Tabletop Marbles

Tabletop Marbles 2The other day, when we had finished up lunch and the dishes, we needed something for the girls to do. It was wet and rainy, as has been the case here for the last two months it seems. So, we opted for tabletop marbles. We used the normal marble rules but we had a tablecloth that formed the shooting ring.

Tabletop Marbles 3

Now, I don’t know all the rules and we only had one shooter marble. It got passed around and each person got a shot. On your shot, any marbles that made it outside of the center ring of the tablecloth (it was a circus themed cloth, after all) you got to keep. If you didn’t connect with any marbles the first time, you got an extra shot. (I’m a softie that way.)

Tabletop Marbles

Tabletop marbles lasted us a long time and we had a lot of fun. Especially since we found a different way to reset the marbles at the beginning of each game. I wish I could claim the whole idea of tabletop marbles but I have to give credit where credit is due. My awesome mother-in-law came up with the idea when the girls were getting restless and it was a hit. I imagine the girls will be asking to play tabletop marbles again next time it rains.

At Home.

Z is for … Zentangle

Z Zentangle ArtIf you are like me, you didn’t know the word zentangle even existed until fairly recently. I don’t know when the word came into use but our family learned the word around Thanksgiving. I know that specifically because I found a really cute turkey for the girls to color and when I went to the site (which I would link to if I knew it) to print it out, it was called a Zentangle Turkey. So, I started reading. And what I realized is that the word describes what I have always called “doodling.” Yep. Seriously. For as long as I can remember, I have drawn a shape and filled it in with various patterns, shadings, and shapes. That is the long and short of zentangle, as far as I can tell. It is something that is fun to do and we need to do more of it.

Z turkey twoa Z turkey onea

Some reasons I would like to include more zentangle art?

– It creates a focused attention.

– It is soothing, almost like meditation, but with busy hands.

– It gives just enough guidance to be creative but not be overwhelmed by a blank page if you start with a black-and-white outline picture.

– It allows inspiration to flow.

– Many retain information better when listening if their hands are busy so this is also a learning help.

– Coloring is just plain fun!

I know that none of those are scientific reasons. Just the same, they are true for our family. So, we’ll keep it up whenever the girls have something to listen to but need to have their hands busy.

If you need something to start with, hit up Pinterest. There are an unbelievable number of pins on there with the zentangle tag. But really, if you are working on a topic, you can just find a black line master picture and copy it. Then fill in the blanks with different patterns and/or colors. The more you do, the more you will enjoy it, I imagine. I do.

And in honor of Memorial Day, here is a poppy picture to design with zentangle designs. Click on the link below the picture to get access to the PDF file. Print out as many as you need and feel free to share the link to this post.

Z poppy

Poppy zentangle art

 At Home.

Exploring Ephesus from FishFlix.com – a TOS review

theatre Exploring Ephesus 2Have you ever had one of those DVDs that you think is going to be really neat and you are really excited about but when it is time to put it in, the kids all moan and groan? Well, Exploring Ephesus was this video for me. FishFlix.com sent us this really neat looking video, taking us on a tour of biblical Ephesus and the surrounding areas. When the giggly girls moaned and groaned, I told them that it was fine for them to skeedadle out of the room because this review was for me and At Home Dad. They didn’t have to watch it. However, once it got started, guess who was in the room pretty quickly, engrossed in what was going on – yep, all three of the giggly girls. And it fit into our Bible study perfectly because they were studying the book of Ephesians in preparation for Lads to Leaders when we got the video.

FishFlix.com Review

FishFlix.com is an online store that specializes in Christian movies and TV shows. This family friendly site has a lot to offer and a desire to meet your needs in quality entertainment. This company was born out of a desire to let the world know how rich the country of Turkey is in biblical history. FishFlix also partners with a radio ministry in Turkey to help spread the gospel in that country.

 FishFlix.com Review

Exploring Ephesus features Dr. Andy Jackson and Dr. Mark Wilson. This video allows you to be a fly on the wall, or camera as the case might be, listening to the conversation between these two scholars as they discuss the impact of culture and religion on the region and the dissemination of Christianity. As they travel through the area that today we call Turkey, we see the old city of Ephesus, the island of Patmos, Laodicea, and Smyrna.

I have always been fascinated by the apostle Paul, so to get to view Ephesus and the surrounding area is exciting to me. Dr. Jackson and Dr. Wilson’s discussion is conversational but filled with history and learning. For example, at the time Paul was in Ephesus, it was the 4th largest city in the Roman empire; it was the capital of the province of Asia; it had a large Jewish population; it was a transportation hub of both land and seas; and it was a center of Artemis worship.

ruins Exploring Ephesus

Have you thought about what the church was like in Ephesus? Our guides tell us about it and share with us examples of where they would have met. During the time of Paul in Ephesus, the church would have been meeting in houses. But there houses are nothing like our houses. We are shown examples of what terrace houses were like. These are the houses where the elite of the city would have lived. There was beautiful artwork drawn onto the rock of the walls and ceilings, as well as on stone floors to create the illusion of rugs. Even now, these are beautiful. There were several small rooms shown but they also showed that each terrace house would have had one large room where the house church of 40 or 50 people would have met. Now I don’t have to imagine it anymore. They showed me.

And remember Acts 19? Demetrius the silversmith and the riot against Paul because the craftsmen were losing money and afraid that their businesses would close? Dr. Jackson and Dr. Wilson take us from the commercial agora (business center) where the silversmith would have been selling idols of Artemis, down the road that the riot would have taken them and up into the theatre that held 25,000 people. They allow us to see, and they bring to life, the emotion that would have been flowing both in the Ephesians and in Paul and his companions. This passage comes to life now in a way it didn’t before. And this happened with so many biblical passages because I was shown:

  • caves where churches might have met;
  • the island of Patmos;
  • the cave where John received the Revelation;
  • walking from city to city, over hundreds of miles;
  • the Ephesian Gate;
  • aqueducts and water systems and how important they were;
  • the challenges the Christians in Ephesus faced striving to follow God in the center of Artemis worship and emperor worship; and so much more.

aqueduct Exploring Ephesus

The cinematography in Exploring Ephesus is so well done. We are shown beautiful vistas, blue waters, and majestic ruins. We see landscapes that are indescribable. We are taken into areas that are impossible to imagine so that now we don’t have to. Just seeing the video and the landscape allowed me to learn so much about this land that the apostles Paul and John traveled. But to add more interest, throughout the video, little tidbits are added to the bottom of the screen, giving you more information relevant to the site or the history of what is on the screen.

We thoroughly enjoyed this video. In fact, I learned so much that I have four pages of notes on the video. There were a lot of little things that brought this period of the New Testament to life. I know that we will be viewing this again and using it in the future. It is a treasure to have found FishFlix.com and Exploring Ephesus.

At Home.

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Homeschool Legacy – a TOS review

Knights & Nobles Homeschool LegacyWe have found that our girls love learning with unit studies. We have most often created our own so when we were given the opportunity to complete a Once-A-Week Unit Study by Homeschool Legacy, we were more than happy to do so. There were several unit studies and we were offered Knights & Nobles in a digital download. Excitement was pretty high around here when that list came out!

Homeschool Legacy has created their Once-A-Week Unit Study series to add a fun element to homeschool studies. With little-to-no prep required and recognizing that interest and fun creates long-lasting learning, the Once-A-Week Unit Study contains a number of different activities to stretch the learning and pleasure. Our unit study included family read alouds, individual reading, videos, games, arts and crafts, history, language, art history, music, and more. It also included a dedicated family devotional for each week of the study. When you throw that much hands on, subject intense activity at the kids, they can’t help but fall in love with the study and learn. A lot!

Knights and Nobles is designed to be a four week study and it has an optional fifth week activity. I downloaded the PDF to my Kindle so that access to the guide was easy, no matter the activity we were doing. Each week followed the same basic set-up. Each day of the week, we had a family read-aloud book. We kept on hand a number of books pertaining to the topics and the girls were assigned topics for the week to read on, such as knights, castles, kings and queens, and life on a manor. The other activities for the week are designed to be able to complete in a single day, thus the title Once-A-Week Unit Study. Our schedule worked better to spread the activities out over the course of the week, doing an activity or two each day. We did not complete every activity every week but we hit most of them and the girls had lots of fun.

chess

Some of the activities that we did for this study included:

  • learning chess
  • designing a coat of arms
  • designing stained glass
  • creating a catapult
  • studying armor and correlating it to the study of the Armor of God
  • studying castles and how they were made, watching a video on this
  • discussing music in medieval times and listening to authentic instruments
  • looking at a Lego castle online
  • learning about versal and illuminations
  • studying King Solomon

You can see that there is a great variety of activity suggestions. It was great fun learning about Knights & Nobles.

art activities

For those of you with American Heritage Girls or Boy Scouts, the requirements for merit badges are built into Homeschool Legacy’s studies. There are both science and history related merit badge correlations.

Additionally, these units are done so well that Homeschool Legacy says that any four combined Once-A-Week Unit Studies in history or science will be enough to serve as a year’s worth of learning and credit. You can find out more about that on their website.

catapult

A couple of notes:

  • I did find that while the library list was helpful, the Dewey decimals for the books and movies were pretty far off of how our library shelved the materials for a large portion of the books. This meant I had to spend more time than I had planned but didn’t really present a problem. Just something to have a heads-up on and perhaps check out online before you go if you can.
  • The suggested videos were difficult to find. In fact, it was only after we had passed one of the weeks that I located a way to rent one of the videos. We ended up substituting videos for most of the weeks. The good thing about this was that in searching for those videos, we found some of the suggested reading books that the oldest giggly girls had read were done as part of the My America series on Netflix. So she was able to watch videos on the Royal Diaries and compare them to the books.
  • The catapult was tricky to make. I don’t know if it was my personal difficulty or what. We did finally get it done with At Home Dad’s help. We were disappointed when we got it done though because it didn’t look at all as the girls were expecting. Which brings us to my next point.
  • It is easy to expand this study even farther. We found ourselves doing that naturally as the girls came up with questions or ideas they wanted to explore further. Once we had made the catapult and the girls recognized that it didn’t look or function like they expected, they wanted to figure out how to make a different catapult. So, our math skills and terms got a workout as they discussed fulcrums, levers, and angles. Another way this occurred was research. The girls would read about something they wanted to know more about and so we would hit the computer and research it.

This was a fun little unit and I think we all learned a lot. I know that we all had a lot of fun. After all, chess has become a new favorite game and the girls are noticing little things like castles on flags or shields and coats of arms on items. They’ll stop and talk about them and compare it to something they read or learned about. I think that makes this a success. At Home.

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Seeking Peace and Refuge in Times of Worry

Seeking peace

I know many are praying much the same as I am right now – peace. Peace is needed in so many areas of our lives. Tonight, I have done what I often forget to do but should do when I am struggling with something and needing peace: Go to God. Specifically, seek Him in His word. I am going to share with you some verses that I was looking up tonight as I was seeking God’s peace in my heart and relief from my human tendency to worry. I find great comfort in the book of Psalm so that is where I went.

 

Psalm 122:6-9 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May they be secure who love you. Peace be within your walls and security within your towers. For my brothers and companions’ sake I will say “Peace be within you!” For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.

Psalm 29:11 May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!

Psalm 34:14 Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Psalm 37:11 But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.

Psalm 85:10 Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.

Psalm 119:165 Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.

Psalm 128:6 May you see your children’s children! Peace be upon Israel!

Psalm 4:8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 37:37 Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace.

Psalm 85:8 Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.

Psalm 39:12 Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers.

Peace

Psalm 28:6-9
Blessed be the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Psalm 37:39-40
The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and save them,
because they take refuge in him.

Tonight, I am seeking refuge in him. And because I know and trust his word, I know that peace will be mine. I know myself enough to know that it may be interrupted as I struggle with being human and having worry but I also know that I will again seek refuge in my God. And He will be my stronghold.

May you also have peace tonight in our world of chaos, remembering that we are sojourners here. At Home.

A cappella music selections – a Family Christian review

Family Christian a cappella musicA couple of month ago, I was browsing through the Family Christian website. I was specifically looking for a cappella music. I prefer a cappella music for guiding my thoughts and, also, if it is a good group – they have amazing vocal abilities. I attend a church that uses only a cappella music for worship because we follow a first century church model. That simply means we follow the examples set forth in the New Testament, in the Bible.

So, I stumbled across a number of CDs that, while they came up under an a cappella search term, were obviously not actually a cappella. They had a single piece on the album, perhaps, that was without instruments. Or, most commonly, they had a few measures of introduction that was a cappella and it was in the description so it came up under the search term. I didn’t find the group that I expected to but I did come across these three CDs that I’m going to share with you.

Gaither Vocal BandGaither Vocal Band: a cappella

The Gaither Vocal Band is renown for their wonderful harmonies. Their album a cappella is full of a mixture of fun, pleasant songs. There are some good, old southern spirituals. There are some traditional hymns. There are some patriotic tunes. It is a nice combination. Most of the songs I knew before but there were a couple I didn’t know and really enjoyed. One of these new ones is called “Low Down The Chariot.” It is a pleasant song, reminding me of southern spirituals.

This is a disc that I have really enjoyed having. I really enjoy listening to music that has rich, full harmonies that are well-blended. The Gaither Vocal Band has done a lovely job with this disc. The harmonies are so well-done that I find myself just enjoying the enveloping sound and listening intently to the words. For me, this indicates a very well-done disc that will add much joy to my listening times.

The MartinsThe Martins: A Cappella

The Martins are a trio of siblings that sing together. They have a very sweet dedication and story in the liner notes for their disc about how they came about singing a cappella. It made me smile – a mom can make a lot of difference in the direction a child’s life ends up going and this is a good example of that. This disc is a collection of hymns, spirituals, and other inspirational pieces. It is an interesting blend of styles and that combination keeps it moving and interesting.

The Martins A Cappella is a lovely album full of heartfelt singing that draws you in. The harmonies that the Martins achieve are unusual but in a very good way. Their harmonies are strong and beautiful. You do not get the straight chords that you expect in a trio. You get a variety of chords and combinations. It is charming, haunting, pleasing, and I can’t seem to stop listening. I have really enjoyed this disc, the songs I didn’t know before, and the beautiful melodies and harmonies the Martins create.

CommittedCommitted: Committed

This disc was highly disappointing to me. I expected to be getting a Christian CD. Most of this disc is love songs. Not at all what I was looking for and led to think it was. I honestly listened to this disc once so that I truly knew what was on it but I did not really enjoy it.

I think Committed has good harmonies. I believe they are a very talented group because you hear tidbits of it in some of the songs. However, it is hidden with all of the a cappella creation of instruments. The use of voices to create drums and cymbals is not appealing to me. It feels like the songs have had a heavy hand at electronic mixing and editing, as well. It covers the beautiful songs and hides their voices. Between the editing/electronic mixing and this being mostly love songs, this was a totally bust for me and I am highly disappointed in this disc.

 

Overall, it was fun for me to get to pick through CDs looking for some really good, inspirational a cappella music from Family Christian. They have a lot of music to offer. A lot of it is instrumental in nature. Also, a lot of it seems to not be available in store but I found my local store to be extremely helpful with ordering the discs for me and letting me know when they arrived. If you are looking for a new CD or two, I would suggest taking a look at Gaither Vocal Band and The Martins. I truly have enjoyed both of these offerings from Family Christian.

At Home.

 

Family Christian disclosure

 

 

 

 

 

Y is for … Yes, Jesus Loves Me.

Y Yes Jesus Loves Me

I know we often sing this song for little ones. But, have you ever stopped to think about what an important truth it is? Jesus’ love for me is important to my life and my salvation. The same is true for each of you. If Jesus didn’t love me, He would not have died on the cross. If Jesus didn’t love me, He would not have taken on all of my sins, long before I ever committed them. He wouldn’t have come to earth. He wouldn’t have taught the apostles who in turn taught others who in turn, down through the years, have taught until, eventually, someone taught my parents and Bible class teachers who taught me the Good News – that Yes! Jesus Loves Me.

Me. In my sin. In my imperfect form. In my sinful, yet redeemable, ways. Yes, Jesus Loves Me.

And because He Loves Me, I have hope. I have the Bible and the plan of salvation. Because He Loves Me and taught His apostles, I was taught the truth of baptism for the remission of my sin and salvation.

So, I am thankful for the song that reminds us of that truth on such a simple, easy to understand level. Yes, Jesus Loves Me. The Bible tells me so.

And I am thankful for all those who have sung this song with my three giggly girls. So they will know, not just from me, but from so many who surround them with love, that Yes! Jesus Loves Me. I am thankful for Mrs. Pat, who is teaching the giggly girls sign language, and thankful that this song was part of the first class. Because we all need to know that Yes! Jesus Loves Me. And He loves you, too.

So sing it loudly and sing it often and never forget:

Yes! Jesus loves me.
Yes! Jesus loves me.
Yes! Jesus loves me.
The Bible tells me so.

At Home.

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