The Geneva Bible Contest has ended and we have a winner! Through Random.org number 7 was chosen. I've tried to copy the True Random Number Generator, but I'm not able to :(

But counting down, Blossom is the winner. Congratulations!!! I hope you like it. We do :)

Thank you for all that participated. Look for my next contest soon.

Art appreciation is often thought of as "you either love it or..." you don't. I believe that's because children are not given the opportunity to learn art using their own creative style and just have fun with it. Now of course, in preschool or kindergarten, children do get to have fun with art, but are often just drawing without a purpose, or obvious purpose, anyways. Teaching children the basics about art and allowing their own creative juices to flow, will encourage them to enjoy art throughout their lives. 

One way to do this is to use See The Light's Art Class. This 9 volume DVD series has 36 complete step-by-step lessons taught by Master Artist Pat Knepley. We were given the opportunity to review the first volume of this set as members of the TOS Crew. I have to say, I'm impressed. Throughout each lesson, scripture is used and the student learns Bible truths as well as art basics. Pat Knepley is your in-home art teacher and gears her lessons towards children ages 6-10, although older children and adults are sure to learn, too. Here's a quick video by Pat that discusses the class.
What is See The Light Art Class? As I wrote above, this is a 9 volume DVD series that is geared for children 6-10yrs. old and teaches art skills while being infused with scripture. The first lesson of volume 1 discusses the very basics: drawing tools, holding a pencil correctly, having fun. Pat Knepley's uplifting personality is warm and friendly, yet not over the top. Her smile is contagious and her love for art and The Lord is evident. Each of the 36 lessons is approximately 15 minutes, and the student is encouraged to practice before the next lesson. This curriculum could be used as a year long program. The tools needed are your basic art tools: pencil, charcoal pencil, crayons, erasers, paper. Volume 1 contains: 
Lesson I: Tools Of The Trade - learn how to create your toolkit
Lesson II: It All Starts With A Line - learn about line quality and differences
Lesson III: Contours & Composition - synchronize your eyes and hands
Lesson IV: Draw What You See - use a simple object and put your skills to the test
Bonus: Chalk-It-Easy Chalk Lesson - by Gloria Kohlmann

And, You can get this volume FREE

What We Thought: I liked this program. Pat Knepley's love for art and The Creator, can bring a whole new meaning to your art lessons. I like my children to be fully surrounded by The Lord's word and Will, and Pat's matter-of-fact use of the scripture simply allows them to realize even more that it should be everywhere. She doesn't try to spice it up, just 100% uses it in her lesson as though it just naturally goes there, and it does :)

The lessons are basic, but it is geared for 6-10yo. My son just turned 11 and my daughter is 15. It is not overwhelmingly simple and teaches art well.

How To Purchase: The 9 volume DVD set can be purchased for $99. There is an online version that is $10/month and offers approximately 4 lessons a month. You can read more here. And, of course, you can try the set by getting Volume 1 for free.

You can read more reviews from my fellow crew mates here.

And remember: I received this product free as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew with sole purpose to provide an honest review after using the product. For more information on this, please see my disclaimer
Yesterday I discussed homeschooling, testing, and the stress that testing can cause. The one thing I did not talk about was the type of testing you can use and where to get them. So that's what I'm going to do today.

Depending on the state you live in and your local school district, testing can be done at home or in an unbiased monitored setting. Testing can be done at any time during the school year, too. Some states allow evaluations to be done, instead of an actual test. But this is usually done during the elementary years and is alternated with testing. If you choose to have an evaluation done, you will need to find someone in your area that offers this service. Your local support group will typically have this information. 

With testing, you have to decide what type of test you want your children to take. There are timed and not timed, multiple choice and fill in the blank, full battery or partial. Research will be your friend. You know your child best so trust your own judgement. These are a few things you'll need to take into consideration when researching:
* Your child's learning style
* His testing skills
* His stress level when testing
* Her ability to test while timed
* Reading & Writing level
* Your ability to administer without helping
* Your state's requirements
In our home, I started testing my oldest with the Hewitt PASS test. It covers math, language arts, & reading. It is a non-timed, standardized test. It is administered by me and the score sheet is sent to Hewitt where they grade and send the results back to me. The results indicate a national and homeschooled percentile, as well as a raw score and a RIT score.The PASS test can be used for students in Grades 3-8 and is given within your own home. It was designed for parents to administer to help reduce testing stress that some students have. As homeschoolers, our children are used to being at home for all of their work, unless it's a co-op class. Therefore, all testing is done at home and untimed. We chose the PASS test specifically for this reason. Though our DD has always performed extremely well academically, testing does cause trepidation for her. We did not want her to be negatively affected by a timed test. The PASS is also multiple choice, which works well, too. We continued the PASS test through 8th grade and then had to switch because the PASS is only up to 8th. Our DS now uses it and will continue through. 

For our DD now, we use the California Achievement Test (CAT) 1970 version. This is a timed test. The CAT tests basic skills in math, reading, and language arts and is nationally recognized. You can also receive a customized curriculum recommendation suited to your child's level. This year, it is offered online through Christian Liberty Press. I have chosen to give the 1970 version rather than a full battery mostly because I know that my DD knows social studies/science and it is only required of her to be tested in math and language arts/reading. This, again, can be given at home, with the answer sheet sent back to CLP. We then get the results later.

There are also many other testing services you can use. Bob Jones offers testing and evaluations using the IOWA test or Standford Achievement test. BJU also offers learning ability tests to help you identify your child's academic level and learning style. This can be incredibly helpful if you have a struggling learner or are just starting out and want to know where to start. We have never used BJU for testing, but it does look interesting.

Well, I hope this has been a little helpful for you and I pray that you will be able to decide on what's right for your child. Soon the testing will be over for another year and you will have gained insight into your child's skills which will help you choose next years curriculum.

Again, these are the links to the tests I've talked about:
The Hewitt PASS Test
California Achievement Test
and BJUpress for the Standford and IOWA
I hope this offers you a little bit of information that will help you in your search for testing material and I pray that you will be able to decide on what's right for your child. Soon the testing will be over for another year and you will have gained insight into your child's skills which will help you choose next years curriculum.

Until tomorrow...Take care. 
Whether you are new to homeschooling or have reached the lifetime achievement award for homeschooling, testing is probably one of those worry provoking subjects. I know it is for me. Though the scores always seem to come out fine, I still get a little nervous when it's time for the yearly testing to occur. I think the biggest reason is that I want my children to have not only learned throughout the year, but have mastered every subject, leaving no room for arguments from the opposing side (ie: the school district, those against homeschooling). I know this is not a reasonable expectation, and I'm pretty sure I don't reflect this attitude towards my children, but I am sure that I probably am a little more tense and that they can tell. That said, I also know that it's not about what anyone else thinks, because I believe this is God's Will for us.

However, even though I've been teaching at home for more than 10 years, I still sometimes find myself doubting the job that I've done. I know that being at home is where my kids belong, and I know that The Lord wants us to homeschool, but I also know that the world is out there, staring at each and every one of us: waiting for the mess up to happen; watching for our children to fail on some level.

Why do I think like this, you  might ask. Maybe because of the different questions that I've had over the years from various people. Or maybe just concern that my kids are learning what they need to be. I am sure that Satan has his hand in the mix; trying to add to my worry. For the Lord says: 

"Be sober, be vigilant;
because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion,
seeking whom he may devour.
Resist him, steadfast in the faith…"
1 Peter 5:8-9

Satan wants us to feel less than God has made us to be. To worry about things that are out of our control so that we will try and pull that control from The Lord, only giving Satan more control. I have learned that allowing The Lord to have full control of all things, really does make them go smoother. The situation may still not be easy, but I always will have the peace that The Lord graces me with. 

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4: 6-7

Know that The Lord is with you, ALWAYS. And will give peace to those that know Him. "Don't worry for tomorrow", He alone knows what it will bring. 

So back to testing and the worry or concern I talked about. Testing can be burdensome, and stressful, and tense; but remember that The Lord is always with you and your children. Trust Him that He gave you the skills to teach your children and gave your children the ability to learn. Perfection may not be there (nothing is perfect except the love of The Lord & Jesus Christ), but learning is a process so don't try to rush it. Enjoy the ride, enjoy being home with your kids, let them enjoy being home, and He will be with you..

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God,
that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you
1 Peter 5:6-7

God loves each of us. If you trust Him as your Lord and Saviour, He will be with you and give you rest.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matthew 11: 28-30

If you are preparing for annual testing, and are feeling the anxiety that comes along with it, remember these verses. The Lord gave them to us for comfort for He knows what we are faced with at all times. 

Take care and relax...God knew who your children were going to have for a mom & dad. He also knows that they (and you) are right where He wants you to be, at home, teaching all that they need to learn.
Today is my wonderful son's 11th birthday. I know it's cliche, but I just can't believe how fast time has gone by. It seems only yesterday that we found out we were pregnant. So much was going through our minds, but we were happy and excited. We had been wanting a second child but had lost 2 children after our first born and were pretty scared, too. 

But The Lord's strength was upon us and He blessed us more than I can say.

I won't go into all the detail of my pregnancy, 'cause that would be a little wordy :) But I will start at the beginning...his birth day.

I went into labor at just about 9pm on April 16th. I remember very well because DH & I had cleaned out the garage that day and had just sat down in the livingroom to relax after putting DD to bed. I was tired. Then labor started. It was just a little at that time, but the doctor wanted us to get to the hospital since I was high risk...ugh! We didn't have time to drive DD to the in-laws 45min away, so we called the pet sitter, yes, the pet sitter, lol. Who came over to sit with our sleeping DD until my in-laws arrived. We were so appreciative. Once at the hospital it was just a matter of time. We walked, talked, sat, I cried :( we walked some more. And finally, he came. He was beautiful! 8lbs 3oz, 21"long. We had to stay a few days related to jaundice, but then we made it home. 

Many things have happened over the course of these 11 years, but the most important is that he accepted The Lord the day after he turned 8. Now he is 11 and I pray that his life will glorify The Lord and that The Lord will be with him and protect him always.

I would like to share some pics of him today:
The cake...


His sister had to decorate his face. He had to try and lick it off, lol.


This is the really cool dragon that DD made for DS for his birthday. She did a really nice job and he loves it.


Just a different look to the picture. It kind of highlights the dragon.

He did get a few more things for his birthday, of course. But I think this dragon is one of the best. It was created with love. She took a couple of days to work on it and he loves it. I love my children!!! Thank you, Lord :)
I haven't done the Blog Cruise in recent weeks, and I've missed it :\ I enjoy answering the questions and reading the responses from other members.

This week's question is "If you didn't homeschool, what would you DREAM of doing?"

It's funny, this is not an easy question for me to answer. I have a few thoughts, but nothing I would imagine doing...mostly because I can't imagine NOT homeschooling. My kids are so important to me and I 100% believe that The Lord has homeschooling in His plan for my life. Although I am an RN, that is just a side note to my being a mom and wife: which is the way it's supposed to, right?

So to answer this question, I'm going to kind of look at it from the point of view that when my kids grow up and I no longer homeschool, what would I dream of. In that regard, I might go back to school to get my Nurse Practitioner or Medical School. But I hesitate to make any decision on that, since I don't really know what I want to do when I grow up, lol. I've also thought about becoming a Vet, since I love animals. But then, maybe a marriage/family christian counselor...you see, this is why I don't know what to be when I grow up :)

Really, though, I place my life in The Lord's hands and know that He has a plan for me and wherever He needs me to go, I want to go.

So now thinking about what I would do when I'm not homeschoooling. I would enjoy travelling around. There are so many beautiful places in this world. The Lord's creations are incredible and I would love to see them all. But I would also love to take my kids with us.

I think part of the issue here is that homeschooling has become such a huge part of who I am that I can't imagine myself without it. Not yet anyways. My DS will graduate in a few years and then we shall see. It's not about money or fame, or anything like that. None of that really intrigues me, well maybe a little, lol.

So what about you, what would you dream of doing if you didn't homeschool? Leave me a comment and let me know.

For other TOS members answers to this Blog Cruise question, hop on over to the TOS Cruise Site.

AND DON'T FORGET: If you're interested in winning a copy of the 1599 Geneva Bible, scroll down to the contest and enter. You only have until April 29th :)

Until tomorrow, may The Lord bless you and guide you.
I was going to write this when Heidi  originally posted her Disney Water post back on April 1st. How time flies...Her post is about the various sites of water at the Disney Parks, that's any water, anywhere on land at a Disney property. I love this idea for a post!!!

The first thought that came to me was from our first trip to WDW in 2004. We had so much f un enjoying all of the sites and characters and everything. But one of the memories that we will never forget is when we were at MGM Studios (now Hollywood Studies) on the Back Lot Tour. There was a section that volunteers could participate in a "movie shot" and my husband, the non-participatory individual that he was :) , raised his hand at our kid's request. Now he has so much fun participating, but that's another post, lol.

So this movie was to take place on a ship. There were 4 people chosen from the audience and each were given a roll to play. My hubby was chosen to be in the engine room of the ship. It all seemed tame, until the ship came under attack by a HUGE WAVE, lol. My DH was supposed to sit in the chair while water rushed into the window. Well he didn't know he was supposed to sit...so he stood up and faced that water head on. It was quite a sight to see. He had fun and didn't get hurt. The employee was impressed he was able to stand through it. The only thing about this adventure that I didn't like was that they didn't make a video of the skit to give to us. We were able to watch the video, though, and if I had been quick enough, I could have recorded it, but I didn't :( . But I do have these pictures.
After the group was walked out, DH was given instructions and then sat as he was supposed to, at first...
But then he gave us the REAL SHOW :)
We do have several other pictures of Disney water, too. But these are my favorites. It was neat that Disney allowed people to participate, but what I liked the most was that my wonderful husband stepped out of his comfort zone and did this. He had fun and, I think, realized it's ok to be goofy (especially at Disney).

Thanks to Heidi for posting this Disney Destination challenge. Until next time...
Hello All. My 30 day challenge took a bit of a break. It seems so many things have occupied my time over the last few weeks. In this time, I have gained several followers, thank you :-) I previously wrote that when I reached 50 followers, I would have a give-away. Well I now have over 50! To celebrate, I am restarting my challenge and am giving away a brand-new copy of the 1599 Geneva Bible

This Bible is pretty neat, IMHO. We just purchased one for ourselves and thought someone else might also enjoy one. It is an exact replica of the one that is claimed to be the edition that the Pilgrims brought to America in 1620. It is "the most widely read and influential English Bible of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries." (americanvision.com)
The 1599 Geneva Bible will be a wonderful addition to your family. This edition is done in a beautiful black bonded soft leather cover, as seen in the picture to the left (it does not have gold gilded edges). The picture below offers an inside look at this remarkable Book. The features of this Bible are:

* Word-for-word accuracy with the 1599 Geneva Bible
* Original Cross References
* Original Study Notes by Reformers
* Old English Glossary
* Modern Spelling & Easy to Read Print
* Free CD-ROM with searchable, printable PDF's of the Geneva Bible, plus the Apocryphal Books & Metrical Psalms.

For more information, you can go to American Vision.

To enter this contest, leave me a comment about what your thoughts are of the Geneva Bible.

For additional entries you can do any of the following and then leave me a separate comment letting me know:
1) Google Friend Me
2) Follow Me on Networked Blogs
3) "Like" my website
4) Follow Me on Twitter
5) Subscribe via RSS Feed
6) Spread the word about the contest

The winner will be chosen randomly on Friday, April 29, 2011 at 12noon EST. So enter before then :) The winner will be notified via email so please be sure your info is correct. I must hear back from the winner within 72 hours or a new winner will be drawn. Thanks for playing!!!

a side note: this give-away is being done because we like the Geneva Bible. When we received our purchased copy, we received one free and are offering it to you.

Today's Wednesday Wonders is dedicated to my Uncle Fritz Matthews. He was a loving man who was a devoted father and husband/companion, and dedicated fireman. He has 6 children (4 daughters and 2 sons & their respective families) that love him dearly and will miss him greatly. He was from a family of 6 children, one of which is my Grandma, "Nana", who will also miss him terribly. He had many great accomplishments in his life: a Korean War vet, a Carpenter, and a Musician; but his service to the North Bay Volunteer Fire Department will not easily be surpassed.

He spent 58 of his 78 years as a volunteer fireman performing various duties. This is an excerpt from his life story: [he was] "an active and lifetime member of North Bay Vol. Fire Dept. for 58 years and also served as Fire Police Captain and Fire District Commissioner, and assistant Chief for over 30 years. He was also a current member of the Oneida Co. Vol. Firemen’s Association, Oneida Co. Vol. Fire Police Association, NYS Vol. Firemen’s Association, and the NYS Firemen’s Association. Fritz was a past member of NYS Fire Chiefs Association, Oneida Co. Fire Chiefs Association, NBFD softball & bowling teams. In 1999 the Charles ‘Fritz’ Matthews award was established to honor the firefighter who responded to the most calls throughout the year. On top of this, Fritz was a well-known vocalist and guitar player with his family band, "Rural Rhythm Ramblers" and later known as "Old Friends Band"." (Rome Sentinel)
The above picture depicts a testament to the dedication he had. The NBVFD gave him a parade, of sorts, and he was able to be a part of it. The truck in the above picture is called the "Stump Jumper" because it can climb over anything. This was Uncle Fritz' truck, the one he drove. You can see the flag covered casket on the back of the truck, with the officers in uniform standing near, as the procession traveled through our small town. Perfectly fitting. 

This is an incredibly sad time for his family, and I pray that they will feel the comfort of The Lord's loving hands, as He lifts them and carries them through. We've all learned from Uncle Fritz one thing or another, and will always have those memories. 

Thank you, Lord, for blessing my life with his.
I'd like to tell you about an interesting website for your 4-7year old. It's called GoGo Kabongo and it's an interactive & fun online playground for kids that will help increase their skills and prepare them for a world of reading. 

We received a membership to GoGo Kabongo as members of the TOS Crew. My students are older than 7 (my youngest is 10), but since my DS's reading is still a little behind, I thought it could help & it certainly couldn't hurt :)

What Is GoGo Kabongo?: It is an online learning environment for preschoolers to about 2nd grade (4-7yrs old). The main goal is to help children develop and increase the skills necessary to read. Kabongo takes a cognitive approach to learning. "Kabongo’s brain-boosting activities were developed by a cognitive psychologist and based in cognitive development research to help kids become more confident readers." (kabongo.com) You can read about cognitive development and why it's important to learning to read on GoGo Kabongo's site. Kabongo helps develop:
Attention and Focus ~ Working Memory
Processing ~ Visualization
Planning ~ Comprehension
How Does It Work?: Kabongo is an online learning site that games and adventures for the younger schoolage child. Upon activating your child's registration, he gets to create his own character avatar (left pic), then he goes to the tree house, once there he can do a few things, one of which is look at the map (middle pic) to decide on a habitat (right pic). 
Each habitat has a choice of 3 games. And each game offers different learning possibilities. One of the nice things about the games, is they advance at your child's pace. As your child learns, the levels increase. The games have fun names, too: Rocket Racer, Photo Safari, Crazy Maze, Desert Dash, Scuba Dude, Robo Bobo, and more. The characters are fun and whimsical.
Both my kids like Karl. He's reminds me of Eeyore in the way he talks, with that slow paced matter of fact thought. 

Another service that Kabongo offers is a progress report that you will receive for each of your children. This gives information on how your child is doing with each of skills and the games.

What We Thought: Overall I think this is a pretty good product for your 4-7 year old child. It's entertaining and educational. DS is above this level (thankfully) since he's 10, but he still had fun playing the games. It does encourage the use of the skills already learned, too. The characters are ok, in my opinion. Though my kids like Karl, he is a little pessimistic, which I don't really like, and Mimi is a little self focused, but ok. We did have a few glitches with the program, but I'm not sure if it was our computer or their programing. This is a Beta program, but I would tend to think it's my system instead. For example, it would occasionally take a very long time to load, or the animations wouldn't work correctly. But this did not occur often and would not deter me from using this again with younger children (than my own).

How To Purchase: You can try GoGo Kabongo for free. But what's so great about Kabongo is that for just $4.95, you can get the additional habitat. For a decent preschool game, you can't go wrong.

For additional reviews, you can go to the TOS Crews site and read many more.

And remember: I received this product free as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew with sole purpose to provide an honest review after using the product. For more information on this, please see my disclaimer