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Multi-tasking Workboxes

November 17, 2009

If you’re looking for a creative way to use workboxes that teach your kids life skills and cut down on your to-do list, read my post today at the Homeschool Classroom.  Parents that don’t homeschool might also like this idea!

Singin’ a New Song

November 16, 2009

rainy day pshan427

It had been an annoying morning. Nothing earth shattering, just a few people in a row that happened to be a little on the insulting side. I reminded myself that I am not going to let things get me down anymore. No more sweet, sensitive soul, ‘cause that’s been looking too much like a doormat lately.

I am womaaaan! I hummed. Hear me roar! I don’t know the rest of the song, so I stopped there, but I continued my little pep talk. I don’t need those people to validate me! I’m strong, I’m invincible…I am woman!

Then it happened. Mid-roar. You are my strong tower. Another song, this one by Kutless. Hmm. I switched songs and began to smile.

You are my strong tower
Shelter over me, beautiful and mighty, everlasting king
You are my strong tower
Fortress when I’m weak
Your name is true and holy
And your face all I see

This song reminded me of Psalm 61:3: For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.

Probably a better message to send myself. God’s strength, not mine. Yeah, definitely.

Have you ever had an epiphany and wondered how you possibly lived your whole life without knowing what you just realized?

I have always chosen music based on my mood. I have a CD mix entitled “Sad Songs” for when I need a good cry. I have pensive music, angry-girl music from the 90’s, and love songs for when I’m feeling mushy. I felt pretty safe about my choices. I mean, there’s no gangsta rap in my playlist.

One little whisper from the Holy Spirit and I realized that I have been so, so wrong. All those times I spent sobbing with Celine in the background could have been spent with my God, in His comforting presence.

Instead, I bought into the lie perpetuated by girl magazines and chick flicks…that a pint of ice cream and a sad CD is a perfectly normal ritual that we all need once in a while. That a strong woman has all the strength she needs…right inside herself.

Not so. I don’t believe life is hopeless. I don’t believe that we are to be self-sufficient. I don’t believe many of the messages that the songs I love are sending my brain, and ultimately, my heart.

Music affects my soul. A simple song on the radio can catapult me back fifteen years or more to a happy, sad, or confusing experience. The right song can list my mood as easily as the wrong one can send me into a downward spiral.

Why not, then, turn to music that points back to the truth, God’s Word? I’m not saying I’ll never again be moved by a secular song…and probably some Ben and Jerry’s too.

I’m just going to be more careful about the songs I listen to, because—like it or not—they eventually move from my brain to my heart.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:23

Got any good song recommendations for my new mix?

photo by pshan427

Homeschool Hop and The Homeschool Lounge

November 12, 2009

Working together

Are you a homeschool mom in need of support, encouragement, or friendship?

There are two online communities I have joined in the last couple months and I’m really enjoying getting to know some of the moms.

Homeschool Hop is a smaller community, and I like that people there are eager to connect. The owner of the site, Pamela Jano, has a real heart for God and loves to work with and support homeschool moms. HS Hop is definitely focused on Christian Homeschooling. Their membership is also open to dads and teens. This site is newer and still growing, and I encourage you to check it out.

The Homeschool Lounge is another such community, but much larger. They just reached over 10,500 members. It’s not quite as intimate, but they have several groups you can join to meet like-minded moms. The site is not exclusively Christian, but the owners are Christians, and the majority of members are. Only homeschool moms are allowed to join, no dads or homeschool-curious moms allowed. Their chat feature is pretty active, so if you like to chat, you can always find someone.

I recommend them both! If you do sign up, find me and add me as a “friend” and we can get to know each other!

Dreaming Big for Your Children

November 11, 2009

exemplify

I am pleased to tell you that I am now on the writing team at Exemplify Online.  If you’ve never checked out their site, spend some time over there today.  They have an incredible monthly magazine and have just launched several new blog channels.  I am writing on the Family Blog Channel, specifically about nurturing the spiritual growth of your children.  Exemplify is all about glorifying God.  You’ll love it! 

Here’s an excerpt from my post today

Imagine, if you will, each of your children ten years from now. What are your dreams for their future? Are they dependent upon the Lord? Do they sit daily at his feet? Are they a light in a dark world?

I can dream all day about everything I hope my girls grow up to be, but the real question is: What am I doing today? Have I made sure they’ve sat at His feet today? Have we depended on the Lord together today? Have I found ways to encourage them to be a light on this day?

Read the rest here:  Dreaming Big for Your Children

 

Moving on…

November 10, 2009

 

movin

 

A couple of months ago, I had a flu and was stuck in bed for a few days. (So many of my stories start this way). Towards the end when I was starting to feel better, but still on orders to get out of doing dishes…I mean rest, I began praying about this blog and ideas started flowing faster than I could write them down.

I started blogging at the very end of last year. In the last 11 months or so, I’ve been able to just blog freely and express whatever is on my heart at any given moment. All the new ideas, though, pointed towards me being more focused on a certain theme.

Most of what I’ve been writing actually fits into that theme, and in the last couple of months, I’ve seen this theme emerge more and more. I just need to be more intentional about that theme.

I know I’m being very cryptic! I want to keep the main premise a surprise for now, but I am so excited about where God is taking me.

Within a couple of weeks of finding this new direction, I was accepted as a contributor to three of my favorite websites. The same week, I was approached to do my first product review. By now, I’m feeling pretty official. Then, my birthday rolled around and I received some money from family members. I usually save my birthday money to buy my kids gifts when their birthday rolls around.

Eric ordered me to spend the money on myself this year. No paying bills, no buying the kids anything. That sweet, annoying man. I know he was blessing me. Yet –as tempted as I was to improve my shoe wardrobe–it really drove me crazy. Thankfully, God opened my eyes. Hello! I had just had my blogging epiphany and in that were lots of dreams, starting with my own website. (Right now I use a free WordPress site.) I decided to invest the money in a new site and designer.

The blog designer I was hankering to use was not currently accepting orders. I went ahead and ordered my domain name and decided to just wait for her to be available because, believe me, she is worth the wait.  (Check out her site:  Graphically Designing)

Her queue is open now, and I placed my order so I’m just waiting my turn. So, waiting. But it’s a good, busy, kind of waiting! The kind of waiting that is accompanied by anticipation. Oh I just love it when God gives direction! So often I feel I am in a season of waiting for direction and I must say I really prefer this kind of season…the one marked by happy work towards what God has called me to do.

While I want to keep some of the new stuff under wraps until I launch the site, I do want to share some exciting things here. Actually, I’m just too excited to keep it all to myself and my husband might be a tad tired of hearing about it. The guy should get a medal for listening.

So, a couple of the details I’m working on:

Store: I have created a little shop on Amazon with resources I think you’ll love. Honestly, it looks a lot like my bookshelf. That’s because I only picked books and products I’ve read or used over and over. 

Book Club: I am working on developing an online book club for readers. Right now, I’m deciding between fiction and non-fiction. What would you prefer? You can answer in the poll on my sidebar.

If you are an email subscriber here, your subscription will be transferred automatically, so you don’t have to worry about finding the new site.  I am hoping RSS feeds can be transferred as well, but I honestly don’t know yet.  Either way, I will be linking there from here so I’ll be easy to find!

Online Book Club

November 9, 2009

I am working on creating an online book club, and I would love to get your input.

Please take a moment to vote in the poll on my sidebar.

As a participant in an online book club, you would join a forum and participate in conversations about a book we are all reading together.  Right now I am trying to decide between fiction, Bible study, or personal growth books.  Any suggestions? 

Please vote!

 

SpellQuizzer Review and Giveaway!

November 8, 2009

spellquizzer

 

A while ago, I was given a copy of SpellQuizzer spelling software to review. When the company first approached me, I wasn’t interested because we are very happy with Spelling Power for Coco (13) and I do not use a formal spelling program for Soleil (6).

However, the creator encouraged me to try it alongside Spelling Power, and I am so glad I did! I can’t get Soleil off of it, and though I didn’t plan to do spelling with her this year, she loves this software so much we have been using it for fun. Coco has been using it as well.

SpellQuizzer has generously agreed to give away a copy here on my blog! At the end of this post, I will tell you how to enter.  If you don’t win, though, you can always check out the 30 Day free trial that SpellQuizzer offers.

It is important to note that SpellQuizzer is definitely not just for homeschoolers. I wish I would have had this back when Coco was in school and she had to practice for weekly tests.

So how does SpellQuizzer work?

It is very simple. You can either enter your own spelling list, or use one of the many pre-set lists. The SpellQuizzer web site has pre-made downloadable spelling lists that you can download and use with SpellQuizzer. For each word, you can record yourself saying the word and a sentence, just like you would if you were drilling your child or giving them a practice test.

Users can easily export and import SpellQuizzer spelling lists to share with other SpellQuizzer users.

The beauty of using the program is the kids can practice their spelling words on their own. Any busy mom will like this, but I imagine moms of large families will especially appreciate this.

The program does require use of a PC microphone, but you can get one for less than $10 at most department stores. We happened to have one already. If you choose to use a pre-set list, or simply a written sentence, then you don’t need the microphone at all. However, I don’t think I would use this program without a microphone. It’s just so fun!

When your child goes to use the software, they click on their list and hear your voice giving them the spelling words. They type in the word, and if it is correct, it goes to the next word. If they spell it wrong, it will show the correct spelling. It’s fun to record the lists, and something you could have older kids do for younger ones.

SpellQuizzer complements any spelling or vocabulary program. If your child is in school, or using a traditional spelling program at home, it is a breeze to enter each week’s list in.

On a personal note, I had some trouble the first week with the software. I emailed the company, and within minutes I received a reply telling me to download their latest update for Windows XP. I haven’t had any trouble since, but it’s nice to know the customer service is there if I need it.

SpellQuizzer has a page on the site specifically directed toward homeschoolers:

SpellQuizzer for Homeschoolers.

Check out the demo on the site:

SpellQuizzer Demo

So, how has SpellQuizzer worked for us? Great! Soleil has learned to spell many new words just through “playing.” Coco, though, has really benefited from the extra practice. It shows in her daily writing and her daily spelling tests. The best part is that they actually ask if they can do it!

If you are interested in SpellQuizzer and would like to win a copy of your own, leave a comment on this post. I will randomly select a winner on Monday, November 16. The winner will be listed here and notified by email.