, I believe I was also deep into the Beverly Lewis Novel series at the time I decided to try it...I think the Amish ways inspired me!)

How?  If you'd like to give it a try here's the recipe:

4 cups hot tap water
1 Felz-Naptha soap bar
1 cup Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax

-Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water.

-Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

( This pot and spoon are old, so they are now designated "laundry detergent only".)

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. 

Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax.

  Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to the top with more tap water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken. 
Note: This is like a really cool science experiment!  So neat...the next morning you have a thick gel!

Stir. (You'll get a good arm workout!)  Fill a used, clean laundry soap container half full with soap and then fill the rest of the way with water.  Shake before each use.  (I find the detergent is best after it has a day to "gel" in the container...but sometimes I can't wait that long!)

***I half my "recipe"-- that way, I don't have to stir such a huge amount. I end up making a half recipe every 4-6 weeks.  I've never timed myself, but start-to-finish, I think this takes about 30 minutes.

So, who wants to try it?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Day One of the Great Backyard Bird Count

    Yesterday turned out to be a great day for the first day of the Great Backyard Bird Count!  My sons had a lot of fun starting off the day birdwatching.  These are their results they turned in last night to the Backyard Bird Count* from their observations our backyard/neighborhood:

Observation Date : FEB 17, 2012
Start Time: 9:15 AM
Total Birding Time: 2 hours
Party Size: 2
Skill: excellent
Weather: excellent
deciduous woods
coniferous woods
Number of Species: 23
All Reported: yes
Black Vulture - 1
Turkey Vulture - 2
Eurasian Collared-Dove - 1
Mourning Dove - 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker - 1
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) - 1
Blue Jay - 1
American Crow - 1
Carolina Chickadee - 1
Tufted Titmouse - 5
Carolina Wren - 2
Eastern Bluebird - 1
American Robin - 150
Northern Mockingbird - 2
Cedar Waxwing - 50
Pine Warbler - 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) - 1
Eastern Towhee - 1
Chipping Sparrow - 3
Northern Cardinal - 1
Red-winged Blackbird - 3
House Finch - 3
American Goldfinch - 5

     They turned in yet another count based on what they saw while they were fishing in a nearby pond:

Start Time: 5:15 PM
Total Birding Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Party Size: 3
Skill: good
Weather: good
deciduous woods
Number of Species: 13
All Reported: no
goose sp. - 5
Great Egret - 4
Eurasian Collared-Dove - 2
Mourning Dove - 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker - 1
Blue Jay - 1
American Crow - 1
Eastern Bluebird - 2
American Robin - 30
Northern Mockingbird - 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 2
Field Sparrow - 7
Red-winged Blackbird - 30
I saw three sparrows I couldn't Identify and a Flock of at least 300 blackbirds I also couldn't ID.

*Each evening you enter your results at the GBBC website.  (See the link from yesterday's post.)  My oldest son had a lot of fun watching the map light up in certain cities as people reported their findings.  It's not too late if you'd still like to participate.  You can birdwatch even just one day if you wish.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Starts Today: Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)

     This is an exciting weekend in our household!  The bird list has been printed, the feeders are filled to the brim, the bird books are on-hand and the binoculars are ready.  We are prepared for the Great Backyard Bird Count of 2012!   For the next 4 days, we will be keeping track of the birds we see, along with the numbers of each species.  How exciting to be a part of science! (The results are sent to the likes of Audubon and Cornell.)   I think the results this year will be especially interesting because of the warmer temperatures.   
    This is our first year participating.  I will keep you updated on our progress and experiences.  Here is the link if you are interested.  There are really helpful things on this website.  You can print out a bird list for your area, find activities for kids and even see the prizes you can win for participating! 

Happy Birding,

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cuneiform (Hands-on History)

     We started our 2 year World History Study back in January.  We are currently reading The Story of the World Volume 1: Ancient Times where we have learned about cuneiform and how it was the earliest form of writing. This picture writing was developed by the Sumerians, who lived in the Fertile Cresent of Mesopotamia.  (I HIGHLY recommend this book...we love it!)


     Yesterday's Language assignment was to write a Fruit of the Spirit into clay using cuneiform. 

The Sumerians had lots of wet clay where they lived.  We used Crayola clay.

I think my kids will always remember what cuneiform writing is!  :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Times Two

     This year I decided to be very purposeful about celebrating Valentine's Day.  It is a day that gives me an extra reason to show all 3 fellas in my life they are loved!
     Yesterday was "date night" for my husband and I.  Our children LOVE when we have a date.  Last night they spent 4 hours with a super sweet couple from our church and had a blast!  (We had fun, too!)

     Today is more focused on celebrating with our boys. This is what we had for lunch today:
Ready to go into the oven!


    Tonight our family is going to sit by the fire and cook our dinner...hotdogs and s'mores!  We may even play a game or two. 

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Dear Friends, let us love one another, because love is from God.  (1 John 4:7)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Ministry Moment

     One of the highlights of my week is teaching Bible Skills, Drills and Thrills each Wednesday night for one hour to 4th-6th graders.  Lately our numbers have been increasing to 14-16 kiddos each night.  This has been so exciting! But, as you can imagine, it can get a little loud sometimes. 
     At the beginning of class, the boys and girls are to copy their verse, books of the Bible, etc. into their Bible Drill notebooks.  Last night, some were finished earlier than others and the talking/noise level started to go up.  I wanted to move on to our other activities.  I asked the children to please not talk and told them, if they were finished, they could just have a prayer time.  I have never suggested this before; it just came out of my mouth.  I was being facetious. 
     The room got very quiet.  Boys and girls got back to copying their verse and three children actually bowed their head in prayer.  WOW.  That was such a moment for me.  How precious and tender is the heart of a child. (Everything did stay quiet for at least 4 minutes until somebody burped...)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

GratiTuesday: Perfect Timing

     Yesterday I was sceduled to go for my yearly check-up.  Everything was all set.  My husband was going to come home for lunch and work the rest of the day from home while the kids finished up their studies. 
     Change of plans.  My oldest starts complaining of sore eyes and some blurriness.  I'm a little concerned.   I call the nurse.  They are booked solid, but they could see us in the morning.  She told me not to worry unless he started to have a bad headache or nausea.  Fifteen minutes go by and my son is in severe pain and is very nauseous.  I cover all his windows with sheets to darken the room, but no real relief.  I call the nurse again.  She tells me it sounds like a migrane, that I should probably just go to a walk-in clinic so they can give him a shot.  I think my little "sigh" sounded pathetic.  She said, "Hold on just a minute.....Can you leave right now and be here at 1:15?"
     I told her, "Yes, thank you!".  My appointment was for 1:00 and in the same building!  What are the odds?  Definitely not in my favor.  BUT, we have a God who looks after and cares for us.   I am SO grateful for just one trip to the doctor (we live 45 minutes away!), and a successful one at that.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Children's Sermon: "Who really obeyed?"

*NOTE:  For about the last 7 years, I have given a children's sermon almost every Sunday.  Most of the ideas I have are from another source, and I usually just "tweak" them to fit my context.  Every once-in-a-while God will just give it to me.  Other times (like for this children's sermon), my preacher husband and I will work on one together.  I plan to start a section on my blog (see "labels") just for Children's Sermons.  Feel free to use them or  share them with someone who leads this ministry in your church.*

Who Really Obeyed?
Matthew 21: 28-31a
      I told the boys and girls I felt confident they always obeyed their parents when it comes to room cleaning--but, for today, we were just going to pretend that some of them don't always obey.  ;)  I used 2 children from our group as an example. In a "pretend" situation, both children were asked by their mom to clean their room.  In our pretend story, the first child refused to clean the room, but then later changed their mind and cleaned their room.  The second child told their mom they would clean their room, but never actually did. 
     Which child actually obeyed?  "The first child!", the children exclaimed. 
     I went on to share with the children: "Obey all the way, right away, with the right heart attitude."  (These words of wisdom I learned before I became a mom aren't just for kids...it work for teenagers and adults as well.  ALL of us should have this attitude when it comes to obeying our Heavenly Father!)
     I read the first part of "The Parable of the Two Sons". (When it came to the part where Jesus asked, "Which of the two did what his father wanted?" a little girl shouted out, "The first one!"  I said, "Yes! and that's just what the people in the Bible story said, too!")  I shared with the children that Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees.  These people were a lot of "talk", but not a lot of doing when it came to obedience.  Jesus shared with Pharisees that the greatest of sinners who had turned from their sin would be entering the Kingdom of Heaven ahead of them!
   I led the children in prayer, thanking God that we can turn away from our sin,  follow Him and be forgiven.