Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Crafts

I was browsing through my Google reader tonight looking for something fun to make with the kids tomorrow. I thought I'd share some of the cute craft ideas that are out there this season.

Coffee Filter Turkeys - I have always wanted to do some sort of coffee filter art with my kids and have never gotten around to it. I'm thinking this will be my choice for tomorrow. We've got the supplies, and the kids will love squirting water to make the colors run together. Very pretty, too!

Pumpkin Turkey Centerpiece

Groovy Gobblers - If we were at home with all of our paint supplies, we would definitely make these pretty turkeys.

Turkey Scratch Art Drawing

These last ideas would be wonderful ways for a family to express gratitude in the days and weeks leading up to Thanksgiving:

Thankful Tree

Thankful Box

Thankful Clothespin Wreath

Monday, November 23, 2009

Our Favorite Thanksgiving Books

Well, I did say you wouldn't hear much from me this week, we just arrived in Georgia tonight, and everyone's all settled in and asleep except for me. I'm wide awake because I took a long afternoon nap in the car.

It dawned on me that I haven't posted any of our favorite Thanksgiving books this year, so I decided to go ahead and do it even though we're only three days out from Turkey Day. Most of these are part of our Thanksgiving tradition, but I forgot to bring any of them with me! Hopefully I'll find a couple at the local library here tomorrow.

A delightful picture book showing the Indians and Pilgrims preparing for that first special feast. A favorite around here that we've read for several years now.

Funny illustrations tell the story of this old tune, as a family of turkeys travel to Grandma's for Thanksgiving - with a hunter in hot pursuit. This one always cracks us up!

I used this book in my first student teaching practicum. It's the story of a young girl name Maggie who lives with her Grandmother on a cranberry farm. Their special Thanksgiving dinner turns into a comical adventure as Mr. Whiskers and a smooth-talking city slicker vie for Grandma's attention - and her food! It wouldn't be Thanksgiving at our house without reading this fun tale.

This is one of my favorite versions of the Squanto story. We've read it for the last few years. It shows how God's hand worked in the life of Squanto. I never knew that Squanto traveled to Europe, heard the gospel, and more than likely became a Christian.

The illustrations are beautiful. The text would have been a bit much for my 4-year old, but just right for my 6 and 8-yr. olds.

This book tells the story of a real little girl who lived at Plimoth Plantation circa 1627. It is filled with wonderful photographs of Sarah and her family going about their day at Plimoth Plantation, the outdoor living museum of 17th century Plymouth, Mass. Also in this series are the two titles pictured below. All three really held my children's attention and are wonderful living history books.

I read Elizabeth Foss's review for this at Real Learning and was delighted when my library had it. It is out of print, but is a beautiful book that shows animals preparing for winter and people celebrating Thanksgiving. The illustrations make this one worth tracking down.

What are some of your family's favorite Thanksgiving stories?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Thanksgiving Giveaway

I don't often do giveaways, but the nice folks at Virginia Soaps and Scents, a company I reviewed awhile back and really do recommend, has offered to give one of my readers a sampler pack of their lovely bed and breakfast-sized soaps. The winner gets to choose the scents!

I really enjoyed using these yummy smelling, gentle, all-natural soaps. What makes these products even more special is that each bar is handmade, and the company is owned by a homeschooling family who became interested in soap-making after doing a unit study on Colonial Life in Virginia. How neat is that?!

Here's how to enter...

1. Visit Virginia Soaps and Scents, then come back here and leave a comment telling me your favorite product. Their site really is fun to browse, and with their reasonable prices it's a great place to do some Christmas shopping too!

For bonus entries you can do one or more of the following - after you've done step #1. :)

2. Subscribe to my feed (see left sidebar), and leave me a comment telling me you did.

3. Post about the giveaway on your blog, and yes, leave another comment. :)

4. Follow my blog and leave yet another comment!

***Please make sure you leave either your email or blog address so that I can contact you if you win! :)

So...you've got four chances to win. The contest will close Monday, Nov. 30 at 11:00 PM (EST), and I'll announce the winner the next day!

We're out of town for Thanksgiving, so you won't hear much from me this week except for a few reviews that I need to post.

Praying you each have a wonderful holiday with your family.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Join Me at Heart of the Matter

I am very excited to now be writing for Heart of the Matter Online. I invite you to join me for my first article there, Fun in the Kitchen With Your Preschooler.

While you're there be sure to take a look around. It's a great site with lots of encouraging and useful articles!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Adoption Awareness Month

November is National Adoption Awareness Month.

This is a special month for our family because we adopted our oldest daughter from China on November 2, 2004.

People often tell my husband and myself that we are such a blessing to Giggly Girl because we brought her home from China. We always tell them that it's really the other way round. God blessed us with her, and she continues to be a blessing to our family five years later.

The care and adoption of orphans is one of God's highest priorities. I encourage you to listen to His voice on the matter. Is He inviting you to experience the miracle of adoption? Or maybe He is asking you to become involved in some other way. There are multiple ways that we as Christians can carry out God's mandate to care for the orphan and widow:

-Pray for them.
-Give financially.
-Volunteer with an orphan care ministry.
-Take a mission trip to serve at an orphanage.
-Mentor orphaned children in your community.
-Become a foster parent.
-Adopt a child who is waiting for their forever family.

As you consider how God may want to use you in the life of an orphaned child, I encourage you to watch this Videostream of Steven Curtis Chapman and Friends' Live Event, "Orphan Sunday". This event was sponsored by Steven Curtis Chapman, Show Hope, Focus on the Family, and Family Life to raise awareness of the more than 140 million orphans worldwide. You'll hear moving stories, testimonies, and music, including the amazing Children of the World Choir, which is made up of orphans from around the world. I was so glad I watched!

Here are some of my favorite adoption links, which will provide you with more information about orphan care and adoption:

Show Hope

Maria's Big House of Hope Video

The Call to Adopt - Best-selling author Karen Kingsbury's story of how her family came to be blessed by the miracle of adoption.

How to Adopt

Cry of the Orphan Adoption Resources

If you have already experienced the miracle that is adoption or are involved in some other way in the life of an orphan, I'd love to hear your story.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Why Do I Blog?

So what is the purpose of blogging?

Some "irl" friends recently asked me this question, and as I was talking to them about it, it dawned on me that I ought to - well, you know - blog about it!

Different people blog for lots of different reasons, but here's my list:

-To keep a record of our family and homeschool adventures - a sort of online scrapbook or journal.

-To share what we're doing with family and friends who live far away. All of our family members live down south, and they just love to see pictures of the kids - can't you tell?!

-To meet, encourage and be encouraged by other homeschool Moms. I've made some wonderful bloggy friends over the last couple of years and have even had the chance to meet a few in person - very fun!

-To share our homeschool plans and resources in hopes that someone will find something here that will keep them from having to reinvent the wheel.

-To sharpen my writing skills - or at least to maintain them! I think that writing somehow exercises my brain in a way that nothing else can, and I enjoy processing things through my fingers on the keyboard.

-To provide myself with some accountability. If I write out plans to do something on my blog then I'm much more likely to do it because I "virtually" committed to it.

-To share how God has blessed me with a wonderful family and the privilege of learning alongside them. May He have the glory for everything in this blog and in my life.

Hope you have a great week!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Free Christmas Resource

Hope everyone out there in bloggy-land is having a good week.

We're sticking to the 3R's in school this week, as I do some major decluttering and house projects that have been on my to-do list for months.

I just opened up a little something in my inbox that I wanted to share with you. If you receive The Old Schoolhouse's email newsletter, then you've already seen this.

It's a special free digital Christmas edition of The Old Schoolhouse magazine. I just briefly scanned it, and there are some nice goodies in there. I'll especially be using several of the freezer meal recipes they've included.

Click here to enjoy!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

ABC Teach: A Review

If you've ever done a Google search for any type of free printable, then you've probably stumbled upon ABC Teach. It's a website for educators that offers over 5,000 free worksheets and activities.

The membership site provides access to over 35,000 materials, clip art, and the ABC Tools feature. Membership is priced at $40 per year or $70 for two years.

For this review I was given access to the membership site for one month. In searching the members only area, I found several things that we used in our apple unit - a word search, a coloring sheet, and a shape book. My favorite aspect of the membership was the ABC Tools feature, which allows you to create your own printables such as:

-handwriting worksheets (in many different fonts)
-word searches
-shape books
-crossword puzzles
-ABC sorts
-math worksheets
-Bingo games
-Tutorials to help you create your printables

See everything the ABC Tools feature can do here.

Because I am not a huge fan of worksheets, I would probably not get my money's worth from an annual membership, but if you do use worksheets on a regular basis, you might possibly benefit from the members only site. You can learn more about what an ABC Teach membership has to offer here.

Click on the Crew Banner below if you'd like to see more reviews of this product.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy Adoption Day!

Dear Giggly Girl,

Five years ago today your Daddy and I were standing in the Civil Affairs Office in Changsha, Hunan, China. It was 10:20 in the morning. Four other couples were there with us, and all of the Mommies were wearing pink. We were all becoming parents...again.

The air was electric. Nervous anticipation mingled with joyous excitement. The Mommies sat on wooden benches while the Daddies stood. Subdued conversation, the sound of pacing shoes on the wooden floor, and the occasional click of a camera were the only sounds in the room. I watched the clock on the wall.

Someone came to the door of the large conference room where we waited and said something in Chinese to our guide. He turned to tell us that you and your friends would be arriving in twenty minutes. I readied our paperwork. Daddy checked the video battery again.

Five minutes passed - an eternity. Fifteen to go. I began to fiddle with our paperwork again when suddenly and quietly there appeared at the doorway a group of five Chinese ladies, each with a bundle in their arms.

For a puzzling split second I tried to figure out why this little group was coming into the room, when it dawned on me that the bundles in the ladies' arms were not bundles at all. For just a moment things seemed to happen in slow motion as everyone realized that you and your friends had arrived - early!

I said something to Daddy. I can't remember exactly what, but it was something like "She's here!" In a flurry of excitement he and I quickly began to scan the faces of the babies looking for you. You and your friends were dressed in many layers of clothes, and our most current photo of you had been taken four months prior, so it took us a moment, but pretty quickly we found you in that little crowd.

Tears filled my eyes. I instinctively stepped towards you, though we had been told ahead of time that we would have to wait until our names were called. Daddy had already started up the video, and I began to take pictures of you.

You were there in your nanny's arms, looking quite serious and taking everything in. You also looked tired, and we found out later you had been up since 5:00 in the morning and had traveled over three hours by bus to make your appearance. Of course, you were worn out.

Moments passed. Other parents were called forward. We waited.

Finally, someone called out your name, and your nanny stepped forward. Our guide held out his hand for our paper work, and I gave it to him. He handed it to someone else. They looked at it and nodded to us. That was my cue. I walked to your nanny. My heart was pounding. Smiling, I slowly, gingerly held out my hands to you. I knew you would be confused and scared, and you were. Your nanny gently placed you in my arms, smiled at you through tears, and then walked back into the little crowd.

You felt so light in my arms. You didn't cry, but the tears were flowing down my cheeks and Daddy's too. We would never be the same, and we were glad.

We talked softly to you and held you close. You were still taking it all in, stoic and brave. Most of the other babies were crying by now, and eventually you did too. I tried giving you a bottle to comfort you, but you weren't hungry. Instead you cried for just a little while and then fell asleep in my arms.

I will never forget that day.

I will never forget riding in the bus back to the hotel, holding you - Daddy and I couldn't take our eyes off of you. Our Chinese guide began to sing, and your Daddy and I joined in, tears streaming down our faces...
You are my sunshine.
My little sunshine.
You make me happy
When skies are gray.
You'll never know dear,
How much I love you.
Oh please don't take
My sunshine away.
I will never forget later on that night when we laid you down next to us, and you slept peacefully through the night, snuggled up right next to me.

Your Daddy and I thanked God that day for the miracle He had done in creating you and bringing you to us.

We thank Him today for that same miracle, and for the joy and love and laughter that are you.

We love you, our sweet Giggly Girl.