Friday, September 30, 2011

Winners from my Molly Green Interview

Almost a week ago I posted an interview with Molly Green.  At the end of that interview, I offered up two great prizes for anyone who posted a comment on my blog.  I had   comments and from them, I picked two winners.

First, the winner of a one-year subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Digital Magazine:


Congratulations Phyllis!

And now, the winner of The Schoolhouse Planner:


I know you will love BOTH of these prizes.  Jennifer, I love-love-love my planner and use it on a weekly basis.  And the line up of writers for The Old Schoolhouse is phenominal.

Enjoy your prizes!

If you didn't win, I've got two other contests ending soon!  Leave a comment to win a copy of the new "Furious" CD here.  Leave a comment to win "The Shunning" DVD here.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Come to Lancaster County with Me

I have read most of Beverly Lewis' books.  She writes about the Lancaster County Amish.  Often, her books come in three or four-part series.  They focus on a community of Amish families not far from the town in which I grew up.  As a matter of fact, every Fall, my mom, sister, and I spend a weekend in Lancaster County and we drive among the horse and buggies, and meet Amish men and women as we shop and eat.  I love Mrs. Lewis' books, however, because they give you a glimpse into the intimate details of the Amish lives.  You learn so much about their lifestyle and practices while in her books.

The DVD, "The Shunning" is based on Mrs. Lewis book of the same name.  And it is the glimpse into Amish life that I also receive when reading her books.  As a matter of fact, I promised my mom, who has also read all of her books, that she could watch this DVD, and yet I want to keep it because I feel somehow connected to the characters.

Check out the movie trailer here:

Beverly Lewis' The Shunning - Video | Hallmark Channel.

The shunning is the story of a young Amish girl who is a talented musician in a community where instrumental music and anything not found in the Amish hymnal are strictly forbidden.  Katie Lapp is also struggling to come to grips with the loss of her first love who disappeared years ago, assumedly dead.  Although her life continued, and she plans to marry the bishop, her heart is still back several years with Daniel who has been missing for years.  And then, a mysterious stranger from the city of New York appears on the scene and suddenly Katie's life is turned upside down, leading her to take actions that require her Amish friends, family, and church to shun her.

As I said, you will get emotionally connected to Katie at one viewing of this DVD.  I really did.  However, I do have a spoiler alert:  Just like Mrs. Lewis books, this movie does not tie up all the loose ends neatly.  That's why I am really hoping for a sequel!

I enjoyed Beverly Lewis' The Shunning very much and I think you will too.  If you would like to win a copy, simply leave a comment here.  That's all you have to do.  Leave a comment.  You will be entered to win one copy of Beverly Lewis' The Shunning mailed directly to your home.  So, leave a comment and buy some popcorn, this is a movie the whole family can watch!  Leave a comment today.  The winner will be drawn Monday, October 3, 2011.


"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services
mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I
only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255:

"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Last Sunday, I was really struggling to worship at church.  There have been a lot of struggles at the church we attend, much "water under the bridge."  And I guess I just couldn't get my mind and heart in the right place.  I'm sure it was my short-coming.  So, I took those struggles home and they carried with me into the afternoon.  Then I took a walk...

I was given a copy of Jeremy Riddle's new CD Furious recently and I decided to listen as I walked.  Well, I found that worshipful spirit I was seeking earlier in the day.  As I walked down the dirt road near our home listening to Jeremy's smooth style and really poignant lyrics I felt convicted and at the same time uplifted.  I can't even point you to one song.  So many of the songs just spoke to me, and not just on Sunday.  These are really great worshipful songs.

I really encourage you to check out Jeremy Riddle's new CD.  He also has a Facebook presence here.  If you like what you hear or read, come on back here and leave me a comment because I've got a Jeremy Riddle CD to share with you!  Yep, it's another contest!  Just leave a comment between now and Saturday, October 1, 2011 and you are entered to win one copy of Furious by Jeremy Riddle.  So, leave a comment today!




"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services
mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I
only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255:
"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, September 23, 2011

I Get Some Time with Molly Green!

Have you seen the new Homeschooling with Heart Blog?  It's pretty fun!  There are daily giveaways, and freebies, as well as articles, and information.  As a matter of fact, go here to get a really terrific free gift from Homeschooling with Heart Blog.  It's the Curiosity Files 9-pack of e-book unit studies.  I wrote some of the history sections on these Unit Studies and the boys and I have completed one of them so far.  They are fantastic!  AND they can be adapted for ALL ages.  I mean it...ALL ages.  You can make these unit studies work for High School OR elementary school.  So go get yours.  But wait!  I've got a great interview and giveaway here for you!  So don't go anywhere yet.  Read the whole way to the bottom to find out about the giveaway contest...there are TWO prizes!

I get the great privilege of introducing you to one of the new regular columnists at The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Molly Green from Econobusters.  Molly has produced TONS of great e-books with tips and tricks for frugal living.  In the current economy, we can all use more tips and tricks, can't we?  I got to know Molly better when I attended the last two Schoolhouse Expos.  Her seminars were so informative, I could listen to them over and over again.  SO, without further ado, please meet Molly Green:

- How can we teach our children to be frugal money managers? Is it even important to do that?

Absolutely, it is important! In fact, I’d go so far as to say that training kids how to handle money is one of the best gifts you can give them. If you can teach your children to love the Lord, build good character, work hard and handle money well, the rest is just gravy. The great thing is that it’s never too late to start.

As with many aspects of parenting, our greatest impact is most often the example we set. That means you must not only be a good money manager yourself, but that you must talk with your children about why you make the choices and sacrifices that you do. Here are a few of my top tips.

  • When talking about money, I suggest that you use “positive” language. Rather than saying, “we can’t afford it”, explain that “we are choosing to stay out of debt/save for $XXX”. It’s important to show that you are in control of money rather than playing the part of victim.

  • Let your children help you with couponing and show them how much you save. Make it even more concrete and meaningful by saying, “Because we saved $XXX on groceries we can afford to . . .” go to the movies, put that money toward vacation, or add this to the car fund.

  • Demonstrate ways to stretch your dollars by buying used (thrift stores or Craigslist), frequenting yard sales, bartering, couponing, etc. The point is to talk about what you do and why. When spending their own money, my kids often ask to check out the thrift store first. They may not find what they want, in which case, they’re fine with purchasing new. But why spend extra money unnecessarily?

  • Weigh your options out loud. Consider a family vote. Rather than just spending without giving it much thought, try this approach. “We were considering going to the movies, but that will cost $50 for all of us. Would you rather rent a movie, make popcorn and put $40 toward vacation.” If they agree, be sure and make a large visual of some sort (a graph or thermometer) showing how much you’ve saved to date.

  • Brainstorm alternatives with your kids. If you’d like to go on a family ski trip, talk about how it could be made more affordable. Perhaps your area offers a “two-fer Tuesday”. You might be able to borrow equipment from a friend, or perhaps the slopes offer a discount for afternoon arrivals.

As you talk with your children and exemplify financial responsibility, making wise financial decisions will become a natural part of their life.

- What are your very favorite tips for moms who want to know some easy ways to be frugal?

Wow! This might surprise you, but that’s a tough one. I say that because each of us is so different. I think frugality sometimes gets a bad rap because we view it as having to give up and sacrifice everything we love. However, that’s not my view. I view frugality as becoming financially aware and responsible. It doesn’t mean not spending on luxuries. It means determining what is important to me and letting go of those things that are less important, so that I can have what I truly enjoy.

So many people spend unthinkingly and out of habit, without really evaluating their choices. For example, I could suggest the typical, “Cut out two mocha’s a week and you’ll save $XX.” That advice might be great for many, but what about the person that truly loves her daily mocha? She’d much rather drop her monthly gym membership and take up bicycling if she could still have her daily mocha, and that’s great!

Just as with physical dieting, where success is most often determined by tracking what you eat,  financial dieting requires that you keep a strict spending log. Only when you know what you’re spending your money on, can you evaluate your budget. Even if you think you know, I bet you’ll be surprised at some of your findings. Once you know where your money is going, determine what is and is not important to you. Knowing where you’ve been and where you want to be, will put you on the right path. Your personality and passions will determine how you get there.

I get a kick out of saving a ton on groceries and the organization and math skills required come easily to me. Therefore, that’s an easy way for me to save, considerably. For someone else, that would be akin to torture. Perhaps that person would love to spend hours cultivating, canning and freezing her own produce, something I view as much more work than pleasure. That’s why I say there is no right answer. I think the key is in analyzing, understanding and making your own plan. Be a scrooge in areas that don’t really matter to you and feel free to spend on the luxuries you truly enjoy. Likewise, invest your time and energy in saving or making money in the ways that come most easily and naturally to you.

Thanks Molly!  I appreciate your thoughtful answers.  I can't wait to read your articles in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine this year!

Now, I told you I had two items to give away as part of this entry.  Well, here you go!


Giveaway Time!

Today, we're giving away two great gifts from TOS. One winner will receive a one-year digital subscription to The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, and a second winner will receive a digital copy of the 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner.

One-Year Digital Subscription to The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

What do you look for as you homeschool? Motivation? A little encouragement? Perhaps a unit study? Maybe an art activity? Within each issue of The Old Schoolhouse® you’ll find amazing resources, candid interviews with business owners, glimpses into the routines of other homeschools, articles from the experts in homeschooling, as well as up-and-coming innovators helping our days run a little more smoothly. Find them all in our pages along with their insight, expertise, and honesty as we all homeschool together!

Along with your subscription, you'll receive free access to Teacher's Toolbox, our exclusive, subscribers-only website packed with daily recipes, "This Day in History" lessons, printables, unit studies, and more!

E-Book: The 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner

Jump into a great year with The 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner! Erase the frazzled feel of disorganization with the 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner and bring order and efficiency to your school year. Packed with relevant articles, clever calendars, useful forms, handy lists and so much more, this planner is the key to meeting your many goals for the 2011-12 school year. We put our heart into the 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner so you'll have more time to put your heart into your home. Click here to view sample pages from the Planner.

To enter, just a leave a comment here! Winners will be randomly selected from the comments ON FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2011 and will be notified via email.

Rules: Must be 18 or older to enter and provide a valid email address. TOS employees, contractors, product reviewers, and Crew members are not eligible to enter.

Meet Theo!

As the boys were growing up, they enjoyed the Veggie Tales DVDs.  I remember Big Mac watching Josh and the Giant Wall over and over and over again.  I do enjoy those vidoes, but the thought has occurred to me that although they tell some great bible stories, quite often I would like to see a more direct or deeper meaning.  I want to see a salvation message, or truth about our relationship to Christ, but at a child's level.  Well, meet Theo.

The Theo videos are very well produced.  The graphics are excellent, the characters well-developed.  But that's not what I like about them.  The first video I watched was about how sin separates us from God.  The Big Dog watched with me and said, "You know that's a concept that's really hard to understand even as an adult."  They did a great job of making this an understandable subject for children as well as adult.  These are not videos with just a good bible story.  These are videos with bible TRUTH.

And this is a company you will want to support.  For every Theo video that you buy, Whitestone Media, the producers of Theo will donate one video through Child Evangelism Fellowship to a child in need.    You can get the first Theo video at Amazon here.  The total video is 28 minutes long and it includes three brief episodes.  I hope that Whitestone Media will be producing a longer feature video in the near future.

Another thing I love about the Theo videos is that they have developed a Sunday School curriculum around them.  Lifeway Christian Book Stores is the distributor for this curriculum.  It is based on sound theology and will really teach young children about salvation, forgiveness, and what Jesus did for them.

So, check out Theo.  If you are seeking Sunday School curriculm, REALLY check it out.  I've never seen content run so deep for children.



"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services
mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I
only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255:
"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Quotes from Fablehaven

About a month ago, Big Mac needed something to read, and he wanted a new series.  We went to our favorite book store and coffee shop, which has now closed (sad face) and he asked a clerk for a new series to start.  The clerk directed him to Fablehaven by Brandon Mull.  He picked it up and was hooked.  About a third of the way into the book, he told his daddy that he "HAS to read" this book!  Well, Fablehaven has now been passed to Big Dog, T-bone, and finally me.  The boys have read book two and are anxiously awaiting our purchase of book 3.

Since I just finished book 1, Fablehaven, I wanted to share my favorite quotes with you.  I love to collect quotes from what I read.  I note whatever little nuggets I find in a pink notebook with white dots.  Here's what I collected from Fablehaven by Brandon Mull:


"Vanity curdles into misery."  p. 133


"Sometimes powerful magic is accomplished by simple means."  p. 124


"'Need a hand?' Kendra asked.

'Mine are plenty'"  [Lena replied] p. 112


"Mortality is a totally different state of being.  You become more aware of time."  p. 91

Friday, September 16, 2011

Weekends are for Crochet

Since my weeks are pretty full with working, homeschooling, and taking care of home and family, I try to squeeze in as much knitting and crochet as possible.  Last weekend, I got two projects started and finished.  I also finished an afghan a week before that, so I'll share that with you too.  For more information on the patterns and yarns I used, check out my ravelry account. my username is crochetlu.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="489" caption="Another pattern but I used some really different yarn."][/caption]


[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="498" caption="This one I finished a couple weeks ago. It's a wedding afghan for my nephew and his new bride."][/caption]















[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="493" caption="The bride and groom who received the afghan."][/caption]

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

I'm announcing the winners of TWO giveaways today.  First, I held my "first ever contest" over a month ago for some yarn and a crochet hook.  I am WAY overdue in drawing the winner.  So I am happy to announce our winner is...

KRISTEN!  I'll be sending you a box of creative fun.  Contratulations!

And next the winner for the Ginny Owens CD giveaway...

Congratulatins Bobbi!  I hope you love this CD as much as I do.  I listen to it at least once a day.  I can't wait to tell my family and friends all about it.

A Poem by T-Bone

Roses are brown.

Violets are brown.

Hey you stupid dog

Get out of my garden!













And this has been a poem, by T-Bone.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Quick Pic

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="546" caption="Sometimes even lifting your head is just too much of an effort."][/caption]

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Get in I'm Driving - Win a Copy!

I received this new CD by Ginny Owens entitled, "Get in I'm Driving" this week.  I gotta tell you, I have a new favorite.  I can't stop listening to this CD.  It's phenominal.  If I were to compare her style on this albumn, I would say it reminds me of Nora Jones, or Corrinne Bailey Ray.  If you'd like to purchase one of her songs to see what I mean, "Before you Fly" is available on iTunes here.

Get In Cover

I love this CD.  It's sort of jazzy, very uplifting, and really good music.  You can really hear Ginny Owens' heart for encouragement in every song.  Many of the songs will become your "theme songs" for life.  You can learn more about Ginny Owens and her music by going to her website.  Sample some of her music and then COME BACK HERE because I have a CD to give to you!

ALL you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post to be entered to win.  BUT this is going to be a quick contest.  Get in, I'm Driving is released tomorrow, September 13, 2011.  SO if you want to win a copy of this CD, you need to enter a comment between now and tomorrow, September 13, 2011.  The boys and I will draw a winner on Wednesday, September 14, 2011.  You will definitely want this CD.  I TOTALLY loved it.  So, leave a comment and be entered to win!  I'm WANT to win this.

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services
mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I
only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255:
"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

SAT prep in 8th and 9th grade? You Betcha!

We've had almost 2 full weeks off of lessons.  First, the Big Dog took a stay-cation.  We spent the week having fun and relaxing.  THEN we got back to lessons the day after Labor Day.  THEN the flooding began Tuesday night in Wednesday morning and that was all she wrote.  And so tomorrow we begin again.  And when we do begin, we will complete our next lesson in our SAT Prep book.

SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student

When I was planning this school year, I had a TOTALY different plan for Language Arts than what I'm using now.  Just before beginning our new school year I received a copy of SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student, by Dr. James Stobaugh.  As I began reading it, I said to the Big Dog, I think I'm changing our Language Arts Plan for this year!  And that is just what we did.  This year, and for the next three years, the boys and I will be working through the lessons in SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student.

This books is easy to pick up and get started.  There is very little teacher prep required.  We began with the first lesson, and each of the boys selected books to read from the recommended reading list.  Last week both boys finished their first book from the list, and had to pick a new book to read.  Now, Dr. Stobaugh suggests that students read one book a week.  Since our boys are not used to this amount of reading, we have adjusted it to be one book every two to three weeks.  Anyway, when they finished, I handed the book to Big Mac and said, "Pick your next book."  There is a book list broken down by grade, beginning with grade 9, in the back of the book.  Big Mac picked 11 books from that list that he would like to read.  And these are classic books, not popular fiction, so I think that's pretty impressive that he had so many he wanted to read this year.

As I mentioned before SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student is laid out to be completed in three years.  There are weekly lessons with a reading comprehension, and writing exercise, test-taking tips, and a math challenge among other things.  It does not take us long to complete and the lessons are actually a lot of fun.  The boys each have a notebook in which they write their answers or their essays for each lesson.  We try to take our time and work through each lesson without a time limit.

After reading their book, there is a form at the back of the book that I've scanned and copied for the boys to complete as a book report.  It's called the Reading Journal.    I plan to have the boys complete one of these forms for each book they read and place it in their yearly portfolio.  At the bottom of the report form is a place for a parent to sign and date the report.  We are having Big Dog read the reports and sign them.  He is reading with a critical eye and asking the boys questions about what they've written.  It's a great way to involve him in the process.

The SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student book has a great 30-minute devotional guide.  We already have our devotional plan in place, so we are not using it, but the book stresses time in the Word is key for SAT success.

There are sample essays and essay practice opportunities galore.  There are book lists for all three grades (Dr. Stobaugh believes that 12th grade is the time that you spend focusing on college applications) with enough books to keep the boys busy.  Dr. Stobaugh stresses that reading with a critical eye is essential to SAT prep.  And he guides the student on how to read critically in each lesson.  He also encourages the reader to read their books with a stack of 3x5 cards at their sides on which to write vocabulary words.  We have adjusted this slightly and the boys are keeping their vocabulary words in their notebook.

Each lesson has a scripture to read and discuss, as well as a portion of one of the classics on the book list.  But the test-taking tips are my favorites.  I am sure to read them to the boys each time we complete a lesson and it has really changed my perspective on preparing for the SAT.  As a matter of fact, you can become friends with Dr. James Stobaugh (the author) on FaceBook and Twitter.  He gives pointers and tips there all the time.

I really think this book is best if begun in 9th grade.  Since we do everything together, our 8th grader, T-bone, is also working through the same lessons.  That's working fine for us.  But the point is that I think you should start this book early, don't wait until 11th or 12th grade to begin SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student. We will be completing one lesson a week for the next three years.  We will also continue to read from the book list working up to where the boys are reading 1 book a week.  It is easy to adapt the SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student to your children and your family situation.  I also think that it would be a great book to hand to your older student to work independently while you work with younger children.  It's an excellent resource and will be our spine for Language Arts Literature for the next three years.

If you would like a copy, they are available at most of the major book retailers:  Amazon, Christian Book Distributors, and Barnes and Noble.  Right now (9/11/2011) Amazon has it for $19.88, not a bad price to pay for 3-years of curriculum.  So, check it out!


I received a copy of SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student by Dr. James P. Stobaugh from New Leaf Publishig in order to complete this fair and honest review.  I was not required to be positive.  All opinions are my own.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I'm SOOO late!

Well, as you will read in my next few blog posts, I am late on a bunch of stuff!  I have TONS of excuses, but none of them will do.  I need to get better organized with our little blog here.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="560" caption="Even the package label was cute!"][/caption]

I NEED to tell you about a swap in which I participated.  I founded it while surfing homeschool sites over the summer and immediately signed-up.  I love getting packages in the mail.  This swap was a way to get and send a package just for fun.  I was paired with this lovely family from England and after we exchanged a bit of information about each other, our likes and interests, we packed up a box and sent it their way.  Right around that same time, THEY packed up a box to send to us.  It was a happy day when our parcel arrived.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="547" caption="The boys were excited to open the box."][/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="549" caption="And they couldn't wait to unpack it!"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="530" caption="We received lots of treats."][/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="547" caption="Some beautiful deep purple wool, and a knitting magazine for me!"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="553" caption="AND some dangly earrings with a matching necklace!"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="533" caption="And here's the contents of the entire box."][/caption]


I'll never be able to remember everything that was sent, but our new friends "across the pond" really thought of all of our interests.  There were bottle caps for Big Mac who collects them.  There were key chains, also for a collection.  There were treats, and edible lovelies.  There were pictures of dragons for T-bone.  And finally these REALLY cool puzzles.  I had no idea about the geography of the UK, putting these puzzles in was brilliant!


This was so much fun.  I don't know if I'll be able to do it again because I was so late in this post.  But it was certainly a total treat.  I don't know which was more fun, picking out the things to send in our box, or receiving a package of fun things from another land.  Check out your swap opportunities at the Homeschool Post!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Recipes to Bookmark

I've written to you in the past about my new favorite olive oil.  Well, since finding California Olive Ranch, I've been receiving their e-mail newsletters.  This week's newsletter had two recipes for summer veggies that I really want to try.  I'm hoping tomorrow's CSA will have some zucchini and summer squash in it!  Check out these two, they look great:

Layered Mix Vegetable Casserole


Grilled Ratatouille


If cousin Lori is reading this...they made me think of something you would make too!