My Children: CREATING A MASTERPIECE! {Review}

Art is such a important piece in my children’s education.  They just love to draw and paint; my oldest son has even begun to sculpt a bit. Just simple clay but how I love to see him work. He has always wanted to take classes, formal art training, something to really advance and strengthen his skills. But around here there isn’t much and what there is we just cannot manage right now. Then we were introduced to Sharon Hofer and her amazing online program, Creating A Masterpiece. This is just like a formal art course but online; she provides easy instruction in a variety of media, and it is suitable of for children of any age who just want to create their own masterpieces. We received the Monthly Plan for review and wait until you some of the masterpieces that have been created since we began!

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This program offers such an amazing variety of media forms:

  • Soft Pastels
  • Oil Pastels
  • Sculpture
  • Watercolor
  • Acrylic
  • Block Printing
  • Ink
  • Silk Dyeing
  • Pencil
  • Bombay Ink
  • Conte’ Crayon
  • Portraiture
  • Colored Pencil
  • Copper Tooling
  • Charcoal
  • Glass Mosaic
  • Watercolor Pencils
  • Gouache
  • Balsa Carving
  • Wood Burning

There is a Beginner level, as well as additional levels 1-5; there is also an Art in History level which I thought was really neat!  You don’t have to complete one level at a time; my children bounced about on this one. We did some projects in Projects range within these from scenic drawing, to portraits, and landscapes – without a doubt there is an amazing variety to choose from! You can choose projects based on difficulty or you could find projects based on the medium being used. I think some days, if I allowed it my oldest son could spend the entire day just working on all the different projects here!

My oldest son decided he was going to sculpt a turtle the moment he saw this lesson. I wasn’t sure about this but as he watched and worked with her instruction, it was amazing how the simple shapes they began with became a turtle! There were four video lessons for this one which also included helpful hints and highlights from each lesson too. It was quite impressive how something that looked so complex was so easily broken down into simple, manageable steps.  Her teaching style really ensures that our children can complete the project (for younger kids maybe will need a bit of assistance but it is definitely possible for them to create!).

Another lesson that my younger children really enjoyed was the sunflower. This lesson was meant to be done in pencil but my littler ones really enjoyed drawing and then painting, their sunflowers. There were six lessons included for this project which was a bit much for my younger ones but they still persevered to the end and had their very own sunflowers to proudly show off.

All three of my children really enjoyed a Lesson in Soft Pastel; pastels are definitely one of our favorite mediums to work with right now. So together, my oldest and his younger siblings sat and worked hard at this lovely landscape. Only three lessons this was one that each of my children really enjoyed.

I have to show off a bit here because my oldest son worked really hard on this one. He knows how much I Just love horses and so after he and I had an especially difficult day, I found him (frustrated but diligently at work) on a white stallion. This is one of the level 5 projects and is very involved. Only four lessons but this one requires quite a bit of slow work, steady hand and patience.

My oldest son (11) really appreciated her teaching style and how he felt like throughout the video she was “like a friend” with her camaraderie and banter. As she talked it kept him relaxed and at ease; he liked that he could just sketch or paint while she talked and how she wasn’t always “barking” instructions but encouraging in her words and her tone with each step in these projects.

My younger son (7) never wants to draw; art has always been something he does in a hurry so he can do something of his own choosing. But now he has his own drawing book and I can find him sketching at the breakfast table or in bed before he goes to sleep. This has really awoke a creative spirit in him that was not there before!

And my daughter (5) has just really been encouraged by this too! Even as young as she is, she has followed along with some of the simpler lessons and really enjoyed them! She loves drawing flowers and butterflies. Watercolors and pastels are her favorites; as she has completed projects alongside her brothers she has gained a greater understanding and confidence in her own abilities.

I love how each lesson is set up for our children to have success! Supply lists are provided for each project (with a link to purchase materials through Dick Blick – we got ours at our local craft store), downloads and lesson highlights and tips. We really thoroughly enjoyed this program (we still are actually!) and I highly recommend it if you have children who have a desire to learn and create. This has inspired every one of my children to see things in a different way and to try to capture some of what they see in a creative way, to share with others.

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Connect to Create: Creating a Masterpiece

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Family Honor Plate & Table Thyme Discussion Cards {Review}

It’s been awhile since, as a family, we have really made a point of actively engaging with one another. My boys  (and my husband) are very much lovers of screens. Their favorite thing to do is play video games and watch shows on the television. As my children get older, I feel more and more as though, we are not taking enough time to make those precious memories. Or to really know them.

 

TABLE THYME DISCUSSION CARDS

As our oldest son gets older, I find it harder and harder to really “know” him. We struggle with communication. Which is almost funny since we have spent years being part of a homeschool group specifically for speech and debate. Needless to say I was excited to learn about Table Thyme Discussion Cards. What a fabulous (and super fun) way to encourage discussion in the family! Some of these are so very creative and every one of them makes for a great learning experience as we share with one another. Unlike most things, these questions require a “Why?” because that is where it really matters. Ironically, this has been something we have been trying to include in everything we do. Things matter so much more when there is a reason.  🙂

 

 

Sample pack of Table Thyme Discussion Cards

 

 

Then there is the Family Honor Plate Paint Kit.  We do so love this sort of thing! Although I am just not so good when it comes to artistic things like this, my children all love this! And it comes with everything you need to get painting right away. There is even a little palette to put the paint on.  I admit though, I would  prefer a plate that isn’t ceramic. As my kids (all four of them, from the two year old to the twelve year old) passed the plate back and forth …. What a sight it was to see! (I know, I should have gotten a photo!) Bad momma! ha-ha

 

 FAMILY HONOR PLATE PAINT KIT

Unfortunately shortly after the plate was painted, we forgot to bake it and so the paint quickly came off. Lesson learned. And regardless, the kids all had so much  fun painting this one and are looking forward to the chance todo it again. This time we need to remember to do that final step so we can enjoy their creation for a long time to come.

 

Both of these materials were such a delight to have!   Watching my children painting together – with very minimal bickering – was such a treat. And the table talk we have had (at the table and everywhere else under the sun) has been very eye opening. I love hearing my kids asking each other questions….Learning and getting to know one another in a different  way. Having fun too! Because relationships matter. And they do take work. No one said that can’t be fun.

 

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We have all learned so much! And for the momma? A gentle reminder to look for those good things and to celebrate thing. I fear too often, habit training and sibling relationships is more of a battle than it should be. What a wonderful opportunity to remember and honor those things which a good and true, and right.  ❤

 

 

Learn more or go and grab your own of one or both online.

 

 

 

{{I received these products for free from FlyBy Promotions in exchange for an              honest review. }}

Is it By the Law? 

I wish I could say that the things that I do are done by faith but too often the works that I do are by the law.  And those things my children do their also according to the law.
As I try to consider moving forward one of the things I know is that we need to increase our faith.

Especially when it comes to our home learning I fear but lately we are working too much according to the way of the world. The expectations and the pressure is not good. And it is not the way God would want it to be.

We dipped our toes into the waters of unschooling free time but I was not patient. I did not truly allow my children time. I’m not sure what I expected but I did not step out in faith when we began.
How silly it is to expect success when we go but we leave our faith behind. Without faith it is impossible to please God.

And then I met a new friend. Online. It seems all of my best friends are online nowadays. Sometimes this technology that I dislike so much really is a blessing!


One of the things that I love the most about homeschooling is how willing people are just share. I have never met another homeschooler who isn’t happy to come alongside someone who is struggling or new and encourage them.

I think she helped me to find that breath of fresh air. As I complained ( although that’s really not what I meant to do) about how miserable everyone seems to be right now. And how I know we need to breathe some new life into everyone. 

I learned that I am not alone. I also learned but sometimes we need to just step out in faith and frost and what we cannot see. I was reminded but even in those times when it seems nothing is getting done there is always something at work behind the scenes. 
Isn’t that what faith is all about? Trusting in those things that we cannot see. It can be easy to forget when we are doing this that we are simply planting seeds. The harvest we may not see for quite some time. We need to simply be patient and persevere. 
As we talked I was reminded to of how much learning really does happen in simple day-to-day activities. The value of doing chores around the house together. Having conversations. Reading good books and just exploring where we live. These are things that are priceless. And there’s so much learning taking place.

We say we trust God when we don’t. I know that is easier said than done but perhaps it is easier to trust God than we think? I strive today to give him my children and Trust the work the God is doing in them.

Celebrate His Way 

I have a confession to make. I am an absolute control freak. I also have to admit that I have a very obsessive-compulsive personality. There is a way that is right. There is an order that things are to be in.

I comfort myself with the fact that God is a God of order.  I often have to remind myself that He is not shoving order down our throat.  We are never forced to do anything. But whatever we are to do we are to do it with joy and thanks giving for God.
 It’s kind of funny when I stop and think sometimes. The pressure that I put on myself and the stress that I caused. It doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of getting myself all puffed up and bent out of shape because of what someone says or how something goes I can just rest and no that God is in control.
In times of trouble or trial I can remember the many times that God had compassion. I can remind myself of those times God showed Mercy. I can remind myself of how Jesus went with joy to the cross.  
The other day as I was standing in line at the grocery store I was singing. A little tune from worship service. The cashier looked tired but she smiled and was so very appreciative of the peace that she said she could see about me.

It’s not about me. I often say that. I often remind my children. Everything that happens isn’t always for us. I think of some of those times and I wonder if there are opportunities that I have missed. If instead of furthering the gospel there have been times that I have offended the gospel. Or even used it improperly because of something I thought or felt at the time.

What is our spirit? Do we trust God that He is really in control all the time? And as we are reaching out are we doing so with love and compassion? I pray that is I share  God’s goodness what others I do so with a heart full of love and not spite  or  selfishness .  Because it can be so easy  to do something  with the wrong intentions.  It can be so easy  to be proud of what we know  and to think ourselves better than another because  of what we know. 
Jesus loves them. He loves us.  He is always patient and compassionate. Are  we doing the same? 

Illuminated Bible (A Review)

I love my Bible! 

I also admit I am very much a KJV kind of girl.

With the limited time I have for reading and study (four kids makes it more challenging right?) I try to be wise in how I spend my time.

Yet I admit, I have a bit of an addiction to pretty books. And when I saw The ESV Illuminated Bible- it is just amazing, beautiful, regal….

I had to check it out more for myself.
It is truly a masterpiece. Beauty on every page!


Some of the amazing features of this one are:

  • 9-point, Lexicon
  • Black letter text
  • 2-color printing
  • 64 full-page, custom book opener illustrations
  • 50 full-page verse illustrations
  • 250+ hand-lettered margin verses
  • 100+ other illustrations throughout
  • Illustrated by Dana Tanamachi, whose work has been featured by Google, The Wall Street Journal, Random House, USPS, and Target
  • Thick, cream-colored paper
  • Wide margins
  • Single-column, paragraph format
  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Packaging: Permanent Slipcase

 

 

 

Is this not truly a work of art? I absolutely love spending time in the Word of God – I find nothing to be more beautiful, powerful or precious than His word. This Bible – while I admit I do wish it was in King James Version – it is such a joy to spend time in. It is quite an inspiration too to my oldest son who loves the Word and loves all things artsy … Since he has dabbled a bit in journalling and hand lettering, this was something he really got inspired by!

 
 

 

For anyone who is in need of a Bible, or looking for a special gift for a loved one, this may be just what you are looking for. Personally I do not think I could ever mark it up because the pages are just so lovely. The soft paper, creamy coloring, the lovely illustrations throughout. This is one of those Bibles that I am happy to have as an addition to my little library. I don’t know that this would take the place of my Geneva Bible when it comes to study, but I certainly will enjoy reading this now and again with my children. And my oldest son (probably my little ones too as they get bigger) will take joy in the idea and process of Bible art journalling themselves.
 

Ironically the concept of illuminated manuscripts is also a rather historical thing (going back to medieval times); the word “manuscript” from the Latin words manus (hand) and scriptus (writing) literally means “written by hand.” And the word “illuminated,” from the Latin illuminare, means “lighted up.” For a book to truly be illuminated, it had to be decorated with gold. (typically applied to the pages in thin sheets called gold leaf). These were made continually until around 1450, when Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable type, printing press, making mass production of books possible. Is that amazing or what? I love when there is a lesson like this within something like this!

 

 

 

This truly is gorgeous! The detail throughout this book, you could spend hours enjoying and studying. There is also plenty of room for anyone who desires to do so to add their very own art. I don’t know that I could possibly make even a tiny mark in this Bible myself. It is just so perfect, so lovely – but if you are one of those truly creative types, I am sure you will be inspired and enjoy adding your own personal touch to this one.

 
 

Get Your Copy on Amazon

Learn more about the ESV Illuminated Bible at www.illuminatedbible.org

Sometimes I Hide

We all hide from them now and then don’t we? When you are an un-Mom, I guess you hide more often than those “other” moms! haha

 

I have to admit that sometimes I think I hide more from them than most do. But I was so happy to have the chance to review this book. Since I admit, I have always been horrified by the idea of playdates and craft times at the local library … I tend to hide when I know there is a required sign up for child care at events (even church) and I am certain that there are quite a few folks out there who pray for my kids and consider me a “train wreck”. 😛

 

There was something reassuring about opening the pages to read another mama words that I think could have been my own. She says that God in all his wisdom and humor had a plan. I totally get that.  So often as I read this book I had to smile and nod. Got quite a few good laughs in there as well~

 

The prologue alone was such a relief to read. Words that comforted me. Because I didn’t feel so alone anymore. Some of these thoughts that I have…. And her list that helps you know for sure, if you really are an un-mom or not….. I’m not the only one!

 

It is so reassuring to know that I’m not the only one who finds pretend play boring and really struggles with the image that most have of what it means to be a mom. That’s super gentle and loving and nurturing Mama? It’s just not me! The idea of entertaining my children horrifies me. I try to play with them, I really do, but my mind quickly wanders. My kids long ago realized that their mom loves them very much but just isn’t cut out for some of these momma tasks that their friends mommas do so eagerly.

 

Her super funny honesty so often made me laugh out loud. There was just so much I could relate to. Because I was never that Mom who planned to have a big family. I was never that mom who dreamed about getting married when I was a child. Certainly I enjoyed kids, I worked with them for the majority of my professional life, they were other people’s kids though. I was always the first to say “no way, not me.”  With plans to travel the world, have exotic adventures and live in a nice little home similar to that of the hobbit, kids just did not fit in. And I was not going to pretend that they would.

 

God knows better though right? How would I ever learn of Him, and lean on Him if it weren’t for these little ones I am so blessed to have?

 

This book is all about “finding grace and laughter when motherhood gets real.”  

 

 

Is there ever a time it isn’t real? No matter how much we may struggle with loving being a mom, certainly we can agree that we love our kids more. In these pages are so many reminders and examples of how beautiful, ridiculous and messy,motherhood really is.  And inspiration to remember and love it for we are truly blessed beyond measure.

 

Let us delight in being the mother we were created to be. In all of our imperfect, forgetting this and that, just leaning on God and trusting Him to get our kids (and us) through this adventure alive. And a bit more like Him.

 

You can purchase your own copy of Hiding From My Kids In My Prayer Closet here

***I received a complimentary copy of this book, courtesy of Liftuse Publicity Group, for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

 

 

Always Fighting

I think one of my favorite things in the scriptures is God’s instruction to us simply be still and know that He will fight for me.
Yet of the many things but I could struggle with in my walk with God perhaps this is the one I battle with the most of all.

I have always been a fighter. I kind of had to be in life. With a single mother who struggled with a lot of mental health issues I grew up asked. I remember my father telling people when I was 6 Maybe but I was really 25. It just wasn’t an option for me to be a child.

I learned early on in life that when you don’t fit in you have to make your own way. It reminds me of how the scriptures talk about the violent taking Heaven by force.  So much in my life was about me having to take things by force.

I never really fit in. I never had friends and those few I did have were just as peculiar and strange as I was. That hasn’t changed much through the years. I still today have only a small number of friends but friends which I am so very grateful for because certainly they are Heaven sent.
I ponder this morning how much of my life continues to be about me fighting.
 I never wanted to be a warrior. I never wanted to spend every moment of my day fighting with my first born son. Struggling with my children to help them see and love one another.

I consider strangers we have welcomed into our home through the years who have come and embraced what we offer and then those who have rejected it all. 

Every one of us is in a battle. Daily it is a battle between the flesh and the spirit. At the end of each day have I fought the good fight?

I’m always so conflicted when it comes to fighting. Because I admit much like Peter when he cut off that soldiers here I fear sometimes I am too ready to fight. And I know more often than not I need to simply be still.  

When I feel alone or when I feel depressed I need to be still. When it seems like those nearest and dearest to me are all falling away I need to seek comfort and peace in my Lord. I need to trust God.   

I am not ashamed and I will never be ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is my salvation and it is my power and it is my strength. I shall not be moved.
And when the enemy comes rushing in and when it seems it is the time to go to battle that is one I must stop and be still.
 

When People Suck

My younger son, said to me the other day “People really suck.”

This was shortly after we had quite a fiasco in our home thanks to an exchange student we were hosting.
After the whole situation have been brought out into the open and the light was shed on everything I admit it was very hard for me to say anything in response to my son’s comment. My only retort at the time was that Jesus doesn’t and we need to love them anyway.

 

It’s hard to remember sometimes that while the good news is such good news to us not everyone we share it with will feel the same way. And sometimes the more we share the less others want to hear.
The message that we are to go and share is a beautiful message. It’s a message of light and truth and freedom. But to those who are comfortable right where they are it is a message that leaves them only feeling angry and guilty.  They do not feel love and concern but condemnation and judgement.

 

 

And it’s easy for us to forget when they lash out at us for telling them the truth… it is so easy to forget that we were once the wretch that they are. We were once just as unworthy as they are now. We are not God. It is not for us to say who is deserving or who is Worthy.

 

It is a reminder as well that Jesus clearly tells us that there are those who will hear and yet will not really hear. There are those who will be so excited and so in love with God and His presence but then fall away when they learn that there will be choices and sacrifices… they will see the things that they cannot have and remain blind to those things that God has for them.

 

We can show others the way but we cannot make them walk in it. I admit that I do not always respond as I should especially to those who mock or persecute my Lord. It is hard to remember that God does not need me to defend him. He fights for us if we can only be still.

I remind myself often of how He walked alone in the very end. How so many that called Him friend turned away. It isn’t easy to continue to follow Him when it seems that everyone is turning against you.

 

That is when God comforts us and gives us peace. He reminds us of how we are to rejoice in these times because this is what draws us nearer to Him and what makes us more and more like Him. And isn’t that the goal?

 

It isn’t to say that we enjoy being hated and mocked and rejected for what we believe and the truth that we speak but it’s certainly good to remember that it’s going to be worth it all one day. I would even say, it’s worth it today.

 

 

Even if people sometimes suck, can’t we love them anyways? Just as He loves us always.! Isn’t it good to know that our God is so long suffering and loving and merciful? It is always a comfort to know that yesterday, today, and tomorrow He will always be the same.  I daily pray that I can simply be as faithful to Him as He is to me.
Speak Lord for your servant hears. 💞

Screens Make Me Scream

 

Lately whenever I walk into our living room I see everyone in our family. They’re all sitting in the same room together but they’re not paying attention to anything except the screen that is in their hands. They are together but not together. We watch a movie and one or more are seen playing on a screen, texting a friend…Some days I find my son trying to multi-task – watching one screen while playing on another. This simply cannot be.

 

I understand that in this day and age technology is everywhere. You see families together, out to eat, who are all buried in a screen. Children only four (sometimes younger) entertained by a screen. Together but totally separate from one another. Fussing? Fighting? Give them that screen. While I understand these screens can be used for so many amazing things I cannot help but want to scream because I just don’t like these screens.
I often tell my kids about those wonderful days back before there were all these screens. When people actually had conversations and were able to entertain themselves. Amazing books, creations made, wisdom and virtue. Now it seems people barely make eye contact when talking to each other. Everyone is listening and jumping the moment their phone makes a noise; everyone fills their moment with games and videos. Trivial things. And somehow it seems this is the norm. It is okay.

 

Lately whenever I walk into a room I see everyone in our family. They’re all sitting in the same room together but they’re not paying attention to anything except the screen that is in their hands.

I understand that in this day and age technology is everywhere. And I understand these screams used for so many amazing things but I cannot help but want to scream because I just don’t like the screens.

 

I often tell my kids about those wonderful days back before they were all these screens. When people actually had conversations and were able to entertain themselves. Now it seems people barely make eye contact when talking to each other because they’re too busy playing on their phone or their tablet. And somehow it seems that that has become a thing that is okay.
I remind my children almost daily that anything that we have needs to be properly used. Like my younger son with his hammer & nails. In order to safely use it, we have to be using it properly. You have to have self control and patience. You have to have a plan from start to finish. It is the same thing with all these screens. We need to be wise and responsible.
I remind my children almost daily that anything that we have needs to be properly used. It’s like using a hammer & nails. In order to safely use it it has to be used properly. You have to have self control and patience. You have to have a plan from start to finish. It is the same thing with all these screens.

Until recently we were hosting an exchange student, one who loved to spoil and pamper our children. She was all about keeping the peace. She could not understand why I was so upset that she would ply my kids with candy and games on her phone, to keep them happy. Isn’t that how so many things are done nowadays?

Forget having a strong character; forget about learning that life is not all about us. Just keep everyone happy. Whatever feels good, whatever brings us joy. It should be ours for the taking.

Unfortunately most people who subscribe to that kind of thinking are people that very few truly want to be around. They have learned that thy can get whatever they want. Complain, throw a tantrum and people do whatever it take to find peace. These are those who no one truly enjoys being around. And when our kids have too much of anything, screens included, they become very unpleasant to be around.

All things nee to be managed. I was so grateful when it was recommended to me to read Essentialism by Greg McKeown . The author suggested tickets; specifically handing out a limited number of ‘Technology Tickets’ at the beginning of every week and letting kids turn one in when they want some screen time. They can earn additional tickets by reading for 30 minutes and at the end of the week, they have the option of turning in unused tickets for use.

Since I am not at all crafty, or technologically savvy I searched online until I found some Technology Tickets that I could use. Since i have four kiddos I went ahead and printed off multiples; I made sure to write names on each one so there can be no confusion (or deception). There are tickets for both 15 minutes and 30 minutes on these pages. A great way to exercise those math skills. 🙂

Having been flying blind for awhile now, I have been desperately trying to find something that I can implement, quickly and this seemed to be a wonderful suggestion so we are off and running. Tickets printed and labelled and laminated.

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We are unschoolers but we do strive to have some form of peace and organization in the home. Especially when it comes to things like reading, writing and math I am still a real stickler for “getting it done” because those are things that are just not negotiable. Same thing with studying the Word of God each day; there are verses to learn and study for their Bible Quiz program.

I am not certain how well this will work but as I see it right now, it certainly cannot hurt anything. One thing I do notice is the need to strew just a bit more now; its amazing how (at least mine) are kind of dazed and confused without their screens. They wander about, they poke at each other, they grumble a bit – And I see as they do this that there is definitely a need to manage, to decrease screen time, around here.

So now we have these tickets – we also have a variety of fun things to encourage them to explore and learn, to play and create. There are books all about and I think I may take some time later this week to design an “I’m Bored Jar” for when they just cannot find something to do with themselves. (my kids do think the word “bored” is a swear word so they don’t say it as often as they might feel it but still..)
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Here’s to finding some calm in all the chaos. Here is the childhood that is free and fun and full of beautiful imaginings!