Friday, November 22, 2013

Weekly Highlights: Our Friends are off to Asia! Compassion International and Botanical Gardens

Our Friends are off to Asia!

We have sweet friends that are getting ready to embark on a journey of a lifetime. The Lows are members of our homeschool co-op, and I've had the great honor of teaching two of their precious children. They have been preparing to answer God's call in their lives to be foreign missionaries for a while now. I am going to attempt to share their newsletter with you all. The * stands for the name of the country in Asia they are going to. It's a closed country, so the name can't be given out over the internet.

It is crazy to think that in under sixty days, we will be wheels up and on our way to *! The reality of God’s calling has become very apparent as the furniture, the toys, the precious items have been replaced by ten suitcases in which we will pack our most needed items. Of the ten cases, each child has been given their own suitcase in which they can take whatever they want. It has warmed our hearts to watch the girls work together to make sure no doll’s clothes or My Little Pony is left behind.

In addition to the preparations for departure, I had the opportunity to travel to Malaysia to meet with leaders from other regions in the East Asian Pacific. We discussed strategies for ministry in the upcoming year and received training on building a self sustaining infrastructure within *.


And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Up until the 1950's it was illegal to be a Christian in *. In just these last sixty years the national church has grown from five known believers to an estimated one million. OM works alongside this church, providing training, literature, education, and encouragement to those who are often times shunned by their community and family for following Christ. Team members trek to remote areas, minister among youth, children, women, Tibetan Buddhists and the those marginalized by their society.

GIVING: We have reached 66% of our support goal! But still have a ways to go in order to be in * by January. We are short about 1800 a month to fulfill our living and ministry expenses at this point. If we could have 36 more families pledge 50 dollars a month we would reach our goal! We need to have 100% by December 15th so time is of the essence! Thank you to all those who have partnered with us to this point. 

• click on the header GIVE
• Click “give to support OM’s work through a missionary” for a one time gift or “Set-up Automated Monthly gift”
• Authorize method of payment
•* is a closed country and we will not be listed on any websites including OM’s. You will need to manually enter in “Tanner and Krystal Low” in the comment box along with account # 1000294093.
• You may also mail a check to : Operation Mobilization USA PO BOX 444 Tyrone, GA 30290-0444 Please write “Tanner and Krystal Low” in the memo line.

Tanner and Krystal Low

Please keep the Lows in your prayers, and if you are able to donate monetarily to their mission, know it will be used wisely to further God's Kingdom.

Last Week of Co-op

This was also our last week of co-op. Our new semester will start in the middle of January. It's always nice to have our Thursdays open during the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas - but oh how we miss seeing all 209 of our friends and their parents and the fun things we learn at co-op each week! By the middle of January we are so ready to go back!

This last week was special. You all know Compassion International and sponsoring children is very dear to my heart. Well, we had one of our mommys, Mrs. Sandy, give a beautiful presentation on how sponsorship works, how lives are transformed and how important it is to just ask! You see, our special speaker had always wanted to sponsor a child but thought that her husband would NEVER be open to the idea so she just tucked the thought away.

One night they were at a concert, and the gentleman spoke about his own sponsorship story and encouraged everyone to just take a look at the children's profiles being passed around. We'll as soon as her husband was handed a packet he said, "Ya know, we really should do this!" All the time our Mrs. Sandy thought her husband would say "No" and here he is saying "Let's do it!"

and on a table with many beautiful faces of children already being sponsored - this gift of verses to be sent soon to a special little girl in Nicaragua, the little girl who's picture was held by the husband who knew instantly - We have to do this! was there. Isn't it precious!

Later that night, our director sent this touching song to our group. I'd never heard it before. It's absolutely beautiful.

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

*This post contains affiliate links. See disclosure.

A Little About Our School Week:

There is lots of  schoolwork we accomplished this week that I'm not blogging about - I need to at some point! I will go ahead and quickly share we read lots of great books, including Cranberry Thanksgiving , and Squanto, Friend Of The Pilgrims, and found a stray little doggie - I shared about earlier in the week. We packed our Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes (are you following Homegrown Learners' trip to deliver shoe boxes to Ecuador?!) and we are getting ready to begin our Advent activities. It's been a couple of years since we've done Truth in the Tinsel, so we are going to do that one again!

A Big Field Trip!
Here are pictures of a super fun field trip to Atlanta Botanical Garden to finish out our week.
A magnificent plant sculpture. Orchids. We named this The Entrance to the Secret Garden. Vegetables! A Christmas Tree!
Practicing their map skills. Mr. McGregor's Garden. Hanging Gourds. 
Beautiful orchids. They remind me of baby birds in their nest. Watching a botanist at work. A pretty Christmas scene in the Orchid House
Bees! and a Bee Dance

I was pleased to see a pomegranate - my sister's favorite tree when she was a wee little girl. A beautiful fluffy bush. And a little boy who had had all he could handle and feel asleep before we reached home.

We are sharing our Weekly Highlights with our friends at Homegrown Learners for Collage Friday and Weird, Unsocialized Homeschooler's Weekly Wrap-up.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Stray...

The kids and I got up about two hours earlier than normal this morning. We needed to finish school so that we could have lunch with friends and then run a big errand.

By big errand I mean one that's going to take a long time. My husband and I won a couple of things at a silent auction on Friday night, and the place to pick them up (tickets to the Botanical Gardens and passes to the Rock Ranch!) was nearly an hour from where we were having lunch.

On our way home from our big errand, we passed a beautiful, six or so month old boxer/pit bull mix puppy eating rubbish on the side of the road. I could see his ribs poking through his skin while traveling on the highway. It was heartbreaking. The kids saw him too and insisted that we turn around - my foot was already on the brakes.

I parked well onto the shoulder of the road with my hazard lights flashing, about 30 feet from the pup. I got out of the car slowly, with old french fries in hand - this time I was thankful for the kids not cleaning up from an on the go meal.  As soon as I started calling to the pup he shot into the road and for a moment I was terrified for the little guy. He quickly raced into the woods on the same side of the road we were parked. I tried again to coax him to us, but he would have nothing of it. I watched him look back at me and trot off into the distance.

Once I got back into the car, Caraline began saying, "We need Daddy. I just know he'd be able to catch him so we could feed him and find him a home." She and the boys began to pray that the doggy would be close to the place where we last saw him, be safe and that he wouldn't be afraid of us.

We did call the dog catcher and report where we had seen the little guy. He said there hadn't been any reports of a stray in that area. I gave him our number. I told him to call me if a dog matching this one's description came in. I'd like to help him find a home.

Once back home, the kids told Daddy the story, gathered a bunch of dog food and a leash. Then, off we headed (with Daddy!) to try to save the little guy - or at least leave a meal for him.

When we neared the spot where we first saw him, we noticed another car stopped on the side of the road with their hazard lights on. We just knew the doggy must be in the area again. Sure enough another nice person was trying to help the pup, too. The doggy ran from this man, too.

Daddy and I called for him and looked around for a few minutes but couldn't find him. We decided to go ahead and leave the food on an old blue bin lid that we found under the leaves. At least we can rest easier knowing the little guy will have a full tummy.

 Photo: Trying to catch a beautiful stray dog. No luck, but at least giving him a meal-

We will make another trip out there tomorrow to leave food. We won't be able to do it everyday - it's not at all convenient for us, but we'll do it as we can.

I am glad my little ones and husband have just as tender a heart as I do for animals.


We went back the next day as planned. I took another pint of dog food to the same place - about 30 feet from the highway and in the woods for our little friend. He was no where to be found, and to my dismay the dog food from the previous afternoon remained untouched.

I decided to drive three miles over to the vet clinic where we adopted our Sandy back in Jan. Just to see if perhaps they had any news. They didn't.

The kids and I agreed to give one last look - farther up the road this time. Then our worst fears for him became reality. We found our little friend passed away in the median. We pulled over, said a few prayers, and cried over him. We were heartbroken. We know this is probably the best outcome for him. He was terribly afraid of humans and being that he is a Pit, he probably wouldn't have been easy to adopt out.... We prayed we would find him. Our prayers were answered. Although not in the way we had hoped. We do at least have closure....

Friday, November 15, 2013

Weekly Highlights ~ Singing Blessings Over Our Children, Favorite and Not So Favorite Homeschool Resources AND an Award!

Well, it's official. Since my last posting I turned in my resignation to the Schoolhouse Review Crew. It's been a wonderful year and a half of reviewing educational resources for the Crew. The benefits have greatly blessed our family. It was time for a break though. My little ones have been asking for more Mommy time. Although I worked hard to make sure I blogged mostly when they were asleep, there were many occasions I needed to work on posts during the evenings, too. I am thankful that we can take a break for a season and I can focus completely on being mommy.

I haven't posted an update on what's going on with us in nearly three weeks. I needed a little time to decompress, too. So, here we go:


Ryan completed his second (blue) Sparks' book two weeks ago and received his Blue Sparky Award! I am so proud of him. He worked double time to complete his book super early. You see, we did Awana when our oldest was in preschool. We moved and didn't start back to Awana until last year, after finding our new church home. Ryan was first grade at that time and brand new to Awana.

All new Sparkies start in the first Sparky book (green). I didn't realize that to work his way through all of Sparks, he would need to finish three books in two years. Instead of the normal three books in three years. So, now we are on a good, accelerated pace to finish his last (red) Sparks book before club ends in May. It will be tough, but my little guy can do it! 

A Musical Guest at our Homeschool Co-op:

Mr. John, as he was called that day shared a few songs with us, gave a short devotional, shared with us a little about his family's adoption journey (link is to a youtube video) and sang blessings over our children (and for the grownups, too). It was absolutely touching.  Here is Mr. John performing that song.


Do you sing blessings, which are essentially prayers over your children? I had never really thought of singing them before, nor had I ever heard this song Bless Us and Keep Us until yesterday.  

Did you know God sings over us?

 The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. Zephaniah 3:17 (KJV)

*update- My friend Amy @ A Journey of Purpose is also in our co-op. We both teach the three year olds. I teach one hour and she teaches the other. She found this great article explaining how to bless our children

**And here is another article that speaks to my heart even more clearly about blessing our children.

 It was also dress up day at Co-op, and Caraline lead all of us in the Pledge to the Bible:

Jonathan Jaguar and Tigger
Favorite, not so Favorite, and New-to-Us Homeschool Resources:
  • Caraline and Ryan continue to love Homeschool Spanish Academy and Senora Rosa. She makes class interesting and memorable for them. In case you've never heard of HSA, the lessons are over Skype once a week for 25 minutes. Throughout the week I review the PDF pages that were taught by Senora Rosa. I can be a good tutor because I sit in on their lessons! This is one of our favorite Schoolhouse Review Crew resources!
  •  Caraline (4th grade) confessed (I knew it was coming.) First Language Lessons was becoming tedious and boring. She recognizes that she's learning great things, but the format is dry and repetitious ~ to her. Thankfully, a friend that homeschooled her two children through highschool blessed us two weeks ago with quite a few of her favorite resources for Caraline's age, including The Writer's Jungle - something I'd never heard of before. While poking around on the website I found a free sample of  The Arrow, a digital, literature based grammar/language arts program! It seems to be the breath of fresh air we need! We will continue using Daily Grams, which she loves and pair that with The Arrow and ideas from The Writer's Jungle.
  • Another friend from our co-op is letting us borrow IEW's Student Writing Intensive A. Caraline is loving this DVD based program. I'm not using the writing practices - that would make this a full, year long program. I am using the DVD just as a seminar, and it is working out great! It is a wonderful change of pace, and the teaching is isn't dry or boring!
  • Another friend is letting us sample All About Reading, Level 1 (aff) for our Kindergartner . I've gone over the first three lessons in AAR 1 with Jonathan and I really like the format. I've found that the lessons are long, but broken up the teaching is great! I am also leaving out the student workbook sheets. So far, I believe review on the white board is plenty. As we complete more lessons, the worksheets may become necessary. I'll keep evaluating that one.
  • Positive Action Curriculum's, Enjoying God's Gifts is another curriculum we are sampling (and had never heard of) from our friend, Shannon. I am loving it. The kids are loving it. I might be asking for level 2 for Christmas. I could never do three levels with the kids, but finding a good middle ground to go through with my K, 2nd and 4th grader would be great!

And a few pictures from the past couple of weeks that I haven't blogged:

Top Left: Sir Jonathan caught a toad at a neighbor's house on Halloween. It made his night - pee and all. Thankfully, the next door neighbor let us in for a good hand washing and an old plastic bowl to keep him in. Later that night Mr. Toad was released into our backyard.

Top Right: We visited family this past weekend. It's nice to be able to take school with us on the road.

Bottom Left: Caraline and I have matching Sunday shoes!

Bottom Right: Paw Paw has crafted the finest chicken coop I've ever seen. The kids enjoyed playing chicken (Jon) and farmers (Care and Ry). I heard a lot of "little feller" from the kids. I laughed and laughed at them. Hopefully, there will be chickens the next time we visit and come spring we can help harvest the eggs. ~ My daughter picked this picture of the coop to post because Sophie, the little dog is in it. They adore each other.

and two more...

of the kids helping thin the forest at Maw Maw and Paw Paw's. They had the best time figuring out which pines were dead and using their muscles to push them over.

We are sharing our Weekly Highlights with our friends at Homegrown Learners for Collage Friday and Weird, Unsocialized Homeschooler's Weekly Wrap-up.

~ Hope

Monday, November 11, 2013

At Home In Dogwood Mudhole ~ Vol. 1: Nothing That Eats ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review

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I was drawn to At Home In Dogwood Mudhole because of my own vicarious dreams of living the agrarian life with our family. My husband was raised on a family pig farm in a teeny tiny town in north west Alabama. (A town that is actually mentioned in this book!) The animals are long gone, but the land that he once farmed is loved by our little ones. In fact, as I am writing this our children and their grandpa are exploring the acres of land my husband helped farm as a boy. 

What is At Home In Dogwood Mudhole?

Franklin Sanders from At Home in Dogwood Mudhole has authored a 379 page book telling his story of trying to attain his dream of an agrarian way of life for his southern family, his travels around the south, views on his run in with the IRS and subsequent imprisonment, further disagreements with our government, lots of southern history and so much more. 

This book was put together from a series of personal letters written over seventeen years, from 1995 to 2002, by Mr. Sanders for his newsletter The Moneychanger. So, it doesn't read fluently like a novel but for me the somewhat choppy format is charming and not a distraction.

Reading At Home in Dogwood Mudhole, Vol 1: Nothing That Eats is like hearing stories - ranging from hilarious to serious, being told over my grandma's kitchen table after a Sunday dinner. I've enjoyed reading about Mr. Sanders, his life, his take on life and faith, and the power of prayer. Many of the towns he and his family visit (with the names and addresses of businesses and restaurants they patronized and loved along the way included) sprinkled in with lessons from history - southern and family and its importance, all while striving to preserve family. And the all too funny and charming James Herriot-like stories of their family pets and antics with the farm animals. I laughed out loud so many times reading Mr. Sanders's accounts and interpretations of life. 

I especially enjoy the snippets that read like a devotional. He shares useful life and faith lessons throughout. On page 11, while talking about the importance of not being to "busy" which according to Mr. Sanders is usually a term for "misplaced priorities" he quotes a sign on a building in Memphis which I love: "No other success can compensate for failure in the home." 

And farther down the page Mr. Sanders writes this:
Time robs us too quickly of those tender years when wife and children need our presence and love. Yes, I know it's not tender when you've been broiling in the car for three hours and fighting kicks up in the backseat, or when you leave one behind in the gas station. But underneath plays a hope that they will remember all this and delight.
So, I began reading this book thinking it would be a how to manual for the agrarian lifestyle; it's not really. But I have thoroughly enjoyed reading At Home In Dogwood Mudhole. It's a fun read, a breath of honest fresh air full of God honoring principles and full of rich southern history. I feel like I know the Sanders family, and I look forward to reading the next two volumes as they are released. 


 At Home in Dogwood Mudhole: Nothing That Eats is available in paperback (what we reviewed) for $22.95, and Kindle/ePub/PDF for $16.95. Be sure to download the sample chapter, "Pig Persuader."  In my opinion, this book is most appropriate for the high school student or adult reader. 
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And, in case you are wondering about my husband's teeny tiny hometown and the barbeque joint that's mentioned in a chapter all their own, here are a couple of pictures from our last visit (which happened to be the weekend I wrote this review). Unfortunately, Slick Lizard Smokehouse, both the Jasper (the one Mr. Sanders visited) and the Nauvoo locations, have been closed for a few years now.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Apologia Chemistry and Physics ~ Schoolhouse Review Crew

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Apologia Educational Ministries has been a staple in our Christian homeschool for years. One of our favorite resources for science is their Young Explorer Series written by Jeannie Fulbright. The newest publication in this series is Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics. I have been anxiously awaiting its release since first finding out it was in the works about a year ago. And I will go ahead and tell you, reviewing this curriculum along with the upper and junior notebooking journals with my children has been awesome!

I would describe our homeschool as one with a heavy Charlotte Mason influence, with a touch of classical, and a bit of unschooling. We enjoy hands on exploration, reading good books, and finding God in everything we do. Apologia Educational Ministries meets our need for excellent science, written as a living book resource, that points to Jesus and includes many hands on experiments.

 So, just to make this extra clear - the textbook (278 pages) doesn't read like a textbook at all. It reads like a good friend sharing their understanding and passion for chemistry and physics in a way that's easy to follow and extremely interesting to read. We especially love all of the color photographs sprinkled liberally throughout and the plethora of fun experiments.

Notebooking Journals:
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Apologia offers two notebooking journal options for Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics.  One is geared towards younger students, roughly second grade and younger - ones that aren't writing a lot yet. The other is recommended for students who are ready to take notes, who have mastered handwriting and enjoy more challenging activities - such as larger vocabulary crossword puzzles.

I've found four differences in the two journals:
  •  two coloring pages per lesson are included in the junior journal
  •  the vocabulary crossword puzzles are smaller in the junior journal
  • vocabulary is reinforced in different ways - for example with lapbooking cut and past elements or match up activities, and not always a crossword puzzle in the junior journal (answers to all are provided in the back of both journals)
  •  and the What Do You Remember? questions that are asked at the end of each lesson in the textbook are printed in the upper journal with space to write each answer. (Answers are provided in the textbook.)
How We Are Using The Notebooking Journals:

I've been using the junior journal with a kindergartner and a second grader. The coloring pages and lapbook elements are definitely hits with my little guys. My kindergartner isn't writing much at this point, so I've gone back and forth with how much I want him to fill out versus how much I should write for him. My conclusion is this: I will have him work on the coloring pages, as I read the text and the lapbook cut and paste elements that he enjoys so much with his siblings. We will orally answer the crossword puzzles and vocabulary elements, the project pages, and the fascinating facts pages. I am certain we will come back to this study in the next few years - at that point, I will have him fill in the missing parts in his journal. I hope it will be like revisiting an old friend.

My second grader is coming along with his handwriting. He is meticulous with every stroke, and it can take him a while to do his copy work, especially when he gets fancy.  For this reason, I am having him do the fascination facts and the projects pages as narration only. He is completing the coloring pages, the crosswords and the copy work pages. When we revisit this study in a few years, he will most certainly be ready for the upper notebooking journal.


Our fourth grader is using the upper notebooking journal. She is taking great notes (yeah!) and doing well with the crossword puzzles. Like her brothers, she enjoys the lapbooking elements, too. In addition, she has confided in me more than once that she would love to have the coloring pages in her journal, too. Comparing the two, the upper journal is the best fit for her. Even though, to her dismay, there are no coloring pages. (I wonder if the nice folks at Apologia could one day offer the coloring pages as a download?) The larger vocabulary crosswords and having the What Do You Remember? questions in the journal are very much age appropriate for her.

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Another nice bonus in both notebooking journals are the extra Test It Out experiments and the book suggestions and field trip notebooking pages. The upper journal has twenty-five Final Review Questions on page 197. I haven't found these questions in the textbook - I don't think they are there. The answers to the review questions are in the upper journal on page 202.

Pulling It All Together: Experiments!

I love how the textbook introduces a concept or vocabulary word and often offers a Try This section of experiments - typically more than one, for a concept. Each experiment we've tried has had clear instructions and the end result has worked as promised.

There is a Supply List beginning on page 255 of the textbook. Most of the items are things you'll find around the house like salt, rocks, dish soap, honey, and food coloring. The only items I had to buy for lessons one and two were a turkey baster, Alka Seltzer tablets, Epsom salt and Pop Rocks candy.

The experiments are always a hit with my little ones. This is the part they most look forward to. Here is a sampling of our photos from the experiments in Lesson 1.

 This one is kind of funny. We learned how to measure the volume of our rock - just like Archimedes and about displacing water, too. The last rock we tried (pictured) was a little uh hum big and to this day is still stuck in this same position.

Next, we had fun learning about density by making an egg float in salt water.
 We learned even more about density by watching how different liquids layer and placing different objects into the liquids to see which layer they would float in. (The directions called for a full cup of each liquid, I used a half a cup of everything since I was low on both rubbing alcohol and maple syrup.)
 Our daughter's beads floated in the center of the vegetable oil layer. Those two bright yellow dots between the blue and green layers are the beads. (This picture was taken after walking a few steps to dump the experiment in the back of our yard - so things swished around a bit.)
Below was another fun density experiment. We used four different food colorings, the same amount of water and varying amounts of salt in four plastic cups. Our rainbow results were so fun. Each had their own clear straw and did this experiment over and over again. *Clear straws can be found at Chick-fil-A and Jersey Mike's Subs.

We also tested the buoyancy of different objects.

Field Trip:

We took a family field trip to Stone Mountain Park and explored lots of different types of rocks, as suggested in our text and climbed to the top of a very special granite one, too.

Final Thoughts:

So, we have thoroughly enjoyed our time reviewing Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics. We will certainly continue to use this curriculum. It is so fun and easy to understand! Even my kindergartner is grasping many of the vocabulary words and concepts thanks to the many experiments provided.


Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics textbook (for grades K- 6th) ~ $39.

Chemistry and Physics Notebooking Journal and Junior Chemistry and Physics Notebooking Journal for Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics ~ $24 each

Make sure to download the samples found on the links above! I know you will fall in love just as we have!


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A bully, an icy creek, and a big giveaway from Elisha Press

 Elisha Press, a publisher of Christian novels particularly suitable for homeschool families, is launching a new title this week. Julie: The Redemption Of The Backyard Bully is an all-new spinoff on The Reunion by Rachael McIntire. Both books are recommended as read-aloud material for the whole family. Solo readers of Julie should be twelve or older.

Fans of The Reunion may remember Julie Greene, the Gladstones' troublesome neighbor who almost drowned in the creek. This new novel - longer and illustrated - tells Julie's story before and after that incident, through the now-aging eyes of "Grandma" Greene. How can a sullen bully learn to be a selfless friend? How can a jealous young lady learn to be grateful and contented no matter what life brings? What does it mean to follow Jesus in the practical work and play of daily life? All this and more is waiting for you within the pages of Julie.

Author Rachael McIntire says that many elements of Julie are based on incidents from her own life. Growing up in the 1960's, she experienced firsthand the challenges of that tumultuous time. Though the sixties are now long gone, the principles of God remain the same eternally. It is her hope that some of these principles may penetrate young hearts and minds through the story of the backyard bully and her redemption.

As part of their launch event, Elisha Press is giving away one autographed copy of Julie every day this week. By entering once, you'll have a chance to win each time. This is a 183-page softcover book with 19 black-and-white illustrations like the example shown here.

The sooner you enter the giveaway, the better chance you have to win - so don't wait! Click here or enter below and put in your email address to sign up.

Disclaimer: Although it was not in exchange for this post, we were given a digital copy of Julie.