Tuesday, July 17, 2012

We're going to the Olympics in London!

Well...not really...but we are starting our unit study about the Olympics.  We're using Amanda Bennett's Olympics 2012 Unit Study and the Lapbook to go along with it.  We'll also be participating in the online Facebook Co-op.  You can read more about all three here.

I had recently purchased composition notebooks for each of the children to use with our new Spelling curriculum, but when I was reading through the materials for this study, I thought I would use them as their Olympic Journal instead...until we started using them.  I love the lapbook idea and we will definitely put those together but I also, because of my personality, wanted something a little more structured for the kids to complete each day's activities.  So, without any experience, I decided I would try to put together a notebooking page of sorts and this is what I came up with (picture shows page 1 only).  You can download the complete file (4 pages) here.

We are very excited to learn all about the Ancient Olympics, London and the sports that will be played, not to mention learning about some special athletes, as well.  See you in London!!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Review - We Choose Virtues Parenting Cards - Faith Based

We recently had the opportunity to try out a set of We Choose Virtues Parenting Cards - Faith Based.  I can't tell you how much our family appreciated this little resource with such a huge benefit.  The set comes with 12 very colorful flash cards and a Family Flash Card Games Idea Card.  Who doesn't love a good game?  Kids think that they are playing a fun game of Race Against Time, Flip or Charades, when in fact the 12 virtues are being reinforced over and over again.  The virtues covered include Self Control, Helpfulness, Kindness, Perserverance, Honesty, Forgiveness, Contentment, Patience, Attentiveness, Gentleness, Diligence, and Obedience.  On the back of the cards it includes a catchy little phrase that the kids learn along with reinforcement of that particular virtue through scripture verses.  Our favorite is the one on obedience.  If I say to my children, "I am obedient", they come back quickly with "Ok, what ever you say, I will obey, right away"  There is also a line telling the children what they are NOT.  This helps them to understand the true meaning behind each of the virtues.  We will definitely continue to use this wonderful resource in our family to reinforce consistently the virtues we want to instill in our children.  If this is important to your family, as well, you won't want to delay in visiting We Choose Virtues to order your set today or to check out their other wonderful resources.

Our family playing a game of Flip.

The two teams had a tie!!!  Great job :-)
I was supplied a free Parenting Card set from We Choose Virtues in exchange for a review.  The words above are my own and in no way were influenced by the vendor.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Well Planned Day Software Giveaway

I just came across a post that Home Educating Family is having a giveaway to one lucky super fan for their yet to be released "Well Planned Day" Software.  This software aims to organize both homeschooling and homemaking all in one planner.  It offers user-friendly modules and looks super easy to get started in organizing your life.  I've looked at many different planners over the last few years, in print, online and as a download.  To date, this looks like it will fit the bill for all our planning needs! 

Praying that we can be the blessed super fan :-)

Check out the giveaway for yourself at http://www.homeschoolconvention.com/blog/weekly-giveaway-may-23-2012/

Deuteronomy 11:19 and Homeschooling

You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 11:19 NKJV

I've been studying this verse lately as I prayerfully consider curriculum and resources for the coming homeschooling year.  What I keep coming back to time and time again is that although the academics are an important part of one's education, the most important and beneficial thing I can impart as my children's teacher and mother is that of the Word of God and how it is to be applied to EVERY aspect of our lives. 

We've been dealing with an awful lot of character issues over the last few months and it's time to kick it in high gear and shift our focus to deal with those issues in a Godly manner. Enter in hormonal changes, and it's gets a bit challenging to say the least!

There are many resources I've been looking at to help train up the children God has blessed us with.  One of the things that I felt God was leading me to was to search for resources that I could use with all of my children no matter what level they are at developmentally.  This, of course, cuts out a good portion of the resources out there. 

Here is what we found on Character Education and Bible curriculums.  This list in no way reflects all the resources that may be available.  This list is just what I've come across that I felt would be a good fit for our family.

Doorposts - Bible-based parenting and character training material

Doorposts offers several different Biblically-based resources that can be easily integrated together and include Bible Character Education, Bible Study, Bible-based Music and more! They also have packages that you can purchase at a decent price.  We are looking at using the "For Instructions in Righteousness" book along with some of their charts.  We may or may not implement the Polished Cornerstones and Plants Grown Up resources.

We Choose Virtues - We are also looking at another Character Education Curriculum from We Choose Virtues.  It was originally formulated for the public school sector but they also offer faith-based resources.  We are currently working with one of their resources, the Parenting Cards - faith based and will have a review up very soon.  They cover the virtues of Obedience, Helpfulness, Kindness, Diligence, Perserverance, Self-Control, Gentleness, Attentiveness, Patience, Contentment, Forgiveness, and Honesty.  They come with a card that explains some Family Flash Card Games that can be played to reinforce the concepts you want your children to learn.  We Choose Virtues also offers package deals.

Pumpkin Seed Press - Beautiful Girlhood Series - I actually found out about this resource awhile back when I came across the Blog B'twixt and B'tween as I was searching for Bible Studies for Tween girls.  The blog offers extra things to do each week with your daughter to create, hopefully, a stronger bond, as you work through the book Beautiful Girlhood (originally written by Mabel Hale) Revised by Karen Andreola and the Companion Guide to Beautiful Girlhood by Shelley Noonan and Kimberly Zach.  Scriptures quoted in the book are taken from the New King James Version, unless ohterwise indicated.  Once mothers and daughters move through this set, they can move on to Beyond Beautiful Girlhood Plus Companion Guide to use as a tool for transitioning into adulthood.  I, personally, was blessed with some used copies of all three of these books and will be getting started as soon as possible with my twin 'tween girls.  I continue to search for a complementary resource that my husband can use with our young 'tween boys.  Please feel free to comment on any resources you have come across that may be useful and easy to implement, and of course fun and engaging for boys!

Apologia - What We Believe Series - As my husband and I hear of current news, listen to modern day music and watch the entertainment choices on television and the big screen, it has become clearly apparent that our children be equipped to discern among competing ideas and stand in the truth. When searching for multi-level Bible Curriculum I found the Apologia "What We Believe" Series.  Apologia teamed with Summit Ministries to bring this series together. The "What We Believe" Series claims to teach your child the essential beliefs of the Christian faith, but with so much more! According to their website it is student-directed, Bible-based curriculum, that will help your children learn how to use Scripture as a lens through which to view the world around them—to see everything the way God sees it—and know the truth.  THIS is definitely what I want, we want, for our children...to turn to Scripture to guide each and every step of their lives.  We will defintely be adding this curriculum to our line up for the upcoming year, starting with the first book in the series, "Who Is God and Can I Really Know Him?"

Of course, in addtion to the above resources, our children will continue using AWANA Truth & Training resources, Keys for Kids daily devotionals from CBH Ministries and gleaning from the Word of God through Expositional preaching at our Church.  At the base of it all, of course, we will use The Holy Bible, God's Holy Word and Truth.  My husband and I believe with this strong basis, the academics will fall into place as God sees fit.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Did you know???

Today is May 1st and it's been awhile since I've posted.  I have good intentions of keeping more consistent with my entries, but life always seems to get in the way.  I couldn't let today go by without letting you all know about something very important and dear to our family.  Today is the first day of Pediatric Stroke Awareness month.  Did you know that kids, newborns and even unborn babies can and do have strokes?  I didn't either until that fateful day back in 2002....June 29th to be exact!  But let me start at the beginning of this story (sorry it's going to be lengthy....grab yourself a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate and get comfortable).  I was pregnant with my second set of twins and only weeks before had revealed to my husband, on Father's Day, that he was going to have two sons!  We were, of course, very excited about this as we already had 3 girls and I so wanted a boy to give my father's name to.  My father went heaven bound at the age of 41 in 1988.  At a "routine" ultrasound (as routine as it could be having a high risk pregnancy), as I lay there asking questions about what they were looking at and measuring, the perinatologist explained what they look for in the ultrasounds and then abrubtly excused himself.  He told me he forgot to do something and he'd be right back.  Seconds before he did this, he measured one of the ventricles in the brain and the measurements were just over the threshhold he said would cause some concern.  I didn't think much of it at the time, knowing that the measurements had a range of error.  He came back into the room and apologized and started to explain....and my brain shut down.  There was something seriously wrong with one of my baby boys.  I was calm, I listened as he threw out medical terms that I didn't quite understand and then he said...."you'll need to consult with a pediatric neurosurgeon to determine the next course of action".  What pregant woman wants to hear that?!?!?!  He agreed to talk with my husband on the phone later in the day since I told him I'd never remember all the words he said and what it all meant.  He left the room, I got up to change and the ultrasound technician asked me if I was ok.  I responded truthfully...."yes, I'm ok....there is nothing that I can do to change the situation.  I just have to move forward and figure out what is best for my unborn baby and his brother."  I knew in my heart, mind and soul that only God could change anything about this situation and that's where I laid my trust.    Now, I will admit that as I left the office and got out to the elevator...I lost it....the tears just came and I sobbed...I had NO idea what the future was going to hold...whether my baby was going to survive and it made me sad, frightened even. 

The next day I spoke with an insurance case manager who reiterated to me the signs of pre-term labor and I assured her that I was not showing any signs.  I promised if I did, I would seek medical attention.  Later that day, something didn't feel right and after wrestling with myself about whether it was anything to worry about or not, I decided to stop at my ob's office.  The doctor on schedule examined me and found that I had started dilating.  I was only in week 25 of my pregnancy.  She ordered a test that would determine the likelihood of delivery within two weeks and ordered me to go directly to the hospital for observation and medication to stop labor.  I spent that night in a local hospital...they monitored my babies and gave me shots to help develop their lungs should they want to come into this world faster than they should, but they never gave me the medication to stop the labor.  On June 29th, the doctor came in and did another exam...I dilated even more overnight and found out the test run the day before came back positive.  If labor was not stopped my babies were going to be born within two weeks.   I was immediately transported by ambulance to Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.  This would insure that should the babies come, I'd be close to Children's Hospital for any needed intervention.

I'd never been in a circumstance to be at a teaching hospital before, so when literally 10 people walked into the room in white lab coats, I was a little nervous!!  Maybe it was more serious than I thought...why else would so many doctors have to be in the room to explain things to me?  They explained that I would be going for another ultrasound to see where things stood.  I was used to ultrasounds, no big deal.  So I thought!    The technician and the perinatologist there did much of the same as in all my other ultrasounds only this time I heard the words "Is that blood right there?" They were looking at my son's brain.  The answer I got when I asked, "I'm sorry, what did you say?" was "They will explain everything when you get back to your room.".... THAT didn't comfort me any!!!

The week I spent in the hospital was a whirlwind of blood work, ultrasounds, Non-Stress Tests, and MRI's.  Oh, and I couldn't get out of bed.  I remember one doctor ordering a test to check for cocaine in my system...that one made me laugh....ME????   I didn't know it at the time, but apparently that can be one cause for what happened to my son.  On July 3rd, we finally met with a neurologist in the Neonatal Neurology Program, Dr. Adre duPlessis.  He was very kind but he didn't sugar coat anything.  "Your son had a hemorrhagic stroke, Grade IV Intraventricular Hemorrhage.  We've never seen anything like this in utero...this is something we typically see in pre-term babies.  Based on the scans and the scar tissue, we estimate that he suffered a stroke about 7 - 10 days ago...around 24 weeks gestation."  We reviewed the ultrasounds and the MRI films and in that moment our world was turned upside down and backwards!!!!  "At best you can expect your son to have moderate cerebral palsy and at worst, severe cerebral palsy.  Expect the worst!"  The tears started flowing again...wondering....did I do something to cause this?  Of course, I knew the answer was that it wasn't me.  No matter what, God was going to be the only thing that would get us through.  "Your son will most likely be in a wheelchair for life, he will not be able to communicate with you without an electronic device, he will be on a feeding tube, unable to feed himself, he will not be able to take care of any of his daily living skills like bathing, brushing his teeth, getting dressed...."  I was discharged later that day with strict instructions of complete bedrest.  They were going to try to avoid labor until I was safely at 35 weeks.  The nine weeks that followed included weekly trips into Boston for ultrasounds, measurements and non-stress tests.  And all along the way, my God was with me and continues to be with our family. 

Our sons, Joshua David (David was my father) and Elijah Peter, were born just shy of 35 weeks via scheduled c-section.  Both my boys spent time in the NICU, Joshua a couple of weeks and Elijah about a month, before they could come home.  Our journey into the world of in utero stroke and hydrocephalus (this second thing is what the first perinatologist saw in the ultrasound) had begun.  Hundreds of specialist appointments, MRI's, CT Scans, Shunt surgeries, multiple therapies from occupational, physical, speech and aqua therapy filled our days, months, years.   Nine and a half years later, my son Elijah walks, talks, feeds himself, dresses himself, rides a bike without training wheels, and plays basketball in an organized league.  After 4 years in the public school system, God led us to home educate our children.  Although he has struggles, he never gives up and most of the time he doesn't complain about his differening abilities.  He is an inspiration to me and a true blessing and evidence of God's miracles!!!!

God provided the best support for our family in CHASA (Children's Hemiplegia and Stroke Association ~ www.chasa.org ). When we had questions about therapies, behaviors, education, needed recommendations for doctors, the families involved with CHASA were always there to help....even when we just needed to vent. We've formed many wonderful friendships through this group...a group that understands the struggles and rejoices in what most would see as menial accomplishments.   Can you help me spread awareness about Pediatric Stroke? Please watch and share this video montage and the press release CHASA Celebrates Childhood Stroke Awareness 2012 with your networks.  Elijah appears twice in the video montage...see if you can find our boy!  And remember, Kids Have Strokes, Infants Have Strokes, Even Unborn Babies Have Strokes....spread the word and save a life today!  You can also help by making a donation to benefit CHASA by visiting Elijah's Firstgiving Page.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Trustin' HIM

Organized Hearts, Organized Homes

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am going to be participating in a 52-week devotional online called "Create In Me A Clean Heart"..a devotional for the disorganized. In addition to the devotional, we will also be using a Declutter and Organize calendar.. Each week we will be given a challenge in addition to some daily tasks to accomplish through the group at Organized Hearts, Organized Homes, along with support and encouragement. We have the option to participate in the daily tasks as much or as little as we wish. The only requirements are the devotional and the calendar. I have decided that I'm going to participate in this devotional with my 2 daughters as I really feel that they will also be blessed by the readings and questions and perhaps in the end we'll all be better organized in our own personal spaces, too.  Most of all, though, it is my hope that all of our hearts will be changed to better glorify GOD.

The lesson for this week is about "Trustin' HIM" and after reading the bible verse for this week to reflect on along with the devotional questions, I realized that this could not have come at a more relevant time in our lives. Isn't is just absolutely wonderful when GOD speaks that clearly to you and you actually hear HIM? HE always knows EXACTLY what I need to hear, WHEN I need to hear it!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Could it be any clearer than that?  TRUST.IN.THE.LORD.  Not just for the morning or when things are going well...but IN ALL OUR WAYS...every minute of every day in EVERYTHING. 

Now, certainly 2011 brought our family many circumstances that tested the depth and purity of our faith..illness for my husband, loss of our only vehicle, and a feeling of betrayal by some of those we trusted.    This week's devotional asked if there had ever been a time when someone you put your trust in disappointed you.  There's the first moment in this devotional that GOD spoke clearly to me!  Yes, human kind and those around us will disappoint us...every single day.  Betrayals and broken trust, as we may see them, real or imagined, happen all the time.  At some point in your life (and mine) someone is going to disappoint you and most likely, it will happen more than once.  The devotional reminds us, however, that there is ONE and ONLY ONE we can ever truly depend on...someone who will ALWAYS be there for us and will never disappoint us...one who will catch us when we fall...and we will fall....our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  There is the second time that GOD tapped me on the shoulder and said "Are you listening?" "Oh, yes, GOD, I AM!!" I find that very comforting in a world filled with uncertainty at every corner.   In the midst of all the trials we endured this past year, we also faced the uncertainty of unemployment after my husband returned to work only to be let go four days later.  We could have been crushed by any one or combination of these trials, but in our hearts and mind, we knew that God was watching out for us.  We witnessed that in the people he placed in our lives and allowed to bless us with their generosity, their prayers, their support, their friendship.  Going into 2012, my husband is significantly healthier than he was in 2011 even though some medical issues remain, we have a vehicle again and job opportunities are being laid out before us...but the test of faith comes in the type of opportunities....commission-only based opportunities for my husband.  It can be unsettling to not have a steady and stable income but we have resolved ourselves to "Trustin' HIM" as HE, our GOD, is the ONLY one who can get us through it all.  We praise and thank HIM for all HE has blessed us with in our lives, the good and the bad....although when it comes to GOD, none of it is bad, is it?

WEEK 1 Challenge:  Pray every day over your list of TOP 5 Project/Goals for your Heart & Home for 2012. Submit yourself and your list to God each day. At the end of the week, make any necessary changes to your list; for the list you created for yourself may not be the list GOD has for you this year!

I pray that GOD will clearly show me where HE wants me to grow this coming year and where my goals need to be set.

Here's to new beginnings and Trustin' HIM!