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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Our Story


This will be the first in a week long series on homeschooling.




With so much new attention recently focused on homeschooling I wanted to do a series to help answer questions you may have and hopefully dispel some myths and false stereo-types that are out there about homeschoolers.

I am not sure where to begin and what all I will cover in this series, but today I thought I would share my family's own story of our homeschooling journey, then starting tomorrow go into some of the myths and questions.

When my oldest son was in Kindergarten in public school he was very bright, happy, and had lots of friends. We lived in a school district that was year round and he just barely made the age cut off for kindergarten. He was actually able to choose whether to go in that year or wait another. I foolishly put him in that year, and to this day wish I'd waited.

Anyway, as the year went on he still had lots of friends and loved the social life, but he just wasn't catching on to reading and writing(I remember when I was in Kindergarten, it was to prepare us to learn to read and write, but now they expect students to actually learn these things at 4-5 years of age, homework and all!!)

At our parent teacher conference at the end of the year, I suggested we hold him back and give him an extra year due to his age and being a little behind. The teacher than said something that shocked me...."He had so many friends, he is the center of all of the social action, I think it would be damaging socially to hold him back." WHAT???? Now I know why the first question out of people's mouth about homeschooling is the good ol' "WHAT ABOUT SOCIALIZATION?" This teacher wasn't concerned that he couldn't read or write, she was concerned about his socialization!!

I should add, that we weren't surprised he was struggling. When he was a baby he had a pretty serious case of meningitis. We almost lost him. Praise God we didn't, but the doctors warned us while there were then no visible signs of damage, there could be some we wouldn't see until he reached school age. We were to be on the lookout for learning disorders and speech problems. Both of which became apparent by the time he started school.

So that summer we got the Hooked on Phonics program, and the Phonics Game, and hired private tutors all to no avail. That next Fall he started first grade against my better judgement. Still just couldn't seem to learn to read or write. We had him formally tested and it did show he had auditory processing disorders as well as severe speech issues. But, because he is so bright he tested high on the conceptual learning bringing his test score too high to qualify for special education services. Their solution? "Wait till he is two years behind, then he can qualify." Over my dead body!!

I pulled him out with the intention of getting him caught up and putting him back in the next year. I should add here, I was told while he couldn't receive services just yet, he would NEVER learn to read or write without them.

Guess what? I have never received any special ed services and he is reading and writing quite well thank you! He still struggles with spelling and having a hard time in math, but doing VERY well everywhere else. Not bad if you ask me.

Before taking him out, he had slowly started turning from a confident happy boy who loved school and his friends to a shy, scared little boy who I could hardly drag to school. He for some reason became fearful in almost any social situation. He started avoiding parties and other social settings, it got to the point we considered therapy as we just didn't know what was wrong, it was becoming quite serious.

Well, after six months of homeschooling, not only was he reading and writing he was also becoming that happy, confident boy again!

We started off very "school-like" in our schooling using texts, bells, chalkboards and all. Over the years we have changed our styles and methods many times before finding what works best for us(in our case, it is something different for each of my children) but we started off using Christian texts(Mennonite) and because of that, we returned to church for the first time in close to ten years. We became closer to God, closer to each other and our home and faith life improved dramatically.

Seeing these changes, I never put him back in school that next fall. It has been eleven years, and we have had our ups and downs. We had years I have come close to putting him back(the teen years, aren't they fun?) I have had days I've had to call my pastor to come counsel my son or myself. But I wouldn't trade one day of it for all of the money in the world!
While I started homeschooling strictly for academic reasons, I wasn't even a practicing Christian at the time, we have continued out of conviction and obedience to God. I take very seriously Deuteronomy Chapter 6. I find that pretty hard to follow if my children are gone at school each day for eight hours, then need to come home and do several hours of homework before running off to all the activities kids these days seem to feel compelled to do.

Homeschooling is hard work. It is not a miracle cure for academic issues or rebellious children. Many go into homeschooling thinking it will "fix" a wayward child or cure all academic concerns. Without God, prayer, love and hard work it will do neither. It could make things worse. Academically I don't think even under educated parents can do much worse then the public schools these days, but if you're looking to "fix" your kids hearts, there is only one way to do that....on your knees.

Come back tomorrow and the rest of the week and I will share more insight into my families homeschool as well as share some more misconceptions and hopefully clear them up for you.

Homeschooling Stereo-Types

This is the second in a series on homeschooling:
Disclaimer on this and all posts here on My Balancing Act: I fear admitting I homeschool, and writing about it here, leaves me open to grammar and punctuation critque.(you know, oh she shouldn't be homeschooling her kids, she forgot to capitalize her proper nouns and dot her I's) As a very busy homeschooling mom, usually posting in a 10 minute time-frame, one handed with a baby and cat in my lap....I rarely take the time to spell-check but alone go back and correct my many run-on sentences and such. Please extend some grace, and take my articles for what they are, and don't assume my kids will graduate illiterate because of my seemingly lack of proper grammar!

When you hear the word homeschooler what comes to your mind? Is it the picture perfect family with a dozen or more children, all well mannered and neatly dressed and groomed? Mom, soft spoken and grinding her own wheat for the families bread while helping the above average intelligence children recite their Latin and Greek lessons? You, know the family with the 6th graders doing advanced Calculus and the others entering Harvard in the ninth grade!

Oh...that's not what you were thinking of? Then surely it must be that family there. You know the one, the one from the "other" side of town. The one in the tin trailer. The one that doesn't "really" homeschool. They just say they do because poor mom can't keep those kids in school, they keep getting kicked out. You know, the ones who are graduating a highschooler this year who can't read "Dick and Jane" or write his own name. The ones who are really saying they're homeschooling to avoid getting caught for abusing those poor children.

Yes, sadly when I tell people we homeschool, these are the stories I start to hear about the homeschoolers they know. Then of course they assume we must all be like that.

While there are homeschoolers who have very advanced children graduating early and entering prestigious colleges at an early age, and sadly some who are homeschooling in name only, and yes trying to avoid truancy or abuse charges most homeschoolers are just regular people like you and me. People who love their children and want to provide what they feel for what ever reason is the best education they can.

The kids are just normal kids. Just like kids in public school, some are exceptionally gifted and some are a little slower to catch on. Like most kids many homeschoolers may be gifted in one area such as math and barely keeping his or her head above water in another like spelling. The beauty of homeschooling is these children can work at their own pace in each subject area. In a public school setting these poor children may be held back in all subject because they aren't performing anywhere near grade level in others.

There are as many kinds of homeschoolers as there are people. There are homeschoolers of all religions, races, economic backgrounds, etc...There are many who are very involved in their churches and communities, many involved in sports at competitive levels, many involved in different areas of activism, and some who just like to stay at home and live simpler, slower lives.

Some homeschoolers use very traditional classroom style methods of learning, using textbooks, maps and such. Some like to use good literature to mentor their students. Some prefer using the Bible as their sole curriculum. Yet there are others who use no curriculum at all, the world is their classroom.

There are just so many variables, it is hard to define just what is a homeschooler. Many homeschool privately, either all on their own, establishing themselves as private schoools. While others join up with a local church ran or private school. They school at home, but their children can participate in classes and field trips. Yet there are others who sign up with a "charter school" which is basically a home based public school. These parents are provided with texts, computers, access to teachers and testing and everything else involved with public schools. With homeschooling becoming so popular many public schools are even offering home based educational choices as well.

My purpose in this series is not to debate which method is correct or not acceptable. Those who know me either in real life or from other places in cyberland know where I stand on the issue, for me and my family. It is not my job to choose what may or may not be right for yours. My intention is to educate those who are curious about homeschooling just for curiosity's sake or because you want to become more informed because homeschooling may be something you are considering or you know someone who is homeschooling.

Homeschooling and homeschoolers are to broad a topic to cover in one post or even in a series. Books have been written on the subject! There is always more that could be written!

Today's post was mostly to hopefully inform you that there are many kinds of homeschoolers out there. Please don't judge us all based on your experience with one family, or worse yet, a family you "heard" about. Even the seemingly "good" stereo types such as the whiz kid is potentially damaging, as that is a pretty hard standard for those of us "average" folk to live up to!! Our kids are normal kids...don't put too high expectations on them, or us as parent educators!! And on the other hand, just because you know a family that said they were homeschooling when they weren't, don't assume we're all like that.

I can tell you after eleven years of doing this, I don't think there are many out there doing this and not doing it well, giving it their best. This is just too hard to do and not be sincere or convicted about it. I love my kids, but there are days when the easy thing to do would be to send them off to the assembly line, cookie cutter school, but I am not looking for easy...I am looking for long lasting eternal results!

A Typical Day...Fact from Fiction

This is the third in a series on homeschooling:




Hopefully so far I have cleared up some misconceptions or false stereo-types of homeschoolers that you may have had. Hopefully I've answered many of your questions.




If you don't personally know any homeschool families perhaps you are curious of what a "typical" homeschooling day may look like.




Again there are several false ideas floating around out there of what a "typical" homeschool day may look like that. The two most popular seem to be: A: The day begins with Bible singing with all the children playing the instruments themselves while singing in Latin and then again in Greek and Hebrew!. Then some devotions until the children go to their desks and mom gets up in front of the chalkboard and starts giving the Latin and Greek lessons followed by advanced Algebra(for her 6th graders!) followed by her ringing a bell and moving onto....well, you get the idea. Honestly, many of us start our first year like this, bells, desks, white boards and all. Usually after two months school moves to the kitchen table or living room sofa and the lessons are a little less rigid.


Or perhaps you had this image in your mind. B: The kids get up about noon, eat a piece of pizza cold from the fridge before sitting down in front of the TV to watch Sponge Bob Square Pants (can't that count as Science, I mean it does take place under the sea, we're learning about sea life??) Then the kids go out and jump on the trampoline for several hours(hey, we got math covered(counting how many jumps and measuring how high) and PE, and maybe Science(gravity?) Then for History the children play Lego's and build pirate ships and play Pirates of the Caribbean....What have we forgotten? Oh English, lets see....hmm...oh yeah, the kids can go on MySpace and post bulletins or blog, as long as their punctuation and spelling are correct.




OK, yes, I am obviously being quite facetious. I can say neither of these resemble my homeschool at all. There are many types of homeschoolers. some are more strict and rigid resembling public schools, and some are what you call unschoolers. I am not here to debate methods or pick on anyone. I just wanted to present what I hear from many others as to what they picture homeschoolers being like, then present what homeschooling looks like in my home and similar to what it resembles in many others as well. While there will be some differences between families, methods and curriculum, this should give you a pretty good idea of "real-life" homeschooling.




5:30-6:00 Mom(me!) gets up and spends an hour on the computer while sipping her tea or Monster Energy Drink.




7:00ish-The baby and 8&11 year olds are up. I give the baby a cup of milk and put on a Little Einsteins DVD(or Veggie Tales) and the two others play Xbox or go outside. I do Yoga and have morning Prayer time.




8:00 the three youngers and I eat breakfast




8:30 the three youngers and I do devotions(using Josh McDowell's 1 year Family Devotions), catechism(using Luther's Small Catechism) and Bible reading.




9:00 the 16 year old FINALLY awakens and showers. Meanwhile the 11 year old works on his reading alone(BJU Reader and Worktext) I work with the 8 year old on his reading(BJU and Worktext) The baby is playing nearby.




9:30 the 16 year old(Andrew) is starting his Bible using Sonlight and the Bible. I start reading aloud to the 8 year old(Daniel) and 11 year old(Matthew) using Sonlight as well. Currently we're reading Carry on Mr. Bowditch, Om-Kas-Toe and Eli Whitney




10:00ish Andrew is doing his reading(again Sonlight, currently reading Cry, the Beloved Country) I work on English with Daniel (BJU) while Matthew works on Handwriting(BJU)




10:30 while Daniel keeps Austin(the baby) busy I work on English(BJU) with Matthew and Andrew begins with History(Sonlight)




11:00 now Matthew entertains Austin while Daniel and I work on Math(Math-U-See) I should interject here that the younger ones and I are all doing school in front of the fireplace to keep warm, while Andrew sits at the kitchen table.




By now it is lunch time and we have a quick lunch of fruit or veggies and dip, Mac & Cheese and or sandwiches. We clean up and put the baby down for a nap. Andrew and I both spend a few minutes on the computers while the boys go out and play.




12:00ish Back to the books! Daniel and I finish up with him doing Spelling and Handwriting(Both BJU) and any extras we are working on. He is done with Science for this year and his History is covered in the Sonlight reading selections. Meanwhile Matthew and Andrew are working on their math(Math-U-See for Matt, and Saxon Math for Andrew)




1:00ish Daniel is done and has some free time while Andrew works on Biology(Apologia) and I am now working with Matthew on History(BJU, he likes to do this on top of his Sonlight History) Spelling and anything else we have to finish.




2:00 with both the younger boys done, I now have time to work with Andrew on anything he needed help on and go over Latin(The Latin Road to English Grammar)




3:00 Andrew finishes up anything he has left or works on any writing assignments.




With everyone done they all now have free time until dinner and evening activities:


Tuesdays: AWANA


Wed: BoyScouts


Thursday&Friday: Tae Kwon Do




So that is a typical day. We are pretty busy and have little leisure time. But we have much more time together as a family than we would with them gone at public school each day. I love that they are learning and living together. They are all friends who enjoy spending time together.




It's not all perfect, and our days don't always run smoothly. Some days they want to kill each other, some days I want to kill them!! Many days we have to stop what we're doing to deal with discipline issues. They are normal kids, and we're a normal family just doing our best to love each other, our God and our neighbors. Homeschooling makes it a little easier to do all of the above.




Come back tomorrow, and we will look into yet another aspect of homeschooling!

Lutheran, Baptist, Catholic.....???

What denomination are you? This is a question many of us Christians get asked often isn't it? My answer: A CHRISTIAN.

Sure, I am a card carrying member of the Lutheran Church(LCMS) but first and foremost I am a Christian, a child of God.

I've been hearing and reading much of people who are questioning which denomination they belong in. I'm there myself, I think most of us question this at one time or another. I think it's good to question such things, but I fear placing too much emphasis on denomination takes focus off of what really matters and that is Jesus Christ.

I just don't envision arriving in Heaven and being lined up and sent down different hallways and into different doors according to denomination. Lutheran's to the left, Baptists to the right, Catholics ....well you get the point.

Honestly, if for some reason our church closed, we move, or something else caused us to have to leave our current church, I don't think I will ever take out membership in a denomination again.

What "Brand" of Christian are you?? Me?? I am a Christian...period....

Some Thoughts on Homeschooling


I've been homeschooling for eleven years now. Next year I will graduate my oldest son and he most likely will immediately begin his military career. One down, two(maybe three??) to go...

When we first started there were alot of questions and concerns from well meaning family and friends. Then I think they started thinking it was just a "phase" we'd quickly outgrow(surprise people...ELEVEN years!!) Then we started getting several wanting to jump on board with us as the public schools kept becoming worse and worse. Sadly for many of these families, homeschooling was a "phase" because I can say, I am one of only three homeschooling families I personally know. That number was in the high double digits just five years ago. Why? Because homeschooling is hard work!! I will share more on that in an upcoming post.

The past several years we have been pretty much left alone in regards to homeschooling. People eventually quit asking the stupid questions(IE: What about Socialization and others...) and figured this is just what we do.

Lately though due to the ridiculous publication of homeschooling now being illegal in California(see previous posts) people are once again raising eyebrows at our homeschooling. I think there were some who actually thought I would rush out and enroll my kids in the local public school(think again people!!) Friends and family I hadn't heard from in months, and some cases years all of a sudden were calling to find out what I was going to do now that homeschooling is illegal!! First of all, nothing has changed, and the finding is being appealed in the courts as I type this. Secondly, no, I would not, will not put my children in public school now or ever.

As a Christian I do believe we are to follow the rules of our land. But when those rules interfere with following the laws of my God, a line has to be drawn. First of all I will use a quote I see all of the time, I don't know who gets original credit for it, but it goes like this Render on to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar....My children are NOT Caesars!!!! I pay my taxes like the rest of you, I even pay taxes for the local public school which I am not using. I homeschool privately, using my own money for curriculum and other materials. The government(Caesar) can keep my money, but my children are MINE. Actually they are on loan to me from Him.

I didn't mean for this to get so long winded....I had planned on just sharing a few quotes and a video clip to get your minds thinking a little as I prepare to spend the rest of this week posting on homeschooling. Hopefully I will answer some of the top questions we get asked, offer our reasons for homeschooling, share our typical days, and dispell some myths for you all.

For now, check out this video clip from Voddie Baucham(I LOVE this guy!) and a quote from Martin Luther, and please come back during the week as I begin a homeschooling series. I want to share "real-life" homeschooling with you all, not the fantasies(good and bad ones!!) many of you have seen in the magazines and media.




I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of the youth.~Martin Luther

Saturday, March 29, 2008

PLEASE Spay & Neuter Your Pets!!!


PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!!!! I am just left speechless, appalled, shocked, disgusted after watching Animal Cops or something like that on Animal Planet. The team had to remove TWO HUNDRED and something cats from one house!! The cats were so sick, and so wild all but one had to be put down.

What is wrong with people?? Two hundred cats??? Obviously this gentlemen had some sort of mental issues, but sadly this is all too common these days. While 200 is a bit extreme, I have seen plenty of cases of 30, 50, and more.

Yes, I used to be your local neighborhood dog catcher. Surprised??

It came about quite by accident. I used to be one of those who bad mouthed Animal Control. I mean how could they be so heartless to put down so many animals on a regular bases?? I'll tell you why, it is from people who don't spay and neuter!!

Ok, first let me explain how I came to be one of those "bad guys" down at your local shelter. I had just finished taking a six month long program to become a certified Veterinary Assistant(I had already been working as one for months before I even started the program) Anyway, before we could graduate we had to serve an internship. There were all sorts of cool places, local vets, horse clinics, pet clinics....and then there was the County Vet and Animal Control. Neither I would willingly choose. But lucky me, I got Animal Control.

I was just sure my suspicions of these people being evil and taking joy in killing animals would all be confirmed. What I learned instead was that these were the "good guys" left to clean up the messes irresponsible citizens left behind by not properly caring for their pets.

See, there is a difference between Animal Control and the Humane Society. At least in the town I worked in fifteen some odd years ago. Humane Society did not have to take in any animal that came in. Those that were sick or otherwise unadoptable got referred to guess who? Yup, us at Animal Control. We were REQUIRED to take in ANY animal that came through those doors. And let me tell you, they weren't all the cute ones you see available for adoption. Many of these came in missing eyes, legs, with terrible infections, parasites, mange, you name it.

It is hard enough especially in the spring to find homes for all the cute little fuzzy kittens and puppies, that sadly due to funding and space sometimes after a given time, many of those have to be put down. Just how are we suppose to find homes for animals that have long term and expensive health problems or unmanageable behavior problems??

So each Tuesday we had to make the selections of what animals were going to be put down that day. I hated Tuesdays. And I was quite surprised to learn that those who had worked there 20+ years also hated Tuesdays. After twenty years, these people still cried each week as the selections were made and injections given.

So are these the bad guys I thought they were? Nope...then who is? It is you if you aren't spaying and neutering your pets. Your neighbors, your friends.

The story I told you at the beginning of those 200 cats....that all started with just one cat that wasn't spayed. How quickly one can turn into hundreds.

Oh sure, you don't have hundreds of cats in your home. But if you're not spaying and neutering and your pet is running outdoors, you ARE contributing to hundreds of unwanted pets and strays in your neighborhood!!

How often even now I hear moms saying stupid things like "I just want fluffy to have one litter so little Suzy can experience the miracle of birth." Are you then going to let her experience the tragedy of watching those cute kittens be put down? OK, that sounds harsh, I am sure you are responsible and already found homes for the kittens, but are you sure all six will be spayed and neutered? Can you guarantee it??

Let me offer you this suggestion: Rent little Suzy a video or watch Animal Planet. Tell your six friends to go rescue an already unwanted pet from their local shelter.

Please spay and neuter your pets. If you can't afford it, then forgive me for sounding harsh, but perhaps you can't afford a pet then. But if you do find yourself in that situation give your local shelter a call and I am sure they can tell you where you can get free or low-cost spay or neuter vouchers.

Let me make one more suggestion....next time you see your local dog catcher, or you have to run into your local shelter, give them a plate of cookies or at least a hand shake and a sincere thank you for doing one of the hardest jobs I ever had!

Pro-Life???

Then surely you must be pro-adoption, right?? I never thought about it this way till my husband quoted something similar out of a book he was reading. Then I read recently a similar quote made by Mother Teresa. Now there was someone who really DID something about stopping abortion and taking in the unwanted children until "forever families" could be found for them! I am always becoming more and more inspired by that woman, she was someone who really put her faith into action, on complete trust and obedience..

Today I was listening to a broadcast on FamilyLife Today about building family relationships, and they got side-tracked for the first ten minutes or so about how the guest adopted one of their children by standing out side of an abortion clinic holding signs(his whole family!) offering to adopt these ladies babies! It is worth going to the site and downloading and listening to the first ten minutes to hear, pretty exciting!!

Many of us claim to be pro-life, but how many of us are actually pro-adoption?? Seems to me you can't be the first with out being the latter.....

Sunday, March 23, 2008

HE IS RISEN!!




Just popping in quickly to wish you all a happy Resurrection Day!!


Matt 28:5-6 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

Matt 28:6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

As Promised....

A while back I said I'd share some ideas of ways to help orphaned children even if you are unable to foster or adopt. Then the other day I promised to come back and share some online resources that relate to fostering. I haven't done either, so I am going to try and take care of both in one post!

Of course there are several programs out there that accept donations to either help other families adopt or use money to directly help children. A quick web search will bring up several such agencies.

If you want to help the children more directly and give of yourself and your time rather than just your money(although money is always appreciated too!) you could contact your local foster care agencies and ask how you can volunteer. I found several ways be searching the web for our local agencies. Some ask for donations of items, or need drivers to transport children to their appointments, or to help at outings that may be arranged for the children. I know at holidays they can always use donations of gifts, Easter baskets(this is fun for the whole family to help!) or your time at gift drives and fund raising events.

You can help the children by raising awareness within your community and church. Several churches are starting orphan/adoption ministries, you can start one in yours!

Several programs are looking for mentors for foster kids. Some have summer programs where the children stay with you while they attend local summer camps. There are so many ways to help!

You can help families that are fostering or adopting by praying for them, or helping them in concrete ways. Offering to help them as they go through the process of adoption or fostering, and helping welcome the children home and into the community and church family!

I found lots of helpful information for me as a potential foster parent as well as ways I could help others at About.com. Some of my favorite articles were; 12 Prayer Requests for Children in Foster Care and 10 Things You Can Do Now to Prepare for Foster Care Later, and 10 Ways to Help Children in Foster Care There is so much information there, you could spend days going through it all! I really recommend checking it out if you are either interested in fostering or want to help support someone who is!

Focus on the Family has a great article about how you can help support foster families. If you do a search for "adoption" or " foster care" on their site you will find lots of helpful resources.

I Care About Orphans has a FREE Orphan Care CD and family discussion guide available for download.

Family Life had lots of resources and information on adoption, orphan care, and fostering. This link will take you to their broadcast page where you can listen to several broadcasts about these issues.

This is just the tip of the ice-berg. There is so much information out there once you just start looking.

There are many ways you can help either the children or other families taking these children into their homes! All it takes is a willingness to serve!

My "Other" Blog

I started a cooking/recipe blog a while back, but never started posting....until now. I only have two posts but you are invited to go check it out: Cooking Simply

Friday, March 21, 2008

New Look!!

I finally had enough of those hanging vines hanging right smack over the first three paragraphs or so of my posts. They sure were pretty, but I just am not savvy enough with HTML to figure out what went wrong.


So Tink it is! I was trying to avoid anything too cutsie for this blog(I save that for my MySpace www.myspace.com/veggie_mom) But after trying several, I in the end did choose Tink. No big surprise for those of you that know me in real life I am sure!


I will have to spend some time adding back my links and other goodies from my side-bar, but bear with me for a few days I should have it pretty much back as it was.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008



For many years my family struggled with whether or not to celebrate holidays like Easter and Christmas and if so how to keep the focus on the Christian aspect of the season and not the commercialized version.

We have gone back and forth between not celebrating at all or going full out and everything in-between. I think the holidays like many other things can be redeemed for the good with a little thought and effort, prayer and focus.

First of all we may seem silly to many, but rarely will you hear us say "Happy Easter!" But you will hear us shouting "Happy Resurrection Day!" or "He is Risen!" Either set the mood for what the day is really about!

One of our favorite traditions actually takes place the evening before Easter when we make Resurrection Cookies.






To be made the evening before Easter.
You need: 1c. whole pecans, 1 tsp. vinegar, 3 egg whites,pinch salt, 1c. sugar, zipper baggie, wooden spoon, tape, Bible.
Preheat oven to 300 BEFORE BEGINNING.



Place pecans in zipper baggie and let children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested He was beaten by the Roman soldiers. Read John 19:1-3.

Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 tsp. vinegar into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28-30.

Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11.

Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27.

So far the ingredients are not very appetizing.
Add 1 c. sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know this and how to belong to Him. Read Ps. 34:8 and John 3:16.


Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3.


Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid. Read Matt. 27:57-60.


Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF.
Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed. Read Matt.27:65-66.


GO TO BED! Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20 and 22.


On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie.
Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty! Read Matt. 28:1-9







Tell your friends about this treat.



This is a fun one that my middle two boys still love to do(ages 11 & 8) Hopefully it will become Austins favorite too!(16 mos. old!)


Then in the morning before church the kids get their Easter baskets or gifts . This year I found lots of neat little goodies at Oriental Trading Co. Rather than baskets I found cute little tote bags with crosses on them at Oriental Trading. We will fill them up with some of the goodies I purchased there too;








There was so much to choose from; chocolate crosses, bread & fish crackers(these were cute!) footsteps of Jesus gummies and more! They also had a variety of Christian stampers and stickers, beach balls and more!!





This is a fun way to do baskets but still keep it Christ focused. Many of the candies have Bible verses on the wrappers!





This year we will go to church as usual, but after services there is a brunch we are all looking forward to.





When we arrive home we will do our favorite tradition and hunt for Resurrection Eggs!!



I purchased my set over ten years ago from Christian Books
but you can find them pretty much anywhere these days. You can even make them yourself. I found a website that has two kinds. The second is closer to what I have, and I really like that one. My son made the first set at AWANA last night, and while it is pretty neat too, I really like the first set better. My kids never tire of this even as they get older. I have a feeling Austin is going to love this one too!! This will be his first year "hunting" for eggs.

So, these are just a few of the things we do to try to keep the focus where it belongs. We will also watch the "Miracle Maker" which is a really neat clay animation version of Easter.

What are some ways you celebrate?

While Waiting....

We're still waiting for some answers on whether or not we're going to be able to take in a foster child now or have to wait until we do the room additions on to the house. Something else has come up as well that may slow down or stop the process, but we're just praying in faith that He has it all under control.


Meanwhile I wanted to share some resources that I found that are Foster Care specific. So many resources are out there for adoption but it was really hard to find some that were geared towards foster parenting.


I feel like I struck gold with this first one; it is the Foster Parenting Podcast I first found them on ITunes and downloaded every episode and am trying to listen to them all in chronological order! This couple share their journey with their listeners and give lots of great advice and tips for family and friends as well. They are fun! I found another, I didn't even save the link, but it was so boring, I had to force myself to stay focused, but this couple is so much fun and share about things that are actually relative to real life foster parenting that I can't wait each day to sneak in a few minutes(hard to do with four kiddos!) and try and get caught up on the episodes.


I found a gem of a little booklet at Kingdom Kids about foster parenting. She explains so well exactly why I want to foster parent. This booklet is $4.00 and when I have a little extra cash to spare I plan on purchasing several to give out to friends and family that want to know why we are doing this!


Kingdom Kids is an adoption ministry and they have a wealth of great books and resources, if you are an adoptive parent or hoping to become one, I really recommend you check them out.


Last but certainly not least is Fostering Families Today Magazine. When I searched on the web for adoption magazines I found many, so many in fact it was hard to select which one to subscribe to. But when I searched for one specifically for foster parents, well, only one came up. Just because it is the only doesn't mean it is less than superior though. I have already learned so much just from my first issue as well as the information and articles on the web page.
This waiting to find out if we're even going to be able to begin the process of becoming certified is hard! I like to have answers NOW and be actively doing something productive towards our goals. So it is nice to have some resources to be able to learn all I can about this journey we are about to embark upon.

There is also tons of information on the web(the best resource I've found yet, for anything, is the web!) Hopefully I will find some time to get back on here later and share those links with you! I have learned so much from the resources I have shared with you today and from my travels on the World Wide Web. Maybe that's what all of this waiting has been about, just giving me time to learn all I can, and certainly to learn to trust in Him and be patient(not my strong suit when it comes to waiting.)

Hope you find something helpful you can use here too!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Children of Caeser...




With all of this talk of homeschooling now being illegal in California(unless of course mom just happens to be a certified teacher) I wanted to share a resource with you all. There has been alot of talk of some homeschoolers possibly putting their children back in public school out of fear of breaking the law by continuing to homeschool. First, let's not panic yet. HSLDA and others are working to have this resolved in our favor(if you are not yet a member of HSLDA I urge you in light of this to become one!) Even the governor is on our side!!


Second, before you consider anything so drastic please watch the DVD Children of Caesar this link will take you to an article about it as well as purchasing information. I watched this a few months back when it first became available, and plan on watching it again now in light of what is going on.


I highly recommend it!! It is very eye opening even to those of us already homeschooling.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Updated Link

I just wanted to give you a link where you can listen online to todays Focus on the Family radio broadcast that addresses what is going on here in California in regards to homeschooling. Please, whether or not you homeschool, and whether or not you live in California take a few moments and listen and seriously consider signing the petetion mentioned. This is not JUST about homeschooling, this is an attack on parental rights! If it could happen here in California it can happen where you are too!

Home Sweet Homeschool No More??

We have been a homeschooling family for 11 years now. My oldest son will graduate from our school next year and then go on to serve his country in the U.S. Navy. In our homeschool, besides the three R's we teach love of God, Country and fellow man. I feel I have succeeded in all three. My son obviously loves his country dearly as he is willing and strongly desiring to serve his country even in time of war.

Now this same country that I have taught my children to love and if necessary die for, may be trying to take away our right to homeschool!!!

There has been a recent ruling in California(our state) that is a very serious threat to all homeschoolers. Please check out the links I will include and learn more. This doesn't just affect private homeschools such as mine, this also threatens those who homeschool through public school charters. In my opinion, this is also a big threat on parental rights! We parents need to wake up and realize we have been handing over far too much control to the state. We allow them to dictate how we can discipline, what vaccines they get and even their education!!

I could go off on a whole tangent here, but will save it for another day. Right now please go check out Home School Legal Defense's site for more information and PLEASE consider signing their petition, whether or not you homeschool, as this also is an issue of parental rights as well. Let them take this one, and they'll come after more!! While this issue may only affect your neighbor or friend, the next one may affect you! Just as you'd want your friends and neighbors to help you in your cause, please help them in theirs.

Today Focus on the Family will also have a radio broadcast where Dr. James Dobson is to speak on this issue. I know in California it will be airing on Sirius radio at 11:00 am. Here is a letter sent out by HSLDA which includes links to the petition and the radio broadcast information.

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:In what could be one of the most important homeschooling related broadcasts in 25 years, James Dobson interviews HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris on the developing situation in California.We encourage all homeschoolers to listen to this broadcast, and ask you to forward this information to anyone who is concerned about homeschool freedom, parental rights and the direction of our courts.Broadcast: Focus on the Family daily radio broadcast with Dr. James Dobson.Program Title: California's Threat to Homeschooling Families.Airdate: Friday, March 7, 2008.Since the broadcast is aired on stations across the country at different times, please visit ---- http://listen.family.org/findastation/ and search for "Daily Focus on the Family Broadcast" to find the station that covers your area.You can help stop this threat to homeschooling by signing an online petition to depublish the Court of Appeal opinion at http://hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=4831Sincerely,Ian SlatterDirector of Media Relations

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust....


Well here we are, hardly even begun our adventure into foster care and already running across issues that may prevent us from getting started NOW!!!

We have a vacant room downstairs we were planning on using for our foster child/children and our three youngers share a bedroom upstairs. The two older ones do not want to go to seperate rooms and I always felt better with the baby with them or us so he wouldn't be alone. It seems that we wont be able to get licensed with the three boys together. There is a two child per room policy.

Aside from adding on to the house(which is in the planning as finances allow) there seems not much we can do. I am hesitant to put the baby in the room with the foster child as we wont know his/her background right away, and I am not comfortable. We are looking into seeing if the baby can go back into our room for awhile, otherwise it appears we may not be able to do this until God provides a way.

I am sure He will, it is just so hard waiting. I don't know why He would ask me to do something, something I didn't even want to do at first, then not provide what we need to be able to do it.

I considered backing out and just waiting until we do the add on(it could be years unless He blesses us) but it was my husband who convinced me to move on and just pray. So that is what we're doing, we are moving foward in faith that we are following in His will, and if we just have enough faith and trust He WILL provide away.

I know our prayers are strong, and He hears them all, but if you all would pray as well, it would be much appreciated. And if any of you happen to have a little pixie dust to spare.....