When I Don’t Know 

So many days lately I just don’t know.
 we ventured into unschooling a few weeks ago and when I love the concept I am really struggling to stick with it. 

Why you may be asking?
My oldest son is so very rebellious. It seems as the days pass he gets moodier. More restless. And since he rebels against any structure or direction struggling trying to find ways to inspire and encourage him.

I remind myself that he loves music and he can often spend quite a bit of time drumming or playing on the keyboard.

He is quite artistic too and it’s amazing some of the things he can draw and even the things he can design on the computer. He has done some coding and some graphic design classes. For this not text Savvy Mom it’s quite impressive all that he can do.

Yet at the same time when he isn’t doing he is busy brooding. He can be so I’m kind to his brother and his sisters just because. He opens his mouth and often speaks foolishly or rudely.

I wonder what happened to the little boy that I raised who was once so polite and spoke words of wisdom often Beyond his age.

I shudder sometimes because in my family kids have a hard time growing up. Looking back on my childhood and family and friends too,  it was really rough. There were some awful experiences that come to mind. Bad decisions and dangers one after another. Loss and pain.  Too much.


 I hesitate to say that he knows better. He knows the Lord. He’s been baptized in His precious name. He speaks in other tongues as is the evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit. And he knows what is sin and still chooses to do it.

I remind myself that I don’t know. And I remind myself that God knows. I remember that even Paul spoke so plainly and honestly when he said that the things he wished to do he did not do any of the things he did not want to do he did.
Spirits and principalities and powers. It is a continual war that we are in. The Flesh and the spirit continually warring against one another.

I shudder to think of the things that my son could fall into. The strongholds. I strive to find ways to help him to guard his mind against these things.

At the same time I rest and the truth that I just do not know. I do not know his path and I do not know his purpose. But I do know the God who does know all these things and more.

I will not fear for where there is fear there is no faith. I will simply speak truth and Speak Life. I can only continue to show him the word and to pray for his heart and for his mind.

I don’t know. But I am so grateful that I know the One who does know. 💞💞💞

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Brinkman Adventures Season 4 {Review}

We really love audiobooks! Being that we are on the go a lot as of late (travel team hockey will do that to your life!) its always such a blessing to have good, wholesome, educational adventures to enjoy together, as we drive back and forth. Again and again. It gives us something to look forward to as well; its not just a drive to the rink (again) but it is time to spend experiencing The Brinkman Adventures.  Being given The Brinkman Adventures Season 4 for review was a great thing for our family! Because we have been wondering what they have been up to since we last enjoyed their exploits. 🙂

 

Brinkman Adventures

 

 

I cannot really refer to these as audio books because really, they are a radio show, retelling stories of actual missionary work done. My oldest son, for some time, has felt the desire to go and share the Gospel with people in other parts of the world. When he was six, he said God was going to send him to China .. He loves hearing stories of salvation and redemption. Perhaps we all enjoy these stories knowing what a great blessing it is to our own life. We are blessed with God’s forgiveness and new life and in turn ought to be seeking those who are desiring the very same thing. What freedom it is!

 

 
 

There are 12 episodes included in this season; about 5 hours of amazing storytelling that just draws you right in. Because we are lovers of history and geography too we really enjoyed traveling to Cambodia, Russia and the Middle East. My oldest son remembered as we were listening that there was an episode long ago, when they were not far from where we live, in Wisconsin. I think that when he really began to take a liking to the Brinkman’s himself. But he really does enjoy traveling and exploring various parts of the world with this family. Real life missionaries – its his ailing he believes – God’s will be done.

 
 

 

My younger son and my oldest daughter listened intently to every word; my daughter liked to close her eyes so she could “see” them for herself. She loves to refer to these radio stories as “dreams”. She was a bit sad to find out that hippos can attack! ha-ha  My younger son on the other hand now hopes to one day have an attack hippo of his very own… She also enjoyed the Cambodian Quest because she loves the idea of sewing; she was relieved to find she can learn right here at home. She was sad for the idea of a child being a slave, she was so happy to hear though that together, they made a way of escape. My daughter also just loved the Heart Song –  her favorite episode of all – simply because it included hearts and songs and those are her two favorite things! She is our little praise singer. ❤

 
My younger son? He is hooked on these, mostly for the adventures that are told – especially the animals that are a part of these stories – there is nothing better he says, the a War of the Raccoons. He really had fun with Paradise Lost too. with all the hurricanes in the news he has been trying to learn as much as he can about these storms right now that are so terribly devastating. And seem to have no end. But it really got him (and my others) thinking, and having fun, with the idea of sharing the story of the Gospel, with someone who doesn’t speak your language. How do you share good news when you don’t have the words? This encouraged some very fun (funny too) interactions in the house for a time!

 

 

 

Every story is so exciting; you feel as though you were there. And they are laced with scriptural lessons for our children. What excellent conversations we have had as we listen and learn, together, about the lives of these precious servants of the Lord. So many reminders on being sensitive to God’s spirit; being obedient to His Word. In this season we are in right now, where there is so much celebration of all things dark and creepy, it is a reminder that this world is not our home. It is also a reminder that we need to be the light. We need to shine so that the darkness just cannot stay. And our children are that light. They need tone strong and sure of what they believe; they need to know their God and know that their God can and will use them for great things.

 

 

 

If you are looking for something to entertain, inspire and encourage your children, I highly recommend this! Packed with action, every moment has you on the edge of your seat. And at the end you are not only feeling akin to the Brinkman’s, you also have a new strength in your own faith. It is iron, sharpening iron. Such power in our testimonies; such power in serving and truly being His ambassadors in this world.

 

Brinkman Adventures Season 4

 

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In Action 

We recently decided to begin our journey as unschoolers. Have I mentioned that here before?

I’m sure I have but today I come here and I make this announcement because it is my plan to try to be faithful to this blog more than I have been. I see this today as an opportunity to share how unschooling is or isn’t working for us. Perhaps to help myself to remember and look beyond just the surface. 


I am guilty of being that Mom who really struggles to see screen time as discovery time. And yet this morning my oldest son while sitting at our computer was able to program it to speak to us. He made a couple different phrases. Quite impressive!

 My younger son is hard at work on multiplication tables and when he isn’t doing that he is playing World of Tanks. It’s amazing how much you can learn about the war and the planes and tanks through this game. when I think about it it really helps my struggling reader to because he has to read if he wants to complete his tasks.

And my six year old daughter who is learning how to read has so much fun playing games that require her to know her letters and the sounds they make. At the same time they challenged her a little bit here and a little bit there.  she can be a princess or a mermaid or a unicorn and working hard to get a new dress for her character is quite the incentive.

My oldest son recently founded documentary all about the history of video games and it was quite interesting. We actually watched it together on a nice wet rainy day.

It was interesting how he is men and women all spoke of how video games Brought them into a sense of belonging and a community. So many of them spoke of being lonely and if not fitting in. Much like my oldest son as of late they spoke of not really having a group of friends and not really feeling a sense of belonging. Yet as they play these games and they begin to meet others of like mind they did so much more than just play a game. They developed friends who are almost like family.

I flash back to the days when I would sit with my gaming friends and watch them play for hours. Dungeons & Dragons. Magic the Gathering. These guys could sit all night and all day together. And they had so much fun. To this day I am sure many of them are still closed. How many of us can say that we truly have a group of friends like that? People who we can just be ourselves around and relax and know that we are accepted.

So often I forget that with true learning there will be an action. Whether it’s that war game that encourages my son to learn all he can about that Warr he is playing in or whether it’s my son learning how to hack our computer and reprogram it there was learning taking place.

But I have to step back. I have to remember that my kids are not me. My children are not each other either. They are each one fearfully and wonderfully made. They’re in the image of God and each one of them was created for his purpose. A specific purpose which is only for them. They are not me and their purpose is not my purpose.

 I may not always see the action but much like God it’s all about having the faith to just know that it’s there. We can sow the seeds and sometimes someone else will sow some seeds. We may plant or we may reap.  Ultimately it’s about having bad faith that’s simply knows that there will be fruit.

Channie’s Visual Workbooks {Review}

We aren’t really big on workbooks around here but my youngest two (2 and 6) love to have their own thing to do each day. Like their big brothers. Most of the time I search for fun things for them to color and copy online, but this time we were given the chance to try something new. We received a copy of My First Letters from Channie’s Visual Handwriting & Math Workbooks for review.  Recommended for Pre-K through 1st grade, this was something fun for my girls to do together in their girl time!

 

 

 

When Channie’s son struggled with handwriting, which also brought about other struggles in his learning, she created these workbooks to be visual guides for struggling children. These don’t just provide letters to trace but include dividing lines and colored blocks to guide children as they write. This helps them to learn to properly form their letters consistently.

 

 

 

 

My daughter was pretty excited to get her own workbook! We received My First Letters which is a handwriting pad with letters to trace, blank lines for practicing, and pictures to color. While my daughter does know how to write most letters this was a great opportunity for her to master those letters.

 

 

 

 

There are approximately 80 pages in this pad; unlike most worksheets that are used for handwriting practice, these provide lots more visual aids. See the letter, big and small; there is also a visual image that starts with that letter to color and there is a tracing guide. 

My daughter loves this part of it! She will trace the letter with her finger; sometimes we will let her trace it in flour or shaving cream – perhaps she will try to make a copy of it with play doh. All of this helps to understand and follow a pattern for forming each letter. And my daughter loved being able to “teach” her little sister to do this too.

 

 

There are double spaced lines, large blocks for letter formation and placement; three pages for each letter. One page is for upper case letters, another is for lower case letters and the last page allows practice for both. So they can get plenty of practice with each letter. 🙂

 

 

 My daughter really enjoyed this one; she is eager to try another too. Sometimes she would do one page; other days she would work in her workbook for quite awhile. Her favorite part was the coloring since she likes to draw and the images were all simple ones she could trace and draw herself even, to color in and decorate. The boxes were a great help for her though – she liked being able to see exactly where it all goes (even though she “preferred to do it with curls all pretty”)  I think she will love cursive writing. haha


 

 

This is a fun way to encourage our kids in their learning. And they are made in the USA too.  We are currently hosting a student from France and it has become a running joke that so many things are made in China, here in the USA.  It is nice to find something that is “home grown”.  Be sure to check out the other fun resources Channie offers:

 

 

These really are a wonderful tool to have, not just for struggling learners either. Its a simple way for our kids to learn and master handwriting and mathematics too – giving them a firm foundation in things that really do matter. Help them understand and enjoy all that they can learn and do!

Channie’s Visual Handwriting & Math Workbooks {Reviews}Find Channie: https://www.facebook.com/channiesworkbook Tag:   @channiesworkbook Crew Disclaimer

Super Teacher Saves the Day {Review}

It isn’t any surprise that my kids aren’t really those kids who appreciate worksheets. Ever. They are much more hands on, visual, moving and grooving types … But this, Super Teacher Worksheets, my kids happily peruse all of the different things on this site, print, and work (sometimes all day) quite happily. Needless to say I was more than happy to receive an Individual Membership, for a whole year, to Super Teacher Worksheets to use with my three oldest learners. 🙂

 

 

There are  over 10,000 printables to choose from on this site! Math, science, geography, writing prompts, mini-books for beginning readers, literature units, geography….I could go on and on. Most of their worksheets are aligned with Common Core (in case you are wondering).  My favorite feature? The search box – just type in whatever you are looking for and – BOOM – tons of great materials you can print and use to have a great time learning about whatever your kiddos latest passion is.

 

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Since we recently jumped into “unschooling” around here, something like this has been a great blessing to me because, I admit, I am still not totally sold on it yet. As I watch my children, their choice of games and videos and things for discovery, I like to ensure that they are getting as much as they can out of the time they spend on whatever they are “on fire” for. This is a great way to encourage and provide a little assurance, to momma. 🙂

 

There are also a couple handy tools for any momma who wants to really dig into all that is offered. I printed out a couple of their lesson planners – lots of room to write – great I think for if you are following a program or have specific things you want to work on. There is also a worksheet generator to make your own; we used these to make our own puzzles and word searches. My oldest son wants to use it to make some flashcards too to help him with his French. One thing that we found, and are really using, are homework agendas; a really cool tool for my oldest son. One for every day of the week, where he can list the “work” that was done. He really likes being able to list out his goals for each day and then be able to see them accomplished at the end of the day. Whatever works 😀

 

 

Do you love music? Are your kids learning? Mine love music! We have an electric piano, drums and guitars they work on throughout the week (their choice not mine, I promise!) and they sing too. We just love music around here. Needless to say, its hard to keep track of who is doing what.  So finding practice charts to print for each child was quite exciting. As were some of the other worksheets that we used to count beats, learn notes and rests – all while having fun coloring!

Since we have tried to move away from “teaching” to “discovering” this is one of those resources that we are so glad to have at our disposal. We have been having a blast with the many brain teasers,, scavenger hunts and puzzles available. Its fun seeing all four of my kiddos working together or exploring to find answers to questions asked.

 
 

And because of how much my boys love to read, the literacy units that are provided really help encourage them to read more and to read more carefully. Such a fun way to dig into an otherwise “boring” book. I personally cannot believe they can call so many of the books they read uninteresting and boring but…Pleased that we have access to something like this to help them focus and pay closer attention to stories we read, together or on our own.

 

While we are not really fans of “worksheets” we have been very pleased with this program and I would highly recommend it! Its so affordable too; a wonderful way to supplement whatever program you are using or just give your kids a chance to learn and explore their own thing for a time. My kids certainly appreciate being able to find something to learn about, on their own, as they feel led, and I love their desire to seek out answers to questions they have. Such a joy to have something like this, especially for those “bad” days to help a momma out.

 

 

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Don’t Like Them? Love Them Anyway

For as long as I can remember my oldest son who is my first born has driven me nuts. Sometimes I think he drives me over the edge. There are times i do not recognize him..who is this morose and irritable boy in my house? 


Maybe it’s just because he’s loud and he’s always moving and touching things and making things happen. I on the other hand like to curl up with a book and a cup of tea and just enjoy the silence.

There’s always been something special about him.  Never one to do things the way others do he was always kind of stood out. And he’s always been okay with that. Not a people pleaser but strong and sure in his way.

I admire his determination. I love how quickly he picks things up. His passion and his drive for those things that interest him.

At the same time as he gets older he needs to understand about showing respect and honor. His determination and his strong will too often come across to others as personal insults. His refusal to do something. Or how he shuts down completely when he is corrected.

I read somewhere that struggles we have at our children are a blessing to us because they keep us on our knees. They remind us that we can’t do this without God on our side. How much that rings true for me lately with my oldest son.

I have always been fairly easygoing and relaxed. Happy and at peace. Calm and rational.  Get my oldest son has the most amazing ability to make me say and do things… he can cause me to lose my cool and seconds… holy sandpaper someone once said?

It always amazes me how I spent years in Social Services working with at-risk youth. I counseled so many parents who had terrible stories.  Yet no matter how horrible things seemed I was always calm and kind. I reached out with love to them.

At my own flesh and blood. My first one son. He is more of a challenge to me than anything or anyone. How it Grieves me but I cannot show him more Mercy and speak more life-giving words. 

Lately there are too many days when I fear we are only hurting one another. Me with my words and him with his actions and his attitude.

I remind him often but there is a way that is right. There’s a path but we must choose to take it. Lately I have been praying as job begins his praying. For his children that regardless of how old they may be that the Lord will guide them that the Lord will forgive them.

I pray that the Lord will strengthen me and guide me. I pray so often that he will forgive me. For words and for actions that are unkind. That the Lord would soften his heart and mine. Drawing us both nearer to His way and His will.

 Sometimes I really do wish that parenting was as simple as I thought it was so long ago. I wish I really did have all the answers. But then I remember that I have a great God who does have all those answers. It’s simply my job to be still and to know that he is God.

There are moments that I think my son and I can’t be any more broken. There can’t be any way that God could possibly use us. And then God shows up and  show is himself strong. Whether it’s my oldest son sharing truth and his testimony with another or whether it’s just seeing fruit blossoming. Its a glimpse that reminds me that God is working and I just have to be patient and faithful.

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls {WorthyKids/Ideals Review}

Discover the secret of the hidden scrolls with Peter and Mary, their dog Hank too, as we go back in time with our latest read. These are the first two in the time-traveling adventure series, The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls by M.J. Thomas, from WorthyKids/Ideals. In Book One: The Beginning, The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls, they are transported back to the time of creation. Then in Book Two: Race to the Ark. Pretty exciting right? What better way to foster a love for reading and also enjoy sharing God and His Word with our children.

 

 

 

M.J. Thomas, author, grew up in Florida and currently lives in Tennessee with his wife, two sons, and their dear dog Hank. With a background in Biblical Studies, it just made sense to him when he struggled to find books that would teach his own son about those powerful truths within the Bible, to write them himself. His books not only teach out children valuable lessons from within the pages of the Word of God; they also inspire them. Full of adventure imagination and characters that become dear to your heart, these are books that are sure to stir up a love for the things of God, within our children. Recommended for ages 6-9, or grades 1-3.

 

 

 

Meet Solomon, archeologist and uncle of Peter and Mary. When their uncle shows them the ancient scrolls he discovered the fun begins. According to the Legend of the Hidden Scrolls:

The scrolls contain the truth you seek, 

break the seal, unroll the scroll, 

and you will see the past unfold

Amazing adventures are in store, 

for those who follow the lion’s roar. 

 

When they hear the lion’s roar, they travel back, to the time of creation. In order to get back home they need to be able to decode the secret message. While there, they witness the 6 days of creation; they meet the archangel Michael – their defender – and that slippery, slithering snake. Will they reveal the secret message before its too late and go home or will they be stuck there forever?

 

 

 

In the second story, a new scroll is opened. This time they are off to the time of Noah’s Ark. This time they have six days to find the answer to the secret message (which happens to have six words in it). Its the race to the ark! Just as in the story of Noah there are troublemakers they encounter; therein the Dark Ruler who is determined to stop them.  Journey with them every step of the way, as they use their uncle’s journal to find their way back home. My younger son especially loved the many things that related to his scouting adventures – identifying animal tracks, using a compass to find your way and all those tools. How he loves to build things (just like Noah). My boys also just loved the chapter A Big Problem because – poop is funny – they have always wondered how all those animals went to the bathroom while they were on the ark (gotta love boys haha). Of course there were many other challenges that came their way; what do we do when others doubt and mock our faith?  What will Peter and Mary do? Whose report will they believe? 🙂

 

 

 

These are such great books! They reminded my oldest son of The Magic Treehouse books (a series we all just adore!). My younger ones especially though really enjoyed both of these and I am certain we will be reading them again and again. I know we are eager to read more from this author. There is nothing better, in my humble opinion, than literature that brings truth to life. It was fun reading and then talking with my kids as we pondered what really happened – what would they have done – how exciting to experience two amazing events like these, as we read together. Since you cannot actually go back in time, its great to know that there are books that can help take you there,, even if it is only in your imagination. 🙂

 

 

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls. {WorthyKids/Ideals Reviews}

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Who Doesn’t Need A Car ?

(this is a sponsored post)

 

When we found out we were expecting with our last child, it was such an exciting moment. Also a realization that – we have a large family.

That means we need something to drive that fits all of us. (We often host exchange students as well so, add one or two more!)

This is something that my husband does – splendidly.
I am so very blessed that he takes the lead in this and, every time, brings home an amazing vehicle that is safe, and fun and so comfortable too!

 

One resource that I do not think we could do without, whenever we are searching for a new vehicle, is Cars.com.

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There is so much to learn as we go about seeking to purchase a new vehicle for our families. Is it safe?

 

Are you looking for an SUV? Not sure what you are looking for? Compare them side by side.

 

 

Truth be told there is so much out there to learn; unless you are one of those folks who know all there is to know about how cars work and what to look for (and what so many different things mean) Cars.com is a where you want to be.  They are a leader online in educating shoppers and owners in all things related to ownership.

 

 

They are also one of the largest automotive platforms, connecting consumers with local dealers across the country anytime, anywhere. Through trusted expert content, on-the-lot mobile app features, millions of new and used vehicle listings, a comprehensive set of research tools and the largest database of consumer reviews in the industry, Cars.com helps shoppers buy, sell and service their vehicles.

 

 

What could be better than having one place where you can do it all?  Sell, trade, buy.

 

What do you need? Get a service estimate. Or see how to do it yourself.

 

When you are unsure of what you need or what you ought to do, visit Maintenance 101. All the answers (maybe not all of them) in one handy place.

 

See a trend here? This site has it all. In one place. Why make things more complicated than they need to be?

 

Mommas, do you know that this week is Car Seat Safety Week? Make sure your little ones are safe; these car seats are anything but easy and there is help for you here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discovery Time

We recently decided to become unschoolers. 
This was not a decision that I took lightly. Knowing as little as I did about this concept of learning I was and still am a bit nervous.
But knowing how not in love with learning my children have been in the last few months it is worth a try.
Walking into this though I wondered what exactly does a good day look like when you’re unschooling?
I really wasn’t sure and being so new to this I really hoped to find something that will give me a bit more direction.
I love how God works!
I scoured the internet looking for others of like mind. Trying to find some type of schedule that would show me what their day is look like. And then I came across something that resolved a bunch of things all in one post.

I do not like the word School. I do not like what I think of when I think of school. I never particularly enjoyed School. My mother sent me to a public school because she was a single mother who probably just didn’t know that this was a better way. But I consider myself home educated because the things that we did and the things that I learned we’re never things I learned when I was in school.

As I read this amazing blog post I came across the term Discovery Time.

I think of how much more enjoyable things can be when we tell our children that it’s Discovery Time! Not school time or work time but Discovery Time.
I also found as I read that so much of what this family did really was what they did. It was more about taking action. 

My oldest son and I were actually talking about this yesterday. How there are people who want to do things and so they make plans and they do all the stuff in preparation for doing that thing they desperately want to do. Perhaps they never even do what they planned to do in the first place. Too much time spent planning and plotting and trying to figure out how to do something instead of just going for it.

 As I read and as I learn more and more about this fine art of learning that’s how many families are embracing I’m finding but everything they do is everything that we already do. Enjoying museums and libraries. Getting outside and exploring the world. Reading lots of books. Watching movies to learn more about history watching documentaries to understand different parts of the world what different animals. Doing science experiments and building things….

There isn’t really a formal schedule because learning isn’t really formal. We spend time learning about those things that are children lead us to.  The Fire Within them is what drives them and so we use that to try to help Inspire and direct them.

The problem is that too often we get stuck thinking that this one thing is just that. One thing. And if we step outside of the box we realize that there is so much more to a child’s love of frogs. Science and math and reading. A child’s love of ice cream can easily become a history lesson and a science lesson. Anything in the kitchen can’t help our children to learn math skills and reading. Attention to detail and patience. When you have more than one child often it also helps you learn how to better work with others. Hahaha

It’s all about making those discoveries. It is all about seeing everything with all of those opportunities within.  Remembering that one thing is not always just one thing.

There is a freedom that comes from letting go. Maybe just a little bit or maybe letting go a lot.

Right now I am just trying to watch and learn myself. To better understand what path we are on and why. To see all four of my children for who they are. Getting to know them and the things they love.

 Certainly it has it’s challenging days. I’m the first to admit to being a bit of a control freak. But it truly is enjoy to sit back and watch them go. And it is definitely an exercise in faith.  😃

No more school for us.  

 Only Discovery Time 💞💞