Monday, January 27, 2014

Molding Mind's Top 3 Cheap Christian Curriculum Choices

We have been blessed and almost always been able to purchase whatever curriculum I wanted within reason. I always try to get it second hand but some things are consumable and you just can't do that. Now that I have been homeschooling for a few years, I am less distracted by the shiny things and am definitely more cost conscious as I add up the amount I have spent over the past 5 years. Since we have tried out so many programs trying to find that perfect fit for our family (which by the way I am sure is mythical), I have come across some excellent homeschool programs and shockingly enough, they aren't always the most expensive!

1. ACE (Accelerated Christian Education). We are really just into our first year of using ACE's English and Word Building programs, but so far they seem to be thorough, easy for the kids to do independently, and cost effective. A typical Ace Pace (about 3 weeks worth of work) will cost you about $3 when you consider shipping and can also be purchased as a complete subject for around $33 plus shipping. If you do a 6 subject school day that works out to just under $200 before shipping for an entire school year! ACE's website can be a bit difficult to navigate and the ordering process was somewhat confusing the first time, but ACE does offer a diagnostics test that helps you figure out where your student needs to start as well as possible gaps.

2. Christian Light Education. Like ACE, Christian Light sells units rather than a complete book at once. This again allows you to purchase a single unit at a time, this time at $3.35 per book before shipping. An entire subject will cost you around $34 per shipping making your 6 subject year $204 plus shipping. We haven't officially started our CLE Math 4, but I have heard so many great things about it that I purchased my son the 1st grade Learning to Read today. My total with shipping was about $53.

3. Rod and Staff. We have really liked Rod and Staff Math last year and this year. We are going to work our way through grade 4 and try out CLE Math 4 since we homeschool year around, and end up finishing books before the school year is officially up for us, but as maths go, Rod and Staff is top notch. It is a no frills curriculum which means you can get it at an excellent cost. Our Grade 4 texts were $15 before shipping and my two teacher's manuals (yes, this one required 2) were about $12 each. Total I paid about $51 after shipping. The complete Grade 4 Program Set will run you $259 before shipping. A little more expensive than the previous two, and prices will vary a bit from grade to grade, but still a great price for an entire year's worth of brand new curriculum.

We love getting new books and while "new to us" is fun, there is something about a crispy new text book that makes the new school year something to really look forward to. These curricula not only give you solid educational choices, but can also give you brand new school books and all you have to do is put back $20 per month for a year!

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Why Young Living Oils?

As I have journeyed through the change to eating "Real Food", making healthier medical decisions for my family just made sense. I have been using oils for a little while, but if I am honest, I just couldn't bring myself to try Young Living Oils. I mean lets face it. Oils in the big box store are about 1/3 the price of Young Living Oils. So what changed my mind?

As I was talking to a good friend who had recently taken the plunge herself, and reading and research brought me to story after story of how Young Living Oils had changed how their own families handled illness and minor injury and as I noticed that my bottle of $11 Eucalyptus was taking me 20+ drops for me to even be able to smell it, I began to wonder if I was in fact, getting what I paid for. So one day, my friend kindly allowed me to use some of her RC for a persistent cough I had. I grabbed some oil and was about to pour several drops of RC into it when I decided to ask her first how many drops I should use. One. One? Yes, one. Yeah, least that was what I was thinking. I rubbed my one drop of RC mixed with coconut oil onto my chest and walked away skeptical. I was completely cough free for 4 hours. Not only that, but my congestion cleared up and within 24 hours was completely gone and not a single OTC medication had been able to clear it up!

I was sold on the RC, but remained skeptical of the other oils, until my own kit came in. Now I have first hand seen the immune boosting power of Thieves, the congesting clearing power of Eucalyptus, the air purifying qualities of Purification, the calming power of Lavender and so much more. Not only have I seen these oils work first hand, but I have seen them work with a fraction of the amount the big box oils needed. The potency of Young Living Oils just can't be beat and that gives you your money's worth.

What are oils?

Oils are concentrated potent plant extracts that can be used for anything from immune support to treating headaches to purifying the air. Oils were man's first line of defense for illness and first aid are even mentioned in the Bible (Frankincense and Myrrh are two you probably recognize)!

What are oils used for?

Everything! Well, just about. Peppermint can be used for headaches, Thieves is used for immune support and as a disinfectant, lemon is great for tummy troubles and purifying the air, clove helps with tooth aches, and lavender helps with itchy bug bites, scrapes and bruises. The possibilities are literally too numerous to name! Whether you are looking for an antibacterial, mood support or PMS support there is an oil for you. The best part is that oils are hypo-allergenic and if you do have a side effect they are usually very mild.

Oils can even be used on children though I suggest doing some research on just how to use oils with children and babies. Stephanie at Real Food Enthusiast suggests Gentle Babies as a good resource. For adults I recommend using the Quick Reference Guide for Essential Oils.

Why Young Living Oils?

I know, I know. Why pay $44 for a bottle of Thieves when you can go to the store and purchase oils for much less? One word:quality.

Young Living Oils are extracted using gentle methods that allow the oils to stay 100% pure. Because Young Living owns its own farms they oversee the process of making oils from seed to seal. Because of the quality of Young Living oils, most of the oils they produce are safe to consume. Something store purchased cheap oils can not boast.

When you are talking about your health and your families health you are making an investment and the best investment you can make is to purchase high quality oils from a reputable company. When you purchase inexpensive oils from the store you are almost guaranteed to be getting oils that are on their 2nd or even 3rd distillation. It is a case of you get what you pay for.

”Even an oil which is quite truthfully described as pure may be of poor quality, and therefore of less value  therapeutically.  IF AN ESSENTIAL OIL COSTS MUCH LESS THAN YOU WOULD NORMALLY EXPECT  TO PAY FOR IT, the oil may well be a third or fourth distillate from a batch of plant material which has already  yielded the greater part of its properties to the first or second distillation.” Aromatherapy An A-Z, by Patricia Davis, 1988, reprinted 1994, Saffron Walden, The C.W. Daniel Company Ltd., England, pp. 278-280.

The great thing about Young Living is that they offer ways to get discounted or even free product and you do not have to commit to selling the oils to get this discount!

For my family, it is about quality. I will not take chances with my families health and we work far too hard to keep our eating clean and to use natural cleaners to be skimping on the oils we use. Young Living has a great reputation and I have seen first hand how they help my family.

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A Day in the Life of an Oily Family

Brandy has shared with us all about how she uses her Young Living Oils every day. If you missed out on her post be sure to check it out on The Marathon Mom!


It took a while for me to be convinced of how great essential oils could be for our family. It took me even longer to be convinced that Young Living Oils were the way to go. Now, after using them for several months I am sold! We have used our oils for everything from sanitizing to getting a good nights sleep and I am excited to share with you what a typical day with oils looks like for our family!

I am cold natured and with it being winter I wake up nearly every day dreading getting out from under the blanket so the first thing I do is run a hot bath. With this being cold and flu season I use the steam from my bath as a chance to use my Eucalyptus to it's fullest. A few drops in the tub and the air is filled with congestion fighting oil!

Straight out of the bath it is time to oil up for the day. I am still building my stash and can't wait to get some Valor into my routine, but for now our routine includes RC on the chest, Thieves on spine and feet and I start up the diffuser with either Lemon, Thieves or if I have had an especially busy morning Lavender to help calm.

My daughter is a competitive gymnast and spends a lot of her time sore. Deep Relief roll on is her best friend right now! After she does her morning workout and stretch, I oil up her sore muscles to give her some relief. I have also had a crick in my neck and depending on how it feels I oil up my neck as well.

 I like to keep my Home Diffuser cycling through my "winter" oils. Through the day I will rotate Lemon, Thieves, RC, Oregano with Lemon, and Balsam Fir mixed with Lemon. I also throw in Cinnamon Bark on colder days to make the house feel warm as well as give us an immune boost.

While the kids are working on school it is time for me to clean! Young Living Oils has many great cleaners that I intend on trying, but for right now I am making my own by adding Thieves to my water and vinegar mix. Not only does it smell great but it disinfects and gets into the air to give us even more more immune power.

Ok, I know I said I was the one cleaning but he was so excited to
get to spray that I couldn't say no. Especially since I know
the Thieves in this mix is not only safe, but good for him!
3 Nights per week we head up to the gym for my daughters gymnastics practices. The gym really tries hard to keep things clean, but of course they use commercial cleaners. My newest oil in my arsenal is Purification. On gym nights when we get home I will be putting it into the diffuser so that we can breath it in and detox our lungs a bit.

After gymnastics is finished and dinner is eaten it is time to get ready for bed. Lavender goes into the diffuser and we all sit in my room together doing a family activity while relaxing and breathing in the Lavender. Thieves is again rubbed into spines and feet and snuggles are given. Time to head to bed. I have run Lavender for a few more hours in my bedroom the last 2 nights and have slept hard and uninterrupted for the first time in months. Thank you Young Living Oils!

This is just what we use daily. There are so many more uses for oils that I could never hope to name them all. This past month we have used Thieves for a toothache, Lemon for tummy troubles and for cooking, Stress Away for hard days, Deep Relief for cluster headaches, and Oregano as part of our cold and flu season routine, and this is just cracking the surface.

○ "Are you ready to jump in to this wonderful world of caring for yourself and your
family naturally with essential oils?? The time is now! Click here  to learn more or contact the person who introduced you to "A Day in the
Life of an Oiler" blog series! :)

Next up is Marcie @ Mama Marcie whose post will go live Thursday at 7am!

Be sure to check out all 18 posts In "A Day In the Life of an Oiler" blogger series.

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Is Altar Call Biblical?

As a child I attended a very traditional fundamental Baptist church. You know the kind; a long skirt wearin', KJV carryin', altar call havin'. While I have come to believe that none of these are essential to a good church, I am specifically going to focus on the altar call. You will have to forgive me if I ramble. I am not so good at getting things like this out, but never the less, writing them helps me sort out holes in my reasoning and I certainly enjoy hearing comments when I post something like this, but be kind please :).

Anyways, back to the point. We have flitted back and forth between churches quite a bit. I am not particularly proud of this, but when Karl and I first got married we felt an obligation to stay at my "home church". I mean, I had literally grown up there having attended school and several services a week. He was a new Christian so relied on my um, expertise, to guide the decision on where we went. When we tried different churches, even up until recently, we always went to ones that were nearly identical to the church I had grown up in. Not surprisingly, we weren't being led to stay at any of those either! After several discussions we tried a few churches that were far outside of my comfort zone. When we found the one we believed the Lord was leading us to, we took a hard look at what was different. There were many things, the style of preaching, the less legalistic approaches to dress and Bible versions, but none stood out more than the fact that they followed a more traditional order of service and there was one big thing missing: altar call. Altar call is a staple in a IFBC church. I have never been to a Baptist church in general that didn't have an altar call, but I would be shocked to my core to find an IFBC church that didn't have one. After much studying and prayer we have both come to the conclusion that while we do not believe that altar call is in and of itself wrong, we do both believe that it is a bigger hindrance than a help to evangelizing. Here is why:

It often creates an emotionally manipulative atmosphere. I know this isn't usually the intention but, think of the altar calls you have witnessed. There was likely an emotional introduction to the call begging you to accept Christ as savior while slow, soft music beckons you to come just as you are. I have found myself caught up in this sort of manipulation. Coming to the altar under emotional coercion will most likely not result in a true conversion. Which brings me to my next thought:

The Sinner's Prayer is deceiving
. In an IFBC the "Sinner's Prayer" is a big tool. The prayer itself it completely fine. It is a prayer of repentance, the declaration of faith in Christ and the asking of forgiveness and salvation. Most of us who are born again, will have said some sort of prayer similar to the traditional Sinner's Prayer (I don't necessarily believe the prayer is required to be saved. The prayer is simply an out-loud manifestation what of the new believer is doing through the conviction of the Holy Spirit). However, this prayer is held so highly in regard to so many Protestants that it can be deceiving. Saying a prayer does not save us. Without the opening of our eyes to the need of a savior by the Holy Spirit, and true repentance, the Sinner's Prayer accomplishes nothing. Now, as a Christian whose eyes are opened, I know this, but combine this rote prayer with the emotional manipulation that altar call can produce and how many walk away thinking that because they said a prayer they are now saved? Again this leads into my next thought:

It produces false converts. I went to the IFBC for about 23 years with a few years sprinkled in here and there up until about a year ago. I saw many many "converts" stand in front of the church. Including close friends and even myself. I can attest that there are some converts as a result of the altar call, but if we are to judge by fruit produced, I can also attest that for every 1 true conversion there were dozens of false converts. And oh! How many times I heard the story of how someone walked down the aisle to get saved but later realized they themselves were a false convert. Even the pastor at the IFBC I attended told that story! Thinking back to those I watched converts at the altar, very few were baptized and even fewer continued to come to services. I don't claim to be able to judge the hearts of those who did not appear to follow through with their faith, but the Bible does tell us that we can judge a tree by it's fruits and for most altar converts, the fruit just doesn't seem to be there. If every person that walked up an aisle and said a prayer was truly converted our churches would be over flowing!

Of course, there is nothing in the Bible the specifically forbids the altar call, but looking through scripture will also not reveal a single specific instance in which an altar call was used and it appears to be something that was only relatively recently added to church services. Yes, some people will be saved as a result of the altar call, but can we afford to be pragmatic about something that is also potentially causing such large numbers of false converts?

There are many things I am reconciling as my faith matures and I have had to make changes in order to line up with what I believe to be Biblical. Altar call is not something that I focus on much but when I do think about it enough to study it, I can't seem to bring myself to being ok with it.

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5th Grade Reading List

This year I will technically have a 4th and 5th grader, but I have found that both of my girls have done well reading off of the same list and it is pretty easy to find books that stretch across more than 1 grade level so they will continue to read the same books and I will just call it a 5th grade list.

We are working on finishing our 3rd and 4th grade list and while we have done pretty well with me letting them chose what order they read the books in, I am going to change things up a bit. Keira tends to go only for the shorter books thinking they are easier and it takes some convincing to get her to read some of the bigger books which aren't even necessarily more challenging, just longer. Brianna tends to only pick the books about animals. Of course, I have no problem with either of these really, but I am insistent that they will be exposed to a wide variety of literature during their required (oh yes, I require an hour of reading each day) and they are free to read as many short books about animals they desire during their casual reading time. Anyways, I think I will choose the 2 books for them, let them read them and then have them swap so that both girls finish both books and they can be moved onto the "read" shelf.

I compile my lists using other lists from places like Sonlight and Tapestry of Grace. I also prefer to pick books that I have had a chance to read myself, but that doesn't always happen and since I was tortured with bland readers during my school years, I actually missed out on a lot of really good classic literature. My hopes are to have 50 new books for the girls to read each year and a wide variety of genre and difficulty with in reason.

David Livingstone (Christian Heroes Then and Now series)
William Carey (Christian Heroes Then and Now series)
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Daughter of the Mountains
Shadow Spinner
Mary Slessor (Christian Heroes Then and Now series)
Call It Courage
The House of Sixty Fathers
The Hobit
Henry Reed Inc
The Kite Fighters
Star of Light
King of  the Wind
Around the World in 80 Days
Red Sand, Blue Sky
Albert Einstein: A Photographic Story of a Life
Billy Graham: Just Get Up & Out of Your Seat
The Breadwinner

Falling Up
Hardy Boys: Tower of Treasure
The Hundred Dresses
Mary Poppins
Pippi Longstocking
Railway Children
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Little Women
Anne of Green Gables
The Secret of the Garden
Carry on Mr Bowditch
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Ella Enchanted
Amos Fortune, Free Man
Because of Windixie
Bridge to Terabithia
The White Stag
A Gathering of Days
It's Like This, Cat
Miracles on Maple Hill
40. By the Great Horn Spoon!
A Wrinkle in Time
The Summer of the Swans
The Land
Maniac Magee
The Midwife's Apprentice
The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread
The Matchlock Gun
Rabbit Hill
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain
Along Came a Dog

I need to add a few more but this is a great start.


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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hello 2014!

I am not going to lie! 2013 was good to us. I reflect on the year and it doesn't seem like it was a anything but a great year.  I know there was some bad - I had a very hard time with one child in particular - the hardest time yet - and I got a not so nice introduction to anxiety, but when I close my eyes and think about it, it was still a great year.

None of us went hungry.

We had running water that was clean.

We had clothing that was appropriate for our seasons.

We had a running vehicle.

My husband has a job.

My kids are alive and for the most part, well.

We have a Bible in our own language.

We have healthy pets.

We have access to an education - in our case that is homeschooling.

We were able to pray and worship God without fear.

We have a roof over our heads.

We have heat in the winter and cool air in the summer.

So many things, so many privileges, so much love.

I say adieu to 2013 with much fondness as I have ever had for a year.  I am looking forward to 2014, to see what this year has for us.

Happy New Year!

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