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September 19th, 2011

Every Mom Wants To…

Well, it is very rarely that I haven’t met a mom who doesn’t want to lose weight.  I can think of a few women I’ve met who haven’t brought up the fact that they’d like to lose some weight after having known them for a while, but…there haven’t been many of them!

I pretty much have to take the slow and steady route – eating a bit less etc. especially when I am nursing and pregnant, as I have been for the past nine years in various combinations of those two conditions.  I’ve had some mixed results with this approach.  I don’t always lose all of my baby-weight before I get pregnant again (I’m sure many of you can relate), but I do slowly and steadily lose weight if I stay mindful of not eating too much.

I’ve read of many popular diet-pill based programs that include stimulant based aids like diet pills with ephedra, but there is rarely any research available as to how supplements including ephedra affect nursing and pregnant moms.

As a result of a lack of research I’ve just generally tried to stay away from these kinds of supplements.  Have you ever heard of any research into these kinds of ingredients for nursing/pregnant moms?  I might take a peek at this website and see if I can find an answer there.

September 18th, 2011

TOS Crew Review: Getting into Geometry from Aims Educational Foundation

Getting Into Geometry is a teacher’s manual designed to help teachers introduce K-1 students to geometry in fun, hands-on, age-appropriate ways.  It includes 48 activities that progress from simple introductory two-dimensional explorations with shapes (circles, squares, triangles etc.) through to three-dimensional shapes (cones, cubes, spheres etc.) and its 264 pages includes all of the reproducibles you need for the activities.  There are some additional items needed for the book, but most were common household items, and a few we already had on hand – pattern blocks and attribute blocks for instance.  There were some that called for a pocket chart – but I heavily modified some of the activities for our use (read more below).

I used Getting Into Geometry with my entire brood of children, NONE of them wanted to be left out, so we tested the activities with children who were 8, 5, and 3 – and they all had a blast.  We cut out shapes, drew shapes on our porch with chalk, walked shapes on the ground, cut up straws and fastened them together with modeling clay to make shapes, colored shapes, cut shapes, described shapes, talked about shapes, and more.  I loved the pdf file that I received (it is also available in a printed form with a CD – both formats cost $24.95) because it included all of the pages I needed to print, so I just opened the file, found the activity I wanted to do, and printed the associated pages (if any) that I needed – they were always right after the activity they were needed for, minimizing prep time – very handy.

None of the activities took a long time to get ready for, or a long time to do, and they were such a fun way to get hands-in instruction time into our homeschooling day.  I’m a BAD homeschooling mom when it comes to hands-on, I’m happier to just read to them, but it was so fun to watch them BLOSSOM with these shape-related activities.

Getting Into Geometry does require some modification and flexibility on the part of a homeschooling mother with a small group of children – perhaps several children of various ages as I have.  Written for educators in a modern classroom (many students all of the same age) there is some mental translation and finessing that needs to take place to translate the instructions for teachers so that they’ll work for a homeschooling mom.

Sometimes this is pretty easy to do, other times activities need to be completely overhauled and restructured, or even skipped in some cases.  Some activities call for a lot of splitting into groups, group sharing, etc.  I was glad that I was able to pull off many of them with my three children, but they might be tough to do with a single child.  Some activities may also require additional research if you aren’t familiar with the terminology that teachers of early level math and science apparently are.  (I wasn’t sure what a concrete graph was for instance.

If you aren’t that great at thinking up fun, hands-on activities for your early elementary learners and you’d like to cover early geometry concepts in your homeschool, you’ll find Getting Into Geometry to have a wealth of activities to do with your children.  We haven’t used all 48 of them, and I don’t think we’ll need to in order to give my children a good conceptual understanding and familiarity with 2 and 3 dimensional shapes, there are quite a few to choose from – all of them surprisingly fun and developmentally appropriate for young children.  You can find a free online preview of Getting Into Geometry here that will show you the contents of the book and some of the activities as well!

Don’t forget that you can find more reviews of various titles from Aims Educational Foundation from other homeschooling moms at the TOS Crew blog here! 

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of Getting into Geometry for the purposes of this review.  All opinions are genuine and my own.

September 18th, 2011

Florida State Indoor Practice Facility Taking Donations

Florida State University is very committed to college-level athletics.  Not only do they have flashy gold and red uniforms that match their school color (wow, those football helmets are really…golden), but they are also busily raising funds so that they can construct a new Florida State Indoor Practice Facility for teams like the Seminole Boosters to practice in during bad weather.

I must admit that I am not a follower of college level athletics (or, honestly, of professional level athletics either), but sports is a major thing for many North Americans – I’m just not one of them.  However, many believe that college level athletics are big business, and that might be so.  Top athletic universities and colleges are willing to offer full scholarships to promising athletic talent.  It doesn’t matter where in the country these students and aspiring athletes live, colleges are eager to import them and the competition between colleges can often be fierce for the most promising players.  Whether this is simply for prestige as an athletic school, or if there is actually a financial benefit for the college itself if their teams perform well, I do not know.

Here in Alberta much athletic practice also takes place indoors.  We have winters that are around 6 months in length where I live (at LEAST that long!) so the weather is often just too cold to practice out-of-doors.  I suppose that in Florida the opposite is true – extraordinarily hot, muggy weather.  I know I wouldn’t want to be huffing and puffing out in it – I’d have a hard time with just daily activities!  When it’s winter most of the year when it heats up, it’s hard to cope

Now personally I’d have to be incredibly dedicated to a sports team or educational institution in order to contribute to the building of a practice facility, but I’m sure there are those who count Florida State as their alma mater and will be happy to chip in.

 

 

September 18th, 2011

Book Review: Escaping the Devil’s Bedroom by Dawn Herzog Jewell

In Escaping the Devil’s Bedroom Dawn Herzog Jewell has brought together the true-life stories of many men and women from all around the world who have been freed from the bondages of sexual slavery and sin.  From pasts of sexual enslavement, employment in strip-clubs, life on the streets as prostitutes, these are radical, grace-filled stories of redemption, of lives changed by God’s amazing forgiveness, and of the loving, non-judgmental rescue efforts of devoted followers of Christ.

Reading Escaping the Devil’s Bedroom was incredibly challenging for me.  I wept with despair and joy as I read of pasts filled with sexual bondage and abuse, of daring rescue efforts that brought girls into freedom, of a transsexual male prostitute freed from a self-made bondage by the love of Christ and faithful Christian workers.

Most importantly however, was how this work challenged me – did I love enough to reach out in grace and in love like the Christian workers portrayed in this book?  How would I react to a newly born Christian brother who still had breast implants from his life as a transsexual?  I have to admit, I was challenged, and I often think back to the pages of this book as crystal clear examples of Christ-like love in some of the hardest of situations.

In addition to the core of personal stories and profiles, Escaping the Devil’s Bedroom also contains factual information about the victims of the ‘sex-work’ industry, their longing for escape, and ideas for how Christians can help.  Each chapter also includes a scripture reading, reflection questions, and prayer points and requests relating to the chapter.

Escaping the Devil’s Bedroom has spurred many conversations between my husband and myself as I feel inexorably drawn to share the stories contained in these pages with others so that we can bear witness, pray, and act. What an amazing book, I hope you’ll read it and feel drawn to spread its message as well.

Disclosure: I received a physical copy of this title to review.  All opinions are honest and my own.  There are affiliate links included in this post – thanks for your support!

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW AT AMAZON.COM!

September 16th, 2011

Avaya Business Phone Systems Fort Lauderdale, Florida

While many home telephone users are turning away from land-lines and going with a loosely connected series of cell phones and smart phones for their family members, large businesses still have telephone needs that go beyond a network of cell phones.  Land lines may be going the way of the Dodo (we still have one though, and no cell yet!) but even businesses are starting to turn to VOIP solutions.

VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol – we don’t have the speed or bandwidth for it to work for us, but it can be much, much more affordable than traditional telecom solutions.  With the spread of extremely fast internet solutions in major cities, VOIP-based solutions for business can result in a huge savings (up to 50%).  Even home users can realize huge savings (hint, check into Magic Jack online – I wish we could use this!)

Avaya Business Phone Systems Fort Lauderdale is based in South Florida and can help businesses large and small decide on which telephone solution best meets their needs – there are a variety of solutions available.  They have six or so business telephone solutions, and I’m not really techy enough in the phone systems department to be able to analyze and compare the different programs, but they have features such as: call queues, detailed reporting and logs, multiple telephone lines etc.  Some of the telephone plans are bundled with internet access as well – since the VOIP solutions are delivered by internet in any case.

From what I can see though, Avaya can help businesses that need as few as 2 telephones to those that need up to 360 extensions and full digital switchboard capabilities.  They really have a wide range of options available, so if you have a business that needs telephones you might want to take a peek at their website.

 

September 16th, 2011

Book Review: the Gardener and the Vine (Cecil & Friends) by Andrew McDonough

The Gardener and the Vine is another in Andrew McDonough’s boldly illustrated Cecil & Friends series of Jesus’ parables and life as interpreted through a modern lens for children. Andrew McDonough’s vibrant, cartoon-like art keeps children engaged in the simply told story that is likewise with vivid word-imagery.

Presented as the simple adventure as a branch who was taken from his unfruitful life and grafted onto the Vine by the Gardener, this story is packed jam full of rich spiritual meaning for both children and the parents who read this story to them.

A two-page spread for parents helps give some background information and introductory lead-ins to help enjoy and teach your children from this story, making it not only a story, but a little devotional lesson complete with some simple questions and discussion points along with the Bible verses that the story is inspired by (John 15: 1,5).

Honestly, I think that I may have received more spiritual benefit from this story than my small children have.  There is a lot of theological ground covered in this one simple story:  being removed from our old life, being adopted into Christ, the painful sacrifice that made such an adoption possible, the only way of having true life and fruitfulness being through Him – it’s really amazing how much rich depth has been built into this children’s story.  I’m not sure my little ones are old enough to catch it all at this point, but I trust that they are each taking as much as they can from the story at their levels of development.

The Gardener and the Vine is a powerfully transformative story presented in a simple package.  I highly recommend it.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this title to review.  All opinions are honest and my own.  There are affiliate links included in this post – thanks for your support.

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW AT AMAZON.COM OR CHRISTIANBOOK.COM!

September 16th, 2011

Online Post Secondary Options

As the internet continues to grow and expand exciting new online post secondary options for education are becoming to learners of all ages.  Even though I’m at home with my girls all day long I have to admit that even I have looked into some Online Degree Programs.

Even though my highest level of education is a highschool diploma and a certificate from a private vocational college (Executive Secretary – that’s why I type so fast!) I do think that earning a degree would be fun.  I’ve even told my husband that some day I might go back to University just for the joy of learning.  I’m most interested in studying in the realm of the liberal arts, like history or online degree programs in art history.  Not really marketable job skills but fascinating in and of themselves.

Of course, I think that the traditional, in-person, lecture-style post secondary education will soon be outdated and unnecessarily expensive, as any lecture style course can just as easily be delivered over the internet without the huge overhead costs of physical campuses.  This US Department of Education College Navigator website still indicates that most degrees are still found offered by physical schools http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/ - but I hope that we see a phase change before my own girls are old enough to pursue post-secondary.

 

September 15th, 2011

Book Review: The Lion Day-By-Day Bible

When I was a little girl our family had a picture book with the most amazing illustrations in it.  They were of a very specific illustrative style that I don’t have the words to capture, but that have strongly impacted me and have proven to be incredibly memorable. If you’ve ever read the popular Gilgamesh picture books you might be able to visualize what I’m talking about.

When I came across The Lion Day-By-Day Bible I thought, “Ah hah!  Here is a story Bible with similar illustrations!”  This day-by-day Bible is filled with gorgeous artwork, from the borders and small images on each page to the larger pieces every 10 pages or so, the art is exquisitely rich.  The pages also feature colored sidebars to group the stories into groupings, but there is no legend provided for these groupings so the help they provide for navigation is questionable.

This is a chronological story Bible that has a one page reading and prayer for each day of the year.  The breadth of story selection is excellent and covers so many parts of the Bible that typical story Bibles never get to.  A story-finder index is included for finding stories for specific values, occasions, and topics.

I found that as I read through my own chronological Bible my readings and those I was sharing with my children were almost in lock-step, so I think the pacing is fabulous and very true to the pacing of Bible events.

So, all of that being said, this story Bible has a lot going for it.  Unfortunately the binding is its weak point.  Though a hardcover our binding soon split and it has continued to split and break down further, which is really a shame.  Gorgeous illustrations, detailed story, but the binding just hasn’t held up for us.  I hope that this is only a problem with a few copies and not widespread throughout this printing.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book to review.  All opinions are honest and my own.  There are affiliate links included in this post – thanks for your support.

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW AT AMAZON.COM OR CHRISTIANBOOK.COM!

 

September 13th, 2011

Where Can You Get Extra Protein?

When I’m pregnant I often try to get a bit more protein in my diet than I normally do.  My blood sugar is a lot more volatile when I’m pregnant (I’m almost always breastfeeding too), so protein drinks throughout the day can really help.  I’ve never ordered bulk whey protein online before – normally I just pick something up at the local grocery store, but it CAN be tricky to find protein drinks that don’t use soy and that AREN’T artificially sweetened.

The UK whey protein website is fairly new, so there isn’t a place to buy product there yet – just informative articles about whey protein, but if you live in the UK you might want to keep them in mind for future purchases (and pregnancies!)

September 13th, 2011

FIRST Tour: My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife: A One-Year Experiment…and Its Surprising Results by Sara Horn

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

 

Today’s Wild Card author is:

 

Sara Horn

 

and the book:

 

My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife: A One-Year Experiment…and Its Surprising Results

Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karri | Marketing Assistant | Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sara Horn is a wife and mom, a writer, author and founder of Wives of Faith, a military wives ministry. She’s a sought-after media guest and writer of numerous articles and books including GOD Strong and the Gold Medallion nominee A Greater Freedom cowritten with bestselling author Oliver North. She’s devoted to her husband who serves in the U.S. Navy Reserves, crazy about her son, and passionate about her ministry to women. Please visit

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Sara Horn, a busy writer and mother, deemed the Proverbs 31 wife to be an impossible ideal. Or is it? This surprising, heartfelt personal account of Sara’s one-year experiment reveals how even a domestically-challenged woman can embrace God’s purpose and encourages readers to pursue God’s amazing plan for their lives.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736939415
ISBN-13: 978-0736939416

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Oh Be Careful What You Preach

Yesterday was Sunday.

Our pastor started a new sermon series on the family. We missed the first sermon last week, but we were there yesterday for the second. The first week was “Dads Matter More than Anything.” This week’s was titled “Moms Matter Just as Much.”

Good to know.

As the pastor got started, I pulled out my Bible and my notebook, all ready to take notes. But then he said something that made my stomach churn. My hands instinctively made fists. My eyebrows furrowed.

The biblical passage he was speaking from was Proverbs 31.

Of course, I muttered to myself, turning to the passage I revere and fear at the same time.

The Proverbs 31 wife and I don’t get along very well. I don’t appreciate how bad she makes me look. I don’t like the guilt I feel when I see her. If she is the standard all Christian wives should work toward, then I’m in serious trouble. If she’s the equivalent of Miss America, then I’m a whole lot more like Lucille Ball. I have a lot of explaining to do for why I’m not more like Miss America. And I’m not really sure I can.

The pastor started making his points:

An Excellent Wife Is a Rare Find (v. 10).
An Excellent Wife Can Be Trusted in Every Way (vv. 11-12).
An Excellent Wife Is Concerned for Others (v. 20).
An Excellent Wife Is Strong and Stable (v. 25).
And so it went.

I stopped taking notes at “An Excellent Wife Is a Tireless Worker.”

My husband glanced over at me when he heard my notebook snap shut. He knows that’s never a good sign. Neither was the steam coming out of my ears and the laser stare in my eyes. He started looking for the exits, just in case.

I don’t like it when men tell women what will make us excellent. I don’t consider myself a feminist at all, but I just don’t think men can possibly understand the woman any more than we can understand the man. That’s why Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus was written. Eve may have been formed from the man’s rib, but she definitely had a mind of her own. And maybe, just maybe, if Adam had taken more time to understand her, the whole scene with the apple and the garden might have gone a lot better. Just sayin’.

Part of my struggle with the treatment of the fairer sex comes from the attitudes I’ve witnessed through the church denomination I’ve partly grown up and worked in. I agree with a lot that my denomination stands for. But when it comes to the treatment and attitudes about the service of women in the church, it often leaves me with the same feeling I get when I hear fingernails scratch down a chalkboard.

What I don’t understand is why there’s this 21-verse list of what the perfect wife is and not at least a Top 10 of what makes a perfect husband. I raised this question once on Facebook, and a guy I know who is deep into seminary classes pointed out that Ephesians 5:25-28 is an all-encompassing directive for husbands. See what you think:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Really? That’s great. Husbands are told to love their wives as they love themselves, and wives are given a laundry list of ways to show our love (just in case we might get confused and think the husband, as part of his love, might also “get up while it’s still dark and provide food” for his family). Husbands—you show love. Wives—get to cookin’.

Back to my stewing. I sat, listening to our pastor as he continued to speak on all the things that make an excellent wife, from the example of the Proverbs 31 superwoman:

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.

Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.

She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.

She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.

She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.

She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.

She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.

In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.

When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.

She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
(Proverbs 31:10-31)

I kept reading this passage, over and over, the successes of this great wifely role model taunting me more than encouraging me, my very being wilting and shrinking as I sat there, no comparison to this giant of an example. I was waiting, for what, I didn’t know. Waiting for something—a bright glimmer, anything that my pastor might say to give all the wives sitting in the audience, or maybe just me, some hope. He didn’t let me down. His last point was the same point I have made in the past: The Proverbs 31 woman’s most important task is to fear the Lord (v. 30).

My breathing relaxed a little. This, after all, was something I understood. Of course, I want to be a better wife and homemaker. I want to be a better woman in general. But my greatest desire is to be closer to God as his daughter. I want that close, incredible relationship with him.

I haven’t always done well with this. If God and I were going for a walk in the park, I’d be the kid running out in front, barely able to wait for him. Patience is not my strength. Waiting on God is hard.

I began to prayerfully think over the pounding of my heart, the churning of my stomach, and my fingers digging into my thighs. OK, so why am I so mad? Am I mad at the Proverbs 31 wife? Am I upset with the pastor? Am I angry at myself? I mean, I argued with myself. Wouldn’t it be great if you COULD be like the Proverbs 31 wife—if you were praying and reading the Bible and really staying in touch with God every day? Couldn’t God help you do it all?

He could if he wanted to, I’m sure. I’m just not convinced he wants me to be able to do it all. I’m not even convinced that the Proverbs 31 wife was real. I mean, I grew up being told King Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs, and he wasn’t exactly a role model when it came to women. He liked having as many wives as he could, and in fact it was his infatuation for the opposite sex that got him into trouble toward the end of his reign.

What if this woman we’ve all idolized and tried to emulate is just a concoction from King Solomon and a group of his royal cronies who sat around one day, drinking beers, and decided to have an impromptu brainstorming session on what makes the perfect wife? And some servant of his wrote all of these ideas down on a big Post-it note and it eventually made its way into Proverbs with all the other wise things Solomon wrote? In fact, my Bible notes that verses 10-31, the Proverbs 31-wife passage, is actually an acrostic. Each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. See? I told you it was a drinking game.1

Or if this woman really did exist, then maybe she was like the Martha Stewart of her day, and I’m sure the majority of the women living in that time didn’t like her and didn’t appreciate her. And while they watched her television shows and read her magazine, Housekeeping in the Holy Land, behind closed doors, they lived in fear and guilt that one day their husbands would come home and say, “Why can’t you be more like the Proverbs 31 wife?”

But then I got a crazy idea. Why can’t I be more like the Proverbs 31 wife? What would it be like to try and actually follow the example of this woman so many hold in such esteem?

I definitely had some things to think about.

 

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Welcome!

Jennifer. Follower of Yeshua. Wife of one man. Homeschooling mother of 5.