Sunday, December 12, 2010

Under the Overpass

Note: I am reviewing this book as part of the Blogging For Books program developed by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group. I was asked to write an honest review and received no compensation other than the free book.

I love lazy weekends spent curled up under the covers and getting lost in a great novel.

Unfortunately, two Christmas parties, reservations with the kids to see Santa at a local restaurant, and a shopping trip was quickly robbing me of my lazy weekend. Until "Snowmegheddon" hit. At least that's what my husband is laughingly referring to the 1-2 inches of snow we are getting today that has sent everyone into a frenzy. The predictions started with 3-6 inches and have gradually lessoned as the week went on, but still all around here are convinced we will be snowed in for days and now Christmas parties are canceled and I'm getting a snow day. I'm not complaining.

As a matter of fact, it's given me the opportunity to read a book that I've been anxious to get around to, Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski. Yesterday, while the kids were happily playing a Wii tournament with Dad, I curled up under my covers in a nice comfy chair and read the entire book. I can't remember the last time I did that.

I have to admit, however, that it wasn't long before my comfy chair didn't feel quite so comfy as I was transported with Mike and his traveling companion, Sam, to the streets of Washington DC, Portland, San Francisco, Phoenix, and San Diego as they not only visited the homeless, but lived among them for five months. No, this isn't a's a true story of two mens' journey from middle class college students to choosing to live homeless and pennyless to learn "personally what it means to depend on Christ for my daily physical needs, and to experience contentment and confidence in Him."

Mike and Sam experienced hunger, humiliation, and discomfort like most of us will never know in search of experiencing Paul's state of contentment, "whether with everything or with nothing". And they experienced moments that seemed more like divine appointments like when they played worship songs to help a mentally disabled homeless woman to fall asleep...

"It was a relief to play and sing for the joy of worship rather than for our dinner. I wondered if God hadn't brought us across the continent just to sing Pamela to sleep on His behalf. The apostle Paul said in Ephesians that God works that way-that we've been created to keep certain appointments for Him, to complete certain tasks (maybe even with a guitar as darkness falls)."

I was brought to tears at the reminder of how much God loves the forgotten... enough to send two men out of their plush existence to sleep on the lowly streets of the homeless and the rats to sing a song to a lonely woman. Enough to leave his own perfect heaven and enter a lowly world as an infant to live among the humans as a perfect example, to die a sacrificial death and make a way for all into eternity. He loves me that much and He loves you that much.

Under the Overpass wasn't just a captivating was a challenging read. After all, I couldn't read of experience after experience of Mike and Sam being ignored in church services, being asked to leave church grounds, and being left out of conversations among Christians in a restaurant because of the sight and smell of them without admitting that I very well could have and may have reacted the same way to two homeless men.

And the faith of these two men...I mean, seriously. We've experienced some hard times. We've chosen to live out-of-the-box lives. We've accepted the call to let God choose our family size, to homeschool our children and we've questioned those calls. When my husband lost his job, that was hard. The past year, we have relied upon an almost non-existant income due to his new job being 100% commission and having to build a clientele from nothing. And that was hard. Making promises to debtors, not knowing if we can keep them...walking into a free Christmas Toy Store put on by our church not to give, but to receive...that was hard. But we've never gone without a meal or slept on asphalt, and yet I've still questioned God. Things seem to be looking up for us financially, as Chad is (not surprisingly to me) doing excellent at his work, but what if that ends too. Can I trust God in every circumstance and most importantly, can I find contentment there? I don't think I've done a very good job of being content so far.

I guess I tell you all this to say, that Under the Overpass is a. good. book. It's a book that makes you think and contemplate and hopefully move you into action. And it's definitely a book that I think you should read. For more information about Under the Overpass and to download the first chapter for free click here.

Also, Blogging For Books offers prizes to their top rated reviewers, so if you so desire, I would really appreciate it if you would rank my review here.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Huge Upset, Chaos Ensues!

Unexpected news has hit us like a brick. Gasps of shock can be heard all over town from family members and friends.

There's been weeping and gnashing of teeth from the children...

One child even passed out from utter amazement...


Actually, we're all very excited to welcome our newest addition, Baby J (a BOY!) due in April.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Deal #2

I promise to not turn this into a coupon blog, but for the moment I just want to keep a diary of sorts of the deals I am getting and the money we are saving. I figure it will keep my momentum up until I have a firm grasp on the whole couponing thing.

Once again, I'm pretty excited about this week's deals...we almost didn't try any at all because I wasn't sure that I was seeing any great deals when I looked through the ads. Plus, we had a really busy week and it was hard to focus on it. But this morning as I was making our meal plan, I found three great deals that were too good to pass up. The good news was that since I bought 10 newspapers last week (instead of just 3) I had 10 coupons each for 2 of the deals. That was cool, because that gave us enough of each of those products to last us until the next great deal comes along.

So are your ready?.....

4 boxes of General Mills Cereals

4 Suave Conditioners

5 Suave Shampoos

9 Suave deodorants

Total items: 22 items

Total bill BEFORE savings: $36.22

Total bill AFTER coupons and savings: $1.49

I'm still shocked...too cool, right?!

Also, this week we learned first hand about MONEY-MAKERS. What's a money-maker? That's when you have a coupon for a product that is worth more than the price of the product. Some stores won't allow you to use the additional money, but at Krogers they apply it towards the rest of your bill. So here's how I did the deal...

General Mills Cereals were on sale for $1.49 each when you buy 4 at Kroger this week. I had 2 coupons that were $1 off 2 making each box of cereal $0.99 each. We bought 4 for a total of $3.96.

Then select Suave deodorants, shampoos, and conditioners were all on sale for $0.88 this week. I had 9 coupons for $0.50 off 1 deodorant and 9 coupons for $0.50 off 1 shampoo or conditioner. At Kroger all manufacturer coupons up to $0.50 are automatically doubled. This means that my $0.50 off coupons are actually $1 off coupons. Since each of the 18 Suave products I bought were only $0.88 each, I actually made $0.12 on each product using my $1 off coupon. This was applied towards the rest of my bill (which was only $3.96 for the four boxes of cereals) bringing my total to $1.49!!!

Yeah, this is fun.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

My first DEAL!!!

A few weeks ago I decided to once again attempt to wrap my brain around the concept of real couponing...this came after a failed attempt about a year ago. I attended a couponing class that another homeschool mom was teaching and was finally inspired to start off...really slowly.

So, I began by simply saving my coupon inserts from the Sunday papers...not clipping them...just saving the entire inserts in file with the date marked clearly on the front of each insert.

That's all I did...for five weeks.

Finally, I heard of another mom who was teaching a coupon class and decided to go to it and see what she had to say. She basically said the same thing as the first mom. However, after seeing all the great deals she was getting, I decided I couldn't wait any longer. I got my coupons out...I got the ads out...I visited the necessary couponing websites and this is what I got...

•Red Baron pizza on sale $2.78
- $1 cpn (10/24 SS)

2 pizzas/2 coupons $1.78 each $3.56 TOTAL

•Colgate toothpaste on sale $1
- $1 cpn (10/31 SS)

3 toothpastes/3 coupons $0 Total

•Ricola drops on sale $.50
- $1/2 cpn (10/17 SS)

6 ricolas/3 coupons $0 TOTAL

•Campbells Cream soup on sale $.49
- $1/4 cpn printable

8 cream of mushroom/2 coupon $.24 each $1.92 TOTAL

•Campbells Chunky or Select Harvest soup on sale $.99
- $.50/1 cpn printable

2 Chunky soups/2 coupons $.49 each $.98 TOTAL

Stove Top Stuffing on sale $.75
-$1/2 cpn printable

2 Stuffings/1 coupon $.25 each $.50 TOTAL

23 Items
Total worth (before sale): $48.32
Sale savings: -$27.83
Coupon savings: -$14


This was so exciting...and it's not even that great of a deal compared to what the coupon queens are doing.

In case you are wondering, I went to Kroger for this shopping trip.

And because I know some of you are going to's the gist of it...

-In order to drastically reduce your grocery bill (think $30-50 a week) you have to stockpile and it takes time.

-You only buy items when they are on deep sale AND you have a coupon for it making it free or very cheap. Then you buy as many items as you have coupons so that you can stockpile that item until it goes on deep sale again.

-In order to do this you have to buy multiple newspapers each week. Most coupon queens buy 6-10. I started out only buying 3, but will be buying more this week.

-Once you have a good stockpile, you start planning your weekly menus based around what you have in stock. Then you can spend $20-30 on just the deals that week and $20-30 on fresh produce for the week.

-Finally, each week you will have to spend a little bit of time planning which deals you are going to partake in. To do that go to one of the following blogs and view the "match-ups" for the week at your favorite stores.

A "match-up" is a listing of a great sale item along with where to find a matching coupon (either with a link to a printable coupon or it will tell you the date that the coupon was in the Sunday paper...this is why you don't clip your coupons each Sunday.)

That's pretty much it in a nutshell, but the above websites go much more in depth on how to master couponing. I just wanted to share my first great deal because....well, wouldn't you??!! Pin It Now!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday School

Each Friday morning we attend a prayer meeting at a friend's house. The kids play while moms fellowship and pray. The meeting wraps up at about 12:30 just in time for lunch.

Last year, I had good intentions for our Fridays. My good intentions included getting up early to work on school before we left and finishing school once we returned home. Unfortunately, getting up early is not a talent I possess. And after we returned home and ate a little lunch there just wasn't enough time left in the day for a full day of school.

This year, I developed a plan. M, T, W, and Th we do school as know,bible, math, English, spelling, history, science...the works. But on Friday we will go to our prayer meeting, go to the library, and complete two subjects at home: music and art.

This accomplishes many things for us...I've always wanted to take the kids to the library each week, but we could only manage to get there about once a month. Since we are all already dressed and out of the house, it's not such a big deal to swing by the library.

Also, adding art and music to the end of a full school day was always difficult and rushed. Since these are the only two subjects we do on Friday, we can spend more time enjoying them.

Last April I purchased Mr. Everybody's Musical Apartment 3-book set at the Midwest Homeschool Convention. It's a simple way to teach young elementary students to read and play music notes. We decided to use a xylophone with this book that we purchased through amazon.

The kids learned three notes last Friday and each played their first song. They've been continuing to practice it throughout the week.

We've chosen to study Mary Cassatt during the months of August and September. I plan to add a composer of the month as well, but haven't done so yet. We brought home books from the library last week and looked at all the beautiful pictures.

Finally, G9 and A8 both are required to read two books independently a month a complete a book report on those books. The reports must be completed by the 2nd and 4th Fridays of each month. Remember, how I told you about the new friend living in our home? Well, G9 and A8 both decided to read the above book for their first report.

I'm allowing them to choose different styles of book reports, and this time they both wanted to give an oral report and create a poster.

A8 got rather creative with her poster. She did this all on her own!

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Edible River

I believe one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is that I have the opportunity to discover how fascinating human history is and give that to my children.

This year we are using The Story of the World Volume 1: Ancient Times .

We've started the year first by discussing what history is and how we discover it. The kids recorded a little bit of our own family history by creating this book.

Along with fact sheets about themselves, they also interviewed family members and created pages for them as well.

Please Note: The following pictures will prove that having fun with education, does not mean you must be super-crafty, and that participating in extra craft activities does not have to result in a perfect, award winning creation in order for your children to have a memorable educational experience.

Our focus then turned to Ancient Egypt, which we will camp out on for a couple of weeks. The kids are keeping History notebooks, where they colored a map of the Nile. We quickly mixed up some peanut butter cookie dough (2 cups peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs) because it was the easiest recipe I could find and we had the ingredients on hand. After refrigerating the dough for 30 minutes, the kids spread it out in a baking pan, carved out the shape of Nile River and placed a few cookie pyramids along the bank. We baked it for about 20 minutes (I think on 400 degrees). And because we did not have blue food coloring, we opted for chocolate pudding to represent out river.

We spread on more pudding, flooding out the Nile Delta and the banks of our river, just like the Nile would flood over Egyptians crops each year provided the much needed water.

L2 woke from her nap just in time to help us enjoy the pudding-covered cookies.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wow! Awesome deal!!

I can still remembering receiving my first copy of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. I opened it up and didn't put it down until I literally read it from cover to cover. I devoured every article, every ad, every bit of even the fine print! It was such an incredibly helpful homeschool magazine and I couldn't wait to receive the next issue.

Every once in a while TOS will offer a great subscription price and I always try to take advantage of renewing during one of those times. I can't bear to think that I would miss even one issue! In all my renewing, though, I can't remember one time when the subscription price for the print magazine was quite as low as it is right now...seriously I'm use to TOS offering good deals, but I was shocked when I opened my email to see this sweet deal...

Right now, you can receive a one-year print subscription for just $7.95!! That's it...$7.95!

If you'd like the current issue as well, pay just $12.95. One-year subscriptions start with the winter issue. The one-year plus current issue starts with the fall issue.

Only 5000 of these special subscriptions are available from August 31 through midnight on September 15. Once the 5000 are gone, they'’re gone!

So what are you waiting for? Head over to TOS and get your subscription! Pin It Now!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Time for Science

I've been particularly excited about our science this year. We're going a little heavy and using not one, but two of the Young Explorer Series from Apologia. First, we're using Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day.

I really love everything about this series. The text reads like a conversation and Fulbright is a genious at weaving in God's truths so naturally into science.

Fun experiments are worked into each chapter. Last week the kids studied how it is that winged creatures can fly. They found out what type of wing flies the furthest by creating two "fliers" out of cardstock, clay, and pencils*. (The experiment actually called for straws, but we didn't have any. The straws would have worked better.) One "flier" had a long, thin wing...the other a short, wide wing.

They tested the "fliers" by flying each 10 times, measuring the distance, and finding the average.

This picture was pretty cool...even though you can't see our "flier", you can see the shadow.

To top it all off, we added a new member to the household just to enrich our science studies. Meet Reepicheep.

Okay...we didn't exactly get him just to enrich our studies, but it was very timely. Really, it's a rather long story that includes one of our children being asked to birdsit for a friend while they were on vacation, said child taking excellent care of said bird for 10 days...seriously, excellent, then said bird being found dead at the bottom of its cage the very day our friends were returning home, and finally extremely sympathetic grandparents who bought a bird, cage, and supplies for said child.

Reepicheep is a chatty, young parakeet who isn't exactly thrilled to be a part of our family. He sqauwks loudly and angrily each time the kids come running and yelling through the living room. I sort of think we're soul mates.

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Our First '10-'11 Field Trip

Thankfully, we all survived the first week of the homeschool year, and made it to the second. This was especially good since the second week turned out so much better.

One of the highlights of the week was are very first official fieldtrip of the school year. I have to apologize up front for the excessive amount of photos. This is actually a slimmed down version from what I actually took. I'll keep my comments to a minimum to compensate.

We took a trip to our county GOP for a civics class. By the way, I didn't dress my boys in the same type of shirt on purpose...actually I didn't even notice it until just now.

G9 got us started by leading us in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Mrs. Kim King is running for state representative and led the presentation to our group, which included about 30 K-5 homeschool students.

To demonstrate how a bill is passed, first a governor was chosen from the audience.

The kids were divided in half. One side represented the Senate and the other represented the House of Representatives.

My E6 had a lot to say.

Once a proposed bill passed through the House and the Senate, it was signed into law by the governor. As a side note..I thought it rather funny that the two laws that were proposed by the presenters were "To serve only pizza everyday in school cafeterias" and "The only subject in schools should be recess all day". Apparently, this has gone over well with the public school children when they had done this presentation before. However, the home school students were adamant in their opposition to both of these "bills"! They were all bringing up all sorts of insightful comments as to why they shouldn't "pass" them. Some of my favorites were...

"What if someone is allergic to pizza?" and

"If students only have recess, they won't have enough education. Then they won't be successful in life." (This student was probably in 2nd grade.)

For the sake of the presentation the parents had to coerce them into voting "yes". They VERY reluctantly agreed.

Our state flag.

My A8 was chosen to wear a Derby hat as the lesson continued on to discuss Kentucky traditions.

E6 was chosen to be a jockey.

The jockeys with their trainers paraded around to the tune of "My Old Kentucky Home" mimicking the Derby pre-event.

Ladies in Derby hats and gentlemen in ties clapped for their favorite horses.

G9 (in the tie) looked just like his Daddy. :o)

Here's the whole group! Fun day!

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Look How Far He's Come!

Our Baby L was born exactly 1 year ago. 6 lbs. 15 oz. Such a sweet little man.

One week later he became sick and was admitted to the NICU. Eleven gut-wrenching days. But God sustained us and never left us. And despite the fact that his MRI showed 3 brain bleeds, despite the fact that he has overall low muscle tone, despite the fact that our therapists didn't even expect him to crawl by age one...

Yup! That's Baby L standing all by himself 2 days before his first birthday! God is good!!!

L1 waits expectantly.

Hmmm...seems interesting.

Oh, yeah! This is definitely my favorite...his first bite. I laugh out loud every time I see this picture.

Oh, was it a mess! I have to say a big THANKS to Chad who totally took care of clean-up.

After a quick dunk in the tub, he was ready to open presents.

What a big boy!!
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