Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Product Review: Christian Keyboarding

Christian Keyboarding was born from a desire to provide touch-typing method curricula that incorporate Christian texts. I was sent their Keyboarding for the Christian School, designed for 6 graders and older, and the Elementary Version for younger children. Both curricula are no frills programs that thoroughly cover the basic skills and provide the necessary drills needed to reach proficiency.


Keyboarding for the Christian School took me back to my middle school years when I took a similar touch-typing course. I can type faster than I can talk and accredit my skills to three years of the systematic instruction I received in school. Keyboarding for the Christian School embraces the same effective techniques I learned from but has made the study even more profitable by having students type Bible passages or excerpts from Christian texts when applicable. I appreciate how the program offers students another time in their school day to meditate on God's Word.

The curriculum offers more than the traditional touch-typing course, however. It is up-to-date and encompasses more than just "typing" to meet the needs of the 21st Century college-bound student. It covers the 10 key pad, setting margins, using APA and MLA, writing footnotes and a bibliography, and formatting a business letter.


The Elementary Version is similar in style. There are no bells and whistles, but the methodology has been effective in my experience. My boys like being on the computer for any and all reasons, bells and whistles or not, so they enjoyed it. If you think your child would enjoy something that feels less like school work, this might not be the program for you.

Overall, I think Keyboarding for the Christian School and the Elementary Version are very good and give them two thumbs up. They are reasonably priced at $15.95 and $12.95 respectively and can be purchased here.

Please visit the TOS Homeschool Crew blog for links to my crewmates' reviews.

I received both products mentioned in this review for free. I have received no other compensation and have offered my honest opinion.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Simplify My Life Sweepstakes

I received a diagnosis! The doctors know what is causing my debilitating back pain and sciatica.

It is a newly recognized condition called Desktopsy-Turvy Syndrome.

It is caused by my excessive use of a desktop computer. I organize every aspect of my life on it and have to lug it with me everywhere I go.

To the kitchen…

To the classroom...

Even to the gym!

No wonder I had problems walking last week!

But don’t despair! There is a cure for my condition!

The HP mini 110 with Windows 7!

The Mom Bloggers Club and HP have partnered for the Simplify My Life sweepstakes. If the judges like this post, I could win a new HP mini 110 with Windows 7.

It’s so sleek, compact, and light-weight!

Winning an HP mini 110 would allow me to keep my life organized without breaking my back!

Plus, I would look a lot less dopey when I need to carry my computer with me to homeschool support group meetings.

I mean, would you want your group president to look like this?

The rolling chair walker really completes the look, doesn't it?

Here is extra good news! I am not the only one who could find myself in Laptopia!

You could win an HP mini 110 with Windows 7, too!

Three random winners will be chosen from those who comment on any participating blog post. That means you could be a randomly selected winner just by leaving a comment here about my back pain solution!

What do you think?

Isn’t an HP mini 110 just what the doctor ordered?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Not Me Monday: How to Insure Your Child Will Never Win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry

1. While discussing Madame Curie with your future laureates, compare her to Goober, the chemist on the Webkinz site.

2. Frequently refer to lab equipment as "the tube thingy", "googles", and "the glass thingy".

3. Skip hands-on activities, like the one on filtration, because you just don't really see the point and you can't find a funnel. You don't drink coffee and don't have a filter, either. And sand… who has sand??? Your kids outgrew the sandbox years ago.

4. Constantly confuse the terms "atom", "molecule", and "element". I know this will be difficult to do. I mean that's so basic. Who would confuse them?

5. When your young scientists work for hours completing flash cards to help them memorize the atoms, er…. I mean molecules…. NO, I mean elements and their symbols, lose the cards soon afterward. Then they will be sure not to study this important information.

6. Cancel chemistry class for three weeks because your local Wal Mart and craft stores do not carry the correct size Styrofoam balls for making a model of an eleme… molec… atom. Eventually give up on finding Styrofoam, improvise, and use clay instead.

7. Ask yourself questions like, "Why do my children need to know the difference between an isotope and an ion? Who uses this stuff anyway?"

8. As often as you can, tell your children they are looking at the "Periodical Table".

9. Schedule chemistry as the last subject of the day when you are completely frazzled.

10. Allow your children to make beautiful element…. ATOMIC models from cookie dough and M&M's. Make sure you forget about them after you put them in the oven so they will turn out nice and toasty like these.

It is good thing I have NEVER done any of these things. Nope! Not me! I am the chemistry queen, and my sons are sure to win the prize one day.

However, if for some reason the Chemistry prize doesn't pan out, I hear it's a little easier to nab the Peace Prize.

Happy Mixing, Modeling, Filtering, Burning Cookies, etc.!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

90 Day Challenge: Week 3

This has been a really difficult week to keep up with normal responsibilities, let alone reading challenges. I shared last week a little about my sciatica pain. This is a recurring problem. I have struggled with debilitating pain off and on for about 20 years, and this current episode has been extremely painful and long-lasting.

I saw the orthopedist on Tuesday. He gave me two Cortisone shots and a prescription for a muscle relaxer and a pain killer along with orders to stay off my feet for a few days.

You would think all that sitting would have provided ample opportunity for reading, but with the meds in my system, I have been sluggish and groggy. I have had to read in small increments and have struggled not to drift off while reading.

I should have finished all of Deuteronomy today; however, I have only read about 1/3 of it. I have decided to take one of my grace days, and not tax myself in trying to catch up completely.

Michael and Orville have stayed on schedule. The boys had to stay with my parents two days this week, and Orville took his Bible along and kept up with his assignments completely on his own. That was really encouraging and made his old, achy mom feel a little better. One of our goals with this challenge was to help him develop a daily reading habit. It seems to be working.

I found much comfort, conviction, and encouragement in my study this week. I have many things I would like to say but just cannot find all the words today. All of me is moving more slowly than normal, brain included. I have had to think much harder to organize my writing. Then, about the time I get a few sentences together, a zap of pain shoots through me and I forget where my writing was going. Lord willing, I will write more later. For now, I will just say that His grace is sufficient.


You can read about how others are doing with the challenge at Raising Olives.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

And the winner is...

I have updated this post. The original winner has decided to participate in this promotion and I have picked a new winner.
Devildogwife @ Marine Corps Nomads!

Thank you to everyone who entered. I appreciate your comments and tweets. For those who are now following, welcome! I am glad to have you here.

There is still time to enter the SouperYou contest if you have not already. You could win a make-over trip to NYC! Thank you to Progresso and My Blog Spark for providing this giveaway.

I have emailed Devildogwife and she will receive her goodies from Progresso soon!

Congratulations, Devildogwife!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Product Review: All About Spelling


I want to begin this review with a disclosure statement. I know those are supposed to come at the end, but this review is a little different.

I am an All About Spelling affiliate. If you make a purchase through the links to AAS I provide in this post or anywhere else on my blog, I will receive a commission. My affiliation with AAS predates my relationship with the TOS Crew, and I was assigned this review.

Now, please allow me to tell you why I LOVE All About Spelling.

I taught both of my sons to read using phonics. Both of my boys were quick to piece it all together and were fluently reading with comprehension by 1st grade. I did not give spelling much attention because they had learned their phonics and could read and I knew writing/spelling would come in time.

In fact, they dictated most of their early writing projects while I did the actual "writing". Wilbur, who is the child I teach with AAS, is my more creative son. He "wrote" such intricate and creative pieces that he won a state-wide writing competition in 1st grade. He was filmed reading his story in the GPB studio, and his reading was broadcast on every PBS station in the state of GA as well as the GPB website. His story was truly his own, and I was merely the typist (and more importantly, the speller).

In 2nd grade, it was time for him to become more independent. I wanted him to start putting pencil to paper or fingers to keyboard and complete his writing assignments with less assistance. A terrible thing happened. My little boy who had once loved to create stories and thought of himself as a writer sat at his desk and cried over blank sheets of paper. Through the tears he would exclaim, "I don't know how to write."

What I discovered during his 2nd grade year was that he did know how to write but he did not know how to spell. He was so frustrated by the confusing parts of English phonics that he was hesitant to try. When he did write, his invented spellings looked unlike anything I had ever seen, and I hold a degree in elementary education and have preschool and elementary teaching experience. I feared he had a learning disability.

I tried a number of interventions that year, including another "multisensory" spelling program. The approach of the other program did not really help him conquer his spelling problems. He knew which letters said what, but he didn't really know when or why or how to piece them together. His spelling continued to be atrocious, and I could really see why he felt so hindered. By the end of the school year, I was crying with him.

PhotobucketThen I found All About Spelling.

Near the end of his 2nd grade year, I started him on level one, mostly because that level presents when to use "c", "k", or "ck". These had Wilbur most perplexed and he would come up with the most odd spellings of words with the /k/ sound. For instance, he spelled "chicken"- C-K-H-I-K-C-K-I-N.

Within a few weeks of consistent AAS instruction, I began to see marked improvement. By the time we completed level one, his confidence had increased and he was willing to try writing again. He has now completed over half of level two. Yesterday he wrote a paragraph, on his own, and did not cry, show signs of anxiety, or misspell any words. I was thrilled and so was he!

PhotobucketWhy I Think AAS Works So Well for Wilbur

  1. It is a multisensory program.

    Wilbur is a kinesthetic learner, specifically he is a tactile boy. He likes to use manipulatives. Math has always been his strong suit, probably for that reason. AAS has manipulatives for spelling in the form of letter and phoneme tiles with magnet backings. He has been an eager learner with his magnet board in front of him. He thinks of the lessons as fun and non-threatening which has caused him to relax and take it all in.

  2. It explains the rules logically and sequentially.

    The spelling program I used with Wilbur in 2nd grade took the approach of picking a particular sound and focusing on it for one week. Take /k/ for example. It would explain that c, k, or ck can spell this sound and then provide a list of 10 words incorporating the letter combos of the week, like cake, bake, back, king, and so on. This seemed just to scramble it up in his brain even more. AAS is much clearer in its approach. The rules are stated concisely, presented logically and sequentially, and the spelling lists make sense. The exceptions to the rules are explained, too, where appropriate.

  3. Each lesson concludes with dictation exercises that demonstrate mastery.

    He has been forced to immediately put what he has learned into writing. The manipulative board gets him started but he cannot progress to the next lesson until he has demonstrated that he can put the skill to use by putting pencil to paper.

  4. AAS provides continual review. Students are not allowed to forget.

    Every lesson provides review opportunities. Some are more direct through the use of flash cards. Others are found within the dictation activities. The repetition ensures the child truly masters each skill.

I cannot believe the difference one year has made. Concepts that used to confuse Wilbur make perfect sense. AAS has given him the ability and confidence to apply the phonics rules; whereas, before he was able only to recognize sounds for the purpose of reading. He is writing again, and that makes me happy!

To be fair, let me mention a few areas that could be improved. No curriculum is perfect, you know.

AAS does not offer supplemental practice. So far, Wilbur has not needed any additional practice. However, I know that if he ever gets "stuck" on a particular lesson, either the lesson will have to be repeated or I will have to supplement from another curriculum.

I also think the first lesson in level one could be improved. It teaches all the letters of the English alphabet and their sounds. This was good for what we needed at the time. I was able to treat the lesson like a pre-assessment and determine where Wilbur's weaknesses were. If I had been teaching him these skills for the first time, however, I would have felt like it was too much crammed into one lesson and that it relied too heavily on rote memory. I could see the first lesson being developed into an entire level of its own, a primer book perhaps with more activities to help very young students master beginning phonics.

One aspect of the program that could be considered a pro or con, depending on your and your child's personalities, is that the program is very routine. Every lesson is basically the same. Only the skills covered change. Personally, I like that. It means I do not have to do much to prepare. The lessons are quick and to the point, and Wilbur knows what to expect. I think that is particularly good for young children and children with learning difficulties. Everyone's energy goes into mastering the skills and not figuring out how to do the lesson. However, if you like a lot of variety or feel like you need multiple strategies, you may not like AAS.

There are currently five levels of All About Spelling. Level One is available for $29.95. Levels Two through Five are available for $39.95 each. A starter kit must be purchased with the first level you decide to teach. It is a one-time purchase priced at $26.95. Other materials you will need include a magnet board and an index card file. I bought both at Wal Mart and spent about $15.

Given the success Wilbur has had with All About Spelling, I have to give it 2 BIG thumbs up. He gives it 2 REALLY BIG thumbs up. I highly recommend starting the program with younger children; however, if your older child is experiencing problems similar to Wilbur's, it is not too late to begin. The program is not grade-specific. It is suggested that you begin with level one, but you can use the scope and sequence to help you decide where the best starting place would be for your child. Whether you decide to purchase AAS through my links or not, I am happy to assist you and answer any questions about the program you may have.

I received AAS levels 3 and 4 to compete this review. I have received no other compensation and have offered my honest opinion. Results may vary. Please read other reviews written by my crewmates. As disclosed earlier in this review, I am an AAS affiliate and will receive a commission on any purchases made through the links I have provided.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Not Me Monday: NOT Nevada

While traveling to Uncle Marc's two weeks ago, I took note of the states on license plates we saw to keep my mind off traffic. Not that I'm jittery or anything. Not me! No way! I don't need distractions while traveling.

Here are the states I "collected":

Notice most of the states are colored green. Green represents the plates I saw clearly. I have no doubt that I "found" those particular states. White represents those I did not find.*

What's that?

Why is Nevada shaded pink?

Well, to explain that, I will have to share another Not-Me moment.

We had passed all the major cities on our route and were traveling along a peaceful, scenic strip of interstate when a white van came up an entry ramp onto the road. We were in the left lane about five feet behind it initially. My mind must have been in left field at the moment, however, because I did not realize there was new license plate potential until we were passing the van. I only got a quick glance at the plate.

I was pretty sure I had seen a sunset with a cowboy in the far left corner.



That must be Nevada!!!

I did not bounce up and down in my seat and yell, "Michael, Nevada! Nevada! Nevada! I think we just got Nevada!"

He did not look at me like I had flipped out.

Poor man, only a few hours earlier I had not nearly ripped his arm off after I had not freaked out over the traffic and construction in Atlanta. Now, I was not asking him to slow down on the interstate so I could get a good look at "Nevada".

Being the nice husband he is, he tried to slow down but couldn't, and "Nevada" got way behind us… until we reached THE MOUNTAIN.

THE MOUNTAIN is near the towns where he and I grew up and is notorious for accidents, particularly the kind that involve out-of-control trucks crossing three lanes of traffic to access the emergency ramps dug into the side of THE MOUNTAIN. I was always told that if I did not drive with extreme caution on THE MOUNTAIN I would surely die.

So as we cautiously drove up the winding incline, "Nevada" took off and passed us like we had lead tires. He moved much too fast for me to get a clear view of his plate.

That had me convinced. He was not threatened by THE MOUNTAIN and drove like I would imagine someone from Nevada would drive. Surely our Appalachian hill would not intimidate an experienced western driver.

Convinced as I was, I did not encourage Michael to speed up and catch him. I did not start cheering "Go, Daddy, go! Go, Daddy, go! Catch Nevada!" I would never do that. No way! Not me. I am far too cautious and would never ask my husband to speed, especially on THE MOUNTAIN, just so I could see a license plate more clearly.

Therefore, it only makes sense that we never caught up to "Nevada".

That did not bug me. Nope, not even a little. I did not wonder if I would ever see another Nevada plate and be able to confirm my sighting. I did not plan to search the internet as soon as we returned home. I did not think about Nevada during every spare moment of our trip. I did not see that sunset in my mind as I drifted off to sleep each night, and the cowboy did not taunt me in my dreams.

Then, during our return trip, I saw this license plate.

You've got to be kidding me!

I had seen a sunset alright, or maybe a sunrise, but not a cowboy.

It was a dolphin!

From Florida!!

I was not disappointed. Not a bit. I don't see Florida license plates where I live on a near daily basis.

This did not mean that a Floridian, who lives where there are no mountains, had smoked us on THE MOUNTAIN!

Hoping I was wrong, I did not bother to look up Nevada's plate when I got home.

If I had, I would not have seen this.

So there is a sunset on Nevada's plate!!

But no cowboy.

How disappointing.

I'm not bummed. Not bummed in the least!

But I did color Nevada in pink on my map. After all that effort, I think it should at least sort-of count, don't you?

*image from

Sunday, January 10, 2010

90 Day Challenge: Week 2

This was the second week of our reading challenge but the first week we had a reading assignment every day. Michael and Orville did great! They read every assignment on time. I was unable to read half of the assignment for the day twice this week, putting me essentially one day behind.

As I type this update, I am suffering from sciatica pain. I can only sit semi-comfortably in our recliner and have very limited mobility. It seems today that the Lord would have me literally be still and know that He is God, so here I sit doing a little typing in between reading. I am almost caught up.

We finished Genesis early in the week. The history of Joseph and his brothers, the reunion with Benjamin and Jacob, the reconciliation, the provision for God's people… it's just one of my favorite sections of the Bible. Reading about Joseph's life always causes me to reflect on God's sovereignty and on his providential care. What a loving, merciful, covenant-keeping, and great God we serve!

We also read all of Exodus. Michael and Orville finished yesterday, and I finished today. Once again, God's power, sovereignty, and providential care jump off the pages. He is holy. He is just. He is merciful. He deserves the richest of worship, as He has mandated and not as we see fit. He leads us by day and by night. He provides for our needs and gives us a day to rest, worship, and reflect on his mercies. He is good, and we are blessed to be His people.

I am about to begin my reading in Leviticus. By next Sunday, Lord willing, we will have completed Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. I must admit these are books I find difficult to read thoroughly. I am praying for the grace to read attentively, for a mindset of valuing all of God's Word and not just the parts that "move" me, and that I will continue to see God's goodness and faithfulness as I finish the books of Moses.

Happy Reading!


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Give-away: Progresso Soup Gift Pack

It is that time of year.

The time when the majority of Americans list their resolutions for the new year. Losing weight tops most lists. I know it is at the top of mine.

Progresso wants to help us achieve our weight-loss goals and has provided Olive Plants readers the chance to win a gift pack of Progresso soups and to enter a contest for a make-over trip to New York City.

Three grand-prize winners will be chosen in the SouperYou Contest and will receive airfare to NYC, accommodations for 2 for 3 days and 2 nights, a head-to-toe makeover from a stylist, and a $1000 wardrobe shopping spree. Pretty exciting, huh? You cannot enter the SouperYou Contest here at Olive Plants. Instead, visit the SouperYou site for all the details and to enter.

What you can win here is a fabulous Progresso gift pack. One Olive Plants reader will receive two cans of Progresso soups, a digital jump rope, and a large Progresso mug, perfect for your 100 calories or less lunch!

As the hostess of this giveaway, I received 15 cans of Progresso soups, along with the jump rope and mug, and have really enjoyed the package. There are so many 100 calories or less soups to chose from. 40 to be exact. It makes for a warm, filling lunch that only uses 1 of my diet points, sometimes 0! If you can't wait to give Progresso Light a try, you can find coupons here.

To enter the give-away I am hosting, comment on this post with your best diet tip.

You can earn additional entries by:

  • following me on twitter (@Homeschooldawn)
  • tweeting about this give-away
  • posting about this give-away on your own blog
  • subscribing by email to Olive Plants
  • following Olive Plants

Please leave a separate comment for each entry and provide links to your posts.

This contest ends on Friday, January 15, 2009 (11:59 p.m. EST). I will use to select the winner on Saturday, January 16.

Happy Eating, Commenting, Tweeting, Posting, etc.!


I received the Progresso gift pack from Progresso through My Blog Spark for free in order to review the product, promote the SouperYou Contest, and provide one gift pack for my readers. I have received no other compensation and have provided my honest opinion of Progresso soups and related products.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

You know you live in the South...

When the network news runs a story on how to avoid hypothermia after the weatherman predicts a half inch of snow is coming your way.

When talk of the half inch of snow begins days before it is due to arrive and everyone is REALLY excited.

When Wal Mart is busier than it was the day before Christmas because everyone has to have plenty of milk, bread, and other staples in case we are snowed in.

When schools announce closings twenty four hours before the half inch of snow is due to arrive.

When your neighbors who used to live in the North are wearing light-weight jogging pants and a t-shirt while you don layers with your heaviest coat over it all and you are still shaking and thinking the humid days of summer aren't so bad after all.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

An Olive Plants Christmas

The Olive Plants family had a very merry Christmas!

Michael and I always host Christmas Eve dinner, with my parents as our guests. We enjoyed a Little House meal with recipes from The Little House Cookbook. We ended the evening singing Christmas hymns, and Orville accompanied us for the first time.

Orville playing on the keyboard he received for his birthday

On Christmas morning, we opened presents at our house. The boys received new toys, clothes, books, and treats. I think they liked their new Webkinz the best.

Yes, Wilbur is holding an opossum! He is a southern boy, after all!
Orville has a bluffadoodle???

Michael seemed to enjoy the packaging the best!

Nohnie, Papaw, Michael, and I all gave and received gifts. The gift that received the best reaction was mine to my mom. I had the picture I took for this post enlarged and framed.

Dad knew beforehand what I was giving her. He said she would cry and enjoyed being right!

Can you tell she loves those little hands and the boy they belong to?
Then we travelled to another state where we celebrated with Michael's parents, brother and his wife, and sister. We had fun playing a lot of games, enjoyed a lot of good food, and made a lot of special memories.
The older cousins playing Phase 10

Orville and Wilbur received WWII gear from their paternal grandparents. We will study this time period soon. Orville had to add a little drama to our gathering, of course.

This is Michael's brother, Marc, with four of his children.

This picture was taken when we celebrated Christmas with Michael's family in 1999. Orville (in blue) and his cousin who is two days older than he is (in pink) were only 2 months old.

Here they are 10 years later. I thought Orville's cousin had been propped on him in the original picture and I posed the re-creation that way. I had it backwards... oops. It's still cute to see how they have grown.

We returned home on January 1 and travelled through the town where Michael grew up. Our trips to and from the family's house were filled with adventure. I have more stories to tell about that… later.

Product Review: Bertie's War from Kregel Publications


Bertie's War, written by Barbara Tifft Blakey, is set in the fall of 1962 when Soviet missiles were pointed toward the United States. The Cuban Missile Crisis had many Americans scared witless, and the story illustrates how "the world went crazy- and took a young girl with it". *


The main character, Bertie, is a seventh grader facing many difficulties. Her father is a stern disciplinarian. In Bertie's opinion, his rules are ambiguous, so she lives in fear of being unintentionally disobedient and having to visit the woodshed. Her mother is distracted and flip flops between being permissive and harsh. Her siblings tease and provoke her or lead her into trouble. She is terrified of the missiles and overreacts to every perceived threat. Her best friends are the ones she imagines, and she spends most of her time escaping reality through imaginative play and internal dialogue.

Stylistically, I think the book is good, and it had me emotionally involved. Bertie's war is not waged against the Communists in Cuba but is a war of internal conflict in which she struggles with her thoughts and feelings. I cannot imagine reading this book without being drawn into her emotional state of being.

However, I was disturbed by her behavior. Over and over again, she belittles herself and struggles with a cycle of wrestling with temptation, succumbing to it, and berating herself afterward- all while trying to figure out how to survive the impending nuclear fallout. I felt trapped as I read Bertie's War, trapped in a troubled world that I could not wait to exit.

Near the story's conclusion, her father accompanies her to the woodshed. There is mention of sin and apologizing to God, but it was never really clear to me who the characters believe God is. I think the reader is to assume the God of the Bible. However, there is no talk of Biblical repentance… no mention of Jesus, the cross, or grace. I think in striving not to come across "preachy", the religious lessons are vague and leave too much room for interpretation.

Before the story concludes, Bertie learns that "Love" controls the wind and war. This along with her desire to replace selfishness with "Love" could have made for a great ending. However, without knowing exactly who Love is, what He accomplished for His people on the cross, and that grace is His free gift to be given, not earned or accomplished by the recipient, did Bertie really learn the right lesson?

I don't think she did and for that reason I also think Bertie's War misses the mark. I give it two thumbs down and do not recommend it.

Bertie's War is available from Kregel Publications for $7.99.

I was provided a free copy of Bertie's War for the purpose of completing this review. All opinions expressed in the review are solely mine. I have received no other compensation and have given my honest evaluation of the book. Please visit the TOS Homeschool Crew blog for more reviews.

*quoted from Bertie's War, front cover

Giveaway: Winter Nature Study Ebook

Barbara McCoy, better known as Harmony Art Mom, has completed an ebook. In Winter Nature Study, she provides 10 Winter Outdoor Hour challenges as well as notebook pages, artist and composer studies, and more.

She is holding a special giveaway, and you could win a copy of the complete winter challenge ebook. Click the picture of her book above to get all the details and to enter.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Not Me Monday: I Am NOT Jittery

I am holding my hand parallel to the floor.

Can you see it?

It's not shaking. Not a bit.

Because I am not jittery. Not me! No way! I am a model of composure.

This can best be explained by telling you a little about our trip last week to my brother-in-law Marc's house.

We have to travel through Atlanta to get to Uncle Marc's. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, please note that Atlanta is in a perpetual state of road improvement.

I think our state flower is an orange pylon.

So about 20 minutes into our trip we hit THE TRAFFIC.





Finally, we entered an area of the interstate where traffic was flowing but flowing in between large cement construction walls. The other drivers were zipping through like it was an open field. I felt like we were in an Autobahn-like tunnel with no ceiling, a move-as-fast-as-you-can-or-be-crushed situation.

But, like I said, I am not jittery, so this did not bother me. Nope. Not me.

It bothered me so little that I did not hit my air brake at least once per minute. I did not wear a hole in the floorboard carpeting.

I didn't add nervous sound effects to the drive, like Oooo... Eeek…. Yikes… Waaaa…! Why would I do that? I am always so calm, after all.

I didn't smack the dashboard and ask other drivers to explain themselves. Never, like I said… model of composure.

To truly understand how not jittery I am, you need to know that Michael has named me the family navigator. I think it is because of my proclivity for coping in stressful situations. I am so adaptable.

Case in point… while traveling through Autobahn tunnel, I realized we needed to get on the "loop" and avoid downtown. As soon as I had this realization, I looked up to see how far we were from the exit to the loop and noticed the airport to our right. Those of you who know ATL, know WE MISSED THE LOOP!

Now, if I were not so calm and controlled, this would have sent me into a panic.

But I didn't yell. Not me! Composure, I keep telling you.

I didn't start saying things like "What? That can't be! Oh, not downtown. NOT DOWNTOWN!!!"

Every time a car came within two inches of us, I didn't squeal and grab the door, my arm rest, Michael's arm rest, or Michael's arm. He did not need bandages by the time we reached Turner Stadium.

Sensing Michael was getting a little edgy (from the traffic, of course, and not me) I didn't try to distract myself by taking in the sights.

Oh look, Zoo Atlanta! Isn't that the whole town? HA! HA!


Oooo… that's where the Olympics were held. I would love to go to the Olym….


Georgia Tech… you know about half the men in our church went the….


CNN, Ted Tur…



See, I'm calm. I'm cool. I'm totally collected.

And my husband…

He does not deserve a medal for putting up with me.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

90 Day Challenge: Day 1

Today Michael, Orville, and I began The Bible in 90 Days Challenge.

You may have already heard of the challenge at Mom's Toolbox. I read about it at Kimberly's Raising Olives and will be linking in our updates there.

The official start date was Jan. 1. Because of my commitment to take two weeks off from blogging and because of our holiday travels, we just began today. If we keep our commitment we will have read the entire Bible by April 2.

Would you like to join us? If so, you can print the reading schedule here. We started late, so don't be discouraged that you missed the official start date.

Each Sunday, I will post an update on how we are progressing. Today we read Gen 1-16. We took a few notes and had a brief discussion afterward. We researched a couple questions we had which took about 1o minutes. If we come across any big questions along the way, we will seek out answers to them after the end date of the challenge. I hope that at the end of it all we will have a good list of questions for further study, but for now, we want to read for the big picture.

Today, Michael and I both recognized that our reading was influenced by our studies of Answers in Genesis publications. AIG's Ken Ham wrote Already Gone (with research conducted by Britt Beemer on the underlying causes of people straying from the church). He stresses the importance of teaching the Genesis account of creation and presenting the book of Genesis as history, not as a sequence of stories. It was interesting to approach the reading of this very familiar book with the renewed interest and perspective AIG has given us. Our children's faith is a gift, but sound understanding of the book of Genesis will equip them (and us) to defend that faith. It was refreshing to read together about our mighty Creator and His faithfulness to Adam, Noah and Abram, knowing that He remains faithful to His people today.

Lord willing, by next Sunday we will have read the rest of Genesis and all of Exodus. Join us if you like.

Happy Reading!


Saturday, January 2, 2010


I am back online from my two-week hiatus. I stayed off the computer almost every day except to send a few necessary emails and to read a couple of my favorite blogs. The break was refreshing, and I feel ready to jump into a new year of blogging.

We had a really great Christmas break and celebrated with both my parents and Michael's family. I have pictures to share and stories galore to tell but will save those for another day.

Today I want to share my goals for the new year. Like my friend Heather, I want to post goals, rather than just one resolution. Having a list of specific tasks to reference throughout the year will help keep me productive and focused on what is most important. I have broken my list into categories.

First are my PERSONAL goals:

  1. read through the Bible
  2. find Scriptural response to a particular issue I regularly encounter
  3. pray for grace to respond to above mentioned issue in a Christ-honoring way
  4. continue to lose weight (I am not setting a specific amount. I just want to keep losing)
  5. exercise 3x per week
  6. teach flute weekly to current student and have six students total by year's end


  1. continue to freezer cook
  2. meet a particular financial goal by saving on groceries
  3. improve my soap-making skills and earn enough money from sales to fund our gift giving
  4. clean window exteriors
  5. complete a cross-stitching project

My SCHOOL goals:

  1. encourage Orville to complete his first cycle of catechism memorization
  2. encourage Wilbur to complete half of his first cycle of catechism memorization
  3. encourage daily Scripture memory- set regular goals for each boy
  4. encourage daily instrument practice- continue with 100 day goal found on Kathleen's blog
  5. complete project for International Festival
  6. complete art pieces for HSLDA competition
  7. prepare boys for YBC
  8. complete 20th Century unit by May
  9. complete 1/2 of Ancients study by Dec.
  10. continue to workbox
  11. incorporate more hands-on work for Wilbur
  12. provide more one-on-one time for Wilbur
  13. incorporate more independent study/research for Orville
  14. find next step for Math to be used in 2011
  15. finish Chemistry study by March


  1. fulfill my responsibilities as president with a servant's heart
  2. lead monthly moms' meetings that will encourage and equip us in our roles as keepers at home/homeschooling moms/helpmeets
  3. seek out quality resources for above
  4. find someone to coordinate Spotlight Night
  5. raise $100 for our association library
  6. find an assistant coach for Mathletes
  7. determine how to share Mathletes responsibilities


  1. honor God with my words
  2. support and encourage fellow homeschool moms
  3. complete my Crew responsibilities
  4. finish the Birding 101 series by March
  5. move Olive Plants to wordpress by August

Phew! I got tired just writing that. It seems I have a lot to do in 2010, so I better get started! :)

Lord willing, I will let you know how I did next year. I am sure there will be some successes and some failures, but what is most important is that whatever we set out to do this year, it all be done for the glory of God.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Cor 10:31

Happy New Year!