Being Me, Not Better Than You – Guest Post for Lads To Leaders Entry

Likes, dislikes, good comments, bad comments. The world has always been full of people who judge one another. Today, we have the online platforms to reach people all over the world. Because of the nature of social media, people can hide behind a screen and say whatever they want, without accountability. Unfortunately, many people use their online personality to cause more harm than good. On the receiving end, people care what others think. Some people constantly compare themselves to others, especially after receiving hateful comments. Some of those people even try to change themselves to fit in. Hebrews 6:19 talks about hope being an anchor for the soul. In today’s world, where is their hope? What do you hope for?

Matthew West wrote a song that I love to listen to. It gives me hope. It is called The Me You Made. The first verse reads:

I wish I looked like Bradley Cooper

Wish I had movie star muscles like Chris Pratt

I wish my kids thought I was cooler

Wish I wasn’t just a skinny-jean wearin’ dad

Now there’s another thing I’m wishin’

I wish I didn’t say what I just said

‘Cause now everybody’s heard

All the insecure voices in my head

The first verse is addressing how he compares himself to everyone else. But in 2 Corinthians 10:12, Paul reminds us not to compare ourselves to others who use themselves as a comparison, which is conceited. The second verse of the song is where he starts talking about social media. He says:

The whole world is postin’ pictures (yeah)

Looks like everybody else has the perfect life

And we’re just watchin’ from the bleachers (yeah)

Discontent and thinkin’, “Wouldn’t it be nice?”

But comparison is the thief of joy

Trust me, I know

‘Cause for way too long, I let it steal my joy

But not anymore

On social media, everything looks perfect. Four billion people from all over the world use social media, posting pictures, videos, or memes that show off their lives. The second half of this verse quotes President Roosevelt. “Comparison is the thief of joy” means that comparing oneself to others takes away one’s own happiness. This is the part of the song where he stops comparing himself to others. Lastly, the chorus:

Hey

I don’t wanna spend my life

Wishin’ I was different

That would be a waste of time

‘Cause I know You

You love me just as I am

And I know my God don’t make mistakes

So, I’m just gonna be the me You made

Now we come to the part of the song that talks about our theme this year, Better Than. 

In Romans 3:9, it says, “Are we better than they? Not at all.” We are not any better or worse than anyone else. In this case, Paul was referring to the difference and separation between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. But the same concept applies to us today. Even though something might look perfect on social media, those people are showing themselves through a filter. Don’t put your trust and admiration into something that is being filtered. One of the reasons we can trust in God with our whole selves is because He is completely honest and open with us. Psalm 118:8 says that “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” 

We can compare everything with the phrase “better than.” We like some things better than other things. No one is better than anyone else. In Hebrews, the New Law is better than the Old. 

We should put our trust in God because He created us exactly the way we should be. There is no “better than” with people. God doesn’t make mistakes; we know because the Bible says so in Matthew 5:48, Psalm 18:30, Deuteronomy 32:4, 2 Samuel 22:31, and many other verses.

The Me You Made ends by saying “I’m just gonna be the me You made,” acknowledging that there is no way for us to be completely perfect. We are human and humans make mistakes, but God did not make a mistake when He made each and every one of us the way we are. We shouldn’t have to change ourselves to fit into the “perfect” world behind a screen.

We know that our God loves us, just the way we are, and that gives us hope.

image created by guest author

Winter Education Doesn’t Have to be Different

You know, I struggle to think of education during different times of years as different. And that is okay. I can stay the course and be pleased with that choice.

We often see others posting of all the great things they do differently for a change in season or a holiday or what-not. At that time, it is easy to let the monster of comparison creep in. But don’t, y’all! We are not all the same. I am speaking to myself here. Just this morning, I was thinking how I needed to get the girls outside more because they aren’t “active enough.” But my girls are; just in different ways than that parent was talking about. I was letting comparison slip into my thinking and my decisions. Bad choice. That seldom turns out good for me. 🙂

So, what does winter education look like? Well, it looks like regular school days for most of the time. It looks like more breaks and a few special, fun activities. We do tend to do more puzzles. We take more holiday time off. In a “normal” year, we spend some time with family and visit NM, where we get to see good snow and do some hiking and maybe visit a museum or two. But, really, those kinds of things happen other times of the year, too.

So, winter education is really no different for us here in central Texas. And that is okay. So, to the mom or dad who is looking around, get some ideas but remember you know best what works for your kiddos. Mine need routine and time in the dance studios. Time outside doesn’t rejuvenate them like others say their kiddos need. Give mine a good song and a barre for their rejuvenation. Pick and choose what is right for your students and don’t waver in your thinking just because someone else posts a fun looking idea. You know. Stay the course.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Linking up with the Homeschool Review Crew for their monthly blogging challenges. This week is How do you homeschool in the winter? Head over to the blog to read up on lots of ideas and takes on this theme.


Lemony Chicken Stir-fry ~ recipe

We enjoy stir-fry dinners but don’t do them much because so many of the recipes require soy or corn in one way or another. I figured out a better way from looking at a few different recipes and came up with my own version that was loved.

Lemony Chicken Stir-Fry Recipe

Ingredients:
1/2 onion – chopped
3 carrots – chopped into small bits
3 large chicken tenders or 2 chicken breasts – cut into small pieces
3 cups frozen broccoli
1/2 C lemon juice (I just used the bottled kind and eye balled it.)
4-6 T honey (Again, I just eye balled it and you can adjust after it is added to the stir-fry.)
2 T worchestershire sauce
1/4 C water
1 T potato starch (can use a cornstarch, instead)
garlic powder
ginger powder
salt
pepper
coconut oil

  1. Prep the veggies and the meat. Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic, and ginger over the uncooked chicken after it is cut. Steam the broccoli in the microwave.
  2. Mix the lemon, honey, worchestershire, water and potato starch in a small bowl.
  3. Heat coconut oil in a skillet until hot. Add the onions and carrots. Cook on medium high heat until the carrots are beginning to get tender.
  4. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook until done. Depending on the size of your pieces of meat, it should only take 8-10 minutes, stirring often. Add more coconut oil if the chicken is sticking to the skillet.
  5. Add the broccoli. Stir well.
  6. Add the lemon mixture and stir well. Heat until the mixture thickens and coats everything.
  7. Adjust your flavors. We added additional lemon juice and a bit of salt at this point. Add what tastes good to you.
  8. Serve with rice.

Enjoy.
Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Snowflakes Are Beautiful – round up of posts

Snowflakes and winter go together in our minds but if you live in central Texas, they don’t often truly happen together. Today is the exception and it has been lovely! While we are in the midst of winter, I thought I would share a few ideas of books and activities with you. Here is a peek at what our yard looks like this evening.

The Homeschool Review Crew has a blogging/social media challenge this week on snowflakes. There have been a number of activities and books we have used over the years to discuss the beauty of snow. Here are a few posts to take a look at if you are looking for ideas.

Snow Experiments – why snow looks white

FIAR: Katy and The Big Snow, part 1 and part 2 – unit study

Snowflake Baby – creative writing

January Book Basket (2014) – books on snow and winter

Painting Crystals – looking at crystals form

FIAR: Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening – unit study

Singing Through December, Part 2 – has several fun activities related to snow

Don’t forget to check out Snowflake Bentley and search online for pictures of snowflakes. The biography of this photographer is interesting and there are several good titles out there, including an excellent picture book on him.

Blessings,
Lori Hooten

Winter – Online Book Club

The Online Book Club is enjoying books on Winter this month. I love the stories of winter from Laura Ingalls Wilder. We watched a documentary on her a week or so ago and it was lovely (just move on past where they read some current day issues into what was culturally correct for Laura). It made me want to pull out stories by her that reflect the idea or the time frame of winter. So, I’m going to be doing that. Obviously, The Long Winter must be read. 🙂

I also pulled out Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Family Collection to look through. I also grabbed the cookbook that Melissa Gilbert created that has some great memoirs of hers regarding playing Laura on the TV series. The other book for this that I picked up was by Rose Wilder Lane and is her Young Pioneers.

I am a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her writings, as well as writing about her. I have a good collection that I enjoy going back to once in a while so I am glad to share her writing with this theme.

Be sure to visit the other members of the Online Book Club to see what they are doing this month for the theme of Winter.

Hopkins Homeschool
The Life We Build
Homeschool Coffee Break
A Net In Time

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

A Reading Plan for 2021

The first challenge for the year from the Homeschool Review Crew is about reading goals for the adult(s) of the homeschool. We often make plans or goals for our children, especially when it is built into great curriculum like From Adam to Us (what my 6th grader is completing) or Sharon Watson’s high school literature courses. But what about you? Do you have goals?

I am not a huge fan of making a specific list and working through it. The reason is that my moods and ideas change as I grow through the year. Also, sometimes I want something challenging but other times I want something light and easy to read. So, what is my goal going to be?

I think I will keep it the same as it has been for the last couple of year. Read. Challenge myself some. Read the Bible daily. Read good Bible studies. Read biographies. Read some titles that I “should have read;” also known as classics. 🙂 Read some tough things. Read some light things. But mostly, read.

I like to track what I have completed (or bombed out in the middle of) in my school planner. I just jot the title of the book down at the top of my monthly page. I use a color of ink that I like and that is how my tracking works. Simple. Easy. No stress but I see it often enough that if I get off track and quit reading, I’ll get myself back on track.

So, do you have a goal this year? If so, great. If not, I encourage you to make a simple one that will keep you growing and reading.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Using SchoolhouseTeachers.com Recently ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this product free through the Homeschool Review Crew.

The Ultimate PreK-12 Annual Membership accessed through SchoolhouseTeachers.com contains a wealth of information, classes, planning tools, helps, and encouragement. From video courses to text courses, from PK classes through courses interesting for adults, you will find just about anything you could want in home education and resources to support all types of learning – home education, virtual learning, blended learning, or others that I don’t even know about.

One of the great things about SchoolhouseTeachers is that you can browse on the site in so many ways. You can search by grade level, subject type, need, keyword, learning style, and more. You come up with lots of options to explore and you can pick and choose what looks like a great fit for your own crew. And if it isn’t? No problem. Search again and pick something different. You have access to it ALL! One free for one year of ALL material on the site.

So, what have we been doing with the site?

The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe Literature Kit

With my 6th grader, we read the book together during December. We used some of the information from the kit to discuss. We talked a bit about C.S. Lewis. We looked at the background for why the children went to the country. We had previously done a WWII study so she was familiar with a lot of but it was good to check in with the history again. She kept a list of all the foods mentioned in the story as we read and we talked about what “tea” meant. At the end of the story, she did a bit of researching of recipes and picked from her list of foods to create a tea party. She cooked and invited her family and we enjoyed a Narnia tea time.

This literature kit is set up for a study to last several weeks. Because we were using it as a one week study during a break from our regular schedule, we adapted by picking a choosing a few of the discussions and activities to do. Activities we didn’t use included making snowflakes and snowflake ornaments, researching beavers, a study on Father Christmas, looking up flowers, how to draw a mouse, and much more. There is a four week lesson plan included.

I also had her pop over to the Literature Lessons for The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. We had some quick discussions about some of the questions there. They covered characters, setting, plot, conflict, and theme. There are suggested answers in a separate file. These questions can also be done using an interactive content tool. It asks the question and has a space to type the response. The responses are emailed to the email address entered by the student when starting the quiz.

Foreign Language – French

We have been hoping for a French class to show up on here and one did. I have just started to explore it a little bit to see how it will work for my 9th grader. It appears that they are 3-4 years worth of high school materials for her so we will likely be taking this up soon. It includes course work from elementary, middle, and high school levels.

Videos

We were excited to see in the Christmas Corner of the Seasonal Resources that there was a video on The Candy Maker’s Christmas. This relates to a favorite holiday book we read every year so we were pleased to watch the short video on it. It also had a worksheet to go along with it if we had chosen to use it.

There are a lot of other video options, from materials to go along with specific classes (one of our favorites is always Drive Thru History) to devotional materials available through RightNow Media. There are over 450 videos available with your membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.

Holidays

There are tons of holiday materials that are written specifically for the holiday or are a part of a larger course that have been separated out to make doing a holiday unit study easy. With Valentine’s Day and President’s Day both coming up next month, there are plenty of materials available to pick something to add a change to the school routine. I was looking at a couple of the printable games to use for Valentine’s Day or perhaps a poetry study. There is a book by Patricia McLaughlin titled “All The Places To Love” that reads like poetry and has a study but there is also a study of Shakepeare’s “Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day?” Both look like short but strong options for a 6th grader.

Other Resources

I can’t discuss them all but I want to name a few more that are worth checking out:
– School Boxes (grade level curriculum options) – these are full of curriculum choices for a particular level to be able to quickly and easily pull together a full curriculum
– Literacy Center
– Special Needs Center
– Parents eBook Library
– Focused Learning Centers
– High School Help
– Planning: includes printable planners and schedule makers to customize

Much more is included on SchoolhouseTeachers.com. This just barely scratches the surface. Many other reviewers for the Homeschool Review Crew have written about how they have recently been using the Ultimate PreK-12 Annual Membership and some about how it will continue to be used in the coming months for their homeschools. Please pop over to the Crew blog and read more reviews.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

December Online Book Club Wrap-up And Turning the Page – Celebrations

Well, I have enjoyed some down time to read this month and ended up reading a total of 35 books. This does include the 24 books that were holiday themed and we used a nightly read alouds. We celebrate many things with books and Christmas is no different. Books galore! There were, of course, books given as gifts as well. 🙂

Other than the 24 books that we read, most of which were picture books, I read 10 of my own. These included the books I mentioned in the opening post for the December Online Book Club. I thoroughly enjoyed The Christmas Cake and The Gift of the Magi. The Birds’ Christmas Carol was odd but enjoyable. These three short stories were quick and easy reads. I also read A Christmas Carol, the Charles Dickens’ classic. I had never read the original before and I enjoyed it a lot. It wasn’t really that long so it didn’t take but a few days’ worth of reading time.

In addition to these books, focused around Celebrations, I read several others sent to me by a friend. You can find reviews of them on the A Net In Time blog, which I am linking on each title. I thoroughly enjoyed The Jane Austen Society and Miss Austen. Another that I just was thrilled with as The Porcupine Year. This was a middle school level book but I loved it an am looking for the other two related to it at the library. A Place At The Table and All of Me were also in the box of books I received. I flew through both of these. I wouldn’t say I loved them but they were still enjoyable and had excellent story lines. Oh, yeah, almost forgot, the picture book We Believe In You was in there, along with My Friendship Journal, which the girls grabbed immediately.

The other one on my list for the month was in conjunction with a unit study with Miss J on The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. She thought she didn’t like the book. She found out she was wrong and begged for more each time we had to stop. A win!

So, as you can see it was a strong month for books. The theme of celebration for the online book club really got me considering and reading a few books that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I enjoyed the month.

Don’t forget to check in with the other participants to see what they read this month.
Also, head over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog to see what others wrote about for the blogging/social media challenge on Turning The Page. Happy New Year!

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Tastes and Smells of Christmas

Many people think of the holidays and their mind immediately thinks of the taste and smell of peppermint.

Candy canes

Red and white

Minty tastes and smells

And I’ll admit that much of Christmas does tend to have been enveloped by peppermint. We have read books about candy canes, studied gingerbread houses that are decorated with candy cane or peppermint drops, and made nutcrackers decorated with candy canes.

We have a nutcracker that is the peppermint nutcracker, holding peppermint drops. He’s a definite favorite.

We have candy canes on our tree and as part of some of our ornaments.

When I was growing up, I had a holiday countdown that had one mini candy cane tied to each day. I know I will have it but have not come across it this year. The girls wanted me to put it up but I just haven’t found it.

But, for me, cinnamon is as much a smell and taste of Christmas and holidays as peppermint, if not more. We have made suckers in our family for much longer than I have been around. It is one of our long standing traditions.

Bizcochitos are yummy cookies that tend to have a bit of a cinnamony smell to them and since they are a staple of the holidays in New Mexico, it is a cookie that I love to smell baking. Of course, I love to eat them, too.

making bizcochitos 2016

Cinnamon sugar nuts is another favorite to make. We make them any time but that cinnamon smell just permeates the house and makes it smell like the holidays.

Cinnamon candles, cinnamon brooms, cinnamon pinecones – these are all smells that bring me right back to the holidays at my parent’s house, tucked up by the fire watching the snow come down. We don’t get to enjoy that this year but the cinnamon smell will take me back there. And my middle girl made me cinnamon sugar nuts today while I was doing the grocery shopping so I came home to that beautiful smell of the holidays.

Happy holidays. Merry Christmas!

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

This post is being linked up at the Homeschool Review Crew December Challenge. Head over to read more posts about what peppermint brought to mind for other bloggers. Merry Christmas and may you have plenty of beautiful tastes and smells this holiday season.

Songs Are to Celebrate

Celebration can go any number of different ways. For me, it is always accompanied by song. I enjoy singing and making music – singing, piano, accompanying others, French horn, and more. Celebration is joy and music is joy so the two just naturally go together for me.

During the holidays, we have several expectations, some of which we just aren’t going to be able to do this year. One of these is caroling with our church family. We will still do caroling within our family but we all enjoy traipsing around the town and countryside singing carols to those who cannot get out for one reason or another, or just who may need some joy. We will miss that this year.

Last year, Miss E sang at a local retirement center. We had planned to add the violin and the guitar to the program this year. Again, not happening. What will happen is that Miss L is putting the finishing touches on a holiday concert that we will record or do via Facebook Live. I am looking forward to sharing this celebration of the season with you all!

This year, we have had several sessions of sitting around singing. Whether it be just off the cuff or with a CD, singing songs at this time of year is just part of the happiness. We grab one of our many songbooks of Christmas songs and just have fun.

Another joy this year has been the girls singing and working together to learn songs on their instruments. Miss L, as I mentioned, has been working on her violin program. Miss J has been working with her guitar. The other day, Miss L helped Miss J because she was getting frustrated. They spent about 2 1/2 hours together in a bedroom secretly working on a performance for us. Miss J played her guitar and Miss L helped her with the ukelele. All of a sudden, Miss J loves playing the guitar and has spent quite a bit of time this week playing Christmas songs for me.

This is what music is about. Joy. Hope. Fun. Sharing. Making yourself and others smile.

I could go on and on about the other benefits of music but really, it makes life better. What more do you need. Celebrate with songs today. Don’t wait. You’ll be smiling because you did.

Related posts about singing in our home:
Why A Piano Is Important
Singing Through December, Part 1
Singing Through December, Part 2

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Linking up with the blogging challenge from The Homeschool Review Crew. Head over to their blog to read more posts about Celebrating With Songs.

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