What Do I See?

I love to sit and gaze out my window. The one that leads to our backyard.




That is where I can see our rabbit family playing and enjoying the fruits of my labor. LOL


It is where I see trees and flowers; often I see my children happily playing catch or up to bat.


My raspberry bushes and blackberry bushes are overwhelming me; yet the way they lean this way and that, the way the vines seem to curl a bit around and about – it is beautiful.


I listen to the birds singing; there is a little nest built inside of the roof of our garage; there is also a small birdhouse outside of our house. It is such a joy to watch the birds fly in and out –  some days (my little son told me this) you can even see a tiny baby bird head pop out for a moment.


God’s creation all about us. I can forget I live in the city; I can see all the beauty this world has. I can imagine, how it was meant to be. How it will be again one day. What a peace I feel as I gaze out while I pray and seek His face. And what an answer, seeking and seeing His face in all that is around me.


Glorious! Jesus you are glorious! <3

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Today we are talking about our favorite quote on the July blogging challenge at Lynn’s blog and Jennifer’s blog. I myself started keeping a Commonplace book not long ago for all of those excellent quotes I come across.  So this day has been a bit harder for me to complete – I mean there are just so many amazing and powerful quotes. Some big and some small.  But this one that I chose, it is (I think) so powerful on so many levels.

Are you ready for it? Its a really awesome one:


“Consider what happens to people whose night skies are spangled with constellations like The Master of Hestviken or Moby Dick or The Brothers of Karamazov.  These people are hard to fool.  They are also hard to enlist in pursuit of the trivial and ephemeral.   It is as if we had given them a powerful telescope atop a high mountain and shown them how to use it and directed their attention to the Orion nebula and once they had learned to do so and to love the beauty they found there, expected them to look at light bulbs on a marquee.”

~ Anthony Eolen



As Esolen clearly states in  Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, we ourselves say that “children are our greatest resource.” Resources of course are know to be good, solid, dependable. Yet so often, it seems society discourages imagination within our youth. If we loved truly them, (as he so succinctly puts it) we would have some and be excited about it.  We would spend time with them and enjoy having them with us.


I love things that remind me of the great value of imagination, curiosity, free play…Our children need these things so that they can see the “more” there is in life. I want them to see and enjoy things beyond the museum or the zoo. How often do we introduce our children to something new (or even ourselves for that matter) a then move on.


“Nothing to see here.. move on to the next thing…..”


We must give them time to see and explore; to answer their own questions. We simply must encourage our children (ourselves too!) to see beyond what is in front of us. What value there is the ability to learn and create for ourselves. I think of my boys who, the other day, were entertained for hours in our yard with a few coins and some cardboard.  It was a never ending adventure for them They were pirates, they were explorers…. It wasn’t just cardboard but it was a ship, a horse, a cannon on the battlefield.


They need to know that the answer given, isn’t always the only answer.  There is so much more for us if we are only willing too take the time and see. I mean, a flashlight or a telescope….Every one of us ought to take our time and gaze out at all that our great God has created with wonder and excitement.


Do come by to read all of the other amazing quotes from the bloggers joining in on this summer challenge. Feel free to blog along with us too, anytime! :-)

July Blogging Challenge
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Summer Challenge

hello!!  *waving excitedly*
Welcome to the Summer Blogging Challenge — the challenge? To blog through the ENTIRE month of July.  I so need this  encouragement to help me continue blogging over the summer (?) although I am not sure we really have one right now here in Wisconsin. Regardless, I appreciate  a little extra push to post regularly.

So I was told n the first day I ought to introduce myself to everyone. I know some of you have been reading here for awhile now; some of you do know me, whether online or offline, but for those who don’t here goes:

There is more you can read of course in my,  About Me, blog page -My name is Jennifer and I blog from the really crazy lately state of Wisconsin where it’s hot, then cold, then rainy, then super dry…no snow though so far… this July. I have lived here most of my life, spending some time in Pennsylvania, California and Germany too!.  I’m married to Shane and we have four children.  They are, I believe, our greatest blessings: Tyler who is 9, Alexander 5, Cora 3 and Rachel Madison who is 9 weeks old!

My husband and I have been married for almost five years; when I think about all the Lord has done for me……

I am eery moment of my day and life seeking to live and walk according to His will for my life, for my family ~ I praise Him for His grace and love and mercy, His wisdom and patience and the peace He gives to me.

This summer is getting busy.  Too much for me. I am such a home body.  We homeschool, year round, because I believe in instilling a love of learning. I want my children to live and learn, to see the opportunities to grow in every thing that we do.  Which is one reason we host exchange students most years. In fact we have a lovely young lady coming to stay with us for a few weeks, from Spain, this very afternoon. Excited!!!!

I also love my church family.  We spend so much time there, in His presence is the fullness of joy right? And the joy of the Lord is our strength. Glory to God! We Bible Quiz with our church; we learn and read and study the word of God (some think we are those Jesus freaks and I am totally okay with that!)  My oldest son sings in the kids choir; he bakes to help with fundraisers, he is SO excited for Vacation Bible School….As is my other son. My daughter is too young to attend this year so those days we girls will go read and have coffee (milkshake for her) maybe play at the park….

In my “free” time, I love to read and write, and I contribute to the Year Round Homeschooling site as well, for art and foreign languages.  Did I mention we just LOVE languages here? My son is learning Chinese, I am trying to better my German skills and together we have been studying Spanish. I still want to learn Hebrew :-)
So that’s me – in a nutshell – just trying to love and live for the Lord <3
Looking forward to this journey with you!
Join us:   
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What’s Inside?

“Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.”


Not long ago Elizabeth Eliot passed away. In her honor I posted online one of my favorite quotes of hers. It reads:


The routines of housework and of mothering may be seen as a kind of death, and it is appropriate that they should be, for they offer the chance, day after day, to lay down one’s life for others. Then they are no longer routines. By being done with love and offered up to God with praise, they are thereby hallowed as the vessels of the tabernacle were hallowed–not because they were different from other vessels in quality or function, but because they were offered to God. A mother’s part in sustaining the life of her children and making it pleasant and comfortable is no triviality. It calls for self-sacrifice and humility, but it is the route, as was the humiliation of Jesus, to glory. {Elizabeth Elliot}


I remember so long ago when I first became a homemaker, a stay at home mother. I felt so inadequate (in many ways I guess sometimes I still do).  I struggled with the “loss” of my career – I struggled with the looks I got overtime someone asked what I do, and I responded that I was a stay at home mom… to their disdain often – It took so long for me to understand and see the value in being at home. And now that I see it, I pray that other will too. That they will desire it and seek after ways to make it so in their lives.


So I post a lot and write quite a bit on how important it is for all of us mommas to be at home, with our children, teaching them and training them in His way.  Imagine my sorry, the burden I felt when I saw a friend’s response to the quote posted above:


She wrote:  But what if you truly hate all that domestic stuff, like to the point of crying when you finally have to do it? It is death. Not everyone is cut out for it. I have grown up actively practicing my faith…and I”m just not domestic. Didn’t want kids. cried when I got pregnant. I was 35.


I felt such pangs of sorrow and despair when I read this. Sad for her husband, for her family, for the lack of Jesus bing in her life.  Children and the home ~ these things are so very important to God. And for His chosen people. Truly though the scriptures say we must be born again baptized in Jesus name, filled with th Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues – that is the only way we are truly saved and sanctified as His.  It is the only way we will truly be able to have such a powerful relationship with Him that the things we hate will become dear to us and those things once held dear will be despised. It is a change that can only come in our life when we are so desperately seeking Him, desiring His way, willing to give all we have, in this temporary world we are in, for the sake of eternity.


She continued, advising me that: Even in the Bible, women owned businesses. I don’t like housework. Never will, but my gardens are AWESOME> People take pictures of my house when they walk by. Our outdoor living space is pretty darn cool….even my husband says all the painting and things I have done have been well worth the money and time. IT’s just the inside that sucks.



Now I wanted, as I read this, to advise her that the women in the Bible who owned businesses were women who did so in addition to keeping their home. Their children were grown. I wanted to ask for photos of this house and garden that people take pictures of as they pass by. I wanted to tell her how blessed she is to have a husband who supports and loves what she does.  But I didn’t say anything like that. As I read, and reread what she wrote, I heard the voice clearly speaking.


All I could say, was what i had just heard. And it was this. Simple, truth.


Reminds me of Jesus when He rebukes the Pharisees, how He tells them: “Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. ” Can be said of each of us. Our inside must mirror Him,and then our outside shall too.” 



I have such a burden for this girl ever since this conversation. How sad, how far from Christ she must be. To know the power that comes from really knowing Him and living for Him. All is possible ~ Joy unspeakable in this that she hates. May Jesus move her heart closer to His so she may see and feel the joy and peace that comes from serving others as He once served man.






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Tales from Circle C Ranch Book and Lapbook ~ A Schoolhouse Review

A couple times now we have been blessed in our family to review some great works by author, Susan Marlow. This is one of those times. We were so thrilled to get to review Susan K. Marlow’s “Tales from the Circle C Ranch”  and the Andrea Carter’s Tales from the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook from Circle C Adventures.  :-)


Feel free to read our previous review of her other book, Thick as Thieves here.



In this review we received both the Tales from the Circle C Ranch paperback book and a  PDF download of the Andrea Carter’s Tales from the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook.  The book itself contains eleven short stories from various stages of Andrea Carter’s life.  These are all arranged from youngest to oldest, dates are provided to each story so you can see when it took place in Andrea’s life. But that said, these stories can also stand-alone.  While we have not yet read all of these books (it is on our list of things to do though) these stories can easily be read with little to no history of the characters within and still be super fun!


The Andrea Carter’s Tales from the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook contains activities for each story, to reinforce concepts learned from the stories as they are read. These cover history and science and literature.  Our family (ashamed to admit it haha) is quite new to the concept of lap booking so we were quite eager to see how this all works! Being that my oldest is very crafty and creative, this was right up his alley. If you are new to this, as we were, do not fear, there are a few pages that tell you Things to Know. There are even a couple visuals so you know where and how to connect the folders and layout all of the mini-books and other materials as you go along. Super simple~





This book is filled with exciting stories that chronicle Andi’s adventures when first she was a young ‘un to those in-between years. If you have any kids (recommended for ages 9-14) they will enjoy this glimpse into her life and times, while also being strongly encouraged in their faith.


Enjoy her wild and troublesome antics as she stirs up mischief by discarding her girlish pinafore for a pair of boys britches.  Find out what happens when Andi takes a trip to the high Sierras for the Carter Christmas tree. And can Andi teach her enemy, turned friend, how to ride a horse?


All of these stories provide a look into US and California History, as well as life on a ranch, making these things just come alive. In fact each story even begins with a short overview of the time the story takes place in and which Andi book is closest to this time. We read all of these out loud, together, since my kids all enjoy these stories! I love how no matter what troubles she may cook up or get herself into, the story always goes back to the value of family and of good strong character. These are important things for our kids to know I say!



For each chapter within the book, the lap book has a minibook as well as the “Five Elements of a Story” mini book and a mini coloring book. Each page within provides lots of great information that will help you connect the story in the book to what happened in history itself. For example, “Hurrah for the Fourth of July” revolves around the family going to celebrate the Fourth of July. There are contests, parades, and of course, fireworks. You then read in the lap book’s corresponding page, the history of fireworks and how they came to be in our country. Did you know that fireworks were invented in China in the 7th century? Said Roger Bacon in the 1200s, “If you light it, you will get thunder and lightning, if you know the trick.”


We learned so much from the lap book;  did you know that in 1826, a French inventor, Niépce, produced the first successful photograph? By fitting a metal plate inside his camera obscura that was coated with light-sensitive chemicals and exposing the courtyard around his house for 8 hours, allowing the sun to interact with the plate. What a way to take a photo – quite time-consuming!  So in the lap book portion we learn what the Greek words are that make up photography; we find out why the man taking the picture would cover himself in a long black cloth. and why in all those old family photos everyone looks just like a statue. :-)



These were both such fun materials to review! We will surely be revisiting the book and activities again and again. We will definitely be getting additional books, and the lap books to go with them, in the future!


Dynamic Literacy Review 

You can connect with Circle C Adventures at:



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Pirates Code: The Adventures of Mickey Matson


Pirates’s Code The Adventures of Mickey Matson:

In this follow up to Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Treasure, Mickey Matson is at it again; this time pitted against the evil Admiral Ironsides and his gang of pirates who are intent on destroying civilization. They’re new invetnion, the Tesla Coil, is a weapon of mass destruction that will send an electromagnetic pulse throughout the world, destroying every electronic device in existence. With the help of a secret organization, Mickey and his best friend Sully embark on a mission to stop the pirates from taking over a submarine and stealing the last part needed to complete their devastating weapon. If Admiral Ironsides succeeds in his plan, civilization will be sent back to the Stone Age. It’s a race against time, and the fate of the world hangs in the balance.
Watch the trailer:




When we first learned we were going to be reviewing this one, I admit it, I went out and got the first movie (this is a sequel to that), Mickey Matson and the Copperhead Treasure.  I was impressed with how clean this movie was; all three of my children really enjoyed it. So when Pirate’s Code arrived, they could hardly wait for the evening to come and settle in with some popcorn to watch!


When it comes to Mickey Matson, he really knows how to have an adventure! Since my boys love pirates right now too, this definitely kept them on the edge of their seats from beginning to end. My husband loved the fact that Christopher Lloyd (from Back to the Future) was in it, since he has never seen a movie he starred in that bored him.


I admit it didn’t hold my attention for long; to be fair I am a bookworm – I always prefer to read the book. My son’s though, who are 9 and 5, really enjoyed all of the action in this one and the next day were out fighting pirates and digging in our yard for buried treasure (mixed feelings about that here!)


It wasn’t a bad film though, not at all. Its good for some laughs and it has simple enough story for younger kids to follow along too. Sure, there’s some violence, but nothing awful. I think it gave my lil “pirates” ideas for some new moves. lol



If you have a pirate lover, or just an adventurer in general you can purchase a copy at: Pure Flix. :-)

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SmartKidz Media ~A Schoolhouse Review ~

My children are very visual learners; they love to use as much “media” as they can to learn in our homeschool. Enter in SmartKidz Media I was quite excited, having a new baby at this time too, to be a part of the crew reviewing SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers. We received a full year’s subscription too!  What a great help this was, and continues to be, in our homeschool! :-D

SmartKidz Media is an online, streaming library for homeschoolers, designed to be used as a huge assortment of educational learning resources and can be used for the entire family! It starts at $10/month and you can try out a 14 day free trial to see what they have to offer and see if it is right for you. They also offer yearly memberships for $99 at a $20 savings for you. Sign up for the free trial here.   They really do have a wonderful variety of  learning resources and you have full access to all of it as soon as your trial begins. You can use this on any device you own too, from your cell phone to your Mac, or tablet.  Handy for entertaining on those days when you spend too much time in the car. (we have those now and then!)

Here are some of the subjects which are included in this program:

Animals & Wildlife Collections
Documentaries & Culture Collections
History Titles
Travel & Adventure: World Wide Discovery Collections
Lifestyles & Cuisine
Health & Fitness
Cooking Instruction
Classical Music Collections
Cultural Music Collections
Relaxation Music Collections
Mighty E-Book Collection
Sign Language Collection
Special Needs Learning
Living Skills
Fun Zone

Being a momma to four children ranging in age from 7 weeks old to 9 years old what is great about this is that this is not designed for or  limited to any specific age or grade level. They have videos ranging from fitness for children and adults, to nature, to travel and history. Plus they have lots of video ebooks (my daughter loved this part)! They have a section just for babies (my newborn was so impressed with it) full of baby sign resources and complete video dictionaries (we have used this with every one of our kiddos) and potty training too (for my three year old daughter) ! They have an entire section dedicated to special needs as well so I was quite impressed by that.

I am a big lover of music myself; having studied for most of my childhood so I was ecstatic to find all of the musical selections offered on this.  I often turned these on while we were having quiet time or the kids were reading or building, in the background.  And it really helps make the day more relaxing when doing work.  I think my oldest even got a bit more interested in his music (learning to play keyboard and guitar) because of this. He is really beginning to enjoy jazz and blues. I also just loved the Quick-Find Study Guides. They are just full of educational information from spelling, to math basics, social studies and science basics ~ With more coming soon ~ I cannot wait!  I do wish you could print the study guides as you go along since, with math and grammar, my son references these types of things repeatedly during the week. But regardless, there is a lot of very helpful information here to use. Right at your fingertips so you don’t have to go digging around to find the answers you need.

When I asked my daughter what she liked best, hands down, it was all of the video ebooks. Now I would not consider most of these to be high quality literature myself however they are simple short stories, fun for her (and my five year old son even) since neither one is reading jut yet.  There is the collection of Aesop’s Fables, The Real Mother Goose, some Bible stories, fun sing a longs, and a plethora of other books, mostly sorted by age.  My daughter really enjoyed watching book after book when she had the opportunity. And I did appreciate how both she and my younger son can see the words being read, since they are highlighted as each is read.  I think this really helps build their vocabulary and reading skills, at the reading level they are at. She also loved My Animal Family – a collection of stories  told as “a day-in-the-life” of the baby animal and her family. My daughter loved hearing the adventures of  each of the baby animals as they learn and explore. My Animal Family also has lots of interesting animal facts…and fun songs to learn and sing along to! It was another winner over here.

My youngest son (who is five) was simply captivated by the Natures’ Miniatures videos on here. I am a bit squeamish – can I say I was itching after ever viewing of this one? lol – He is definitely the true nature lover in our family and this series shows those creatures that are no bigger than a pea perhaps. Nature’s Miniatures is full of awesome micro and macro photography exploring some of the tiniest and unusual creatures (we have a microscope now thanks to these videos).  He watched these again and again. Magic of Nature was another series of videos he really enjoyed (my other two did as well; this just wasn’t their first choice) as he learned about animals that come out at night, animals in the water and in the air. These wildlife videos will continue to keep this little man busy for quite some time I think!

My older son is harder to please. He gets bored very easily; rarely sits still and seldom maintains any interests for long.  So I think he was pleased to see so much variety on here. He liked turning on the music now and then while he was building, or doing math drills even. He absolutely loved the Nature’s Soap Operas videos (these are basically animal bloopers – not sure you learn much but they are cute!)  Minus one or two comments my younger son felt were “not nice” these cracked all of us up!  Great for some laughs – which brings me to my oldest son’s other spot.  The Fun Zone: full of jokes, limericks and riddles enough to keep him busy for some time. He fancies himself a little comedian I think, although he doesn’t say so himself.  He is eager for the foreign language videos to be available as he really enjoys languages, and he would love to see some arts related materials here since he loves to draw and create.

As a momma who really tries to avoid screen time as often as possible, I have to say I was so very impressed with this one! Every one of my children just loved their time with this and every time I had a chance to watch with them, it was SO educational. I think I learned a ton from these videos myself!  There’s so much here to explore, and they’re adding new content monthly. So I am very happy we have a full year to use this one since I’m hoping to explore some of the cooking videos, the numerous history and war videos, foreign language materials, and we definitely want to slowly enjoy all of the culture and travel videos on here too.  There really is something here for everyone; the program is very easy to use and the children all enjoy it.  We’re going to be continuing to use and enjoy this one for sure!  I do encourage you to give them a try too. You won’t be disappointed.

SmartKidz Media Review

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