24 Days of Giving

It’s almost that time of year again!  Our family tradition of doing a giving thing every day for 24 days!  Starting December 1st, we’ll be picking things off of this list to give every single day.  We hope you’ll join in and do your own giving throughout the month!  It’ll be hard to top last year, we had some AMAZING giving opportunities last year!  But we are so excited for this year and know that God will bless our efforts!  Here is a list of completely random ideas!…

-Pick up a messy toy aisle at a store.

-Put Gospel Tracts and a handwritten note on cars in a parking lot.

-Put DVD’s on windows of cars in a parking lot.

-Write notes to neighbors that have nice lights displays telling them you enjoy seeing their display.

-Exercise to earn clean water for orphans.

-Do a giving thing for our tenant and children at rental property.

-Pick out some of your toys to give away to other children nearby.

-Donate Action Packs to Voice of the Martyrs for persecuted Christians.

-Leave $1 near an item at the dollar store.

-Take cookies to police or firemen.

-Leave a sidewalk chalk message on a neighbors sidewalk.

-Pick weeds for a neighbor and sweep their sidewalks.

-Leave the mail carrier a gift.

-Give a gift or treat to the trash truck driver.

-Hand a nice note to a cashier at a store.

-Give drinks to construction workers.

-Send a care package to a soldier.

-Buy a meal for a Veteran

-Buy a beverage for a Salvation Army bell ringer.

-Send a gift to a child in the hospital.

-Offer help (babysitting or a meal) to a special needs family.

-Take a meal to someone in need.

-Leave a gas card and note in the credit card slot at a gas station pump.

-Find a dirty car and leave a car wash certificate on it.

-Tip larger than normal at a restaurant.

-Give a grocery store gift card to someone.

-Bake goodies for neighbors.

-Leave candy and a note on a public bathroom mirror.

-Doorbell and ditch a treat.

-Leave random kind notes on cars in parking lots.

-Leave a note and $5 gift card on someone’s car at church.

-Leave a note and quarters at a laundromat.

-Order dinner for a friend and have it delivered to them.

-Send a friend or family member an old photo or memory.

-Mail a Christmas card to a prisoner.

-Clean an elderly person’s home or someone who just had a baby.

-Go caroling dressed like Christmas presents and take treats to give

-Go caroling at a nursing home and take gifts (fleece blankets are a hit)

-Send a gift to someone who might be lonely this Christmas.

-Children can make or buy goodies for Dada’s co-workers.

-Send a note or gift to a widow.

-Give a gift or treat to a single mom.

-Donate baby gear and/ or diapers to a Crisis Pregnancy Center.

-Buy a goat, chicken, or mosquito nets for children in Restore International program.

-Buy a goat, chicken, or mosquito net for children through Compassion International.

-Do one nice thing for each family member.

-Give a gift or treat to someone who has lost a loved one and still grieving.

-Pray for people before sending off a Christmas card to them.

-Donate to Women At Risk International to fight human sex trafficking..

-Pack an Operation Christmas shoebox.

-Donate to A Child’s Hope Int’l to fight world hunger.

-Make homemade ornaments out of last year’s Christmas cards and give them away.

-Act out the Bible Nativity story with your children and some of their friends (maybe even be willing to do it in a public place!).

-Mail a card and/or treat to a missionary.

-Pick up trash at a park.

-Make special crafts for the elderly and take it to them, even if just elderly people at your church.

-Leave 50 cents and a note on a toy ride-on machine in the entry way of Wal-Mart.

-Leave note and change on a vending machine.

-Buy Bibles for people in China.

-Give a gift to someone and tell them they have to give away half of it, just so that they can experience the joy of giving.

Famous Food Companies Caught Using Aborted Babies For Flavor Additives

I am strongly pro-life.  I am also strongly pro-woman.  Women are harmed by abortion in great magnitudes.  It’s one thing to say you’re pro-life, it’s another to actually care enough to take a stand.  If there are products made using aborted fetal tissue, then we ought to boycott them to the fullest extent.  That’s why you won’t catch me consuming anything on this list!!!  Companies are actually using aborted fetal tissue to manufacture their products to sell to you and me!!  Outrageous!!

(NaturalNews) “Every time you purchase mass-produced processed “food” from the likes of Kraft, PepsiCo, or Nestle, you’re choosing, whether you realize it or not, to feed your family not only genetically engineered poisons and chemical additives, but also various flavoring agents manufactured using the tissue of aborted human babies.”

“Processed food isn’t the only hidden source of additives made using aborted human fetal tissue — many so-called “beauty products” and vaccines are also loaded with aborted baby tissue-derived additives. According to EndAllDisease.com, Neocutis “beauty” products and anti-wrinkle creams are made from aborted male baby cells collected after a 14-week gestation period.”

“Many vaccines, including Merck & Co.’s MMR II vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, as well as ProQuad (Merck), Varivax (Merck), Pentacel (Sanofi Pasteur) and Havrix (GlaxoSmithKline), also contain derivatives of aborted human babies.”

“The aborted human fetal cell line is known as “HEK-293,” and it is used to see how the human palate will react to synthetic flavors. Since most of today’s processed food lacks flavor, companies like Semonyx are hired to develop flavors on their own.”

“What they don’t tell the public is that they are using HEK 293 — human embryonic kidney cells taken from an electively aborted baby to produce those receptors,” said Debi Vinnedge of the pro-life group Children of God for Life. “They could have easily chosen animal, insect, or other morally obtained human cells expressing the G protein for taste receptors.”

In case you didn’t click on the links above, here is the list of famous food companies caught using aborted babies for flavor additives…

“PEPSI BEVERAGES:
• All Pepsi soft drinks
• Sierra Mist soft drinks
• Mountain Dew soft drinks
• Mug root beer and other soft drinks
• No Fear beverages
• Ocean Spray beverages
• Seattle’s Best Coffee
• Tazo beverages
• AMP Energy beverages
• Aquafina water
• Aquafina flavored beverages
• DoubleShot energy beverages
• Frappuccino beverages
• Lipton tea and other beverages
• Propel beverages
• SoBe beverages
• Gatorade beverages
• Fiesta Miranda beverages
• Tropicana juices and beverages

NESTLE PRODUCTS:
• All coffee creamers
• Maggi Brand instant soups, bouillon cubes, ketchups, sauces, seasoning, instant noodles

KRAFT – CADBURY ADAMS PRODUCTS:
• Black Jack chewing gum
• Bubbaloo bubble gum
• Bubblicious bubble gum
• Chiclets
• Clorets
• Dentyne
• Freshen Up Gum
• Sour Cherry Gum (Limited)
• Sour Apple Gum (Limited)
• Stride
• Trident

CADBURY ADAMS CANDIES:
• Sour Cherry Blasters
• Fruit Mania
• Bassett’s Liquorice All sorts
• Maynards Wine Gum
• Swedish Fish
• Swedish Berries
• Juicy Squirts
• Original Gummies
• Fuzzy Peach
• Sour Chillers
• Sour Patch Kids
• Mini Fruit Gums
• Certs breath mints
• Halls Cough Drops

NEOCUTIS “BEAUTY” PRODUCTS:
Neocutis uses aborted male baby cells after a 14-week gestation period in their anti-wrinkle creams. The following creams they sell contain aborted fetal cells, but we need to boycott all their products.
• Bio-Gel Prevedem Journee
• Bio-Serum Lumiere
• Bio Restorative Skin Cream

VACCINES:
• MMR II (Merck)
• ProQuad (MMR + Chickenpox — Merck)
• Varivax (Chickenpox — Merck)
• Pentacel (Polio + DTaP + HiB — Sanofi Pasteur)
• Vaqta (Hepatitis-A — Merck)
• Havrix (Hepatitis-A — Glaxo SmithKline)
• Twinrix (Hepatitis-A and B combo — Glaxo)
• Zostavax (Shingles — Merck)
• Imovax (Rabies — Sanofi Pasteur)

OTHER MEDICINES:
• Pulmozyme (Cystic Fibrosis — Genetech)
• Enbrel (Rheumatoid Arthritis — Amgen)”

To me, being pro-life doesn’t mean sitting around talking about it.  It means…

-Boycotting companies that support Planned Parenthood (Starbucks will never see a dime of my money unless they change their stance!!)
-Boycotting companies that have used aborted babies in the manufacturing of their product
-Reaching out to women in need and women that are facing an unexpected pregnancy
-Adopting these sweet babies that may not be able to be cared for by their biological parents
-Informing others
-Attending Pro-Life Rally’s
-Contacting members of government to let them know your stance

Can YOU really homeschool?

I think a lot of Mama’s don’t homeschool because… they’re honestly not sure if they can really do it.

Their head starts whirling with how much there would be to cover… math, reading, writing, ancient civilizations, art, music, government, classic literature, essays, etc, etc, etc! Not to mention keeping up on our home and grocery shopping!

That’s a lot!! How do you do it all?

You. Don’t. Have. To.

Please don’t buy the lie that a child’s education is a very complicated thing that should be left to the state to manage.

Public schools cover way less ground than you can as a mom.

You know your child better than anyone.

You know what their brain and their hearts can handle.

There’s no better person on the planet to teach your child than YOU!

When you write down everything you’d like to teach your child, break it down and simplify, simplify, simplify. Do they need to be writing perfect sentences by age 6? Do they need to cover ancient civilizations at 7?   Do they need to be multiplying and dividing by 8?

Why no, no they don’t!

Start with the minimal basics and that is more than enough.

Just being present with your child and connecting with them is enough!

Playing with them is enough!

Reading to them is enough!

Cooking and grocery shopping together is enough!

YOU are enough!

You can do it Mama!!  You truly, honestly can.  Break things down into bite-sized pieces and KISS- Keep it simple, silly!

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Oh, and it shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg either.  Get simple, easy little books.  Buy used from craigslist or local facebook sites.  Ask other homeschool families if you can borrow some things (and then take really good care of them!)  Print things for free from learning internet sites.  It’s unbelievable how frugal you can educate your child!  You do not need some elaborate, expensive curriculum to do it!!

Almonaise

My friend and mentor Sherry got this recipe originally from Marilyn Diamond’s cookbook ‘The American Vegetarian Cookbook’.  Of course, it has been altered and played with it over the years.  Here is the latest version that we really like.  The recipe comes out really smooth with a Vita-Mix.  However, you can do it with a regular blender and it turns out really yummy still.

2 cups blanched almonds (or you can throw them in raw and whole but it will affect the flavor some)

2 cups water

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

2 garlic cloves

2 Tbsp diced onion

1  cup coconut oil (Sherry uses organic canola)

1/2 cup lemon juice

Optional:  2-4 Tbsp Honey

To blanch almonds:

Bring a pan of water to a boil, around 4 cups or so.  You want enough water so that the almonds will move around freely when you add them.  When the water is boiling add the almonds and turn off the burner.  Stir and wait 10 seconds or so.  You don’t want to go over a minute.  Pour the almonds into a colander and rinse with cold water until you can handle the almonds.  Now comes the fun part. :)  You ‘pop’ the skins off of the almonds by gently squeezing them between your fingers.  Watch out because they can and will fly around the room if you are not careful.

-Place all the ingredients into the blender and blend until it becomes creamy smooth,  if it is too thick to have a vortex you may need to add small amounts of water until you have a vortex going.  With coconut oil, the almonaise will thicken up after refrigerated.

Sherry’s Notes:  If you are using a regular blender you will probably want to half or quarter the recipe.  Your blender will last longer if you do. :)  Also if you are using a regular blender you may need to, very carefully, stir in the oil as you drizzle it in towards the end of the blending.  You can change the spices around and make all kinds of new flavors.  Sherry also adds a spice called “Spike” or makes her own, which is basically a lot of different spices she has on-hand!  You can really play with spices/ flavors.

Avocado Panini

I’m pretty sure I’ll still be eating these in Heaven…
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I have eaten more than a dozen of these in the last two weeks! So healthy! So delicious!

Warm a tortilla.  Add avocado slices, sea salt, slivers of raw onion, and chopped tomato.
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Easy, filling, nutritious, and super yummy!  I’m addicted!  And even my kids beg for them!

(I had not been adding any spreads on these but did the last few times… almondaise!  Recipe coming soon!)

Simple, Frugal, and Fun Homeschooling

One of my most favorite things to do is to share with other mom’s who are considering homeschooling! I have had maybe close to 10 moms in my home to just show them what all I do and why. I have loved those times of sharing! But in case you haven’t made it over yet…

I’m not a veteran homeschooler and I have much yet to learn. BUT… I love that homeschooling can be (gasp) enjoyable and absolutely delightful!

My Motto: Behind everything I do is my homeschool motto, found in Deuteronomy 11. Love God with your whole heart. Teach your children as you sit, as you walk, when you lie down, and when you stand up. All of life is learning. If you teach your child to love learning, you’ve taught him everything he ever needs to know. Learning happens over a lifetime. It takes place all of the time… in the van, at the store, in your backyard, at the park, while making dinner, etc.

The greatest commandment is to love God with your whole heart. The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. Teach these two things to your children and you’ve nearly fulfilled God’s call for you as a mother!

So practically speaking, what is our main focus then?

#1- Bible. This includes memory verses, LOTS of memory verses! Before children can even read, they can be memorizing passages of Scripture!

This also includes you reading Bible stories to your children. The actual Bible event, not fairy tales or fables or bathtub boat pictures of Noah! Also, acting out the Bible stories after you read them! Talk about these precious events at all hours of the day, looking for opportunities to live out what you have read.

#2- Character- We go through these character cards and try to do one character quality each week. Each card includes the definition and an animal that displays that quality in nature. I teach my children the names of the character qualities (even if it’s a long word like perseverance)! Throughout the following weeks and months, I’m continually using those terms to remind them of that character quality and why it’s so important (honesty, humbleness, attentiveness, self-control, etc). We act out these qualities too! And we actually practice these qualities in real-life ways.

Speaking of acting out and practicing great things… we regularly have “Manners Practice” where we practice things like greeting a guest, picking up an item for someone who dropped it, saying “coming” when Mama calls for us, taking a seat on the floor when adults need the chairs to sit on, etc. My children beg me to do “Manners Practice” time!

The third most important thing we do in homeschool is to read! It’s such an amazing thing to read out loud to your child most every day! Read about everything! If all you ever do is read to your child, he’ll surpass a level you didn’t even think he could achieve! Our read-a-loud times have brought about the most precious discussions in our home. We try and squeeze in reading time wherever we can but my children especially like me to read to them at mealtimes. You don’t have to stop filling your brain just because you’re filling your belly! Mealtimes are a great time to learn!

What do I read to them?

A)- The actual Bible, of course!

B)- Bible Stories, of course!

C)- Quality children’s books that focus on character. Not fluffy books without a point. And not about magical kingdoms and fairy tales and fables. But stories about feeding the poor, about learning humbleness, about giving yourself away. I have posted some of my favorite children’s books here and here.

D)- We also use our read-a-loud time to read history and science (you’ll see why below). Recently my boys have been crazy excited about George Washington. They’ve dressed up like him and drafted a Declaration of Independence and the whole nine yards. All from me reading to them!  We have enjoyed this book, this one, this one, and this one, to name a few.

Now on to “Academics”:

I think the greatest thing you can do for you and your child is to keep things simple and fun. Your materials and your schedule should be a blessing, NOT a burden!! I hodge podge my materials to tailor to each individual child. What fits their personality best? What sounds fun? What is simple? What is not overwhelming? What doesn’t require 30 minutes of Teacher Manual prep time the night before?! What is frugal? What did I find at a garage sale or receive as a hand-me-down? Could I use that instead of spending big bucks on something that will make me feel STRAPPED for time and energy!

I like briefly checking out used homeschool sites for easy, cheap ideas. My favorite store is Mardel’s, but I always have a coupon in hand! Or best yet… what could you use that you already own?!

One of my favorite things about homeschool is all of our homemade things! We have made homemade “Exercise Dice,” homemade money/ coin board games, homemade flashcards galore, and more!

Flashcards, flashcards, flashcards. What an incredible way to learn! Your children can do them with you while their jumping on a trampoline, doing a chore, or standing on their head (just hold them upside down so they can read them!)🙂

Flashcards have taught my children their ABC’s, all of their phonics sounds, all of their Bible verses, synonyms/ antonyms, homophones, contractions, multiplication and lots of other math facts, music notes, and much more!

Repetition, repetition. Get out those flashcards every day! And they’re portable enough to take to the park or waiting room!

I also like to hang stuff on my walls. Well, I don’t like the cluttered wall part but I am actually totally fine with it. You know why? Because my children walk past it many times a day and they LEARN! I’ll take that over plain walls any day! Your child can make character posters or manners posters and hang them on the wall. You can write out important principles and hang them up. You can hang up your phonics words or shapes or letters, they sky is the limit! Hang up your Bible verse flashcards at the least!

Besides the walls in your home, placemats are also a great learning tool! Your child is sitting there eating and can have something of knowledge filling his spongy, absorbent brain! You can make your own and then laminate it. I’ve done this countless times for help with coins, words, letters, math facts, etc. Or buy a laminated map of the world or the USA and point out things each day! This helps your child understand there is more to the world than his little city!

I didn’t know this until my first son turned two, but children have an INCREDIBLE ability to memorize stuff! We are constantly working on memory work. The neat thing about this is that your child doesn’t even have to know how to read before memorizing all kinds of great stuff. For us, that means our favorite Bible verses, of course! But it could also mean poems, quotes from history, etc. One of the neat things about memorizing things is that you can practice reciting them when you’re in the van or out and about. It doesn’t have to take place during structured homeschool time! Make up songs, rhymes, motions, sign language, or just a particular rhythm; and repeat, repeat, repeat!

Okay, so in case you didn’t notice… I haven’t actually told you any specific homeschool “subjects” that we do. So here they are…

Reading.

And math.

End of post.🙂

I’m partially kidding. We do other subjects like history and science and art (lots of art!), but we do those in a more passive way. Honestly, the thought of a big huge history or science book for my 7-and-under children makes my head spin. So for history we just read! We read all about history! I don’t know of a better way to learn! And for science we kind of just do it as we come across it. My husband and I have gobs of Creation resources from our college-searching days and that’s a BIG deal to us. So we read science from the Bible and study all that God made in nature, our solar system, our bodies, etc. When do we do this? As we sit, as we walk, as we lie down, and as we stand up, of course! 🙂   And on the weekends when Dada has more time for crazy science experiments!

I’m big on reading. If you teach your child to read well, they can learn endlessly! Once they learn how to read, they can practically homeschool themselves! Have you heard the quote? “In five years you’ll be the same person you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” Reading changes lives! Reading gives knowledge, tons and tons of knowledge!

Here is how I teach my children to read.

The Harding family wrote an e-book called “College by Age 12” and I was really curious what that looked like for them. I don’t think parents need to push for college by age 12, but after reading their book, I see that it is completely possible to have a child finish high school material FAR ahead of their non-homeschooled peers! One of the keys they mentioned was math. If your child can speed ahead in math, they could potentially be at a college freshman level by the time they’re 12. Or 14, or whatever. Now some children won’t be able to go as fast as others, but I do think children are way smarter than we give them credit for! As soon as my boys have mastered one concept, I introduce the next. I don’t care that a Kindergarten math book doesn’t introduce multiplication. If my son sees how 5 circles in 2 rows equals 10, we run with it!

Again, even with math, stick with what is fun and simple. Don’t choose a curriculum that is so extensive that it wears YOU out! Play gobs and gobs of math games! I think money spent on games is way better than money spent on elaborate curricula! Design your own flashcards, make your own worksheets! Print free worksheets online. And if your child just isn’t ready for a certain concept, back pedal and let him rest at the basics until he’s ready to move forward. But keep chugging along with math and your child might have their PhD by 21, like some of the Harding children!🙂

Lastly. Many parents wonder, “Where should my child be?” Yes, you can check online lists of what certain grade levels learn, but as long as you’re always filling your child’s mind with knowledgeable things, you’re doing more than enough!

It’s not like you’ll hit your forehead one day and say “Oh yeah, math, I forgot about math.” You know best what your child should learn! The internet can help as long as it doesn’t burden you to do more than you both are capable of! You do have laundry and dishes and meals to tend to also! Which, having your children do chores is part of homeschool too! See, you were homeschooling and didn’t even know it! Chores are GOOD for your child, let him/her work you out of a job!

If a homeschool conference comes to your area, GO! I’m not recommending you go from booth to booth to be sold on all the best curricula (THAT is exhausting!), but go to hear the speakers and get inspired and fueled up!

You’re raising a World Changer! You can do this Mama! There is no better teacher for your child on the planet!!!

Our Favorite Children’s Books

I’ve posted our favorite children’s books before, so some of these are a repeat, but this is our most recent “Favorites” list in case you’re looking for some new books to add to your collection!  We own lots of books and these (as well as ones on my last post!) are the best of the best!

This is the only one I’ll give with a warning.  It teaches what sex is.  I think the illustrations are so sweet and so well-done.  I think it’s worded so perfectly so that parents can start at a young age being open with their child about sex.  I really like this book but I understand that some parents want to wait until their children are older to talk about this subject.  However, I think the earlier the better and that it should be a normal, open conversation as the child grows and matures.
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The True Story of Noah’s Ark (You will be in awe of the center fold out illustration!!!) and The True Story of Adam and Eve are amazing books to teach your child the REAL accounts of Noah and Adam and Eve.  The illustrations are BEAUTIFUL!!
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Ronnie Wilson’s Gift is a sweet story about how a child can give a gift to Jesus.  Giving a gift to someone in need is the same as giving to Jesus!

Sanji’s Seed is about a boy who chose honesty over greed.  When his plant didn’t grow like the other boy’s big beautiful plants, he still just took his empty cup to the king.  The king was pleased because Sanji came and honestly presented his empty cup.  Sanji was pronounced the next king because of his honesty.

The Jingle in My Pocket is a bit long, so maybe for age 5 and up.  It’s a book in rhyme to teach about giving, saving, and spending money.  The illustrations in this book are precious (as are the illustrations of the other books in this series).

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Trusty.  Good ole’ Trusty.  He’s a train who learns to listen to his Papa’s warnings in Trusty Gets Off Track.  And he stands up for honesty and what is right in Trusty and Ingrid Fibster.  We’re also big fans of Trusty Tried and True.  These books are pricey though, but we really like them.
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God’s Wisdom for Little Boys is a great book to teach your son great character.  It walks through different character qualities with a rhyming poem for each one and has beautiful illustrations.  God’s Wisdom For Little Girls is also great!

The Story of the Empty Tomb is a great book to read about Jesus’ Resurrection!  These little “Arch Books” are good little paperback books, we own several!
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The next three books are all “Little Jewel Books” and there are dozens to choose from on their website.

This is Mohan is about a little boy that meets a missionary family and learns about Jesus.

A Truck and a Tricycle is about a little boy who learns to always pick up his things after he’s done playing so that others don’t get hurt on them.  Cleaning up your things is a way to show kindness to others.

Anthony Gets Ready for Church is just a simple book about how a little boy has to wash his hands, put on his socks and shoes, comb his hair, buckle his shirt, and grab his Bible to get ready for church.  
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