What About Educational Programming?

For many years we paid for satellite television in our home. As time went on we found that we were paying more and more and watching less and less. For our family we felt that there was not a lot of quality programming available. It seemed the price was going up each year while the quality of programming was going down.  We cancelled satellite and used half of the money we saved for a gym membership ahe rest went into savings. While it may not be the right decision for everyone, it was a good move for our family.  This does not mean that we are screen free or never watch television, we just wanted to find better and more inexpensive options. We have used a variety of resources throughout the last five or so years since we cut our satellite.

discovery education

Discovery education is a great resource for educational programs.  We have purchased through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op as it is a significant discount over purchasing it direct.  There are a variety of programs on almost any educational topic you can think of. My children really enjoyed one that was about Math Monsters for the younger elementary level. It taught and reinforced a variety of math concepts using funny animated characters.  We also enjoyed programs about some of our favorite composers and artists. There are a great many science programs (though you may want to preview these depending on world view issues). Discovery education includes literally thousands of videos on many different topics. While we used it simply for the videos to supplement our other studies it also includes supplements, lesson plans, assignments and more if you choose to utilize them. You can even get audiobooks with your discovery education subscription. I’ve included a list below of the various features included in the program. If you are looking for purely educational content this is a really good option to consider. There are many fun and enjoyable programs but they all have an educational focus.

Discovery Education Streaming Plus features:

  • Thousands of full-length videos from scores of producers, segmented into tens of thousands of content-specific clips tied directly to state and national standards.
  • Supplemental resources such as Assignment Builder, Quiz Center, Writing Prompt Generator, lesson plans, and more
  • Fast and accurate search functionality and dynamic navigation menus
  • The ability to customize and personalize lessons to different subjects, grades, and learning styles
  • Comprehensive K-12 curriculum coverage in six core subject areas.
  • Thousands of images
  • Membership in the Discovery Educator Network (DEN)
  • Interactive self-paced training
  • Exclusive Discovery programming such as Frozen Planet, Human Planet, LIFE, Into the Universe, Mythbusters, and Curiosity
  • Video series from trusted content providers such as BBC Worldwide, CBS News, Channel 4, Discovery Studios, Scholastic, TV Ontario, and Westin Woods
  • Hundreds of games, skill builders, and body atlas interactives
  • Thousands of self-paced math tutorials spanning concepts from basic addition to calculus
  • Thousands of audio files including podcasts, classic literature audiobooks, children’s literature audiobooks from Scholastic, and numerous supplemental study aids for auditory learner

Amazon Prime is another great source for educational content. We currently use Amazon Prime and have found it to be a great value for our family. We have found fun family movies, inspirational movies, and educational selections. One of our current favorite education choices is American History for Kids. It is fun but informational and the selections are short and easy to fit into our studies. My son has been asking for more information on the various presidents so we are getting ready to try the series Our American Presidents. My preschooler loves Thomas the Train and Sesame Street.  There are also a variety of science programs included, Popular Mechanics for Kids is a family favorite. In addition to educational programming, we have been enjoying watching a few Christmas movies during this season. While not everything available on Amazon Video is included free with prime, there are thousands of options that are free and they fit a variety of ages and interests.

In addition to the education and entertainment component of Amazon Prime, you also get access to free two-day shipping on many items, lots of free music, and other popular prime benefits for the same price. While it will certainly vary by family, we have found that we save enough with the shipping benefits to pay for the cost of prime, making the video and music benefits just an added bonus. There is a link below in our deals and freebies where you can try Amazon Prime free for 30 days to see if it is a good fit for your family.

The third option that we have used, is YouTube. YouTube is great in that there is a lot of content and it is all free. However, we have found that there are many inappropriate commercials and sometimes the content is not as easy to find or screen. It is also more difficult for children to navigate safely without assistance. For our family, we use YouTube when there is something specific that we need that is not available on Amazon Prime or in our DVD collection.

Overall, there are options for educational programming that do not involve having to pay a huge satellite or cable bill each month.  We have found that utilizing other resources saves us money and gave us back some wasted time. I’d love to know what you use if you integrate educational programming into your schooling.

Friday Deals and Freebies

Gifts that make kids smile

Educents has some great sales on educational gifts, toys and even a minecraft coding program that is on sale for $49 (down from $249) Today is the last day to use code HOLIDAY for an extra 10% off and get it shipped in time for Christmas.

My Snowman Paul  is free on Kindle (as of posting Amazon changes prices frequently so always double check before purchase).

snowman

Need a good way to organize all of these great printables and have access to them when you need them? Try a free Dropbox Plan.

Amazon Prime 30 day FREE trial. If you do not yet have Amazon Prime this is a great time to try it for free for 30 days! Get your Christmas shopping done with free shipping, enjoy Christmas music and more.

Apologia is running some great sales and specials.

The Green Ember is only $2.99 on Kindle or Free with a KindleUnlimited Trial

$10 Sign-Up Bonus for Ibotta and they are doing some major savings and rebates starting today. Great way to save money on the things you are already buying.

$40 off your first HelloFresh Box

If you are looking for some maps to help extend your geography check out these from Knowledge Quest Map Trek (including a free sampler).

Homeschool Buyers Co-Op is offering a great deal on Discovery Education Streaming right now.

Two Free Audio Books with an Audible Trial and if you aren’t sure what to start with I’d suggest checking out the Green Ember or The Penderwicks for good family choices.

Also check our free resource library with history freebies, recipes, and four Christmas freebies!

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

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Lifegiving Table: Chapter 11 The Gift of Us

So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” Joshua 4:4-7

I encourage you to read all of Joshua 4 in your Bible or here to really get the full context of this passage.

Table-Discipleship Principal “ Developing a sense of history and roots helps cultivate a sense of living our part in God’s megastory.”

 

In my own life, I’ve seen how important remembering can be for relationships. If I don’t spend time thinking about the good things in a relationship it makes it easier for negative emotions and conflicts to grow. I think marriage is a prime example, when I spend time remembering all of the wonderful things my husband does for me it makes my love grow even stronger. Those minor disagreements and conflicts, that will occur in any human relationship, are much easier to keep in perspective when I practice remembering all of the good things that he has done for our family.   It also allows me to trust his decisions even when I don’t always understand them because I can look back and remember all the ways that he has taken care of our family. While our relationship with God is obviously different and God certainly does not make mistakes, the same concept applies to our relationship with God. As we remember his goodness, it is easier to trust his plans even when we are walking through difficult times.

“The Bible uses various forms of the word remember more than 170 times, and very often the idea of remembering is tied to thanking God.” (pg. 186)

I love the idea that remembering is tied to thanking God. It is so easy with God and people to forget to be thankful. We may remember in the short term, but then something else happens or a little time goes by and we quickly forget to be grateful. Sometimes we stop being grateful because things are going well and we start relying on ourselves and forgetting our dependence on God and his goodness. Sometimes, it is during the difficult times when we are struggling and do not feel close to God or start to question his provision. Remembering all he has done and being thankful for all he has done can help us to keep a proper perspective and to continue to trust him through the hard times.  Our remembering and thanking Him can serve to change the way we live. “God reminded His people so many times to remember his works because he knew that remembering shapes the way we live. Remembering naturally leads to thankfulness.” (pg. 187) When we cultivate a family culture of remembering and thanking God first and foremost, but also our family members we can shape how we live and how we relate to one another. This simple act can have a profound effect on our lives.

Sometimes, remembering is hard. Some of you lost a loved one this year, or you are struggling with a job loss, a strained family relationship, or some other personal crisis this year. Remembering the good times and being thankful may not change your difficult situations but it can help change your perspective. When we remember the times we had with a loved one, we still grieve their loss. When we think about how God has provided financially in the past, we may still feel the stress and fear of a job loss. However, in remembering and being thankful for what God has done in our lives we can also find joy and encouragement. As Sally says on page 188, “No, the sorrow in our lives is real, but so is the joy. So we remember in order to hold onto our faith that sorrow will not have the last word, that a current season of darkness will not have the last word.” We know that “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5 NIV)

“The voices of our culture try to overwrite their family stories, leaving them lost and isolated. If our children are to survive the cacophonous onslaught, they must be able to hear a strong, beautiful, harmonious voice singing the song of who they really are, who they belong to, and what story they are telling. … In moments of weariness, temptation, and decision, they can remember the joyful story they are a part of and move forward in faith” (pg. 188)

While my children are young, I function as a greenhouse, protecting them from many negative influences. However, as they grow my job is to prepare them and guide them in being a light in the darkness of the world. My husband and I work together to help our children have a strong sense of identity first in God and then in our family. I want them to hear to ‘still small’ voice of God and the words we have spoken to them ringing in their heads when they are faced with tough times and tough decisions. When they are encouraged by the world to make poor choices, I want them to have the strength go against the flow. When they are criticized or insulted, I want them to get their self-worth from their identity as a child of God and as a beloved member of our family.

I love the concept of not only doing this day in and day out around our tables, but also setting aside a day each year to specifically remember and be thankful for all God has done and enjoying the day together as a family. I love how Sally describes it in relation to Joshua 4, “In our journey through the year, we wanted to place a marker, our own version of a stack of stones, where we could stop and remember how God had moved, worked, and provided in our lives.” (pg 185) Life can get so busy that we forget to be thankful; we forget to take the time to remember. By having a day set aside to intentionally remember and be thankful we give our children one more anchor in their minds, one more thing to hold onto during the difficult days.  I don’t know yet exactly what our day will look like yet but I plan to have our first family day in January.  While we have different recipes and favorites, I’m sure that just as it did for the Clarkson family ours will involve lots of yummy family recipes. Food seems to bring us together in ways that go much deeper than simple physical nourishment. I plan to spend some time first talking to my husband about this concept and then talking to our children so that we can work together to create a day that is fun and meaningful for our family.

I encourage you to apply the principles of this chapter to your family. Start simply by having a table conversation about how God is working in your lives. Then consider having your own family day. This will look different for each family, but setting aside a time to remember and be thankful for what God has done and enjoying your time together will benefit every family.

Also check our free resource library for two new Christmas freebies, Christmas Traditions and a Christmas Bucket List. We also have two freebies to encourage children in their giving this season.

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library

If you have not yet purchased this book, want to add the study guide, or are just wanting to get your next book as we finish the last few chapters of this one, Amazon has a great coupon right now. BOOKGIFT17 gets you $5 off a $15 or more book purchase. Click the link, pick out your books (sold and shipped by Amazon not 3rd parties) and use the code at check out.  Offer expires at 11:59 p.m. (PT) December 14, 201

amazon coupon

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Callie’s Contest of Courage

I had the opportunity to read and review this wonderful novel by Jan May. Callie’s Contest of Courage is an excellent book geared towards upper elementary aged girls. While I absolutely love reading, life with three children (and a fourth on the way), home school, home business, and other obligations means that it often takes me awhile to get through a book. This book was so good that I had finished it the day after I received it. Once I was finished, I passed it onto my daughter to get her thoughts. She reads well but is not always an avid reader. However, she also had it finished in just a day and was asking about a sequel.

 

Callie

Eleven-year-old Callie Fleming is a passionate animal lover! She’s been waiting all year to enter photos in the I Love Nature Photo Contest. Her dad, who is the coolest dad in the world, is an award winning photographer and Marine Corps Reserves Sergeant. She is leaning on his help to win. But when her father is untimely deployed overseas and becomes strangely silent to her emails, she finds her whole world crashing down on her. Can she muster up the faith and courage to step out on a journey that whisks her away from all the things she loves? Join Callie on a journey of hope, trust and the power of prayer!

While reading this book I felt a range of emotions, I laughed with Callie and I cried with Callie. The author was great about making you really connect to the characters and the stories. In looking at the description and thinking about my children I was a little concerned about her describing her brother as annoying. However, once I read the book I was so glad that my daughter was going to read it. The book showed how she learned to respond to her brother in a way that was pleasing to God. As many siblings do, mine often struggle with their attitudes towards each other. I loved this Godly example of what to do even when she was frustrated or ‘annoyed’ with her brother. My daughter was so excited about the book that my son has asked to read it next.

We also really appreciated the fact that she was from a military family. While we are not military, many of our friends are military. In addition to showing how she coped with a deployment and other issues there are some great resources in the back of the book for supporting our troops overseas.

We read this book as a ‘just for fun’ book, but there is also a great literature guide that was written to accompany the book. With this literature guide you could easily use this as a novel study or complete unit study in your home school. There are worksheets and activities to go with each chapter.  The guide covers a variety of different subjects including geography, science/nature study, reading, vocabulary, and even has some fun recipes. This would also make for a great book study for a small group or co-op class.

“It is really good. It was happy and sad and had God in the book. I really liked it. I wish there was a sequel.” Elizabeth (my 9 year old)

We are looking forward to checking out all of the other books at New Millennium Girls Books by Jan May.  While there is not a sequel to Callie at this time, the Isabel books look like they will be a great as well.

Also check our free resource library for two new Christmas freebies, Christmas Traditions and a Christmas Bucket List. We also have two freebies to encourage children in their giving this season.

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library

Also since you can never have too many books, Amazon has a great coupon right now. BOOKGIFT17 gets you $5 off a $15 or more book purchase. Click the link, pick out your books (sold and shipped by Amazon not 3rd parties) and use the code at check out.  Offer expires at 11:59 p.m. (PT) December 14, 201

amazon coupon

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Detective Givemore and Christmas and Holiday Freebies

 

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I hope everyone is doing well. This is just a quick note to remind you about all of the freebies in our free resource library and to let you know that we have just added a new one.  We have our monthly history resources, several fun recipes, a meal plan, a lesson plan template and lots more. For Christmas we have a planning guide, a giving guide (to help your children give back to others), and a fun bucket list.

Today, I’ve added a fun giving freebie, ‘ Detective Givemore’. This one is a code sheet to help them have fun while giving to others around them. It was designed with the spirit of giving in mind and is not Christmas specific so while we will use it at Christmas, it can be used any time of year. I tried to choose tasks that were fairly simple and did not require a lot of materials.

To get access to all of the great freebies, simply sign up below and you will get an e-mail with the password to the resource library. In addition, you will get an e-mail every other week keeping you up to date on new freebies and blog posts. I promise I won’t fill your inboxes with tons of e-mails and you can unsubscribe at any time. I pray these resources are a blessing to your family.

Resource Library

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Our Holiday Baking Traditions and Ideas

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When I think about the holidays, I have many memories of family events, fun activities, and church services. Baking and cooking in the kitchen are among some of my fondest memories. I remember making cut-out sugar cookies each year with my mama. Some years my cousins or friends would join in the fun. I also remember that each year my grandmother would get together with her sisters and they would spend a day baking all different kinds of cookies to have throughout the holiday season. They had so much fun together that day and we kids enjoyed sampling all of their hard work.  I’ve been baking with my children for years and while we bake all year long it seems we do even more baking near the holidays as we prepare to give baked goods as gifts and to feast and enjoy.  This year we even started a new tradition of decorating cookies with my cousins and their little ones. We had five children 3 and under (and two more that couldn’t’ make it this year) and they had so much fun putting icing and sugar on the cookies. It was messy and a bit crazy but so much fun and so many memories were made.

Sometimes we hesitate to get into the kitchen and bake because we are worried our kids are too young, it will be too big of a mess, the cookies won’t turn out right, or we feel there are so many other things to do and it is just one more thing on an ever growing to-do list.  I really want to encourage you to take the time to make those memories, but I also want to give you permission to do what works for you. We most frequently bake our cookies from scratch and even the little ones help mix and pour. It helps with fine motor skills and the bigger children work on math as they do measuring and fractions. However, sometimes you just buy the Betty Crocker mix and make the cookies. If baking with your little ones seems like just too much, start by baking them yourselves and letting them help decorate. In our house we have one who can’t tolerate food dyes, so we use India Tree Natural Colors to make icings or colored sugar (simply take regular table sugar and mix in a few drops of coloring) to decorate.

If you want to have cookies ready to go for fun events, tea times, unexpected company, or other events you can make extra cookie dough and freeze the dough in a log or in balls and have it ready to go next time you need cookies. This helps limit the mess and save some time while still letting you use whatever homemade recipe you love. There are some recipes that do not freeze well but most basic chocolate chip, sugar cookies, shortbread, or gingerbread cookies do well in the freezer.

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Three Kings Day Cake baked by my daughter for our 4-H project.

Another fun idea is to invite some friends over for a cookie party. You can either have everyone bake  different kind of cookie at home and bring some to share or have everyone bring the ingredients and recipe for their favorite cookies and you can work together to bake the different types of cookies. Then each family can take some home or you can share them with neighbors, public service workers, or a nursing home.

Some of my favorites growing up were sugar cookies and chocolate chip. However, there are so many yummy varieties. I’ve included some of my favorite recipes for cookies that we use around Christmas as well as some favorites of friends of mine that celebrate Hanukkah. No matter what you celebrate baking together can create fond memories and delicious treats.

If you want a good book to go along with your cookie party and help you to focus on the story of Christmas, I recommend The Gift of the Christmas Cookie. It is a sweet and touching book that helps us remember what Christmas is all about. Our plan is to bake cookies next week and then enjoy reading the book while we sample some cookies and milk. Another fun choice is to read Cranberry Christmas and then bake the cranberry cookies from the recipe at the end of the book.

Cranberry Christmas

Cookie Recipes to Try:

Some of these were recommended by friends, some I found and wanted to try and some are family recipes that we have been using for years.

Hanukkah:

Honey-Nut Rugelach Cookies ( My friend made these for an international event we did this week and they were so very yummy!)

Stained Glass Cookies

Jelly Doughnuts (so not technically a cookie but a nice sweet treat)

 

Christmas and Generic Cookie Recipes:

Almond-Maple Short Bread (These are on my list to try this year)

Cream Cheese Cutout Cookies (these are the ones we made growing up)

Mama Grace Tea Cakes(my grandmothers recipe)

Granny’s Oatmeal Lace Cookies My husband’s grandmother’s recipe that she passed down to me.)

 

 

Tea Time Discipleship: Chapter 10 Lifegiving Table

 

” So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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I am a southern girl through and through and for many years the only tea that touched my lips was cold and sweet! I have learned to love a good cup of Earl Gray or Red Raspberry tea with honey but sweet tea is my first love. If you are like I was and not a huge fan of hot tea, don’t’ despair you can have some great tea time discipleship without any tea. My oldest is the only person in our family that does not like tea in some form or another. He doesn’t want it cold or hot. However, we still enjoy the concept of tea time discipleship. It just means that with him I choose lemonade in the summer and hot cocoa or apple cider in the winter. It isn’t about what we are drinking but taking that time apart from everything else to enjoy a treat and conversation.

“I don’t feel very much like Pooh today, ” Said Pooh, “There, there, ” said Piglet. “I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do.” A. A. Milne

My dear friend and college roommate’s mother, known as ‘Mama Judy’ is well known for her assertions that a good cup of tea can fix most of life’s problems. On the outside it seems a bit silly, but when we dig a bit deeper I think we come to see that Piglet, ‘Mama Judy’ , and Sally are all onto something with their glasses of hot tea. It is not necessarily the tea itself, but the concept of taking a few minutes to relax and enjoy a comforting beverage especially one prepared by a friend who is ready and willing to listen to our hearts.  As Sally said on page 174, “Preparing ahead of time speaks to others of my love and their value. It’s an open invitation for them to share life with me. ”  When we take the time to offer refreshment, care, and time to those we love we speak into their hearts.

1 Thessalonians chapter 5 talks about building one another up and encouraging each other. For Sally that was often serving tea and cookies with a listening ear and an open heart. How can we apply that verse in our own lives and homes? I have been trying to make sure that my children all have time with me when they can share their hearts and enjoy my undivided attention. This is still a work in progress for me as multiple children and multiple home businesses sometimes make my attention feel divided. I have found that for one child a few minutes in the evening at bed time can really be an encouragement to him and provide him the support he needs. Another child loves tea and all the accoutrements.  In addition to my children and my spouse, I am really praying about who in my life needs love and encouragement. It is so easy in today’s society for us to all be going in different directions and not take the time to really love on those we care about. It is my goal for 2018 to find ways to show love to those around me and to be more aware of the needs of my friends and family.

Each year my daughter hosts a Christmas tea for some of our friends and neighbors. This event is such a great time of training for her as she plans a menu, cooks the food, sets the table, and shows love and hospitality to those that we have invited into our home. While it is not the one-on-one time that Sally talks about in this chapter, I pray that it helps her to be more mindful of encouraging and serving others.

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Sally challenges us at the end of the chapter to write a love note for each of our children, telling them what we love about him or her. I think this is such a great practice and an easy and inexpensive way to give them a tangible reminder of our love. I hope that this chapter encouraged you share your love and encourage others either literally through tea time or whatever ways you feel led to do so.

 

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on. We have several fun Christmas freebies in the library already and I should have another fun holiday printable by the end of the week.

Resource Library

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Wrapping up a New Nation

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’m a little behind on updating you with what we have been doing in history because we spent some time focusing on Thanksgiving and family. It was a wonderful chance to recharge and focus on what was important but I did get behind in my writing.

sacagawea

We spent some time studying Native Americans and had the chance to watch this great video of Native American dances that was done by our state history museum. (The video is several hours long but it is the same information presented multiple times so you only need about 20-30 minutes to watch it). Navajo (or Apache) Fry bread is one of my favorite recipes. When I spent some time helping with a vacation Bible school on an Apache reservation it was a nightly treat. It can be eaten with powdered sugar or honey as a dessert or with beans or hamburgers as a ‘taco’.  We always enjoy the chance to make this when our studies involve Native American cultures.

The students each read a book about Sacagawea in addition to our discussions about Lewis and Clark and their travels. We also found this great movie series that is free with Amazon Prime.  American History for Kids has multiple short episodes (about 15 minutes) on various American history topics. We only watched the Lewis and Clark episode but I’m planning to use several other episodes as the year progresses.

The children finished their history projects for the month. Elizabeth earned her ‘Our Heritage’ badge from American Heritage Girls. Matthew completed his Lego model of the Battle of Fort McHenry. He was able to explain why he put the pieces the way he did and what happened that night.

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We are starting this week off with the Oregon Trail. I’m going to be reading from the book, How I Survived the Oregon Trail and the children are going to get a chance to play the old computer game Oregon Trail. This is a free internet streaming version of the game that I played on a computer in the computer lab at my elementary school. I know I might be showing my age but a few of you may also remember that game from years ago.

What did you do in history last month? Let me know if the comments.

If you are not already signed up to get our monthly list of history resources as well as all of our other freebies, sign-up below. I’ll send you an email every other week letting you know what new stuff we have on the blog and in the library.

We have several fun Christmas freebies in the library already and I should have another fun holiday printable by the end of the week.

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Which Planner is the Best One?

calendar

Which planner is the best one can be a loaded question. I have friends that love their planners and spent a great deal of time finding the perfect fit. There is the Happy Planner, Erin Condren, and The Old Schoolhouse Digital Planner.   There are hundreds of different planners out there and this time of year it seems they are being featured in e-mails everyday and are all over the stores as folks get ready for the new year. Everyone has different needs and I don’t think there is a one size fits all solution to planners but I’ll share what has been working really well for me over the last several years. This plan has really helped me to move passed the frazzled and forgetting stage that I was in from lack of planning.

First, I want to clarify that I am talking specifically about my personal planner not our homeschool lesson plans which I keep separately on the computer (my template is located in our free resource library). I needed a planner to keep up with where we need to be and my long list of to-do items. I have tried several different planners but found that I would forget to have them with me when I needed to schedule things and my husband never knew what was supposed to be happening. I needed something that was easy to transport and easy for my husband to see.

Like most people today, my phone goes with me most everywhere I go and it comes ready with Google Calendar. I have found that a shared google calendar is the best way for me to track appointments, events, deadlines and other important dates. Some e-mail services will even link to the calendar and auto-populate dates.  I even use it to remind me to bring things on a certain day or to make phone calls. This solved a big problem in our family. Since my calendar is almost always with me and my husband can also use the calendar we don’t double book our days.

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While google calendar solved my calendar problems, I didn’t want to put my long list of to-do items on it everyday and there were other times I needed to take notes and have information that didn’t conveniently fit into the calendar. In our house the solution to this is called, “the brain” because it functions better than my brain to help me remember things.  It is simply a small lined journal that I keep to write notes and make daily to-do lists. At first I just used it front to back but I did find that at times there were pages I needed to be able to reference more often so this year I added inexpensive sticky tabs to give myself sections.

 

I set up the bulk as a section for my daily lists, but I also had sections for blog planning, and one for each of the organizations (4-H, Trail Life and American Heritage Girls that our family participates and helps in planning). This allows me to more readily find the annual plans or event notes for an organization while still allowing me my normal daily lists. It also keeps it very simple and easy to use. The tabs I chose can also be moved around if I figure out that the sections are not working like I originally planned.

The last component of our planning is a large monthly calendar (or for a more colorful option check out this one) that hangs in the laundry room. Any important family dates go onto that calendar each month so that the children can see what is happening and have a way to track things. I simply look at my google calendar and write down any applicable events. As they get older they are experimenting with their own calendars and planning, but this gives them a central place to see what is happening that week and month.

The fancy planners with lots of features work best for some people but if you are feeling overwhelmed or don’t feel like you are keeping up with everything that you need to keep up with, I recommend giving this method a try.

New Year’s day is often a time for setting new goals and planning, but you can start anytime with this method. Since the google calendar is free and always there and the lined journal doesn’t have dates you can start at the beginning any day you are ready.

For myself and my family, planning and having things on an easily accessible calendar has made our days more smooth. We are much less likely to double book or forget about an obligation. It also makes it easier to look at our schedules and make sure we have enough “white space” to account for much needed down time and those unexpected things like illness, car trouble, etc that always seem to happen (we are still working on leaving margin, if that is an issue for you I recommend the book The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst). I’d say that the best one is the one that works for you and you are willing to actually use.

I need to tell you about this awesome sale that starts today at The Old Schoolhouse. This bundle is incredibly discounted and this week only when you purchase one you get a second free set to give to a friend. This would make a great gift for a new home school mom, a mom going through a tough time or just someone who you want to bless this year!.

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Friday Deals and Freebies

Gifts that make kids smile

Educents has some great sales on educational gifts, toys and even a minecraft coding program that is on sale for $49 (down from $249)

My Snowman Paul  is free on Kindle (as of posting Amazon changes prices frequently so always double check before purchase).

snowman

Masterbooks is having a sale this week as well. Prices are discounted 20-30% and with code MerryChristmas you can get an additional 20% discount. We love their math program and use America’s Story to supplement our US History.

Need a good way to organize all of these great printables and have access to them when you need them? Try a free Dropbox Plan.

Amazon Prime 30 day FREE trial. If you do not yet have Amazon Prime this is a great time to try it for free for 30 days! Get your Christmas shopping done with free shipping, enjoy Christmas music and more.

Apologia is running a $5 shipping special and other sales throughout the month.

The Green Ember is only $2.99 on Kindle or Free with a KindleUnlimited Trial

$10 Sign-Up Bonus for Ibotta and they are doing some major savings and rebates starting today. Great way to save money on the things you are already buying.

$40 off your first HelloFresh Box

If you are looking for some maps to help extend your geography check out these from Knowledge Quest Map Trek (including a free sampler).

Homeschool Buyers Co-Op is offering a great deal on Discovery Education Streaming right now. 60% off and bonus Smart Points redeemable for other products. We have used this in the past and enjoyed it.

Two Free Audio Books with an Audible Trial and if you aren’t sure what to start with I’d suggest checking out the Green Ember or The Penderwicks for good family choices.

Also check our free resource library for two new Christmas freebies, Christmas Traditions and a Christmas Bucket List. We have also just this week added a planning guide for helping children focus on giving to others.

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Blessing Feasts: Lifegiving Table Chapter 9

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“These children threatened to undo me from time to time with their whining, their silly fusses, their selfishness and immaturity. Yet, here they are, enjoying each other, laughing at each other’s jokes, discussing issues loudly, and participating in family bonding–willingly, generously.” (pg. 151)

So much of this book has touched my heart and made an impact on myself and my family but this chapter had two quotes that might just be the two that I most needed to hear. The one above is one that I believe many mothers of younger children probably need to hear. Sometimes the days are long and hard. Sometimes we feel like we have grand ideals but no matter how we try it just isn’t working. Knowing that Sally went through all of that, the fussing, the selfishness, the immaturity and it all came together in the end is reassuring. I think it helps as we are in the trenches to know that we are not alone and that others have walked this path. Don’t get me wrong, I love my children and I love being their mother. All in all I’ve been blessed with some wonderful children, but some days it is hard as they struggle to get along with each other and to mature.

“One of the greatest strengths of the family table comes from the knowledge that no matter what we do, no matter how we fail, we have a place to belong, a place where we will be forgiven and where we will still be loved and welcomed.” (pg. 154)

I was blessed as a child to grow up in a family both nuclear and extended that I knew loved me. I always had a place where I belonged. We strive each day to make sure our children know that same love and acceptance. We gather together around the table and join together in praying, eating, and talking. My children sometimes bicker with each other but we work hard to make sure that they know that as siblings they have to love each other and treat each other with kindness. They know that we may discipline them to help them, but that it is always out of love and nothing they do can make us stop loving them.  It is my prayer that they always feel they can come home to us and that through that deep but imperfect love they are better able to understand the perfect love of Jesus.

“Life can be discouraging at this time of history. But knowing I belong to a people, ‘the Clarksons’ has given me the grace to keep holding fast to my spiritual ideals in a world that disdains what I believe. I know I will always have a home to come to when I need a place to fall apart or to belong. I know that wherever I go or whatever I do, I will have a place to come back to, a place I know I’m welcome and have a role to play. And because I have that, I know I can persevere in whatever the Lord calls me to do.” (pg. 158)

This quote may be the quote that I needed most from this whole book. Sometimes I spend too much time watching the news or thinking about the current state of affairs in our world and I get sad and discouraged about the world I’m raising my children to go forth into. I worry that they will face such difficult times and challenges, but I love this perspective. Aside from them having a personal relationship with Christ, this is what I want for my children. I want them to be comfortable going where He calls and doing what is right because they know that they have a refuge in our home and our family. Sometimes when we are correcting table manners for the umpteenth time or reminding the toddler that we use our fork and not our hands for rice (a very real reminder I gave several times at the dinner table tonight) it can be easy to forget the importance of the time that we spend together bonding around the table. When I can keep the end goals in mind it makes the day to day seem not quite as tiring or tedious. As the saying goes, “the days are long but the years are short”. I need to use my time together with my children wisely so that when I shoot them out into the world like arrows (Psalm 127) they are prepared for what they must face and that they know my home is a refuge for them.

On a more hands-on, practical note, I loved her practice of affirmations on birthdays. Our tradition is to allow the birthday child to choose the menu for that day (with-in reason) and to have a special cake or treat that evening.  It has become so much of a tradition that my children makes sure to ask about what my husband or myself want on our birthdays when we are meal planning that week. I love that they are also taking ownership in the tradition. My son enjoys helping my husband cook my favorite breakfast each year. However, I love the concept of spending time that morning praising and affirming the birthday child. I am looking forward to incorporating it into our tradition. We try to affirm our children often and encourage them to affirm others, but I think having that time set aside for that is a powerful tool. I’d love to hear about your traditions and how you spend time blessing and affirming in your family.

I also am planning to do more studying and praying about speaking blessings over my family and friends. I’ve seen blessings in the Bible and know that they are Biblical but have not really used spoken blessing a lot in relationship to others. There are many verses including those mentioned at the end of the chapter that speak to the topic of blessings. I am looking forward to doing a more thorough study on the topic.

 

Table-Discipleship Principle: Love and affirmation given generously provide the foundation for opening a heart to influence.

I pray that we all take the time to make sure that we are generously showing our love and affirmation to all of those with-in our homes and those whom we have a chance to reach. This week as you reflect on this chapter try to plan ways to celebrate and convey a blessing to a friend or loved one. Think about whom with-in your house and friends outside of your house could use a blessing and affirmation this week. Whether that be a spoken word, a card, or some other idea that shows your love and God’s to them this week.

” The LORD bless you, and keep you; The LORD make His face shine on you; And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His Countenance on you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26 NASB