Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas songs

I have a new favorite Christmas song. For years, my favorite song at Christmastime has been "Mary, Did You Know?" While I still like it a lot, my new favorite is "How Many Kings?" by Downhere.

This song embodies everything I believe about Christmas - There is only ONE God who sent HIS Son to this earth so suffer and die for MY sins. I don't deserve it. I can never be good enough; it is only through that sacrifice that I can receive eternal life.

Christmas falls on a Sunday this year. Sadly, many churches are not having a service on Sunday so that families can celebrate Christmas. Really??? If we stop to think about what Christmas is about, shouldn't we desire to spend at least a portion of our day in worship of Him? Christmas isn't about presents, or family, or baking, or decorating - although all of those things are good, none of them should be our focus. The minister of music at our church wrote this editorial  about the lack of services on Christmas Day.

What is your favorite Christmas song? Why is it special to you?

On an unrelated note, can anyone answer this question - what in the world do "scary ghost stories" have to do with Christmas? Every time I listen to "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year", I ask myself that question. I still don't have an answer.


A-Wise-Woman-Builds-Her-Home

Monday, December 19, 2011

Happy Birthday to ...

My Blog!! Yesterday marked the 1 year anniversary of my starting this blog.

In the past year, I've written 158 posts beginning with this one.

I've written about a wide variety of topics, mostly homeschooling things but sometimes just family stuff. Back in April, I wrote about Brittany's accident where she hurt her eye. I'm happy to say that after having surgery 2 days after that post to put a tube in her tear duct, she was able to get the tube out in October and is doing great. There is no evidence that she even had the accident. (And she still hasn't learned not to run through the house.)

Apparently, the map of Africa that I added to Into Africa is quite a popular hit for google searches. That post is by far my most popular, and I'm sure it's not because the information in it is that interesting.

Thank you to all of you who have read what I've written this year.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Nutcracker


Ballerina and Little Red both take ballet at the local ballet school. Little Red is in the preparatory level, and Ballerina is in the lowest level of company this year after having spent 2 years at the preparatory level.

Every year, the ballet school does a performance of the Nutcracker. The preparatory kids, along with some girls from outside the ballet school, are the angels. Here's Little Red in her angel costume.

Ballerina has been looking forward to being in company for a LONG time. She was so excited this year because she got to dance in 2 roles - a mouse and a gingersnap.

Performing in the Nutcracker requires a lot of hard work and a lot of rehearsal and performance time. Theater week was rehearsal on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday that were about 2 hours. Wednesday was semi-dress rehearsal and Thursday was dress rehearsal. Both rehearsals started at 7, and both nights we finally left the theater around 10:30. All that hard work was worth it, though, because the performances were absolutely wonderful.
The backdrop for the party scene
Ballerina is the mouse on the left side of the stretcher

Ballerina is the front mouse jumping

Ballerina is the one on the left side messing with her neck strap

My red-headed angel




This next shot is one of my favorites, even though it's not of either of my girls. I love watching the older company girls dance, and I got this shot of their feet during Snow.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What We Learned in November

I don't know about you, but for me, this school year is just flying by. Maybe it's because we have been so busy; I don't know. Anyway, here is what we worked on during November:

Bible - We spent November studying the life of Daniel. Since the 4 older kids had performed the church musical about  Daniel this summer, this was just a refresher for them.We made books about Daniel's life. Here are their pages about Nebuchadnezzar's golden image and the fiery furnace.
Sassy Pants's drawing of the fiery furnace



History - We finished the Roman Empire!! Now we get to move into the Byzantine Empire. The kids (and I) learned a lot about the lives of the Roman people, especially the emperors.

Science - The girls studied the brain and the nervous system. We had a really important lesson about how we learn information by making connections in our brain. The more connections that are made, the better we learn something. This really helped the girls to see why I have them do so many things with new information - listen to me read about it, read about it themselves, write/notebook about it, etc.

Spanish - We use Rosetta Stone for Spanish. The kids seem to learn it quite well, which makes me happy.

Typing - After watching The Boy hunt and peck for the past couple of years when typing a paper, I decided to get a simple typing game for the computer to help the older three learn to type. I've seen tremendous improvement in the speed of their typing. While they may not hold their fingers on the correct keys, they at least know where each letter is located.
1st grade - Little Red is really reading well now. She started her Bible book, and every day she reads to one of the older kids.

Co-op - We had our last day of classes for this semester the Thursday before Thanksgiving. As much as I enjoy co-op, 10 weeks is just the right length. The Boy has really learned a lot in his US Geography class.
That night, our homeschool group had it's semi-annual Fine Arts Night. Usually, The Boy sings in it, but this year he had soccer practice that he couldn't miss so he was going to be late to Fine Arts and had to skip singing. He did have art work from his co-op art class on display, though.


Other - We also did some Thanksgiving theme activities. Little Red worked on some Thanksgiving sight words, and Sassy Pants did number recognition and one-to-one correspondence with pilgrims and Indians.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday

I'm going to confess - I do not like to shop. Well, that's not exactly true. I don't like to shop in actual stores where there are a lot of other people. I like to shop online, which is how I do most of my Christmas (or other) shopping.

I guess it's because of my aversion to shopping with a ton of other people that makes Black Friday a bewilderment to me. No discount is worth me having to deal with mobs of people, long lines in the cold, or lack of sleep.
Image found at Google images
For those of you brave souls who did venture out today to find a good deal, share with me - what did you find? Did you get a great deal? Was it worth it?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving,
and into his courts with praise:
be thankful unto him,
and bless his name.
Psalm 100:4

image from Google images
 

Game of Your Life - Review


On Friday, December 2nd, NBC will be airing another Family Movie Night movie at 8/7c. I got a chance to preview Game of Your Life, and once again, Family Movie Night offers a wholesome movie that I feel comfortable with my entire family watching.


'Game of Your Life' Synopsis
When industrious high school gamer Zach Taylor lands a prized scholarship to the prestigious Digital Institute of Game Design (DIGD), his future breaks wide open. The opportunity to study under gaming legend Marcus Bentton and alongside the country’s most creative minds will certainly propel him into a successful career as a video game designer. That is, if he can pass the infamous freshman project that eliminates more than half of the class within the first three months.
Paired with brilliant yet socially awkward teammates Phillip and Donald, the trio persuades Sara Ramirez – a determined and striking team leader with whom Zach has a history (and possibly a future) – to join their team. Working off-campus in the teched-out Lincoln Alley loft, the four set out to involve the entire campus in a quirky new social interactive game. But as the group becomes entrenched in the project, Zach learns that his father Billy, a widower, is facing growing financial woes at home. To help out, Zach accepts an opportunity to work directly with Marcus Bentton on a secretive side project that seems too good to be true. The effort requires nearly all of Zach’s time and energy, which he should be devoting to the project. Struggling to keep it together, Zach is torn between his responsibility to his team, his admiration for Bentton and a chance to help his father.
Everything comes to a breaking point when Zach’s team threatens to remove him from the group and the deceptive truth behind Bentton’s project comes to light. With the guidance of Professor Abbie Lambert, Zach must make a decision that not only affects his future, but the lives and livelihoods of the people around him as well. It’s a revealing story that recognizes the magnitude behind the choices we make and the importance loyalty plays in making good decisions.

The movie starts off a little slow, but after about 10-15 minutes the pace picks up. This movie offers plenty of opportunities for discussion with your children about many things - making good choices, especially how the choices you make affect not only you but those around you also; having loyalty; keeping one's commitments; and making family important. This is a great movie for older children, pre-teens, and teens.

To find out more, visit the Family Movie Night website, find them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter. You can also watch a trailer.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love the smells of fall - pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg. When I found this recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies last week, I knew I had to make it. Tonight was the perfect night to try them. A cold front came through yesterday, and having a nice warm oven heating up the kitchen was perfect. Oh, the smell coming from my kitchen was heavenly!! It also gave me some bonding time with Soccer Girl, who loves to help me in the kitchen. I have a feeling she's going to take over my kitchen someday.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies 
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp clove
pinch of ground ginger
1/ 2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
15 oz can of pure pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 cups chocolate chips 

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Sift together (or whisk in small bowl) flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and ginger together and set aside.
  3. Beat butter, brown sugar and sugar together in a large mixer bowl.
  4. Add pumpkin and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
  5. Add egg and beat well until fully incorporated.
  6. Gradually beat in flour mixture.
  7. Stir in chocolate chips.
  8. Drop rounded spoonfuls onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  9. Bake for 13-15 minutes until edges start to brown. Remove from oven and let sit on hot baking sheet for 2 more minutes.
  10. Move cookies to wire rack to cool completely. 
I had a 29oz. can of pumpkin, so we doubled the recipe and ended up with about 5-6 dozen cookies.

These are definitely yummy, and we'll be adding this to our fall recipe collection.

Casting aside bitterness

I've been in a bad mood for the past couple of days. Without going into too many details, basically there is a person who is making decisions that put extra work on me. The fact that I disagree with those decisions has made this even more difficult. I've been allowing this situation to affect my mood. I've been complaining and bitter about what I feel is an injustice.

This afternoon, I realized that I was wrong - actually, not just wrong, but sinning. Bitterness was controlling me, and it wasn't just affecting me, but it was affecting my family as well. I was being short-tempered and irritable with my children and Robb, and that wasn't fair to them either. I realized that I needed to go spend some time in God's Word and fix my attitude problem.

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. Proverbs 10:12

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32


These verses reminded me where my priorities should be. Rather than grumbling and complaining, letting bitterness take root in my soul, I needed to look on this situation with love and kindness. I spent time in prayer, asking the Lord to help me give over this situation to Him. There is absolutely nothing I can do to change the circumstances, but I can change how I react to the circumstances. I am going to choose to do the work that needs to be done without grumbling. 

I love this cartoon that I found today:
 This is what I plan to do with the bitterness I've been harboring the past few days - just put it all in the dumpster. 


Are you harboring any bitterness right now? If so, leave it in the dumpster of forgiveness.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Christmas Lodge DVD - review and giveaway

Are you ready for Christmas? I can't believe it's only a month and a half away. I have to admit, I have done NO shopping yet. After watching Christmas Lodge on DVD, I am definitely in the mood for Christmas now, though.

Synopsis: 
Thomas Kinkade presents Christmas Lodge: a place where a heart-warming past and loving future meet for one remarkable group of people. During a weekend trip to the mountains, Mary (Erin Karpluk) finds herself at the now- dilapidated lodge where she spent the holidays with her family growing up. She becomes determined to restore the building to its former glory. Inspired by her grandfather and guided by her grandmother in heaven, Mary throws herself into the project, and during the process finds herself drawn to Jack (Michael Shanks), a handsome man who loves the lodge as much as she does. Historically unlucky in love, this chance encounter allows Mary to renew her faith in life and discover her one true love. For an uplifting story about the importance of faith, family and the true holiday spirit, go to the Christmas Lodge.
I loved the way this movie worked faith in God into the story line. There aren't enough movies that are willing to openly discuss God and faith.

The scenery in this movie was incredible! I am not an outdoor kind of gal, but the scenes of the mountains and hiking trails actually made me want to visit there. I now have a desire to find a little mountain lodge like the Christmas Lodge to go visit. I can see how someone with a love of the outdoors, like main character Mary, would have such a passion for a place like that and want to see it restored.
To see a trailer, click here.
Not only did I have an opportunity to watch this movie to review, but one of you will get to own your own copy of the DVD. 

To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this blog post letting me know your favorite Christmas memory. The giveaway will run through 11:59 pm on Sunday, November 13. The winner will be posted on Monday, November 14.

For additional entries:
1) Follow this blog via Google Friend Connect. (Leave a comment letting me know you are a follower.)
2) Share this giveaway on Facebook. (Let me know that you have.)
3) Tweet about this giveaway. (Let me know that you have.)

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, November 4, 2011

All Dressed Up

Last weekend, our church had a fall picnic with a trunk or treat for the kids. It was a great time of fun and fellowship, even if it was a bit chilly.

The Boy dressed as one of the players from the Brazil soccer team, Kaka. He already had a Kaka jersey and just had to add blue shorts and socks, which he also had.

Soccer Girl was a cat. Her costume was super easy - black leggings, black leotard, and black boots. We added a tail by putting an empty paper towel tube in a black soccer sock and pinning it to her leotard. We found the cat ear headband at Claire's.

Ballerina originally wanted to be Princess Leia. I managed to convince her that she would make a very cute sailor girl, and we went with a store-bought costume.

Little Red also had to go a different way than her original plan. She really wanted to be a "mean rion", her name for lions since she was small. I had trouble finding a yellow hooded sweat suit, though, so again, we went the store-bought route and she was a ladybug.

Sassy Pants wanted to be a cheerleader, another easy costume since we already own the Clemson cheerleader outfit (Thanks, Pam) and orange pom-poms.

Getting a decent shot of the entire group proved to be challenging, but I finally got one that would work.
More shots from the fall picnic:











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