Christmas Time = Sucker Making Time

Holiday traditions are special. This is just another one of them because it has a long-standing history in our family, dating from my mother’s childhood. Enjoy the pictures of making cinnamon suckers.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

December Book Club – Celebrations

So, what to do for December for the Book Club? I know – we are already over a week into December. The theme is celebrations and I have tried to focus that down and bit and have been completely unsuccessful. So you know what? I’m going to share a number of books that we read this month. For years, we have wrapped 24 children’s books about the holidays and unwrapped one each night. I’ll share those with you at the end of the month or you can follow along day-by-day on the Instagram or Facebook page. I post those (almost) daily.

For myself, I am reading a number of holiday short stories and books that I have downloaded to my Kindle. Again, I did this years ago but have never ready them. So I am doing that this year. I started Dicken’s A Christmas Carol last night. Previous to that I had looked up some of the short stories like The Gift of the Magi, The Birds’ Christmas Carol, and The Christmas Cake. I will be reading others. Most of these are free to download since they are in the public domain. An excellent way to do some enjoyable holiday readying.

The other thing I am doing this month is reading with my youngest. We are going to work hard on The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe next week as part of our holiday studies. Something different. And of course, we will include some baking of some sort.

What are you reading and doing this month for celebrations?

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Beauty Of Memory – Christmas Ornaments

Memory comes rushing at us in all directions sometimes and I think the holiday season is one of those times. We find memories in all sorts of places and things – a song (or a complete series of songs), an experience, a decoration, a smell, or more. Some of the things that bring back the most memories for me, and makes new memories every year that I cherish, is our ornaments.

Our tree goes up when everyone is home and can help. We get it up and check lights. Getting the lights on is always an adventure and we laugh and enjoy it. Then we bring out the ornament box. We have ornaments from when At Home Dad and I were tiny wee ones and we have ornaments that we have bought since last Christmas. Each ornament is a memory – a place visited, a time together, someone we love, a book we enjoy, and it just goes on and on. It is too hard to name a favorite ornament and we are constantly adding to them.

Every year we add an ornament for the girls and try to make it something special. We add the girls’ initials and the year to each ornament added to the collection. This makes each one special.

When At Home Dad and I got married, we were blessed with two boxes of Christmas ornaments – one from each of our parents of ornament from different times of our childhoods. Many were handmade. Some were purchased. All were special and each year the girls ask about each one and enjoy hearing the recall of the time or place. I love sharing that, too. We will be passing the girls’ ornaments onto them when they are adults and decorating their own places. A tradition too special to skip.

So, what are some of the favorites?

This post is being linked up with the Homeschool Review Crew weekly blogging/social media challenge.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

November Online Book Club Wrap-up

I read the short writings from Beth Moore in November as part of the online book club’s theme of “thankful.” I chose these two books of musings for a couple of reasons – one, I had them but had not read them; two, focusing on the gift of love from God – Jesus Christ – is cause for thankfulness to me. I found that I really enjoyed most of both of these books.

Both of the books are similar in form and format. I have them both in ebook form on my Kindle. They are both mostly poetry with some anecdotes or other background writings included. They are fairly short. They can direct your mind to consider God’s love and gift in a new or different way.

If poetry is not your thing, you probably won’t get as much enjoyment out of these two books. If, however, you find poetry interesting and bringing a fresh perspective to thoughts, concepts, and ideas, these books will be right up your alley.

I found that the writings that took a fresh, human perspective on things – though not necessarily following the biblical accounts of history – really brought some new ideas to mind. The writing on Mary and newborn Jesus really brought home just how terrifying and difficult that time must have been for Mary. The interaction between Mary and Elizabeth made me consider the trying situation they were both in and the comfort they would have been for each other.

Poetry is used to emphasize ideas and one of my favorites follows. It is from Further Still, pp 131-132.

The Poet

You are the Poet, I am the poem.
You gather my lines from sunshine and storm

Glimpses of faith, steadfast and still
To harrowing falls and stubborn self-will

Dance down Jerusalem streets
To despair beneath the weeping tree

Sometimes pleasure – sometimes pain
Sometimes they blend ’til they seem the same

Each passage of life a poignant phrase
Challenging sense in a senseless maze

Alas, and at the end of time
Rhythm will come and words will rhyme.

Paper yellowed, wrestled, and worn
Still You are my Poet … and I am Your poem.

There were several favorites in Things Pondered. These include Seasons (p 108) and My Every One (p 135-136). Heroes was a stunning look at “heroes” of the Bible but the focus was on who was their hero. Time and again I found myself considering how wonderful each of the poems were.

As I find I have to do with writing from those who are Christian and part of a denomination, I need to warn of a place to be wary. There is a part where what denominations refer to as “the sinner’s prayer” is discussed. While much of the writing about this is in line with God’s word, the Bible includes much more in the plan of salvation than just saying a prayer in your heart. Please read and study the Bible with someone who understands that the plan of salvation is not found in a single, independent verse of the Bible. It is covered in many place and includes hearing the word of God, believing that word and that Jesus is the son of God, repenting of your sins (and this includes changing your ways), confessing your belief out loud to others, and being baptized for the remission of your sins. This is how you come into contact with the blood of Jesus, which is the only thing that can save your from your sins and the consequences of that sin. I would be happy to chat with you about this if you would like to. Please contact me.

These books are both very good. They are not study tools for the Bible, which sort of surprised me since I got them at a time when Beth Moore was sharing all of her Bible studies. But, they can bring a different perspective, causing you to pull out your Bible and read what God actually says in the historical account that fueled the poetry and stories written down by Beth Moore. I did enjoy these and there is much to be gleaned from them if you “pick out the meat and ignore the bones.”

Don’t forget to visit the others who are participating in the online book club. You can find them at the following blogs:

Hopkins Homeschool
Life on Chickadee Lane
School Days
At Home: Where Life Happens
The Life We Build
Let’s Get Real
Homeschool Coffee Break
Tots and Me
Bossy Homeschool Mom

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Blue Ribbon Awards, 2020 edition

The Blue Ribbon Awards is a tradition with the Homeschool Review Crew and it is a fun one for us as participants. I imagine it is also fun for the vendors. A number of categories are shared and every family in the Crew votes for their favorite in that category. We don’t vote in all categories since we didn’t review something from each of the categories.

Please visit the Crew blog to read about the overall winners from the Crew and to find other families who have shared their individual favorites. Without further ado, here are our family’s choices for the Blue Ribbon Award 2020.

Favorite Complete Curriculum – My Father’s World

Favorite Reading Supplement – Reading Eggs

Favorite Language Arts Resource – IEW

Favorite History/Social Studies Resource – Home School in the Woods Time Line Collection

Favorite History/Social Studies Book – YWAM – Jacob Deshazer

Favorite Science Resource – Journey Homeschool Academy – Upper Level Biology

Favorite Math Curriculu – CTCMath

Favorite Math Supplement – Critical Thinking Co: Mastering Logic & Math Problem Solving

Favorite Fine Arts Resource – Beyond the Stick Figure

Favorite Bible Resource – Drive Thru History Adventures – Bible Unearthed

Favorite Elementary Product – Let’s Go Geography

Favorite Middle School Product – Byron’s Games Continent Race

Favorite High School Product – Journey Homeschool Academy

Favorite Mom/Teacher Product – Fermentools Starter Kit

Best Resource I Didn’t Know I Needed – Fermentools Starter Kit

Favorite Fun Resource – Byron’s Games Continent Race

Kid’s Choice (Miss J chose this one) – Beyond the Stick Figure

Teen’s Choice #1 (Miss L chose this one) – My Father’s World

Teen’s Choice #2 (Miss E chose this one) – Journey Homeschool Academy

My Favorite – Sonrise Stables/History on Horseback

So, there you have it. Our favorites for the year. We got to review a some new products this year and we got to know some new vendors. We also got to use some old favorites that we know work well with the girls. We are continually blessed by the Crew and are looking forward to another year with them.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Thankfulness

When I start thinking about how to write about thankfulness, I find myself thinking how typical all my responses are. And I consider myself pathetic for that. Surely, I think, I can find something “bigger” or “better” or “more important” to be thankful about. I don’t want to be thankful for the same stuff as everyone else. And so I convince myself that these exercises in thankfulness are not all that effective.

Then, I hear my daughter singing.

Jesus paid it all;
All to him I owe;
Sin has left a crimson stain;
He washed it white as snow.

Y’all, that put it all in perspective real fast. Better than a glass of cold water in the face. That is all I need and in being thankful for that, I am giving thanks for all the other “stuff.” Stuff here on earth is nice but it is just stuff. If I have salvation, I have it all. And therein lies the thankfulness.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Linking up with the Homeschool Review Crew for the November challenge for week 2 – Giving Thanks.

CrossTimber Name Meaning Gifts ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Names are important. Names are personal. We did not choose our girls names based on meaning but I know many people who spend a lot of time choosing their children’s names based on what they mean. Sometimes those meanings are Biblical; sometimes those meanings are cultural. Both can be influential. CrossTimber Name Meaning Gifts are all about bringing that purpose and meaning to a beautiful gift. We received two of their products for the purpose of this review: the 8×10 Plaque print and the personalized AmazingName Print Activity Sheets.

Having reviewed CrossTimber in the past, I knew a bit about the quality of their name plaques and we chose to order one for our family surname. My girls all have their 5×7 plaques on their walls so we picked a beautiful print for our family room. We chose the Autumn Harvest print with our family name. The colors are vibrant and are very pretty. It includes a beautiful cursive name with an origin culture. There are three meanings included plus a Bible verse that relates to the meanings.

We thought our name was from a different culture than CrossTimber came up with but that was an interesting thing. It was fun to find out something new and different, without knowing for certain either way. (We know for a fact that our family name is hard to trace.) The meanings were fun to read and the girls got a kick out of the ideas. The Bible verse is a great life verse for anyone to choose and the fact that CrossTimber chose it to go with our name is pleasing.

The AmazingName Print Activity Sheets were a fun addition for this review. We had Miss J’s name put on these. (As we don’t use her full name on here on purpose, I have cropped pictures to show only the first letter of her name for these pictures when I need to. The sheets all actually contain the whole name.) There are plenty of activities included that range over a wide group of ages. Included are mazes, word searches, coloring pages, picture searches where the child’s name is embedded in different fonts in the picture, copywork with Bible verses, print and cursive exercises with the child’s name, and other activities.

From beginning to learn to print letters to enjoying challenging mazes and word searches, there is something there for all ages of children. I would guess these would go over well for children from ages 3 to about 11 or 12. Miss J is 11 and she found plenty to enjoy in them. There were a number of activities below her level but that was just fine. We are considering ordering some of these sets for some girls we know who might really enjoy them. They could be a fun, simple Christmas gift for these friends.

If you are looking for meaningful gifts for a birthday, holiday, or other special occasion, consider CrossTimber. Their gifts are beautiful and can be very encouraging for others.

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about the name meaning gifts that they ordered from CrossTimber, from 8×10 plaques to personalized bookmarks to personalized name cards.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Bible Studies from Julie Naturally ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Living a life for Christ begins with knowing the word of God. Spending time in the Bible can be guided many different ways. Two studies from Julie Naturally have been a part of guiding my daily time in the Bible recently. I have been using the Faith Journeys Bible Study Series: Romans bundle and the Faith Journeys Bible Study Series: Philippians.

Julie Naturally is the company run by Julie Polanco. She is striving to use her site and resources to help Christian homeschooling families. There are four parts to the Julie Naturally site – homeschooling, holy living, wholistic health, and homesteading. You can explore these, including her blog. But I am going to direct you to the Bible studies found in her shop. This is what I was using – Romans Bible Study Bundle and the Philippians Bible Study.

Romans Bible Study Bundle

This bundle included a downloadable and printable PDF of the Bible study of Romans, a downloadable/printable PDF of the coloring pages and memory verses, and access online to a video introduction to each of the 8 weeks of the Bible study. Each week of the study has a short video introduction, about 2 chapters to study for the week, and 6 days of study questions and discussion points. In between each week’s set of questions is a coloring page and there are memory verses for each week to print also.

coloring page from Romans study

Each daily study has a passage of verses to read and ponder. The daily questions are related to the reading. The questions range from basic information recall to considering background to apply the concepts to the world of today. Some of the actions for the daily study include prayer and spending time considering how God is working in a specific way. According to the website, this study is appropriate for an older teen or woman. Plan to spend about 15 or 20 minutes daily on this study if you work at the pace Julie planned.

Philippians Bible Study

The study of the book of Philippians is a 4 week study. It does not include a video component for each week. It could be coming later as it was mentioned in the introductory pages but it was not available when I was using the study. As with the Romans study, there are daily readings of a prescribed set of verses and the discussions are related to these verses.

The discussion includes questions of various depths, background information, and statements designed to provoke thought and application to daily life and the world around. According to the introduction to the study, each day’s reading and discussion in under 20 minutes.

My Thoughts

Both the Romans study and the Philippians study did not feel deep and challenging for me. I found that it took me about 5 minutes a day in the Philippians study to read and answer the questions. In the Romans study, it took me closer to 10 minutes because the readings were longer. I prefer my daily study to be 30-45 minutes or longer.

The videos were difficult for me to follow because her speaking style was not as organized as I prefer when working on a Bible study. The quality was similar to a live video from social media, including issues with the reception in week 3 where there content is missing at about the 7 minute mark.

I found that the daily discussions had some interesting points that I had not considered before. For example, Philippians starts with a discussion about leadership in the church. It was a good, thought provoking point. There were a few of these throughout the study. Overall, I found the questions to be recall level questions or to be worded so that I was unsure what was being asked for. If you are going to print the study, I recommend printing two pages of the study per page because there is a lot of blank space on every page, much more than is needed for writing.

I would have greatly appreciated a leader’s guide to go along with this so that I could figure out where she was going with some of the discussions. Several times, I left questions blank because it was unclear what she was considering.

I added the words from Philippians 4:8 to each of the shapes in this coloring page to help me focus on that verse.

I did enjoy the coloring pages in the Philippians study. I liked that the coloring pages in the Romans study had scripture on each one, though it wasn’t stated on the page where the scripture was found.

It was not a favorite study for me and I don’t feel like it would take my girls deep enough into the text. I can really see this being good for others. I found that there were some very good ideas covered in these studies. If you are a fairly new Christian or a younger teen, I can see these studies being appropriate for you. They are also appropriate if you are looking for a simple daily study that doesn’t require a lot of effort or in depth study.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read about others who have been using these studies from Julie Naturally.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Economics Class by Boundary Stone ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Economics is something that is beneficial for everyone to know. Understanding the process by which goods and services are created and traded/received is a fundamental part of our society and world. Boundary Stone has created an online course paired with an in-print book for a high school economics class.

Economics Online Course Bundle has several components – an online portal with videos, daily check lists, quizzes, reviews; a digital PDF teacher’s guide; a hardback textbook. The course also asks for two additional books. Access is for 12 months but the course is designed to be completed in one semesters with daily lessons.

The main text is Basic Economics, A Natural Law Approach to Economics. It is a hardback text written by Clarence Carson and Paul Cleveland. It is over 370 pages and contains the main information for the course. There are three sections to the course: The Framework of Economics, The Production and Distribution of Goods, and the Politico-Economic Systems.

The Framework of Economics discusses basic economics, natural laws and the impact on economics, government and some of the history, society and morality, and property. These ideas and concepts are all placed in a historical framework and this part of the text reads like a history book. Section II gets into goods and how we make or receive goods, the market and how it reflects society, money, inflation, pricing, and much more. Titles of chapters in Section III include Manorial-Feudal System, Mercantilism, Free Enterprise, Corporatism, Welfarism, and Communism.

The online coursework has a checklist for daily work to help keep the student on track and moving forward. It is a numbered list of what is to be read, videos from Paul Cleveland, some linked YouTube videos, some linked articles to read, questions to be answered, quizzes to be taken, or unit tests to complete. There are also activities that are added in sometimes.

The online dashboard has a lot of information to help students stay on track. The left hand side has drop down menus that allow you to click on your next lesson and head directly there or something you have previously completed if you need to do a review. The top section has a percentage complete for the course so you can see at a glance how far you have come. It also has arrows to simply move forward or backward one lesson. With a linked PDF of the text, online review questions, and a place to mark complete when you have done each of the numbered parts of the lesson.

I have found the text to be an interesting read, though I disagree with the general tone of a large part of the discussion. It has challenged me to consider what I have been taught, to do my own research and reading, and to think about some of the concepts and ideas presented. I would recommend a parent or teacher take a look at the text before handing it to the student so that they are well aware of the outlook of this program. I have learned a lot and will continue on through the book, though my students will not be using it at this time.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read more reviews on the program from Boundary Stone.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Thankful ~ November 2020 Book Club

I have joined in with some online friends for a book club. We are doing it simply. Hopkins Homeschool is heading it up. Each month, she will announce a theme. We will pick a book based on that theme. Read your book, or books, during the month. That’s it.

I, and some other bloggers, are going to post at the beginning of the month about our choices. Then, at the end of the month, we’ll come back and write about what we did, the book(s) we or our family read, and anything we might have done to make it special. The bloggers joining in are:

Hopkins Homeschool
Life on Chickadee Lane
School Days
At Home: Where Life Happens
The Life We Build
Let’s Get Real
Homeschool Coffee Break
Tots and Me
Bossy Homeschool Mom

For the theme of Thankful, I chose to find a book that will encourage me to be thankful. When I was looking around what I had, I found two books of poetry by Beth Moore. I had never read them before and opened one up. I was immediately struck by the poetry and the vingettes she writes. I decided that these two books would be the start of my thankful books for November.

The two books are:

Things Pondered: From the Heart of a Lesser Woman

Further Still: a collection of poetry and vignettes

I am looking forward to reading about what the others are doing this month. If you would like to join in, just leave me a comment below or on social media about what you are reading under the theme of thankful this month.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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