Friday, November 25, 2016

AWESOME Indie Author Black Friday Sale .... Because My Daughter is one of the Authors


It’s that time of year. The time for buying presents, making wish lists, and planning New Year’s Resolutions. If any of those activities involve books for you, Indie Christian Authors has a perfect event for you.
From Nov 25 (that’s today!) through Nov 28th, more than 70 independent Christian books are on sale. You can find free shipping$0.99 ebookspackage deals, and more! And if your budget is depleted from Christmas shopping, they’ve got you covered with some freebies!
Think 70 books is overwhelming? Narrow it down and find the perfect books for you or someone on your Christmas list by using this quiz to generate a customized book list.
What awesome reads of 2016 are you grateful for? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2017?
A note on the Ebooks Only page. All books are listed as "Sold Out." This only refers to paperback copies of these titles. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks. Also, some of the authors this year chose to not sell their paperbacks directly through the site. Those books are also marked "Sold Out" but if you click them open, you'll find a link to the site where they are on sale and a discount code for you to use at check out.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good and Kendra E. Ardnek for their work organizing this sale, and Hannah Mills for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Homeschooling the Solar System

This activity was suggested in the Apologia Astronomy text for 3rd - 6th graders.
We did not get around to repeating this with Scholar when he went through the book the next year.

We gathered all of the supplies (or my sister did - then all of us joined her on their space trip.

A small soccer ball became the SUN, and the kids wrote that beside their ball.

We carefully measured to Mercury, and then Venus.

The kids were awed at how tiny Venus was after such a long way.

Next stop EARTH.


Then something bad happened ... we ran out of church parking lot, and we were only to Mars.

So we changed directions ... and kept going down the street toward home, over 1/4 of a mile.

Here I am standing at Mars .... and way down there ....
THAT is the great Asteroid Belt.

We made a thick salt barrier to show the Asteroid Belt.

Looking back at Mars, the big kids ran and got the sun ... they couldn't find Mercury or Venus, but they did find a smushed Earth!

Next up was a rock named Jupiter ...  we looked back and could barely see the kids who ran back to the Asteroid Belt.

Uranus was even harder to see when we looked back toward Saturn, but we were nearly to our property line.

We walked past both driveways ... and were right past the other property line when we finally stopped for Neptune.
From the Sun to Neptune, we had travelled over 1/4 of a mile.

We decided to push on for Pluto....
and a long time later, we reached the very, very end of the mile road - so Pluto was 3/4 of a mile from Neptune.

We managed to hike back to Neptune, and the kids were exhausted!

Friday, July 22, 2016

2016 - 1017 School Year Plans

This year will be the first year that I'll not have Story and Song to worry about in school, as both girls graduated in May.   It has been a rough 3 years,  but we've managed to survive.

Scholar will be our oldest school child, he'll be doing 6th grade work this year.    Sunshine will be in 1st and 2nd grade books.  We've also been joyed by their 2 best friends (for the 2nd school year).  Steam (think Steam Engine Train) will be in 4th/5th grade levels, while Star will be in 3rd grade.

All of them will be in Rod and Staff curriculum for English, Reading, Spelling, and Math..   I like how thorough the curriculum is, and because it is very affordable, I don't mind assigning just a few problems.   Reading also uses the Bible as the basis for the stories through 4th grade, so they get Bible at the same time.

Bible for the boys will also be with my aunt.  She is using the Plants Grown Up from Doorposts.  This gives them topics to study and they learn to use concordances, study books, dictionaries and other books to help study the Bible on their own.   This is primarily for Scholar, and Steam will be joining in.  Also, they will work on their 5th grade AWANA books.

The girls will use their AWANA books for Bible, along with their reading program, and just so they don't feel left out, Aunt will take them twice a week and to For Instructions In Righteousness also from Doorposts.

For Science, we are using Apologia.  They will all be working through the book Swimming Creatures.  And the boys will also be working on the Flying Creatures.

Song will take them once a week for Art - again an affordable option from Rod and Staff, while branching out whenever it suits her to learn something extra.

Sunshine will be going through the Rod and Staff Health curriculum for 1st and 2nd graders on Fridays.

Steam and Star are only with us 12 days out of the month, not so very much really.  But it is enough to give their mom some extra time to work with their two special needs siblings.  We do 3 weeks of Mon - Thurs, and then they are home a week with assignments.  It has worked well enough this year, and we plan to continue this at least one or two more years.

I almost forgot History.  The girls will be doing a World Geography exploration with me.  We're winging it mostly, but I'm trying to set up to allow them some self study time.   Of course that is the plan, but I'm still working on the one for the first 4 weeks!    The boys are working together on Texas State study, then will return to the State Study that they have both been working on for the past couple of years.   ...  We've been very pleased with this curriculum and have taken time to read extra books and watch movies with each state.   Doing this has given Scholar a good overview of the US history at the same time.  Steam started the curriculum last year, so we've not spent as much time doing extra to catch him up to where Scholar is.  We actually know the family who publishes these books, as her father was our pastor years ago.... small world!

Scholar will also do some extra spelling and vocabulary work on Fridays, as well as writing a blog entry each week ... although plans don't always work out as neatly as planned ... so we'll do our best and trust God for the rest.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Preschool - Leafy Name Pictures

This was a "spin-off" of an idea from the Horizon 4-year-old Preschool Curriculum.

Go to a park or outside .....

1.  Pick out your favorite colored construction paper.

2.  Using a good quality School or Craft Glue, Adult writes their name in glue and a border if wanted or if it is a really short name.

3.  Encourage your child to find items to glue onto their picture.

You could also give your child a bag and take a nature walk.  Then use the collected items to make their pictures.   Help them learn the names of as many items as possible that they find as an extra learning experience.

Here is how the names turned out after the kids worked on them. Mostly without help.

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Life Gave Us Some Lemons

I have always enjoyed blogging ... as it gives me an outlet to reach out to others that I don't have otherwise.

But it wasn't until Story pointed it out to me that I realized that I have been mostly missing for over a year.    two and a half years.

Where have I been?

Just surviving.   I had a long post planned out a year or so ago ... but decided it sounded too whiny and never posted it.  So this is a rework on that one.

We were in a major car wreck Thanksgiving 2009, right at the end of our little 1/2 mile road.  It was horrific, and yet we came out fairly well all things considered - but I've always been prone to night mares, and they took their toll on my health and emotions.  Coupled with having just lost my mom that Spring, the Ref being unemployed and having a heart attack, extra kids to watch and other responsibilities.   When my Aunt came to live in my Dad's house, something inside me just quit ... I had been holding things together for so long as the oldest ... grief, exhaustion, and stress just snowballed into me just zoning out into auto-pilot.   To most people, I was functioning just fine, but at home, I would fight sleep all day, and be unable to sleep at night.

There was nothing that hundreds of others haven't survived, and it wasn't really so bad as many have it.  But there was no break, and even a strong rope will fray if rubbed long enough.

So, for about 18 months, I just stopped.

Life is improving.  By bits.  I got one of those fancy Activity Tracker Watches last month. ....  And I started moving.  A lot more.  I'm not seeing much in the weight loss department.  Though some of my shorts are a bit looser.  But I am seeing improvement in my heart rate, and I'm walking farther.  I can usually top 5,000 steps, and most days top 6,000 steps.   Currently my goal is beating 6000 steps a day for a solid month.  Not easy in this summer heat.  Sleep is still weirdly sporadic, especially with the Ref's ever changing McD work schedule.

Just as I planned to start blogging, I insisted a friend let me help her catch two of her kids up in their school work ... which has turned into full time schooling.  We are on a 3 week / 4 day at my house 24/7 and then 1 week and 3 day weekends at home.  Sometimes they have homework at home, sometimes there is a 2 week break - and halfway through we break for Christmas and Summer.   We scramble if anyone gets sick, but with Aunts help, we've managed pretty good.

But I REALLY want to start blogging again.

And I've been researching Fitness Watches ... so I'm going to try to do some reviews on the ones we've purchased so far ... and what I'm looking at for Scholar and later for Sunshine.   I'll try to finish the blog posts that I had been working on ... and round out what I'm doing with school right now.   Maybe with some tenacity and better planning, I can get some stuff done.  Maybe.

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

In Support of Indie Authors Black Friday Sale!!!


It’s that time of year.

The time for buying presents, making wish lists, and planning New Year’s Resolutions.

If any of those activities involve books for you, Indie Christian Authors has a perfect event for you.

 From Nov 27 through Nov 30th, more than 70 independent Christian books are on sale.

You can find free shipping, $0.99 ebooks, package deals, and more!

And if your budget is depleted from Christmas shopping, they’ve got you covered with some freebies!

 Think 70 books is overwhelming? Narrow it down and find the perfect books for you or someone on your Christmas list by using this quiz to generate a customized book list.

  What awesome reads of 2015 are you grateful for? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2016?
A note on the Ebooks Only page. All books are listed as “Sold Out.” This only refers to paperback copies of these titles. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good for her work organizing this sale, Gloria Repp for completing the time consuming job of uploading book info to the sale website, and Hannah Mills for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Story's Favorite Fairy Tale Retellings

Hi! Story here, otherwise known as Kendra E. Ardnek over at Knitted By God's Plan. Mom hasn't blogged in a whole year, so I'm doing you guys a favor and taking over her blog for her today, in honor of the release of my newest book, My Kingdom for a Quest, the third volume of my Bookania Quests series.

Arthur is the rightful king of Briton, but his Uncle Mordreth refuses to give up the regency.   Arthur and Grandfather are now returning with allies to wrestle the kingdom from his uncle's grasp.  But not all is as it seems among his allies, and everyone has secrets.  New loves, old loves, lost loves, kingdoms conquered and kingdoms stolen.   Who is the real "rightful heir" and will the nearly forgotten sword in the stone finally answer this question?

The Bookania Quests are fairy tale retellings - and as you can probably guess from the cover and description, Kingdom focuses on King Arthur.

And so, today, I'm going to share some of my favorite retellings that have shaped my writing journey, or have simply made me laugh on a bad day.

First of all, we have Ella Enchanted. I own this book, and I can't count the number of times I've read it. It's a pretty faithful retelling of Cinderella, but with a brilliant twist that shifts the focus off of the fateful ball - Ella is cursed with obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, she must do it. 

I also adore her Princess collection. Six quick, downright adorable little stories, two of them based on obscure tales.

The Frog Who Would Be Prince is a delightfully funny tale full of twists and false trails. The main tale it retells is the Frog Prince, but Sleeping Beauty's there as well. I reviewed it over at the O.Scarlett blog a few years ago.

This is a new one that I came across only last year, but I adore the worldbuilding, and the fact that it's a combination of fairy tales and math. It's more of a "how fairy tales work" book, but I adore those.

A fairy tale boarding school? Sign me up! Some of the world-building's a bit weak in this series, but, hey, it's also a doll-line, so I have to forgive it in some places. I love seeing all of the fairy tale characters - or at least their children - interacting, and I love how Hale is able to make the readers sympathize with both of the very different views presented in the book, letting you cheer for Apple, who wants nothing more than to be safe in the story set before her, and for Raven, who'd much rather choose her own destiny and not go full-evil like her mother.

Her western/steampunk/I'm not sure what it is graphic novel retelling of Rapunzel is also amazing. She and Jack are just so cute together. Very fun characters in this book.

This is mainly a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, but there's also Beauty and the Beast and Hades and Persephone twisted in. Also, the main character's an herbalist, and that's one of my hobbies.

Set in a sci-fi world, the Lunar series are probably one of the most unique Fairy Tale retellings I've ever read. I've only read the first two, but I'm dying to get my hands on number three. These books are good!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Focus on Jesus?

While cleaning and packing after Christmas,
I found that the
very well played with nativity scene

had changed it's focus.

Instead of all of the pieces facing the new baby Jesus.

They were almost all facing the


A lone caroler singing Christmas Carols.

I was struck with the thought ...

how often do we get so

Wrapped Up

in the

entertainment of our holidays.

That we forget what the real focus is all about?
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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

FREE Christmas Activity Fun Pages

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We plan to have a big family Thanksgiving meal on Thursday ... so far there are 34 or 35 adults and 21 or so kids.   So we've got to come up with something for the kids to do.   I found so many fun things, I decided to do a few posts for others to find something for their kids to as well.

Many of these could be used as "activity place mats" for the kids while waiting for dinner or snacks.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Wish Lists and Gift Giving

I posted this essay in the Fall of 2010 on my personal blog, when I found it again, I thought it was good enough to post again on my Homeschooling blog.   And while I haven't played Farmville in like ... forever ... most of this essay is just as true for me today as it was then.


I'm going to be philosophical today - for a little while - and I'll probably make many people really mad and offend others.  I'm sorry, please don't take it too personal - I'm just trying to sort my thoughts.  Story was sitting here trying to figure out my Myres Briggs letters ... she says I'm a Master Mind.  A thinker and a planner.  Yep, pretty much.  So if you think this is weird - just chalk it up to the ramblings of a "mad" scientist brain.

Anybody who knows us well, knows that we've had some very hard years.  We lived in CO and the Ref had the same job for 12 years.  In our past 10 years of marriage (out of 23), The Ref has only twice had a "wonderful" job.  The first time he held the job for 5 months, long enough for us to sell our house and move ... before a mass layoff caught us by surprise, and after months of job hunting, we moved in with his parents.  Then he was layed off 2 1/2 years ago, and a year later ended up with a great job that needed security clearance - but because of the events after we moved down here, nothing ground shaking or unusual, in fact everyone who knows was shocked "they threw a flag at that?", he was considered high risk - since he had a single flag on his security report - just one (as far as we know).  After a month of being there and driving home on the weekends, he came home to stay.  That weekend - my mom died.  We were expecting Sunshine in the fall.  Anyway, our budget always has been very tight - and we do our best to be good stewards of what we have been given.

Every year I ask people, "What can we get you for Christmas?" ... and every year, most of the people I ask either ask for stuff we could never afford or say, "Surprise us!"   And they end up with a knick knack that we find at the last minute.  Ref's not big on shopping except last minute anyway.   But I really want to show you that we love you and care about you - and I do want you to like what I give to you.  In the past, I've made soap, painted gourds, made Wisteria wreathes (twisted the wreaths myself too), tie dyed shirts, Punch embroidery pictures, given nice things from our wedding gifts that I didn't have room to store, put Christmas tea bags in tea cups when I had far too many in our little house. ... Don't YOU remember what you give for gifts?   It was with lots of love that I made those - and hopes that you would actually like them.

Yesterday, I was reading Flylady, and she made a good point.  By asking you what you want, we are first of all trying to be good stewards of our money - and not waste it.  It really is God's money - and I don't want to  use it buying garbage or clutter that you will have to take the time to return or will throw in the garbage or send to Goodwill a month after Christmas.  Granted, I'm all thumbs and often make my own gifts - so you can't return it or send it to Goodwill for the most part.   So secondly, I'm trying to keep from cluttering up your house - especially if you are like me and I don't want to offend you and so I keep all the little things that you give to me.  But am I being a good steward of my space and time?   I want you to be happy with what you get - and I assume you want us to be happy too?  Thirdly, I don't want to waste either of our time - me making or hunting for a good gift, or you taking the time to return or dispose of something you don't like or can't use.   Fourth, I find the holiday's to be a MAJOR source of stress.  I would rather just hand out money to everybody and be done with it really ... but I feel really silly giving everybody a $1 bill or a stack of pennies or dimes.   Somehow it seems less cheap to give you a Hershey candy bar, than to give you that dollar.  It just does, maybe it's the pretty package?  But for sure, there is a lot less stress in knowing you like a jar of planter's peanuts or Extra Butter Popcorn, than buying that and hoping you like it.

I know - It's the thought that counts.  But just a little bit - by giving a gift that is unwanted and unloved - aren't you being selfish by not wanting to get to know me / us enough to give something that will make us smile and get excited?  Because I would really like to get you something that you DO like - even if all I can afford is your favorite candy bar or a box of tea or coffee.  You are right - the thought does count - and thinking about that persons likes and loves and space when you shop shows that you really were thinking about THEM and not just who you can dump your "garage sale find" or "90% off special" onto.  People DO DO that you know, even if at this point you are thinking, OH, THE NERVE!   I'm not saying anybody in my family actually does that.   But still, does the gift say, "I was thinking about you!"... or "You were an afterthought and this is what was on hand".    And I'm really not talking about carefully home made gifts that the giver spent HOURS making, only to have the receiver dislike it just because they wanted a fancy gadget - we all know the "Grandma, I didn't want a hand knitted from alpaca wool in my favorite color (that I wrote down last year) sweater ... I wanted an Ipod!" ... attitude.

And then there are people like us - our budget is SLIM.  Depending on how many games Ref refs this fall, we may have a few more dollars, or a few less.  The BULK of our budget will go into sending out cards and letters.  I hope we can manage pictures this year - but then, that is one reason I keep this blog, so those who love pictures, like me, have a place to come see them and take the ones you love for yourself (onto your computer) or leave them to come visit when you feel like it.  I'm sure a few are like me, you love the pictures, but with all the hullabaloo, you fail to get the picture labeled and put away carefully - and suddenly you have a picture that you are clueless about who, when, and have this picture.  I'm sorry, but printing pictures is mostly a luxury right now.

We can't afford much, but if you happen to like Hershey Kisses, and I know you do, maybe I can treat you to a bag of them.  Do you have a yearning for Chocolate covered cherries?  Gum?  Candy Corn?  Chocolate Chip Cookies?   Do you really like the soap I've made in the past?  Bath salts?  Medicinal salves?  Candles?    Maybe I have something that is clutter for me, but you would love?  Toys or clothes in nearly new shape that the kids don't need, but would be one less thing for you to buy?   Those are things I can manage - and it would make my heart so glad to know that you will enjoy the gift that is given with a smile.

When I say that we love to get hand me down/ around, I'm telling the truth.  I believe in recycle, reduce, REUSE!  I believe in GREEN living.  Not because of  carbon footprint, or global warming, but because I believe in being a good steward of what I use and I am given ... and I'm may be that way to a fault as I can't bare to waste anything.

So I will provide wish lists - not because we expect anything off of the list or are ungrateful, but because we don't want you to waste your money and time buying and wrapping things that become clutter in our house.  And we will ask you what you like and would want, because we really want you to LOVE what you get.

And even if you get something different, the wish list will give you a good idea of what types of things we do like, and you can better hit the ball park.

I think this should be true of everybody - not just us.  Why are we ashamed to say, "I do have an Amazon Wish List.   My favorite color is yellow, I collect lambs (though right now, only cyber lambs on farmville), I love quilts, sunflowers, and bright happy colors.  I love chocolate and pecan pie and turkey legs.  My dream is to own the new Kindle DX (so I can read books again).  And what I need most is reading glasses. ..... and so on ...  (No, I don't expect to get any of this - unless you play farmville and want to send me another pumpkin lamb?  Just kidding.)"

One of my friends, that knows me pretty well, sent me a picture on my phone yesterday ... a fluffy lamb pumpkin.  It was so cute.  And it really made my day!
His wife slips me chocolate bits and makes me a big salad when she comes over - I feel loved.

So here are a few of the thoughts from Flylady .... that started me thinking about how we (I) do Christmas.

And if you are a close family member and you know I usually try to buy for you ... please give me some ideas!  And THANKS SO MUCH!

Testimonial: De-SHE-ing Christmas Presents
flyladykelly, 10/23/2010 4:45 am

Dear FlyLady,

Our family has always has the issue of being too polite around the holidays.

Whenever one of us (especially my epitome-SHE mother) is asked what we want for Christmas, we always answer "Oh, you don't have to get me anything," and thus get stuck with clothes that don't fit or are "not my style" or trinkets that become just clutter.

Last year (my first year as a married woman) I attempted to lay down the law with my mom. We went through our usual song and dance after which I said, "Ok mom here's the thing. I know I don't have to get you anything, but I want to and if I get you something you don't like, then I've wasted our time and money (my mom HATES waste of any kind lol), so in the next couple of weeks could you make a list for each of you (My mom, step-dad, and 15 year old brother), so I have a clue. It would be one less thing for me to stress about."

After some himming and hawwing she looked at me and said, "Well when you put it that way. I guess it would be easier. When you were kids, I could just peek at the letters you sent to Santa and have an idea what you wanted. It was easier. Ok, we'll do it, but only if you guys will do it too, ok?"

A couple of days later, I received a message from my mom on Facebook titled "Lists" and sure enough, there were three lists of gifts they would actually enjoy. My brother is very active in Boy Scouts and needed some new uniform parts because he'd worn through his old ones. He thought it was "way cool" (LOL) to get them from us. My step-dad (who is IMPOSSIBLE to shop for) asked for ink for his printer so he could print off family photos. My mom wanted baseball card holders and a 5 inch notebook to put them in (they were hanging out in a showbox at the time) and new black trouser socks, yes SOCKS! I would have never thought of any of those things without the lists!

And we were able to use the rest of the list to use as a shopping guide for birthdays for the next year.

This year we're starting early.

My husband's birthday is at the end of October and my mom and I have started writing our "Santa letters" already so we can avoid the holiday rush and actually enjoy this special time of year which we think is "way cool" too.

A Flutter-baby in Florida

Kelly here: Be kind to your family and friends. Ask for a list and provide one to them.

Set your shopping budget and then compare the list to your budget. You know you will be giving gifts that will be used and appreciated.

It is better to Speak your Mind Now Than Whine Silently Later
flylady, 10/25/2010 5:49 pm

Dear FlyLady,

My stepmother and I rub each other the wrong way, but we do get along most of the time. For the past 3 Christmas's, I've being doing what Flylady suggested and asking people what they actually want for Christmas. My stepmother has come up with things I would never have thought of giving her - certain brands/colours of sewing thread, wheels for her patchwork cutter, stamps and notepaper/envelopes, travel sized handcreams, emery boards etc. All small inexpensive items but what she wanted. Last Christmas she said that she loved the fact that I asked her what she wanted and actually listened and got her what she asked for.

This week - in October! - she came over and handed me a small container with one patchwork pin in it. Then she smiled and said that she knew I would soon be asking what she wanted for Christmas, so she was letting me know in advance as she thought of things.

So FlyLady has not only changed how I think about Christmas, but how other people think as well.

Thank you Flylady.

Sarah - Flying in Australia


FlyLady here; No one loves a martyr not even you! Ask and you shall be given. I want you to take 5 minutes right now and make out your simple wish list. Share it with your friends and family. We don't have to act the martyr. Don't forget to fill your own stocking too. It is always fun to trade up and share with a friend. You fill her stocking and she fill yours. That way you can be surprised. 

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