May 30, 2008

Enchanted Learning

If you're homeschooling preschool through 3rd grade or so, or are looking for summer projects or worksheets, check out . I use it for printable worksheets for every subject from phonics, to math, to geography, to art, and a few others. You can print many pages for free without a membership. I recommend the membership if you see you'll use it a lot. With the $20/year fee, you get access to the entire website, pages that are more printer-friendly, and a banner-free version of the website.

It's great for my Kindergartener and I, because we use workbooks I've picked up from the thrift store or garage sales. Occasionally I see the need to reinforce a concept with additional worksheets, and I can almost always find something on Enchanted Learning that fits the bill.

There are so many valuable free resources for homeschooling on the internet. Do yourself a favor, and search for free resources before you go buying something. You can print entire unit studies, reading lists, activity ideas, lesson plans, etc. I'll be posting more of my best resources here.

If you always buy printer ink brand new, this approach may be costly. I buy my ink from or for which you can always find online coupon codes to save you additional 5-20% or get free shipping. I usually end up paying $5-6 per ink cartridge, and even in Hawaii, they get shipped to me within a week.

May 24, 2008

Military Life: Looking Back, and Looking Forward

It's been nearly 2 years since we came to our first duty station here, and became a military family.  Hawaii aside, I wouldn't trade this experience for most anything.  I remember the first week we were here, living in the hotel on post, and the whole 25th Infantry Division had a "Division Run" for PT.  I remember hearing them begin to parade by, calling out their cadences, running with their unit flags, wearing their unit PT t-shirts.  I couldn't help but be proud to be a part of the military community.

After getting to know so many people in the last several months, and seeing the Army from the inside, there are a lot of things that aren't ideal, and some things that are just downright aggravating.  However, overall, the institution of the Army can really be a great place for a young person to learn discipline, learn skills for life and for work, and to give them some direction for the future.  Iraq is always a likely deployment destination, as is Afghanistan.  Some soldiers struggle more than others with that.  Families struggle immensely.  I have seen the effects of deployment from the first group that left after we arrived and has now returned, and now we're into the 2nd group that has gone.  The third big group will be going out shortly, many of them the same people that just got back from the 1st group. 

Sometimes it just doesn't seem fair.  I see children and parents who have barely reconnected, with the next deployment looming, knowing what the first one was like, and dreading the long wait to see each other again.  I see marriages struggling with the re-connection after deployment.  Many don't last.  Some families have been without their soldier for 4 deployments or more in the last 7 years.  There are re-enlistment bonuses, and financial benefits to being deployed, but money doesn't replace the time spent with your family member.

For those who are experiencing deployment now, it's very difficult.  They've only been gone 5 1/2 months, but it seems more like a year.  There are still many months to go.  Communication is hard sometimes.  Even with frequent e-mails, phone calls, shared pictures, care packages, cards and gifts, there is so much life lived in separate places that the other misses out on.  You can't video tape every neat moment, or share every cool thought or idea. 

However, there are blessings.  Separated families learn to plow through hard things.  Wives at home with children learn to manage things they've never had to manage before.  As an acting single parent, it is extremely tiring to give each child what she needs from the time they wake up until the time they go to sleep.  But it challenges the parent to rely on God, to ask for help from friends, and to get a break by scheduling child care or a babysitter.  Limited communication with the soldier makes every word count, and challenges both to say what's really important, and leave nothing unsaid.  Plowing through the difficult times in deployment requires that we stay focused on the big picture.  What is our mission?  Why are we a part of it?  How is God using each of us during this time?  Families in the midst of deployment can put their trust in God that He will preserve the marriage relationship as well as the parent-children relationships.  It's easier said than done -- the trusting part -- however, it's the way I think they can have peace and forge ahead with life as it is.

So military life is both extremely challenging, but also very rewarding.  The friends I've made here not only bless me with their generosity and their companionship, but also challenge and inspire me to grow.  The chapel community I'm a part of has a dynamic ministry to this ever-changing community, very-well run, that rivals many civilian churches that have been developing their ministries for decades with the same core of people.  The neighbors, friends, and acquaintances I have are from all over the country and some from around the world.  They are interesting, talented, smart, strong people.  I'm better for having spent time with them.

Another hard thing is going on right now, and that is many of our good friends are moving to new duty stations.  There are bunches of families that move every summer and winter.  So I've seen it enough to know that there will be new people who move here that will fill our lives with their friendships.  However, these particular friends that are leaving are the ones we've gotten to know for 2 years, so we know them really well!  Hopefully our paths will cross in future assignments.

I'm looking forward to the next and final year of living in Hawaii, and then to the next military assignments beyond.  There is always adventure here.  That's what we were looking for.  It's what God prepared us for, and gave us the personality traits to pursue.

May 22, 2008

Go Fish

No, I'm not talking about the card game, but a Christian music group I've recently discovered that has made several great albums for kids. Self-described as "Great music for kids that won't drive parents bonkers", they've put out 5 albums that do just that. We own two of them, "Snazzy" and "Snooze". My girls love listening to them in the car. It's music we can have fun with, dance to, and sing together as we be-bop down the road.

You can hear samples of their music at their website and see their videos at .

I want to make special mention of one song called "The Mom Song". It's nice to hear the appreciation for an unsung hero put into a fun song. Check it out on either of the websites mentioned above.

May 19, 2008

The Five Love Languages

If you're familiar with this book, you might think, "Hasn't everyone heard about this book or at least the concepts presented in it?" I'm sometimes surprised by people who haven't heard of it. Personally I think the concepts Gary Chapman identifies and describes in his book are revolutionary in relating to anyone.

He identifies five primary love languages that each person has - some may have more than one that is primary and everyone has some that are secondary. Your love language is the way you feel loved by someone else, and often the way you show love to others. The languages are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. Perhaps you can identify yours from this simple list. The book goes into great detail and examples of how people with each love language feel loved and give love. If you can identify this about yourself and your spouse; or about anyone in your family or circle of friends, it will help you understand and appreciate your differences with them, and therefore relate to them better.

My only criticism of his book is that I think he left out a 6th love language - tasty food. I feel very loved when my husband takes me to a yummy restaurant or cooks me a delicious meal. I feel loved when someone invites us to their home for a meal, or delivers a tasty treat. I love my family by creating pleasing dishes for them to enjoy. I love myself by ordering Papa John's pizza, or getting a mint chocolate chip hot fudge sundae, or by eating a Reese's peanut butter cup. Food definitely speaks love to me. And, just for the record, I am not overweight because of it.

If you'd like to specifically apply these love languages to other relationships besides your marriage, and want extra details and examples, you can check out Gary Chapman's other Love Languages books. "The Five Love Languages of Children", "The Five Love Languages of Teenagers", "The Love Languages of God", "The Five Love Languages: Men's Edition", and "The Five Love Languages of Singles". His website is

Wise Words for Moms

Only last year I discovered this unique resource called "Wise Words for Moms" by Ginger Plowman. I was searching for Biblical principles to apply to training our children. My search ended when I spent $4 on this tool.

The size and format of a calender, Wise Words for Moms is perfect to hang on a wall, bulletin board or refrigerator. You'll find 21 categories of wrong behavior or attitudes, along with Biblical ways to deal with them. Some of the categories are complaining, discontent, defiance, lying, arguing, tattling and worry. Each behavior has "heart probing" questions to ask your child, which helps them to recognize and admit their fault. In the next column, you'll see the sinful behavior with Scripture that teaches it's wrong. This is the thing you're reproofing, and asking your child to put off. Then comes the encouragement, the thing you encourage your child to put on. Again, the righteous behavior is coupled with Scripture that teaches on it. The final column lists additional verses that deal with the behavior.

I'm planning on using this as part of my home school curriculum in the coming year, as part of my goal to begin teaching Godly character. My hope is that I'll memorize these verses along with my daughter, and maybe even become a bit of a pro at coming out with these Scriptures to teach the younger two as certain behaviors come up. What a great resource for encouraging your children when you see them doing what pleases God as well!

I can't mention this tool without also mentioning Ginger Plowman's other resources. To better understand her parenting philosophy, and the way to use "Wise Words for Moms", check out either her DVD, called "Reaching the Heart of Your Child" or her book, called "Don't Make Me Count to Three". Both contain the same content, so choose the media form that suits your learning style best. For those of you who are familiar with the book "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp, Ginger Plowman's approach is similar, but for me, easier to identify with.

Parenting is a high calling. It's so much more than fulfilling your own desire to have children to enjoy or pass down the family name and traditions. It's more than seeing to it that your children are healthy and happy, and grow old enough to move out of the house. The resources Ginger Plowman has written really inspire parents to invest themselves fully in training their children in the fear and instruction of the Lord. If this is what you're looking for, you can find a myriad of resources at the website for The National Center for Biblical Parenting:

Ginger Plowman's resources can be found at her website, I've also only started to read her book, "Heaven at Home: Establishing and Enjoying a Peaceful Home". So far it's very good. I see she's also added a new book "No More Whining! Three Easy Steps to Whine-Free Living". I need to order that right away!

May 04, 2008

"Professionalizing Motherhood"

I can't say enough about about this book by Jill Savage. I wish I could give a copy to every mother. For the past 4 1/2 months, I've been leading a class of young moms through this book.

In our society, being a stay-at-home mom is often looked at as the choice of a woman who isn't smart enough or good enough to work a paid job; or it's viewed as an interruption to pursuing a career or pursuing your own dreams. Jill Savage, however, in writing this book, not only affirms staying at home with your children as a valid expenditure of your time and energy, but also challenges mothers to take it on as you would any profession, by building a network of other professionals, utilizing resources to enhance your skills, pursuing it with a clear purpose with real goals and expected outcomes for your family. She also gives great ideas for how to be organized, how to laugh and have fun, how to be gracious, how to have a marriage-centered family, how to make Christ the center of your home and daily life, and building an incredible resume.

From this book, a mother can gain a new perspective that her role as a mother is a God-given calling, a privilege, and something she can do well with God walking with her daily. In our culture, a Godly mother who can give her children the love, support, guidance, training and stability they need is so necessary. I believe a generation of mothers who invest themselves fully in helping their children prepare for adulthood would change our culture immensely for the better.

If you like this book, or the concept of it, you should look into the ministry that Jill Savage has founded, called Hearts at Home. You can visit their website at to see all that they offer. I particularly recommend their conferences. I've attended two myself. Moms who can attend one of these conferences, while getting a break from their children, will come away refreshed, inspired, and equipped for the profession of motherhood. The ministry also has an e-mail newsletter, an online message board community, a magazine, several books and other tools for moms, and gift items for sale that celebrate motherhood.

Purpose, Passion, Persistence

Recently, the chaplain preaching the Sunday sermon challenged us to pursue the full life that God intends for us by finding out our God-given purpose, pursuing that one thing with single-minded focus and with passion, and by doing it with persistence. It came as no surprise to me, after praying about it for awhile, that my purpose is to be a wife and a mother. More specifically, I believe my purpose is to be a Godly wife to my husband, and to be a Godly parent to our 3 children. Being mother, for me, also includes being a home school teacher.

I have a strong desire to be a change-agent in our culture, pointing others to Christ for salvation and life. Right now, that means that I give a lot of time and energy to my children, teaching and exemplifying a God-honoring lifestyle. My aim is that they will come to accept Christ as their own personal Savior, and that they will mature and learn what they need to in order to be change agents themselves as adults. I feel God has equipped me with the desire and ability to teach our girls at home, rather than having them in an institution for school. I enjoy seeing them learn, and I love being the one to show them new things, and help them discover. They love learning, and I love teaching. I'm learning too-- a lot.

I trust that God is going to use the next 17+ years, while I commit to raising and teaching our girls, to prepare me for another ministry when they are on their own. I also believe that along the way, I'll have opportunities to minister to other moms, to other children, and to other Christians as I serve in my local congregation.

So through this blog, one thing I thought I'd do is share some of my passion for motherhood and for home schooling by reviewing resources that have been helpful and inspiring to me. There are so many I know of already! Perhaps as I go through the journey of raising my girls, others will be blessed by these same resources because of what I share.