This Week

This week was a good, solid, productive week.  We even managed a field trip :-)  We went to our city’s combined fire & police station headquarters.  I’d never been to the police station before, so I found it really interesting.  Firecracker was also interested in the police station, but the other children loved the firestation and fire trucks best.

Fire and Police Station field trip

We also worked through the story of the fox and the eagle together this week, using some suggestions from the preschoolers’ La La Logic curriculum.  I couldn’t help but find some eagle and fox toilet paper roll crafts to go along with their retellings of the story though. :-)

Fox and Eagle

We painted something seasonal, as in it was supposed to be the top of a calendar page.  Loved that Firecracker painted the month of March as a band marching.  He can be so silly :-)

painting

We also learned about watercolor washes, although Owlet decided to go against the lesson and just paint her own picture of a girl.  The other children loved learning the washes though.

watercolor washes

We read several books.  I’m not actually going to discuss them at all right now because I’m taking this week and using it for a week long series on “Real Life Homeschooling” next week, and I’ll share more about these books then.

books

The children are mad at me.  I pulled them off their regular math to start a review of A+ Interactive Math’s individualized lesson plans.  I’m actually really excited about it though because it creates an individualized plan of lessons to close gaps in your child’s math abilities.

A+ Math

Firecracker hasn’t made any pages in his Pokemon notebook this week, but he’s made several Pokemon cards, using his stuffed animals as the basis for the cards.

pokemon cards

He’s also worked through more of Orphs of the Woodlands.  He never reads much in one sitting, but he really enjoys what he does read.

orphs

Rose has worked a little more on Spelling You See.  She’s in week nine of the book, and it’s caught up to her abilities, so she’s slowed way down on lesson completions.

spelling you see

She’s also decided that she wants to make her own notebook like Firecracker’s Pokemon notebook.  She’s chosen cats as her topic.  Owlet has also enjoyed the chance to tag-along and color cat coloring pages as well.

cats

The little kids have continued working through First Start Reading.  It’s really perfect for Monkey’s abilities.  Owlet isn’t quite as ready for it, but she really enjoys playing along.

first start reading

They’ve also really worked heavily with La La Logic.  They really enjoy the online portion, but they also enjoyed spending some time sorting things into groups on a worksheet.  They enjoyed a game we played this week where we had a row of objects and I’d make them leave the room so I could switch the objects around and they had to put them back in order.

la la logic

They also did some shadow matching, and I even got the big kids involved in making a note booking page about their feelings.  That was after the little kids and I had practiced making faces and role-played through our feelings.

More logic

That’s really about it for the week.  I’m going to be expanding upon and sharing more about this week next week in my Real Life Homeschooling posts, so you can see what the flow is for a typical day in our homeschool, so don’t forget to come and visit next week!!

Eternal Security: A Gift From the Father

A Gift from the Father

When I started looking at and researching cross-references for John 6:37, I didn’t understand what a hotbed of debate I had stumbled upon.  I decided to look for some additional commentaries and teaching resources for the verse, and I was surprised to think of some of the ideas that people had about this simple verse.

The first phrase that seems to be completely disagreed on and debated is the phrase “all that the Father giveth to me shall come to me.”  The main issue with this phrase seems to be the idea that “the Father giveth.”  Many people make the case that all that the Father gives to the Son are the people who God foreknew would believe in Christ of their own free will, resulting in this being a verse that teaches predestination.

For those who aren’t familiar with predestination, it is the idea that God, before the foundation of the world, selected certain people to be saved and other people to be lost independent of those people’s personal reception of the truth.  There are many sincere believers in this position, and although I am not one of them, there are many good ideas that they bring up.

John 6:37 isn’t the place to go though if you’re looking for support for the idea of predestination.  This verse reads:

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

I’m someone who believes that every word of the Bible is important, and I’m reading the verb “the Father giveth” as present tense here.  If you find the King James confusing (some people do), then lets look at the verse in the ESV:

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

As you can see, the verb “gives” implies that the Father is giving people to Jesus.  It’s present tense.  A current and ongoing grace, and not something that is already settled long before I am born.

I think I’m not going out on a limb here when I say that God draws us to Jesus.  He presents us with opportunities in our life where we can choose to trust in God, where he can reveal Jesus to us.   I think these opportunities are open to everyone, but everyone does not come.  God desires to give all to Jesus and He gives everyone who will come to Him.

For example, in Acts 16, we’re told of the conversion of Lydia, a woman who already worshipped God, and when Paul came and told her about Jesus, God opened her heart to believing in Jesus.

Jesus is a gift to us.  A gift of a payment of a debt that we owed and could never repay.  In return, the Father “gives” Jesus a gift.  That gift is that of the followers who believe in Him, trust in Him and and find their hope in Him.

Because I’ve come to trust in Christ, I am a gift from the Father to the son.  He has given me to Jesus.  And not just me.  He’s willing to give anyone that will come to Jesus as a gift to become part of the bride of Christ.  That makes me feel secure.  How about you?

The Adventures of Pajama Girl and the Coronation of the Cupcake Queen {A FlyBy Promotions Review}

pajama girl

I am always on the lookout for good, high quality children’s literature.  If it’s going to teach my children the values I would like them to have, then that’s so much the better.  So, when I received the opportunity to review The Adventures of Pajama Girl and the Coronation of the Cupcake Queen,  I was very hopeful of finding a book that the children, especially the girls would enjoy.

About the Book

The story of The Adventures of Pajama Girl and the Coronation of the Cupcake Queen revolves around the adventures of a little girl named Ellie, who is also called pajama girl throughout the book, and her little sister, who is called Sis.  (My Ellie just loved that the main character shared her name :-) )  In the story, what adventures Ellie has in her dreams is determined by what kind of pajamas she wears.  For example, if Ellie wants a beach adventure, she would wear her beach themed pajamas.  In the story, Ellie wants a sweeter adventure, so she wears her cupcake pajamas.

Once they are dressed for bed and asleep, the adventure begins.  In this dream, the children are taken to a land of cupcakes, and hear that there is about to be a coronation for a new queen in Cupcake land.  The children set off to find the new cupcake queen, but when they meet her, they are startled by how sad the Cupcake Queen is.  Someone has stolen all her sprinkles, and the coronation will never be a success without sprinkles.

pajamagirl_social4

Sis has wondered off at Ellie’s request to go and play, so the Cupcake Queen and Ellie go to look for Sis and for the sprinkles.  They find them together as Ellie and another girl (the Cupcake Queen’s little sister) are playing together in a large pool of sprinkles.  The little girl has stolen the sprinkles because she’s jealous at not playing the part she thought she should play in the coronation fesitvities.

The Cupcake Queen and the sprinkle thief make up and apologize.  The sprinkles can now go back to being used on cupcakes and the coronation will be a success.  Ellie and Sis can also participate in the festivities before they leave their dream of cupcake land.

Our Thoughts

This is a really “sweet” story.  The illustrations are beautiful colored pencil drawings and the cupcakes, girls and sprinkles are a true joy to behold.  My preschoolers were both captivated by the drawings and by the story.  They found it to be fun and enjoyable.

The book also sends a message about stealing and about forgiveness that is there without being forced or heavy-handed.  I like books that teach a message, and this one does.

Pajama Girl Illustrations

Having said that, sometimes I feel like the book rhymes and other times it doesn’t.  I wish it was written just in rhyme or not because I feel like it would flow better.  Once I practiced reading it aloud a few times it didn’t matter, but the first couple of times, I felt kind of awkward reading it because I was expecting the rhyme scheme to remain the same and it didn’t seem to.

My eight year old, who also enjoyed the book did want an explanation for how Sis was able to join Pajama Girl on her adventures when they happened in dreamland.  I simply told her that it was story telling magic.

On the whole though, rhymes and logical queries aside this is a fun book and we really enjoyed it.  It’s something that I’m going to enjoy looking at and won’t mind reading over and over again if the children request it.

Purchasing the Book

This book can be purchased through Amazon,  Barnes and Noble and Christianbook.com as well as in many Christian bookstores.

And the exciting news for you is that when you purchase this book  online or in a book store, you can enter your receipt number and email address on the download page of the book website and receive ten free activity sheet downloads.  If you’ve got little girls that love to color, and do mazes and dot-to-dots the way mine do, this is a really fun download, so make sure you nab it!

And Now for a Giveaway….

I am generously being allowed to give away one copy of this book to a winner in the United States or Canada.  So, if you’d like to win, we’ll keep it simple :-)  Just comment and answer this question:  What is your favorite kind of cupcake?

This giveaway will end April 5, 2015, and the winner will be chosen by Random.org.

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing the prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller/FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate {A BookLook Bloggers Review}

Jesus Bread and Chocolate

We live in a mass-produced world.  Everyone of us can feel it.  Lots of plastic, cookie-cutter stores and the need to be trendy.  Not only is that the case, but we are often judged (and judge ourselves) on the things that we buy.  Do you ever feel a discontent with that?  I know that I do.

That’s where John J. Thompson’s Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate: Crafting a Handmade Faith in a Mass-Market World comes in.  He acknowledges that all around us the church is dying…Instead of an authentic faith, many of us are settling for a mass-market, mega-church shallow spirituality.  Thompson here has a total cultural indictment against our mass-market industrial revolution culture and a deep longing for the handcrafted artistry that was so much a hallmark of times past.

Along the way of making his case, Thompson dips deep into the memoirs of his personal faith and of the people who he comes in contact with.  I think that Thompson’s primary thesis, that you can’t mass produce faith is true.  However, as a type A personality, sometimes I have trouble in this book keeping his thread of thought as a thesis for faith-based living.  Far too often, I got lost in the threads of baking, chocolate and beer-making, instead of focusing on Jesus.

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of this book through the BookLook Bloggers program.  I was not required to write a positive review, and my opinions are my own.

All You Want to Know About the Bible in Pop Culture {A BookLook Bloggers Review}

the bible in pop culture

I’m constantly looking for ways to relate to the children that I teach, so when I saw the book All You Want to Know About the Bible in Pop Culture: Finding Our Creator in Superheroes, Prince Charming, and Other Modern Marvels, I immediately requested it for review because I was hoping to find some great ideas for the future.

In this book, author Kevin Harvey, takes several examples of pop culture and uses them as avenues for exploring the Bible.  This is a good thing.  He also takes idioms and cultural references and pinpoints them in the Bible, and he also shows examples of Christian portrayal in popular shows and movies.  He acknowledges at the forefront that no media is going to give a full portrayal of God and that the Bible is the only thing that can give that portrayal.

This work is slight, full of movie and television references, and is helpful if you’re looking for ideas to relate to young Christians or those who are not yet converted.  As someone who uses these kind of pop culture references to plan family movie nights at our church, I feel that this is fun read.  However, one of my main disappointments is that I felt like many of Harvey’s main examples of pop culture references, such as Bruce Almighty, Lost, The Book of Eli, and Firefly are ten years old or more.  The others tended to be superhero movies or cartoons, both franchises often geared towards families.  Sure, there is a chapter devoted to reality television and passing references to more modern movies and television shows, but given that they were not used as the primary examples of the Bible in pop culture, and we’re surrounded by entertainment media, I found myself wondering what the value is in the current media.  I found myself wondering why there were  no current examples of television shows that picture Christ.  I found myself wondering if maybe that meant that there were currently no great shows that even partially reflect our Christian message–or at least none that don’t have superheroes or cartoon characters.

Perhaps there’s just as much relevance in the shows and examples that Harvey doesn’t include as those that he does.  There would have been plenty of room for additional examples.  The body of the book is less than 150 pages long and additional length is provided by cross-word puzzles, mazes and other games for increasing Biblical literacy.  That makes this volume slight, and in many aspects already ten years behind the tide of primetime television and Hollywood blockbusters.

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of this book through the BookLook Bloggers program.  I was not required to write a positive review and my opinions are my own.

 

Thick as Thieves {A TOS Review Crew Review}

Thick as Thieves

My children and I love nothing better than a good high-quality book to use as a family read-aloud.  We’re always on the look out for the next book that we’re going to read together.  So, when I got the opportunity to review Thick as Thieves, the first book in the Circle C Milestones series,  I was excited about the opportunity bring this book into my daily reading time with my children.

About the Book

Circle C Milestones is actually the continuation of the stories of main character Andi Carter and her family with an intended audience of older children.  Author, Susan K. Marlow, has written two previous series containing Andrea Carter’s adventures for younger readers–Circle C Beginnings and Circle C Adventures.  Circle C Milestones is intended for children 12 and up, and you do not need to have read any of the previous series of books to start with this one.  We haven’t read any of the preceding series but we were able to pick up the action and story very easily when our nice trade paperback came in the mail.

Andrea Carter is a fourteen year old young lady, living in California during the 1880s.  She’s part of a ranching family, the Carters, who own one of the largest cattle ranches in the area–the Circle C ranch.  As the story begins, her beloved horse Taffy is pregnant and ready to deliver her first foal.  There’s some drama because the routine foaling goes awry due to the fact that Taffy is carrying twins!

Once Andi and Taffy get through the foaling, a big part of the plot is driven by Andi’s work to train the twins, the school that interferes with her horse training, an unpleasant new girl at school and some mysterious rustlers stealing cattle from the Circle C and other nearby ranches.  At the same time, Andrea deals with the pressure all around her to grow up and become a lady, even though she’s not quite ready to make that transition.

I would like to spend the rest of this review sharing some of the things I liked from the story (without giving too much away), but first I also want to mention that there’s also a free downloadable study guide that is a great companion to enrich the book so that you can use this book as a literature study or a unit study for your child.  It had vocabulary activities, reading comprehension and thoughtful (and scripturally based) extension questions, further information on horses and topics related to the book as well as some fun activities.  I highly recommend use of the study guide to make this a complete literature study.

i peter 3 8

A Few of My Favorite Things

One of the first things that I couldn’t help but notice when I opened the book was that there was a character theme that Marlow is exploring through the writing in this book.  I’m a huge proponent of character/virtue education, so I was excited to realize from the very beginning that I would be able to use this book to highlight a Christian virtue that I want to teach my children.  This book’s theme is “Friendship: Unselfishly giving support and expressing compassion to another.”  Because I knew the theme from the very beginning, it was easy for the children and I to look for examples of friendship and to talk about the qualities of a friend throughout our reading of the novel.

I loved the big family and the relationships between each of the family members.  Each family member had something special to offer to the story and you can see the love and connection between all the family members–even when they don’t get along.  I’m constantly telling my children that brothers and sisters love each other, and they were able to see the difference between the Carters (who all loved each other) and the Walkers (who were selfish and not loving).  I think that those differences are ones that will stick with the children as they’re thinking about what it means to be a good sibling or an unkind one.

I loved the way that Andi often turns to prayer.  She gives prayer of worries to the Lord, prayers of thanks, and prayers asking for help.  Good or bad, she’s always turning to God in prayer.  I love this because I want to always let my children know that they should pray continually, and it’s refreshing to see a book character who continually turns to God in prayer.  There’s a situation near the end of the book where she can’t even think of the words to pray and the book says,

She tried to pray, but no words came.  She hurt too much.  Tonight she would have to trust God to read her heart and know what she wanted to say.

This is great for so many reasons, but most of all because I want to pass on to my children that even when they don’t know what to play, the Holy Spirit knows what they need.

I love that Macy Walker isn’t a lovable character.  It is so much more meaningful when Andi decides to care and make and effort in being her friend because Macy is so repellent.  Between Macy’s manners, hygiene and combative personality, no one else is going to make an effort to be Macy’s friend, but Andi does.  Not only does this show Andi’s character, but it also shows that friendship and love can develop (through Jesus) between the unlikeliest of people.  I also love that Macy can attribute the difference between Andi and her family with her own family is because of the love of Jesus that Andi’s family shows to others.

There are so many good things about this book that I know that if you give it a try, you will probably love it.  This is the first Andi Carter book that we’ve read, and we enjoyed it so much that we decided to go back and read more, so we just started on Andi’s Pony Trouble. (I ordered directly through the website above and can attest that the shipping is quick and the products are well packaged.)  We’ve decided that we’re going to read all the way through the different series that Kregel Publishing offers for Andi Carter’s life, and of course, we can’t wait for the next Circle C Milestones book to come out this summer.  We’re completely captivated by Andi’s world.

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