Monday, May 30, 2011

Interesting Links

Since we've been gone to the Homeschool Conference and are still getting settled back here at home, here are some interesting links for you to check out for the holiday weekend!

Extraordinary dams built to save homes in Mississippi

15 fun and frugal ideas for the summer (Thanks to Keeper of the Home)

Teaching Children to Pray (Thanks to the Gospel Coalition)

Teaching your Daughter to make Cinnamon Rolls (Thanks to Homegrown Mom)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Gratitude for Saturday, May 28th, 2011

#131: Time with good friends over pizza
#132: Seeing my hubby learning and growing
#133: Spits and gurgles from
#134: Leapster
#135: The discovery of chess
#136: YouTube documentaries on Rembrandt
#137: One of our new favorite restaurants - Red Bowl Asian Bistro
#138: The start of summer
#139: Cuddles with my oldest
#140: Little Lego builders

Read about the original One Thousand Gifts list from Ann Voskamp HERE.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Gratitude for Sat, May 21st

Thank you, Lord, today for ...

#121: Encouragement from my dear sweet hubby
#122: Legos
#123: Homemade tomato soup
#124: Crockpots
#125: Land's End swimsuits for little girls - TOO CUTE!
#126: Rolling babies
#127: Unleashing the little mermaid inside my girl
#128: Plans and hopes for a new school year
#129: New mercies (Lamentations 3:22-23)
#130: First babbles from a sweet little voice

I Thess 5:18 (ESV)
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Read about the original One Thousand Gifts list from Ann Voskamp HERE.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Frugal Friday: Dave Ramsey

We are so thankful to have discovered Dave Ramsey. He is a financial advisor who is honest, to the point, and wise. We took Financial Peace about 5 years ago at our church and it dramatically changed the way that we look at our finances. And not only just ours, but our extended families' as well.

You can download Dave Ramsey's radio show through Itunes or find him on the radio in your local area. It will change your life!

Here are the baby steps that Dave teaches to "change your family tree":

Baby Step 1
Baby Step 1

$1,000 to start an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is for those unexpected events in life that you can’t plan for: the loss of a job, an unexpected pregnancy, a faulty car transmission, and the list goes on and on. It’s not a matter of if these events will happen; it’s simply a matter of when they will happen. Learn more
Baby Step 2
Baby Step 2

Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball

List your debts, excluding the house, in order. The smallest balance should be your number one priority. Don’t worry about interest rates unless two debts have similar payoffs. If that’s the case, then list the higher interest rate debt first. Learn more
Baby Step 3
Baby Step 3

3 to 6 months of expenses in savings

Once you complete the first two baby steps, you will have built serious momentum. But don’t start throwing all your “extra” money into investments quite yet. It’s time to build your full emergency fund. Learn more
Baby Step 4
Baby Step 4

Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement

When you reach this step, you’ll have no payments—except the house—and a fully funded emergency fund. Now it’s time to get serious about building wealth. Learn more
Baby Step 5
Baby Step 5

College funding for children

By this point, you should have already started Baby Step 4—investing 15% of your income—before saving for college. Whether you are saving for you or your child to go to college, you need to start now. Learn more
Baby Step 6
Baby Step 6

Pay off home early

Now it’s time to begin chunking all of your extra money toward the mortgage. You are getting closer to realizing the dream of a life with no house payments. Learn more
Baby Step 7
Baby Step 7

Build wealth and give!

It’s time to build wealth and give like never before. Leave an inheritance for future generations, and bless others now with your excess. It's really the only way to live! Learn more

What do we do differently?
We try to "live like no one else so that (in the future) we can live like no one else" (D.R.). Our focus is on purposeful spending and directing of our money now so that we can live purposefully in the future.

On a daily basis, we avoid using credit cards. We have cancelled many that we had (even though they had no balances). We are actively trying to pay off what we have left.

We do crazy things like ...
pack lunches
get water instead of sodas/tea when eating out
Have treats at home instead of going out
Limit gifts for ourselves and our children
Have garage sales
Say "no" to ourselves

Some things that we have learned:

Keep doing the right thing over and over to achieve your desired results.
Right choices must be made daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.
Stuff, many times, is a curse. We are happier with less.

Some other great resources we use or have used:

Crown Financial Ministries

Crown Mvelopes - online budgeting software

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Homeschool: Why Conferences are great


This next week we will be heading as a family to the North Carolinians for Home Education Conference in Winston-Salem.

Why should you go to a conference?

Anyone who has homeschooled through a year knows that there are certain times and points when you need to remember why you homeschool. There are times when you need some new resources to overcome the obstacles. You need to know where to turn. You need to know that your situation is not unique and impossible.

Conferences give you just those things. There are speakers that help you fine tune your purpose and goals for schooling. There are "how-to" seminars that teach you the mechanics of writing, math, history, etc.
There are also classes on running your house in the midst of schooling, maintaining your marriage, and shepherding your child's heart.

There are vendors that have resources that will jump start your kids. Speakers and vendors come from around the country to you. You can see products in person and purchase them, many times at a discount.
You can talk with representatives from the vendors that are knowledgeable about their material and using it.
You can find fun "extras" that make learning exciting and engaging.

Time to reflect on your year - the success and failure. Time to renew your vision and plan it out for the following year. Time to rest.

Conference is always a great time to meet up with other families who homeschool. There is time to go to dinner, sit and chat, and get to know them better. At our state-wide conference, there are even activities for children including a sports and chess competitions, as well as a talent show and graduation.

Some favorite vendors from conferences past:
Doorposts - character training material for children
Lamplighter Books - classic books for your family
Sonlight Books - the particular curriculum that we use
Miller Pads & Paper - great prices on the basics
Artistic Pursuits - art curriculum
Simply Charlotte Mason - Charlotte Mason resources
Vision Forum - books and products for purposeful living/teaching
Well Planned Day - the organizer that we use for school
YWAM books - missionary books and resources

Some favorite speakers from conferences past:
Norm Wakefield - pastor, father, homeschooler who speaks on purposeful relationships in light of the Cross
Jennifer Schmidt  - mother, Blogger who speaks on frugal living
Sonya Schafer - Charlotte Mason writer and speaker, homeschooler
Jim Weiss - artist who narrates fabulous stories for children

If you are outside of our area, here is a link to a list of homeschool conferences across the US.

Here is the link for the NCHE Conference.

Monday, May 16, 2011

In need of a Mini-Retreat?

Have you ever wanted to go to a great national conference, but can't find the time? or the money?

Some of the most memorable moments for me have been listening to the great speakers and teachers of our day and age. They have changed my faith and my understanding of walking out the Christian life.

Well, thanks to the Internet, now you can go and enjoy the best speakers from the comfort of your own home.

No travel! 

No hurry - listen as you can!

No cost!
Here are just a few of the great links out there! Many of these include audio and video for the main speakers and break-out seminars!

True Woman - Fort Worth 2010 featuring Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Crawford Lorritts, Kay Arthur, and Mary Kassian

True Woman - Chattanooga 2010 featuring Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Voddie Baucham, and Jennifer Rothschild

Desiring God National Conference 2010 featuring John Piper, Francis Chan, Tullian Tchividjian, and R.C. Sproul

In fact, here is the link for every single Desiring God conference (of any type) for the past 17 years right HERE.

Ready for a Mommy time out? 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Gratitude for Saturday, May 14th

#111: Growing Gerbers and geraniums
#112: Fresh Produce in the Kitchen (Thanks to Lee's Produce!)
#113: Everybody loves Asparagus!
#114: Time with our precious relatives
#115: Safe travels back and forth
#116: Time with young cousins
#117: Laundry done while on vacation
#118: Great memories of time together at the zoo
#119: Wonderful Mother/Daughter Tea with AHG
#120: Hopes for the summer

Read about the original One Thousand Gifts list from Ann Voskamp HERE.

Monday, May 9, 2011

10 Daily Essentials from Dr.Oz

Still getting things back in order from our vacation ... but I wanted to share something helpful that I ran across. These steps from Dr.Oz are so simple that everyone can do it!

Here's the original link for the article from Dr.Oz's website.

To make life simpler, Dr. Oz has whittled down his top 10 daily essentials, starting at number 10 and building toward the single most important thing you need to do on a daily basis to achieve optimal health.

Dr. Oz’s Top 10 Daily Essentials

10. Eat a Hard-boiled Egg
Eggs are protein powerhouses that provide 13% of your daily protein and only 4% of your daily calories. These excellent, inexpensive protein sources fight frailty. Rich in choline, they also reduce inflammation in the brain, which has been linked to Alzheimer’s. Cook up a week’s worth in advance and take them with you on the go. If you’re not a fan of hard-boiled eggs, eat one a day scrambled, poached or any other way you like it.

9. Check Your Poop
First, your poop should never appear white. If this occurs, it could mean lack of bile, indicating a blockage or a problem with absorption. Second, keep in mind that the range for bowel movement occurrence is very broad – anywhere from 3 times a week to multiple times a day is considered normal.

8. Make Vegetables Half of Every Single Meal
Vegetables are chockfull of vital nutrients and most of us do not get enough of them. Make them half of every single meal. Get your veggies in the morning by tossing them into an omelet. At lunch and dinner, eat more veggie-based salads and soups; divide your plate into two halves with your main course, say chicken or fish, taking up one side and vegetables the other. Click here for more suggestions on getting more vegetables into each of your meals.

7. Take Half Multivitamin in the Morning and the Other Half at Night
A multivitamin serves as an insurance policy, guaranteeing your body gets everything it needs. However, your body can’t absorb all these nutrients at once, and you wind up eliminating a portion of them via your urine or bowel movements. To maximize absorption, split your multivitamin in two and take half in the morning and half in the evening. Better yet, try and purchase a brand that offers a daily dosage in various pills. Click here for Dr. Oz's Ultimate Supplement Checklist.

6:  Supplement With a Bone-Boosting Cocktail
To protect your bones, a multivitamin is not enough. You need a bone-boosting cocktail comprised of:
  • Vitamin D3, 1000 IU
  • Calcium, 600 mg
  • Magnesium, 400 mg
Today, most drugstores now sell this combination all in one pill, and here’s why you need all three combined: Vitamin D aids calcium absorption to keep bones strong. Magnesium also counteracts blood vessel constriction and constipation caused by calcium. Click here for Dr. Oz's Bone-Boosting Plan.

5. Get at Least 7 Hours of Sleep
A brand new study shows that people who don’t get enough sleep are not as sharp the next day and most alarmingly, they don’t even realize it. Here are 4 ways to help you sleep better and get to sleeper faster:
  • Read a book before bed. Reading acts as a soothing balm that helps you fall asleep.
  • Instead of an overhead light, which stimulates the brain to wake up, use a reading light.
  • Turn your alarm clock away from view so it won’t stimulate the brain’s pineal gland, which senses light.
  • Use an eye mask to keep light out and increase sleep quality.
Click here for a list of foods that help you snooze. For more help on getting the quality sleep you deserve, take the Ultimate Sleep Challenge

4. Have Sex
You already know that a healthy sex life with your partner helps you stay bonded and also provides a good workout. Now a new study shows that sex is also good for your brain, leading to improved interconnections in the brain and stress reduction.

3.Breathe and Stretch for 5 Minutes
Five minutes of breathing and stretching each day creates a powerful stress buster that can add years to your life. When you wake up in the morning, try the “hippie” stretch: Reach down and try to touch your toes. Relax your hips and let your head go loose. Now alternate relaxing your left and right knees and walk around a bit. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Five minutes later, you’re loosened up and good to go. For Dr. Oz's 7-Minute Workout, click here.

2. Eliminate Simple Sugars
Simple sugars are the reason behind America’s obesity epidemic. If it’s white or processed, you need to eliminate it. In addition, practice reading labels and avoid products containing “hidden sugars” such as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), evaporated cane juice and brown rice sugar. For a list of the other foods you should elimate, click here.

1. Sit Less, Move More
Groundbreaking research shows that for every hour a day you spend sitting, your risk of death increases by 11%. Even small movements throughout the day, such as fidgeting, can add up to major health benefits. Dr. Oz recommends getting 10,000 steps a day. To do this, invest in a pedometer so you can keep track of each step you make toward optimal health.
Which step do you want to work on?