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Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Curiosity Files: A review

Are your kids curious about the bizarre things in God's creation like the Puffer fish, Blue Diamonds, Dung Beetles or Quicksand?

      Have they ever giggled at the name Blue footed Booby?

                           Would they love to know more about Zombie Fire Ants?

If so you can take them on an adventure with Professor Ana Lyze as she and her research “spy” team specialize in the obscure, the abnormal, and the bizarre. 

Sounds like fun huh?

I was given the opportunity to review The Curiosity Files™- Puffer Fish e-book which is part of an amazing series The Curiosity Files produced by The Old School House.

If you are looking for a unit study that can be adapted for various ages, this is a great study.  It is designed for 8 to 13 year olds but I easily adapted it for my 7, 5 and almost 4 year old.  Because it is an e-book you can either print out the whole book (85 pages) or do what I did and print out the parts that I used with the kids.

This unit study covers everything you could ever want to know about puffer fish from how puffer fish puff to how they are prepared as a delicacy in Japanese restaurants!

The authors have done a fantastic job of tying together several subjects to make a complete learning experience for your kids.. and you!!

Here is a peek at some things you will find in this e-book:

  • A Bible study and memory verses
  • Math, history, and geography investigations
  • Literature and suggested book list
  • Writing, spelling, and vocabulary activities
  • Beautiful copywork pages (manuscript and cursive)
  • Science observations, projects, and experiments
  • Discussion questions
  • Art, crafts, drawing, and coloring pages
  • Lapbook and notebook pages
  • Internet resources and video links
  • Complete answer key

When I first opened the book I knew my kids would be interested but I didn't know how much they would LOVE learning about the puffer fish.  We spent about 45 minutes each day during group time reading facts, looking at the internet links included, completing some of the fun worksheet activities and doing some of the crafts.  We only used it for one week but we could have  spent a lot more time and dug much deeper.  After the first day one of the kids said "I wish we could do this all day!"(We will definitely revisit it again in the future.) 

Each section easily kept their attention and it was simple for me to pick the activities that were suitable for their age/ grade level.

I will undoubtedly be exploring the other titles in the series to work into our school year whenever we need to add some excitement to our normal routine!  They would even be great for summer activities for those of you who are not homeschooling.

The studies are very affordable, offering 9 downloadable e-books in a bundle for $46 ($49 on CD) or or separately from $1 to $6.95 per study.  They also have a Facebook page where you can connect with other families using the studies, ask questions and be informed of new titles added.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Disclosure: I was given this product for review purposes only. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Heart & Home Makeover

Have I ever mentioned that I.HATE.TO.CLEAN?

I really do.. I'd rather do anything else than housework.

I LOVE my surroundings to be neat, tidy, clean, organised... I just wished someone else could do it for me!!

Keeping up with the house is truly the most challenging part of my day but I know that my life runs better when my house is not out of control, or as Flylady puts it, in CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome!!)

It is also a way for me to honour God by serving my family. And with my journey to INTENTIONALITY this year, I am adding housekeeping to the list.

I have been asking myself why this is such a struggle.  

I am convinced that I am not alone in this when I look around and see so many books, websites, and other resources aimed to help people to clean, declutter and organize.

For me, I know how to clean, and organize, my challenge is being motivated to do so. I always read these self help resources and say yeah, yeah I know all of this, I just need help putting it into practice.

This e-book caught my attention the other day:

Here's what the author has to say about the book:

        "I am not a natural when it comes to cleaning. In fact, sometimes I think my DNA is allergic to it! However, I know that if I am to care for my home, and more importantly my family, I need to persevere in creating a clean, peaceful home environment (not a perfect one!).
31 Days to Clean is about the “why” and the vision and the heart for taking care of our domains. Each day I encourage you with some thoughts and ideas, and then we put those ideas to action."

Here are what some others are saying about the book:

“This book has already given me the push that I needed to clean my house not only for my family and myself, but for reasons beyond that. I love that there are small do-able tasks each day to clean but also a task to give inspiration to keeping a clean house. Love everything I have read!!! Thank you to Sarah Mae for such an amazing resource. I will be giving this book to each of my girls as they move out, so that they will be blessed with this great book as well!”

“What do you think of when you consider doing laundry, washing dishes, and cleaning the dreaded bathroom? Are you discouraged? Do you feel overwhelmed? I have to say I feel that way … often. In all my live-long days I haven’t seen my home as a ministry. Can I serve Jesus and others as I clean my home? Sarah Mae proves I can. As a wife, mom, mother-in-law and mentor to teenage moms I’m going to cherish this book and share what I learned. Cleaning is more than just fighting germs. It can be a ministry of the heart!”
-Tricia Goyer, author of 25 books, include Blue Like Play Dough: The Shaping of Motherhood in the Grip of God
“This is no ordinary “how to clean your house” book. In 31 Days to Clean – How to Have a Martha House the Mary Way, Sarah Mae goes beyond the “how-tos” and gets straight to the heart of the matter. Why is it so hard to keep up with the day-to-day tasks of running a household and what can we do about it? Each day will challenge your thinking and drive you to The One who offers grace and comfort.”
 Take a look at some of the topics covered:

Day 1 – Why Clean?
Day 2 – Created to Give Life
Day 3 – 10 Ways to Give Life to Your Home
Day 7 – The Curse (What We’re Up Against)
Day 8 – Overcoming the Curse
Day 10 – Feeling Overwhelmed
Day 11 – Limitations
Day 12 – The Thing We All Have in Common – Imperfection
Day 13 – Fighting Fatigue
Day 15 – I’d Rather Do Anything But Clean
Day 17 – Your Cleaning Style
Day 19 – Finding Joy in the Self-Disciplined Life
Day 22 – Developing a Workable Schedule
Day 26 – Laundry
Day 28 – Who Are You Trying to Please? By Sally Clarkson, I Take Joy

Wow!  This seems like it was written just for me!

Are you like me?  Do you need a heart and home makeover?  Join me in checking out this e-book  ($4.99) and let me know what you think!

Disclaimer: I am taking advantage of an offer for a free copy of this book by blogging about this book. Details here.  (offer valid until Midnight EST. 4/27/11)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Most Beautiful Flowers

Almost every day Eli brings me flowers.

I love flowers and before this almost daily ritual I would have said my favourite flowers were tulips or roses or gerber daisies.

each time this little sweet boy comes it with fist full of dandelions,  a lone Bermudiana or some other bloom he has plucked from the lawn.  I place them in a tiny bottle in the kitchen where I can see them all day.  They usually only last the day but i can be sure to have a fresh replacement the next day.

Who would have thought that my favourite flowers would now be beautiful weeds? One of the perks of motherhood!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Oatmeal Kisses

Have you had those weeks where you feel like you are failing as a mom... you lose focus... dishes and laundry take priority over playtime and cuddles... I have been having one of those weeks.  I can think of a number of excuses why but none of that matters.  Today,  I had some much needed alone time (thank you so much, Sweetie) ... I went for a walk and listened to a pod-cast by Donna Otto of Homemakers by Choice... she shared this poem.

Oatmeal Kisses

A young mother writes: “I know you’ve written before about the empty-nest syndrome, that lonely period after the children are grown and gone. Right now I’m up to my eyeballs in laundry and muddy boots. The baby is teething; the boys are fighting. My husband just called and said to eat without him, and I fell off my diet. Lay it on me again, will you?”
OK. One of these days, you’ll shout, “Why don’t you kids grow up and act your age!” And they will. Or, “You guys get outside and find yourselves something to do . . . and don’t slam the door!” And they won’t.
You’ll straighten up the boys’ bedroom neat and tidy: bumper stickers discarded, bedspread tucked and smooth, toys displayed on the shelves. Hangers in the closet. Animals caged. And you’ll say out loud, “Now I want it to stay this way.” And it will.
You’ll prepare a perfect dinner with a salad that hasn’t been picked to death and a cake with no finger traces in the icing, and you’ll say, “Now, there’s a meal for company.” And you’ll eat it alone.
You’ll say, “I want complete privacy on the phone. No dancing around. No demolition crews. Silence! Do you hear?” And you’ll have it.
No more plastic tablecloths stained with spaghetti. No more bedspreads to protect the sofa from damp bottoms. No more gates to stumble over at the top of the basement steps. No more clothespins under the sofa. No more playpens to arrange a room around.
No more anxious nights under a vaporizer tent. No more sand on the sheets or Popeye movies in the bathroom. No more iron-on patches, rubber bands for ponytails, tight boots or wet knotted shoestrings.
Imagine. A lipstick with a point on it. No baby-sitter for New Year’s Eve. Washing only once a week. Seeing a steak that isn’t ground. Having your teeth cleaned without a baby on your lap.
No PTA meetings. No car pools. No blaring radios. No one washing her hair at 11 o’clock at night. Having your own roll of Scotch tape.
Think about it. No more Christmas presents out of toothpicks and library paste. No more sloppy oatmeal kisses. No more tooth fairy. No giggles in the dark. No knees to heal, no responsibility.
Only a voice crying, “Why don’t you grow up?” and the silence echoing, “I did.”
- Erma Bombeck, 1969

Now I as I prepare dinner and wait for my family to come back home I am asking God to help me to regain my focus... to see these precious kids and the messes, laundry, and noise that comes with them, not as inconveniences but as precious gifts that one day will be gone.