Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Blogging Through the Alphabet: Letter T Is for Trials

Welcome back to another week of Blogging Through the Alphabet. This week, we are focusing on the Letter T. I have chosen to write about Trials.

As Christians, we know that we will face Trials that will move us out of our comfort zones and help us to grow. Through these refining Trials and tests, God works in us and through us. He helps us persevere through the most difficult circumstances and His glory shines brightly.

Testing us by fiery Trials allows God to examine our hearts, minds, and souls. It also gives us a good idea of our strengths and weaknesses. We can embrace these Trials with God's grace and let His glory shine through us or we can simply be miserable.

Personally, I choose to let God's strength flow through me as I deal with chronic pain and illness, an angry and confused father who suffers from a diagnosis of Vascular Dementia, and a teenaged son with a diagnosis of Autism.

When people look at me, I don't want them to see a person bedraggled by her Trials and circumstances. Instead, I want them to see an overcomer who can persevere because God lives in her and works through her. When I am weak, He is strong. When my Trials are the most difficult, He is fighting my battles for me and offering me refuge in His loving arms.

In the Eye of the Storm by Ryan Stevenson

Move (Keep Walkin') by TobyMac

Stronger by Mandisa

Please take a moment to stop by my friends A Net in Time and Hopkins Homeschool, who host Blogging Through the Alphabet. You may also want to stop by some of the other blogs linked up to see what Letter T words they have explored.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew Review: YWAM Publishing - Heroes of History: Theodore Roosevelt

Since he was first introduced to "Teddy" in Arsenic and Old Lace and then Theodore Roosevelt in Night at the Museum series, he has been fascinated with our 26th President. When we were asked to review a book in the Heroes of History series from YWAM Publishing, I knew Heroes of History: Theodore Roosevelt the book and the study guide would keep him engaged in learning as he would like learning more about one of his personal heroes.

The book focuses upon the life of Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt from the age of four through his childhood, teenage years, and adulthood until his death at age sixty. It tells the story of a weak, asthmatic child who knew how to persevere despite disheartening odds. Born the son of a New York glass manufacturer and philanthropist, Theodore "Thee" Roosevelt Sr., and Southern Belle who was raised on a plantation in Georgia, Mittie Bulloch, Teddy Roosevelt was just a toddler when the Civil War began. He would experience a life lived to the fullest as his parents homeschooled their four children and took them abroad to experience sights first-hand like Loch Katrine, abandoned abbeys and crumbling castles in Scotland, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, the London Zoo, the British Museum, the Crystal Palace, The Hague, Mount Vesuvius, the Great Pyramid of Cheops, the Nile River, and the Jordan River. Teddy thrived on adventure. He loved learning about the animals and plants that inhabited the various places he visited. Teddy often had animals of all types hidden in his room: mice, frogs, and snakes. He would later learn taxidermy and continue the hobby as he collected specimens from his journeys.

In addition to all of the wonderful adventures he experienced, Teddy Roosevelt also knew the heartbreak of loss too well. He lost his Grandmother Bulloch. Then, his family watched the procession of President Lincoln's casket after his assassination from his grandfather's home. Next, the family lost Grandfather Roosevelt. Soon after Teddy began the second semester of his sophomore year at Harvard, his father passed away before Teddy could make it home. Then, Teddy would lose his mother to typhoid and his wife to complications from giving birth to their first child, a little girl named Alice, on the same day. Teddy didn't allow these losses to stifle him. Instead, he continued to be a man of great character. He worked hard as an Assemblyman and investigated the various injustices that were reported to him. For this reason, he was appointed to the position of Civil Service Commissioner. Teddy would later become Assistant Secretary of the Navy and later would become the 26th President of the United States after the assassination of William McKinley. There is so much more to this marvelous man. To find out about his time with the Rough Riders or the assassination attempt on Teddy's life, you will have to pick up your own copy of Heroes of History: Theodore Roosevelt and read all of the fascinating tidbits for yourself!

You will also want to check out the study guides that go with this book. The Unit Study Curriculum Guide is an in-depth study guide that provides ideas for teaching and reinforcing history, geography, essay writing, creative writing, reading comprehension, public speaking, drama, and art. For homeschoolers, these guides help you to make this curriculum cover multiple disciplines through one book that will engage your children in the learning process as they learn about real people just like them. Chapter One lists famous quotes from Teddy and other notable people. Chapter Two discusses a display area and the types of items families and students can gather, much like Teddy liked to gather specimens. Chapter Three lists reflective questions that correspond to each chapter of the book while Chapter Four lists the essay questions, creative writing topics, hands-on projects list, and arts and craft ideas. The remaining chapters discuss how to utilize local people and resources as educational tools, social studies, and related themes to explore. The Unit Study Guide 2 download contains all of the worksheets your student will need: a timeline of events, maps, and a fact sheet for Theodore Roosevelt. These worksheets will place all of the key information at your student's fingertips and are a great addition for your exploration of the historical figure you are studying.

The Homeschool Overview for Unit Study Curriculum Guides provides insight into how you can utilize the Heroes of History Biographies and Unit Studies as your U. S. History Curriculum as well as how it can enhance other subject areas such as Language Arts, Geography, and Art. It also reinforces family read aloud times with books that will help build character. The guide provides tips on adjusting the curriculum to children of varying ages and learning levels as well as learning styles. Furthermore, it points out important Social Study themes and skills, reading comprehension skills and strategies, and essential writing skills and strategies.

To learn more about YWAM Publishing, Heroes of History, the study guide, and Heroes of History: Theodore Roosevelt, visit Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and their blog. To learn more about other books in the Heroes of History series as well as the Christian Heroes series, please visit the Homeschool Review Crew website to read reviews on books about other great leaders in our world's history.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day: A Time of Remembrance

My maternal grandfather served in the United States Army during World War II. He was stationed in the Pacific Ocean on the island of New Guinea. My step-grandfather flew planes for the US Navy during World War II. My paternal grandfather joined the US Army at age 16. My father served in Special Forces and fought in Vietnam. I have other family members, like my cousin Dana who served in the National Guard, and  very dear friends, like Wendy who I grew up with in youth group and went on to serve in the US Army, Neil who attended High School with me and went on to serve in the Marines, and Doug who was in college with me and served in the Reserves as well as other friends who have served in every branch of the United States Armed Services to promote peace and keep our nation free. This post is dedicated to each one of them in thanks for their service. I'm blessed because God brought each one of them safely home to us. Not every one is as lucky. Some give the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. Memorial Day is the day we remember them and the gift they gave each one of us. To them, we say Thank you. For their families, we pray.

On the last Monday in May, we celebrate Memorial Day, to commemorate the men and women who died while serving their country. At 3:00 PM local time, a national moment of silence is observed to honor their memory. The tradition of Memorial Day actually started five years after the Civil War on May 30, 1868. It was originally referred to as Decoration Day because volunteers would decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers, wreaths, and flags. In 1971, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act that established Memorial Day as a holiday to be celebrated on the last Monday in the month of May.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Virtual Fridge for May

This week, I was able to get my son to help me try out some new tempera paint sticks for a review. We used Thin Stix 6pk Classic Colors from the Pencil Grip, Inc. to paint a wooden box that will be storage for his styluses and pencils. My son painted the background colors and chose the designs while I helped draw the Yoda and completed the Star Wars lettering for him.

We also painted a wooden skateboard. My son painted the skateboard black as he wanted it to look authentic. Then, I helped him add the flames. To make the flames "pop," we painted them red and then added yellow on top of the red and blended them.

Finally, I tried the paint sticks on a cardboard cross. I had wanted to write believe on the cross. However, I could not write the letters small enough to fit on the cross with the larger pain tips.

Thank you for stopping by to read my blog today! Please take a moment to stop by my friends at Homeschool Coffee Break, Every Bed of Roses, and This Day Has Great Potential to see what they have to share.

Blogging Through the Alphabet: Letter S Is for Sacrifice

Thank you for stopping by to read today's blog post. We are on the Letter S this week of Blogging Through the Alphabet. As I thought through Letter S words, I struggled to find the one that spoke to me. I wanted a word that would encourage all of us. The word I kept returning to was Sacrifice.

A Sacrifice is a gift freely given. It is surrendering something precious for the sake of someone else. Soldiers come to mind when I think of Sacrifice as they are willing to lay their lives down for the sake of freedom.

We, as Christians, are called to make Sacrifices for God. Those of us who live in the United States are blessed. We are free to worship freely. However, Christians in other countries are not as fortunate. Every time they profess their faith, they risk losing their lives. To them, their faith is worth the Sacrifice.

God made the ultimate Sacrifice when He sent His one and only Son to the cross to die for our sins. According to Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology Jesus represents four different types of Sacrifices or offerings. Jesus was the Passover Sacrifice, Peace Offering, Guilt Offering, and Sin Offering. In John 29:1 John the Baptist declares, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." Scholars believe this refers to Jesus as the Passover Sacrifice as well as a suffering servant or guilt offering as is foreshadowed in Isaiah 53:7b, "He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, and so he did not open his mouth." Furthermore, Romans 8:3 says that God sent His Son "in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering." Finally, Romans 3:24b-25a states that we are justified by God "through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a Sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood."

We Are an Offering by Chris Christian

Til the Day I Die by TobyMac

Please take a moment to stop by my friends A Net in Time and Hopkins Homeschool, who host Blogging Through the Alphabet. You may also want to stop by some of the other blogs linked up to see what Letter S words they have explored.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew Review: The Typing Coach

Because my son has dysgraphia, it is much easier for him to type than it is for him to write. For this reason, I was excited at our opportunity to review The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from The Typing Coach.

Dysgraphia is a learning disability that effects a person's ability to write. Specifically, my son has difficulty getting his thoughts down on paper. It can take him two hours to write two sentences. The best way to describe it is that there is a disconnection between the wires in his brain. He has no difficulty telling you his thoughts on any given topic. In fact, some of his thoughts are quite deep and above his age level. The difficulty comes when he has to translate those thoughts from his brain to the paper in front of him. He simply cannot manage to get the thoughts written down.

He also has difficulty with spacing, letter size, and making his words look neat. Handwriting issues are not uncommon among those with dysgraphia. Cursive writing is supposed to be easier as the child doesn't have to lift the pencil off of the paper while writing. However, that hasn't made any difference for my son. At age sixteen, this is a concern as he will soon be heading out into the real world to establish himself. As he does, he will need to be able to complete job applications. Thankfully, in our current society most tasks can be completed online. For this, he needs to be able to type proficiently.
Also having a diagnosis of high functioning Autism, my son learns best through repetition. Because The Typing Coach, which is an online typing program, utilizes repetition throughout the entire course, this is an excellent match. The program is designed to teach users from Middle School through Adult how to type proficiently. The key word being proficiently. The other skill the Typing Coach course focuses upon is accuracy. The designer of the course strives to have participants reach a level where they can type without having to look at the monitor or the keyboard as well as without making mistakes while they type. The more they practice, the more accurate and proficient the student will become and the faster they will be able to type.

To help students no longer rely on their monitors, the course is audio based. The Typing Coach, who thankfully has a pleasant voice to listen to while typing, will recite the letters the student is to type. My son likes the fact that he adds humor into the audio recordings. This has helped prevent him from melting down should he become frustrated with the repetition. Anything that prevents meltdowns is an enormous plus in this mom's book!

You will also have access to worksheets that provide drills for the students to use for typing practice. Once your student feels confident with his mastery of the row he has been working on, he can take the test. He has two chances to pass the test that day. If he doesn't meet the accuracy and proficiency requirements, he will be encouraged to practice some more and take the test again the following day. Although this class is intended to be held once a week for ten weeks, the fact that this class can be adjusted to be self-paced is a bonus, especially for those with special needs children who learn at their own pace and may need to work on one lesson longer than a week or may need to work on it twice a week for repetition and familiarity of the keyboard rows.

Furthermore, the Administrator of The Typing Coach, who is also the Creator, is very personable and is willing to work with parents to make adjustments to the program that will help benefit those with special learning needs. He truly wants to help your child succeed. That alone would be enough to get The Typing Coach a stellar review. It truly is a beneficial program that will help your student learn invaluable skills that will serve them a lifetime.

The Typing Coach

Explaining the Process

Modeling the Process

You can learn more about The Typing Coach Online Course by The Typing Coach on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for stopping by my blog to read my review. Please take a moment to stop by the Homeschool Review Crew to read my friends' reviews as well.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Words of Hope: Are You Shackled by Your Circumstances or Has God Set You Free?

Welcome to Words of Hope: Finding Encouragement for Life's Journey for the month of May. It is my hope that you will find encouragement and hope to see you through the difficult days life throws your way, dear ones.

There are times in life when we become weighed down by our burdens. We can become weary from constantly swimming against the ocean currents. At times, we might even wonder if we will ever be able to see the bright sunshine through the raging storm clouds again. It is in these moments that we have a decision to make. Will we let our circumstances define us or will we allow God to transform us? Will we be shackled by our past, by our mistakes, by our sins or will we be free, made new, live with abandon for God?

Because of God's immense love for us and His desire to have an intimate, personal relationship with us, He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to die for our sins. Once our chains have been broken, we are completely free. We do not wear our sins around our necks like chains. We are not defined by the mistakes we've made. Instead, God transforms us into new creations filled with His love, His light, and His truth. We are like beautiful butterflies emerging from our chrysalis to spread our majestic wings in flight. God transforms our hearts and sets them free to soar on songs of praise.

The Truth is that there is only one God: the Father, His one and only Son: Jesus, and our Guide: the Holy Spirit. When we confess our sins, ask for forgiveness, and accept God's grace, we are promised eternal life in Heaven. This doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to give God our best. We should definitely try to live lives that will please Him. He only asks of us that which is best for us!

When God breaks our chains and sets us free, we are free indeed. His love doesn't come with conditions. We don't have to jump through hoops to get God to notice us. We can't buy or earn God's love. God's love and salvation are gifts He freely gives us. He freely grants us His grace and mercy because He loves us not because we deserve it.

As Zach Williams belts out in Chain Breaker, God is "the way maker. He's the prison-shaking Savior." When Paul was in jail, he made a way and shook those prison gates to set him free. He does the same with the sins that bind our hearts, minds, and souls. God shakes those chains and breaks them to set us free. Crowder sings in Lift Your Head Weary Sinner: "Let the past be dead and gone. Come all saints and sinners, you can't outrun God. Whatever you've done can't overcome the power of the blood." We are His prodigal children and God will find us and bring us home. Nothing can separate us from God's love. Furthermore, the blood of Jesus washes away all of our sins and sets us free for then we shall be free indeed for all of eternity!

Chain Breaker by Zack Williams

Shackles (Praise You) by Mary, Mary

Break Every Chain by Tasha Cobbs

Lift Your Head Weary Sinner (Chains) by Crowder

If you have an encouraging, inspirational post you would like to share, please feel free to use the link below to share your link with my readers. Please also be so kind as to link back to this original post as well. Thank you! Be encouraged, dear ones!

God's Writer Girl



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew Review: Thin Stix 6pk Classic Colors from The Pencil, Inc Grip

We enjoy being creative in our house, which is why we were delighted to be chosen to review the Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc. These amazing paint sticks make painting mess free, which is always an enormous plus.
The Thin Stix we received were the classic colors: Red, Yellow, Blue, Green, Brown, and Black. Thin Stix also comes in Neon Colors: Neon Pink, Neon Yellow, Neon Blue, Neon Light Blue, Neon Green, and Neon Orange as well as Metallix: Gold, Silver, Green, Pink, Purple, and Blue. They also have a Thin Stix 12pk, which contains the 6pk colors and White, Pink, Light Green, Light Blue, Orange, and Purple. They also have a Creativity Pack which consists of the 12pk, the Neons, and the Metallix all conveniently in one package. For littler hands, they also have the Kwik Stix, which are thicker. The Kwik Stix also come as a 6pk with a roll of paper, as a Metallix, as a Creativity Pack with three Kwick Stix and three tubes of glitter, and as a 24 pk.

As any mom knows, creating new works of art can be fun for children. However, it isn't always fun for moms though as we often are left to clean up the mess. With Thin Stix, there was no mess. What paint did get on our skin easily washed off with soap and water. It also easily wiped off of the floor with a wet paper towel. The Thin Stix are nice because they twist to allow just the right amount of tempera paint to be exposed. Because there is no wet paint, our child won't get too much and it won't drip and make a mess nor will it run and ruin the project. Unlike crayons, you can also keep them from breaking by keeping just a small amount twisted out for use at one time.

My son enjoys allowing his creativity to flow. Usually, he is creating a new Pokémon or Yu-Gi-Oh character using colored pencils or crayons. For this review, we decided to put the Thin Stix to the test. Instead of merely drawing with them on paper, we bought a wooden skateboard and box on which we would paint designs as well as a cardboard cross. We wanted to see if the material used made any difference. We're pleased to report that the Thin Stix performed extremely well on both the cardboard and the wooden projects. The paint went on smoothly on both surface types. It blended well with the wood of the skateboard and the box.

My son and I worked on these projects together. To make the flames on his skateboard "pop," we used red paint. Then, we added some yellow on top and lightly rubbed it in with our fingers to blend it. Not only did he make a super cool skateboard but we hardly had any mess to clean up afterwards. What paint was on our fingers easily washed off. To get in the tight spaces on the skateboard we transferred paint to cotton swabs. This worked well and again left us without a mess.

You can purchase the Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc.  or on Amazon. You can learn more about Thin Stix on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

The Pencil Grip, Inc. has kindly offered to give one lucky reader a free packet of their Thin Stix 6pk Classic Colors. To be entered in the giveaway, complete the required tasks in the Rafflecopter Widget below. Good Luck to all entrants.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please stop by the Homeschool Review Crew to read additional reviews about Thin Stix. Thank you for stopping by my blog!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Summer Bowling - Inexpensive Summer Activities for Children

Soon our children will be shouting; "School's out for summer!" They are all excited to be free of schoolwork for the summer. Yet, they become bored easily and quickly. The familiar whiny strains of; "I don't know what to do!" starts to drive moms insane as we start wishing school time would soon begin again. LOL! The Summer Family Fun Series features free and inexpensive programs and ideas that will hopefully keep everyone's temperature set to cool this summer. This one is guaranteed to strike the interest of everyone!

Children 15 and under can bowl for free! Sadly, my son will miss out on this fun summer activity as he turned 16 this Spring. However, we have enjoyed this free bowling program for the past three years. Moms can sit and talk while they allow their children this time together to socialize and exercise for the mere cost of bowling shoe rental. Visit the Kids Bowl Free site to register your child. Each child will then receive vouchers via the parent's email address to bowl 2 free games per day at their chosen bowling alley. (Please note: parents do have to pay the cost of shoe rental.) Kids Bowl Free has been featured on NBC Nightly News and Fox and Friends. South-Central Pennsylvania friends can find a list of participating bowling alleys below. This program is offered at over 1,000 bowling alleys in the United States and Canada. To find a center near you, visit the Kids Bowl Free site.

Homeschool Week in Review: Week of May 15th

This week has been a whirlwind of fieldtrip activity! On Monday, Andrew attended his final youth group of the year at Hanover Fellowship Church. He has truly enjoyed his time with this group of young people and Christian leaders. As his Momma, I am thankful for the love they lavish upon him and the Christian values they have been instilling in him!

On Wednesday, we joined our Harrisburg Area Homeschool Association group for a tour. We toured the beautiful Wright's Ferry Mansion built in 1738 for Susanna Wright.

Wright's Ferry Mansion - Columbia, PA - Picture Credit: Kelly Kiggins-Lund @ God's Writer Girl

Wright's Ferry Mansion Kitchen - Picture Credit: Lancaster Online

Wright's Ferry Mansion Drawing Room - Photo Credit: Lancaster County Museums

Then, Andrew went to The Rock youth group at our church: Hanover First Church of God. On Thursday, Andrew attended Mason-Dixon Youth for Christ.

On Friday, we went to The Compassion Experience in Mechanicsburg, PA. Compassion International is touring throughout the United States sharing the experiences of children in third-world countries. First, we heard the story about a girl named Julian who grew up in Uganda. Then, we heard Ruben's story about life in Bolivia.

Inside Julian's House - Girls Are Often Stolen and Sold as Prostitutes

The One Bed Julian's Family Owns - They Take Turns Sleeping on It

The Compassion School Where Julian Gets Food, Education, and Clothing

Waiting to Learn Ruben's Story- Andrew Hiding Behind His Nanny

My Two Loves

Ruben's House - His Drunken Father Is Asleep After Beating His Mother

Ruben's Shoeshine Business

The Compassion School Where Ruben Learned He Was Loved

Andrew Outside the Compassion Experience

After that, we headed to Ten Thousand Villages in Mechanicsburg, PA and spoke with the Manager, Linda. She explained to Andrew how the store buys all of their inventory from artisans in third-world countries. The shop takes all of the risk as the artisans are paid in full for the goods. The products that are being sold are made out of 100% recycled materials or natural materials. Therefore, there is no cost to the artisans. Ten Thousand Villages is currently working with artisans in thirty-five different countries.

On Saturday, we headed to the Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, PA for Army Heritage Days. Mom, Andrew, and I watched several tanks maneuver. Then, we headed inside to experience the life of a soldier. We grabbed the dog tag of Lt. Col. Reginald Neal who fought in Operation Iraqi Freedom and has fought the War on Terror. We also took our turns at target practice. Andrew tried two different weapons from two different war eras. We huddled in a hut in Vietnam as the enemy approached for attack to experience the war my father, Martin Kiggins, fought. We looked at the uniforms worn during World War II in the Asian-Pacific where my grandfather, Lewis Simpson, fought. We saw some parts from a World War II plane and thought of my step-grandfather, David Dell, who flew for the Navy during World War II.

Tank Maneuvers

More Tank Maneuvers

Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) Unit

World War I

Nanny's Turn at Target Practice

Andrew with the Machine Gun

First US Army Tank

Andrew hidden in the Army Uniform (and He's Taller than Most Adults)

Our Soldier, Lt Col Reginald Neal, is the 2nd from the Left

I was feeling better on Thursday after an injection. Now, with fieldtrips back to back and rain in the atmosphere, I am feeling the effects of my Neuromuscular and Autoimmune Diseases. We had fun though! And, we certainly learned a lot of interesting information on a variety of topics this week. I hope you all have a blessed week!