Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring Cleaning your heart and soul

This week’s Homekeeper’s Journal is about Spring Cleaning of a different sort….

If you'd like to write your own Homekeeper's Journal, visit The Christian HomeKeeper Network blog where you can also leave a link back to your post.   While you are there you can check out their E-Book Giveaway!

In my kitchen this week …..we've had birthday cake, cupcakes and brownies.  We're also going to try some new recipes from several Pampered Chef cookbooks; Mango Confetti Salsa, Easy Tortellini Toss, Cheesy Chicken Chilaquiles, and Three Cheese Mac & Cheese.  I'll also be showing some friends how to make Bleu Cheese and Bacon Potato Crisps!  Yummy!!!  I can't wait to try them all :-)

In my home this week …..we are working on cleaning and organizing, getting school work done and preparing for kitchen shows and fundraisers (well, that last part is just me!).  There are also doctor appointments for family members and soon we will start that other Spring Cleaning process.  It just needs to warm up a little first so I can open windows and let fresh air flow through the house.  As noted by what we are having in the kitchen this week, we've celebrated a birthday this week.  My twin girls are now 11.   My 4 youngest children also celebrated another birthday, their birthday of salvation.  On Saturday evening, they prayed the sinner's prayer and accepted Jesus into their hearts.  A mom (and dad) couldn't be more proud of that moment! 

Read these verses

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22

These verses tell me ……we are sinners, we have been since birth.  Despite that, we can come to Jesus and ask for forgiveness, we can accept him into our hearts and be SAVED and have Eternal Life in Heaven.  When we are saved, truly saved, we have a new sense of purpose.  We begin to have and want a closer relationship with GOD, we change our worldly ways.  We cleanse our heart and souls!

Now read these verses

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

These verses tell me ………that with a cleansed heart, we start to put worldly things aside.  They no longer become the focus of our lives.  We look to Jesus for what we need.  When we begin to study GOD's word AND LIVE GOD's word, we learn what he wants for us and we begin to live it in our lives. 

I will start Spring Cleaning my heart this week by …… continuing to study GOD's word and watching my tongue, especially with my children. 

I will Spring Clean My Heart ….everyday.  It will be a journey, but one that I am ready to take.  Our family will also be discussing preparations with our Pastor about Baptism by immersion.  This will be our symbol of cleansing our hearts, of our salvation, to be open to GOD's word and his will for our lives.  Baptism isn't securing our salvation; our belief in Jesus, that we are sinners and accepting him into our hearts are what secure our salvation.  We are making that effort to be right with GOD.....

How will you be spring cleaning your heart and soul?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Creating a Blog Button Grabber

Wow, I never thought it would be so difficult to create a blog button grabber for my blog!  After trying code from 4 different tutorials, I finally found a  Grab My Button Code Generator to make the process easy as pie!  You just plug in your blog title, blog location and blog button location, click on preview to see what it will look like on your site, and then click on GET CODE to get the code you need to copy and paste into your Text Widget (if using Wordpress, like me.  It seems there's lots of code out there that will work with Blogger, but Wordpress is a little more complicated apparently).   You can also change the border, background and font color to complement your blog with this generator.  Try the Generator for yourself and see what you think!

Organizing school work and notes

Who doesn't like to be organized?  It brings a peace and calm to our environment, yet for some it's so hard to attain.  What gets in the way?  For us, it's never ending mountains of paperwork.  I just can't seem to get rid of any of it!  I have gotten better at it, but it's still a work in progress and one that I'm sure I'll be struggling with for a long time.  I can't even begin to tell you about all the things I've purchased in the name of "organization".  Some of it is used and some sits just waiting, lonely in a corner, to be put to use.

I find that my girls are the same way, in that they are constantly searching for that next best organization item....and then there is the "Mom, I really need a notebook for this; I need a notebook for that"...there are notebooks, binders, looseleaf papers, folders and accordian files EVERYWHERE!  They're always asking me for ways to record and keep track of their assignments, too.  First I looked into the FREE version of Homeschool Tracker.  It worked well for a little while.  Then a fellow homeschooler recommended Homeschool SkedTrack, which is very similar to Homeschool Tracker, but online and also gives the student the availability to check off completed assignments.  Both are great programs, but they didn't really fit ALL of our needs.  Another friend had talked about using Microsoft OneNote for her son to use as a virtual notebook.  What?  A virtual notebook?  You mean no more loose papers, 10 million notebooks, or a need for multiple binders and folders?  Ok, so 10 million is an overstatement, but could OneNote work for us?  I decided to look into it more and have been working on setting up academic notebooks for the kids this week.  OneNote has many notebook templates, including one specifically for students. 

Here is an explanation taken from the OneNote website explaining exactly what OneNote is (we are using OneNote 2007): 

Microsoft OneNote 2010 is a digital notebook that provides a single place where you can gather all of your notes and information, with the added benefits of powerful search capabilities to find what you are looking for quickly, plus easy-to-use shared notebooks so you can manage information overload and work together with others more effectively.

Unlike paper-based systems, word processing programs, e-mail systems, or other productivity programs, OneNote delivers the flexibility to gather and organize text, pictures, digital handwriting, audio and video recordings, and more — all in one digital notebook on your computer. OneNote can help you become more productive by keeping the information you need at your fingertips and reducing time spent searching for information across e-mail messages, paper notebooks, file folders, and printouts.

So, I've set out to utilize this new tool (new to us anyway).  Here is a screen shot of what the student planner looks like for us right now:

As you can see, there are tabs across the top.  These are called sections.  The template comes preloaded with the Start Here, To Do, Class A, Class B, Class C, Project 1, Project 2, and Student Clubs tabs.  My thought is to use the To Do tab for assignment planning.  I haven't yet decided whether to update this daily, weekly or monthly yet.  This should give each of the children a starting point each day on what to accomplish.  Here is what I've done so far to customize the notebook:

  • I renamed the Class Tabs to fit the subjects, Math, Science & Social Studies 

  • I created a Bible Studies, Reading Log and Grades tab.   

  • I created two Section Groups for those subjects that may include more than one subsection. 

    • The first Section Group I created was for Language Arts, which then broke down into tabs labeled Spelling, English/Grammar, Handwriting, and Writing Journal. 

    • The second Section Group I created was for Music; this broke down to Hymn Study, Composers, and Instruments.    

  • We've been able to change page templates in each of the sections to match (some closer than others) the subject.  There are preloaded templates that are planner, academic, blank or decorative in nature. 

  • I was able to download a One Year Bible Reading plan template and set that up as a page in the Bible Studies section. 

  • I copied that template to a second page and customized it to be a checklist for their AWANA Checkpoints.  Other pages in that section will be created to correspond to their daily Keys for Kids devotionals...sort of a devotional journal.  They can record the key concept, key verse, and the discussion questions there.

  • I was able to create and insert a table into a page under the Reading Logs section so the children could record their daily reading activities.  This will come in handy for requirements we must meet to satisfy state regulations. 

  • I was able to download a powerpoint template for a multiplication table and insert it into a page in their Math section

  • The only drawback I've encountered so far was the ability to embed a spreadsheet into a page that I'd be able to enter their grades into and still have the spreadsheet do the auto calculations for averages and overall grades.  I was able to copy the spreadsheet into the page and enter the data, but it didn't change calculations with newly added information.  Unless future versions of OneNote change to include this capability, I've just decided to insert the actual file (which is a link to open the file) onto the page.  I was also able to password protect and lock the page so the kids are not able to access this section and make changes to their grades. 

I will continue to work on tweaking the sections and pages with input from the girls (I don't think the boys are as interested in this as the girls are) on how to make the notebooks more efficient and accomodate them to our needs.  It is my hope that we can eliminate the need for so much paper in our school room which will also streamline the gathering of information and materials for each of their portfolios.    Next time, I'll talk about how I was able to set this up so that we can all access the notebooks from 2 different computers, without the need for online file storage sites.

Until then, happy organizing.....

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Unity....is it just a fantasy?

This week’s Homekeeper’s Journal is about Homemaking and …..Unity

You can check out the original Homekeeper's Journal at Christian HomeKeepers Network 

In my kitchen this week … It's National Noodle Month so I'm going to try some recipes that involve noodles.  Spring Pasta Stir Fry, Asian-style Chicken Noodle Soup, and maybe even Asian Beef Noodles.

In my household plans this week …. to get caught up with dishes and laundry (will that EVER happen with 4 children still at home?) so I can really get serious with Spring Cleaning in a few weeks.  I remember helping my mom with the ritual of Spring & Fall cleaning as a child and once I became an adult, it just didn't seem necessary to me...but I'm now seeing that a good thorough cleaning can really rejuvinate not only your home, but also your soul :)....there's just something to be said about a nice clean home making you feel refreshed!

My off-the-cuff definition of Unity is …. people getting along, peace, harmony.  It's when you know that you are better together than when apart; when you WANT to be together.   I don't think you necessarily have to agree all the time.  It's all a matter of respect; respecting that everyone is different.

The opposite of Unity … not harmonious, in a constant state of chaos, always disagreeable. 

Unity in my home …..I strive EVERY day to instill the importance of unity in our home to bring a sense of love, harmony, peace (& quiet ;-)).  It's an ongoing struggle, but we continue to pray each day for help from our Lord in this area.  It's wonderful when I observe my children getting along, helping each other, and just plain being friendly.

Unity in my Church … doesn't necessarily mean that everyone at Church will agree on issues, big and small, just like in our family.    Afterall, isn't it is called CHURCH FAMILY!    Just as brothers and sisters of a biologicial nature will sometimes disagree, so it will be with our brothers and sisters in Christ, our Savior.  It's wonderful when we can all share harmoniously our God-given talents.

Between a husband and wife, Unity …. is essential!  Unity can be difficult to achieve in marriage at times...probably because it takes time and effort by both husband and wife.   I'm reminded of Genesis 2:24 "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh".   Again, it doesn't mean we will always agree on certain things, but being able to come together for a common good is what unity should be.

So, Unity is not impossible nor a fantasy, but it will require prayers, reflection, hard work, and most of GOD's GRACE!
Here are some scriptures about unity: 1 Cor. 1:10-13, John 17:11, 20-23, Eph. 4:1-3, Eph. 4:11-13.  If you are struggling with unity in your life, I urge you to read what the Bible has to say and then put it into action.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Christian Book Distributors Affiliate Status Approved!

I am so excited to announce that we are now a Christian Book Distributors approved Affiliate!  CBD has been a resource for many of our homeschool curriculum choices and other quality Christian items, such as gifts, Bibles and more.  If you ever have a need for any of the items listed on the CBD website, please consider placing your order through our affiliate link shown under "My Links".

Thank you!

The Perkins Family :-)

Fourth Doorposts Giveaway: Complete Chart Package

Fourth Giveaway: Complete Chart Package.

Doorposts is having their fourth giveaway and it's a GREAT one!  They are giving away their complete chart package.  I took a look at these the other day and let me say....I would LOVE to have these for our family.  Having a few visual learners, I think the charts would be a wonderful reinforcement for my husband and I to reinforce scripture and character development in our children.  Check them out for yourself by clicking on the link above....you just may want them too!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My own Homekeeper's Journal - week of 3/15/2011

I have been following The Christian Home Keeper's Blog and she has invited all her subscribers to participate in a weekly online journal.  I thought it might be a nice way to help me be more deliberate about posting here, not only about our homeschooling journey but also about what else goes on during our life.  I can only hope that my daily, weekly or sporatic musings will somehow inspire and bless you.

In My Kitchen this week……….. is a pork roast, a lemon pepper rotisserie chicken, roasted potatoes and harvest veggies, corned beef and cabbage, brownies and cupcakes and quite a few dirty dishes...they seem to multiply almost instantly!

In My Yard …….. the snow is melting away and leaving behind muddy lawns, lots of twigs and branches. It'll be yardwork and planting time soon.  I am so happy that Spring is on it's way.  It's been a long winter and I'm looking forward to some gardening.

I’ve been thinking ….about all those in Japan, the survivors and those missing. The destruction weighs heavy on my heart and I am praying for them constantly. I've also been thinking about the struggles we face in our own family; medical issues, relationships, finances. I do my best to stay strong in my faith knowing that my FATHER will never leave my side.

What motivates me more than anything else is ….. as it relates to housecleaning~impending company or other types of visitors. Nothing kicks you into high gear like the idea of knowing people are coming!

My Devotional life and walk with Christ …. is ongoing. At Church we have been studying Mark and 1 Thessalonians. I am also working on a Bible reading plan that will take me through the Bible in one year.  I seem to have this thirst for God's word...to learn more about it and to let it into my heart.

I struggle ….. with confidence in my abilities in my home business as an independent consultant for a premier kitchen tool direct selling company and in my homeschool teaching. Despite these struggles I still perservere, slowly at times, but still try nonetheless.

I dread …. losing my husband and my children. They are my life.

But I look forward …. to being with family and friends, being at Church, UPWARD basketball and on some days ~ bedtime!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Our Experiences with Time4Learning

Well, our 30 day trial is up and now I need to sit down and take a moment to write about our experiences.  Please know that this was OUR family's experience and in no way suggests that this would be the same for all families.  I am homeschooling 4 children, 2 of them with diagnosed special needs.  I specifically wanted to try this program to see if it would be a fit for my son who is diagnosed with ADHD-combined type.  He is the one who used the program the most, although it was limited, so I will speak to those experiences specifically.    The first thing that appealed to me to try Time4Learning was the fact that it was computer based.  My son is very intuned to the computer.  He fights tooth and nail to do anything even remotely perceived as being school work.   I figured with his computer affinity that I'd finally be able to have something that would engage him.  Here is what I found based on our use:

It was very easy to set up the students and I was able to choose the grade level to work on.  If we found that the grade level set was too easy or too difficult, we had the ability to have it changed so the material and questions were better suited to his needs.   He did ask to go on Time4Learning on several occassions (so that is better than we've been getting) although he tended to only work in the Math section.  He states that he steered away from the other sections because of the reading material; he can read, he prefers not to!  We are researching possible reasons for this thinking that it may be a tracking issue and he may need the use of filters to read.   I never did get a chance to check out the teacher section to view reports and student activity, so I realy am not able to speak on that.  If the ease of use in the rest of the site though is any indication, I'm sure that even the most novice user could navigate this section without any problem.

I am not going to "not" recommend this site, only because of our limited use and the issues that we are dealing with specifically for our son.  I think that Time4Learning would be great for the self-motivated student who is able to work through all the subjects. I just don't happen to have that type of student at the moment.  The only other thing that would prohibit our use of the program with all of our students would be the cost.  The cost is not prohibitive in of itself, but when you have 4 children you are teaching, it just didn't fit in OUR budget.  My recommendation to you?  Try it for one month or maybe even 2 to see if it fits your family dynamic and your child's needs.  I'm sure that you won't be disappointed.

New Doorposts Blog

I came across a new blog today courtesy of a friend called Doorposts of your House. It's a blog that offers Biblical parenting ideas, weekly character-building projects, book reviews, and lots more.   We will be using this blog often, I'm sure.  Character building is an ongoing process and it'll be good to have some extra encouragement in this area :-)

They are offering 10 days of giveaways...check them out at http://www.doorposts.com/blog/2011/03/15/ten-days-of-biblical-parenting-giveaways/