Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Our Easter Plans

Easterplans@myblessingsfromabove.com

{you can find the names of Jesus garland tutorial (pictured above) at The Homespun Heart. I made ours several years ago and we get it out every Easter}

**this post contains affiliate links.

I am planning some fun and meaningful activities for the boys this week and I thought I would share them with you.

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Tonight when Larry gets home we will be observing Passover. If you are not aware Passover began at sundown last night and ends at sundown tonight. My plan was to do this yesterday but I had a church meeting last night so we are observing today. 

I found a great lesson over at Future.Flying.Saucers that I plan on using. I picked everything up the other day while I was out shopping that we will need for the lesson. I I had a difficult time finding a lamb bone. We checked several stores before I found one.

Justin and I recently had a discussion about incorporating more Jewish tradition into our Christian faith. I was so glad he brought this up as it has been on my heart for a while now to incorporate them. So we decided that this year we would begin.

If you are looking for Passover resources Scripture Adventures currently has their ebook A Passover Celebration for Christian Families available as a FREE download.

I plan on using this Rooster and Coin activity that I found at Almost Unschoolers. Instead of using chocolate covered silver coins. I will be using silver change that I already have on hand.

Kaden is going to making this Easter story wreath and Justin will be creating this Last Supper craft. 

If time permits I would like to do one of these cross activities. Stained Glass Easter Cross or this Easter Sun Catcher craft. I especially like this Paid on the Cross craft. Instead of paper mache boxes I have a few wooden crosses on hand.

Books!

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We will be reading our Easter books and I picked up two Passover books to read as well as a new Easter book from the library that are new to us this year!

The Story of Passover by Norma Simon

The Longest Night by Laurel Snyder

At Jerusalem’s Gate: Poems for Easter by Nikki Grimes

I am also pulling out our What’s in the Bible Volume 2 Let my People Go! About the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. (I love these DVD’s. I have learned as much from them as the kids)

We also plan on watching The Ten Commandments that is airing on Saturday evening. (check your local listings)

In addition we will be reading both the Passover and Easter stories from the Bible. Our church holds a Maundy Thursday service that we will be attending as well. And of course we will be attending Sunday school and church on Resurrection Sunday!

If you are looking for some additional Easter ideas I have a Pinterest board of Easter ideas!

I also have a post up over at Home & School Mosaics about a few of our other Easter Traditions & Resources we will be using and have used in the past!

How to you celebrate Easter in your home? Do you incorporate any Jewish traditions into your celebration?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Star Chronicles: A Bible-Based Study of the Stars {review}

 

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**This post contains affiliate links.

We are an astronomy loving family. It all started with Justin who around age 2  fell in love with astronomy when I purchased him a Baby Galileo DVD. Something clicked in his little brain and the rest as they say….is history!

When the opportunity to review Star Chronicles: A Bible-Based Study of the Stars by Dawnita Fogleman presented itself, I knew I wanted to participate. Justin is now almost 13 and still loves astronomy. We own over 100 books on planets and stars and astronomy and several documentaries. There is just something about the beautiful night sky that draws him!

Out of all of our books though only a few (I can probably count less than five) are from a Biblical perspective. Most are evolution based or the scientists who wrote them are evolution scientists.

@myblessingsfromabovea

Star Chronicles is based on Biblical teachings. You will not find any astrology or horoscopes within this study. We are not at all into astrology in our family and have little interested it.

What will you find in this study? Historical and Biblical information about the 12 major constellations.

  • Virgin & Bride (Virgo)
  • Justice & Balance (Libra)
  • Sting of Death (Scorpio)
  • Archer (Sagittarius)
  • Goat (Capricorn)
  • Water Bearer (Aquarius)
  • Fish (Pisces)
  • The Lamb (Aries)
  • A Bull (Taurus)
  • Twins (Gemini)
  • Resurrection (Cancer)
  • Lion (Leo)

Star Chronicles is a self contained study. Everything you need is right in the book. It is very helpful to have a Bible and Dawnita does have a list of suggested items you can use to enhance your study. Scrapbook, stickers, scrapbooking paper and other scrapbooking supplies to name a few. 

You can view a free sample of Star Chronicles here.

However you don’t really have to purchase another thing. There are coloring pages for younger children as well as lapbook and notebooking pages for older children  also included. In addition there are full color star charts for each constellation.  If you have a printer and some ink you are ready to go!

At the end of the book you will find  a list of additional books suggested to go along with the study.

I opted not to print anything except the notebooking pages for Justin, coloring pages for Kaden and the full color star charts. I just love those star charts!

Each  lesson points back to the Bible and how it is related. The first constellation is Virgin & Bride (Virgo) and points to the Old Testament prophecy of the Virgin Mary and also points to the New Testament prophecy of the Bride of Christ (the church).

In addition to the major constellations some of the smaller constellations are also explained through Biblical teaching.

We found this extremely interesting and are taking our time working our way through each constellation.

I am very excited to continue to work through this wonderful study, it is a great addition to our Bible studies and a fantastic way to study the stars!

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Star Chronicles is available in both print and PDF format.  Currently you can save 25% by using the above code!

You can find the print version on Amazon for $22.12 (you can also take a look inside) and the PDF can be found here for $12.00

 About the Author

Dawnita Fogleman is a fifth generation Oklahoma Panhandle Pioneer. She and her husband, Paul, have six amazing children. They have homeschooled from the start and now have two graduated and starting their own businesses. With the family business and their little farm every day is a surprise. Dawnita blogs about life on the “funny farm” at FoglemanForerunner.com.

Star Chronicles:  A Bible-Based Study of the Stars

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Queen’s Handmaid {review}

The Queen’s Handmaid by Tracy L. Higley

 

About the Book

Alexandria, Egypt 39 BC

Orphaned at birth, Lydia was raised as a servant in Cleopatra's palace, working hard to please while keeping everyone at arm's length. She's been rejected and left with a broken heart too many times in her short life.

But then her dying mentor entrusts her with secret writings of the prophet Daniel and charges her to deliver this vital information to those watching for the promised King of Israel. Lydia must leave the nearest thing she's had to a family and flee to Jerusalem. Once in the Holy City, she attaches herself to the newly appointed king, Herod the Great, as handmaid to Queen Mariamme.

Trapped among the scheming women of Herod's political family---his sister, his wife, and their mothers---and forced to serve in the palace to protect her treasure, Lydia must deliver the scrolls before dark forces warring against the truth destroy all hope of the coming Messiah.

My Thoughts

I love history. Lately I have enjoyed quite a bit of Biblical fiction. I especially love a book that is rich in it’s history and well written. Tracy Higley has brought together the best of both worlds in her latest book The Queen’s Handmaid.

Set in the time of Cleopatra and Marc Antony and King Herod. Set in 39 BC and waiting for the arrival of the long awaited Messiah.

The story is about Lydia an orphan who is serving as a handmaid in Cleopatra’s court. The story takes us to two very powerful courts of the time.  Lydia has a very important and dangerous job to fulfill. She has been given a job to get the scrolls of Daniel from Egypt to Jerusalem safely.

What a wonderful story! I loved learning about the politics of the time and the courts of these two famous Kingdoms. And the anticipation of the Messiah coming!

The author has done her research writing this story! You won’t be able to put this book down until you are finished!

Be sure to visit the Litfuse website for more about The Queen’s Handmaid.

 

About the Author: Tracy L. Higley started her first novel at age eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. She has authored many novels, including Garden of Madness and So Shines the Night. Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures.

See Tracy's travel journals and more at: tracyhigley.com

 

 

Tracy L. Higley is celebrating the release of The Queen's Handmaid with a fun giveaway.

Retailers + Resources gave it this glowing review: "Rich in historic detail, Higley’s vivid writing brings to life the plots and intrigues that swirled through the ancient world as alliances were built and broken on the calculated schemes of power-mad monarchs." 
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  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Queen's Handmaid by Tracy L. Higley
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 19th. Winner will be announced April 21st on Tracy's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Tracy's blog on April 21st to see if you won.

disclosure: I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.

 

Easy Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Back in March we celebrated Kaden’s 9th birthday.  I asked him what kind of cake he wanted and he decided he wanted an ice cream cake. I had been wanting to try making an ice cream sandwich cake I found on Pinterest and knew it would be perfect for his birthday.

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Let me just say this was the easiest cake I have ever made! Nothing like when I made the solar system cake for Justin’s the birthday.

Not only was this cake easy it also tasted yummy! Everyone loved it! I will be making it again. You can find the recipe here. You are going to thank me when you see how easy it is. And you’re guests are going to love it! You’re welcome.

 

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We used Reese's cups and caramel topping on ours. I personally think that crushed up Heath bars would be divine!

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Oh and one little tip: You could make this cake any size you want. I made this one with the full 24 bars suggested in the recipe. But you know it would be great to make one with maybe 8 or 12 bars. If you didn’t want a full  9 x 13 cake.

Give it a try. You won’t be sorry!

 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Big Picture Interactive Bible {review}

 

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About the Book

The Big Picture Interactive Bible has nearly a thousand features in full color throughout including pictures of key items so children can understand what they're reading. The B&H Kids Augmented Reality App (free and available for Android and iPhone) creates a digital pop-up book when used with full-color illustrations, bringing the Bible to life for each child. It features the full text of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, a clear, contemporary English translation that's faithful to the original languages of the Bible.

Other features included are:

  • Big Words - Colorful Bible Dictionary entry with photos, maps, illustrations and descriptions of key terms, right in the Bible text.
  • Big Questions/Big Answers - Kids always want to know why. This feature asks and then answers many of the common "big questions" throughout the Bible.
  • Christ Connection - This feature can be found from Genesis to Revelation and will help kids understand how each story points us to Christ and His work for us.
  • Introductions - Basic information about the books of the Bible will give kids perspective on the who, what and when for each book as well as "the Big Picture" from that book and key stories it contains.
  • Icons - Special icons are placed throughout the Bible to connect to the Gospel Project for Kids curriculum.
  • Memory Verses - Scripture memorization is much more than "saying the words." When a child memorizes a Bible verse and puts it to practice in their daily life, that child begins to learn how God can lead his life. The top 100 verses to remember are highlighted throughout the Bible.
  • Parent Connection - This feature is designed to help parents be empowered to engage deeper in the story with their kids.
  • Seeing the Big Picture - This feature digs into key Bible stories to help young hearts and minds grasp the meaning and provide parents with extra information to discuss the Bible with their kids.

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My Thoughts:

The Big Picture Interactive Bible is a unique Bible in that it is interactive. Not only can you read it as you would a normal Bible but you can download the Free app that comes with the Bible and interact with it. 

The translation of this particular Bible is the Holman Christian Standard version, a version we did not own. I like this translation. It is easy to read and understand, although it is not a watered down version of the Bible. It is the full version from Genesis to Revelation.  There are several full color maps in the back of the book for reference. I also really like the colored illustrations throughout. I really appreciate the sections for learning Big Words, which helps children understand some of the bigger words used in the Bible.

The pages are thin, but very sturdy and not so paper thin that they tear easily and the print is not teeny tiny, but a nice

There is a Bible story index and a topical concordance in the back of the book as well.

The illustrations are eye catching. I especially like the way the books of the Bible are written. You really take notice of them.

We really liked The Big Picture Interactive Bible and will be using it with our Bible studies.

disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.

 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Frugal Pokémon Piñata {Tutorial}

frugalpokemonpinata
Last week we celebrated Kaden’s 9th birthday! (I still can’t believe he is 9! Where did my baby go?) Kaden wanted a Pokémon piñata for his birthday. The only problem? I did not like the $20 price tag. Let’s face it birthdays can get expensive. You not only need the piñata, you also need candy to fill it which can easily run into $30 by the time you’ve purchased said piñata and candy. Not a good plan. Especially when you have other aspects of the party to pay for. Like the cake and some other food for the party.
My solution? Make one myself. I was going to  purchase a generic piñata and do a bit of altering.  My plan was to stop in the party store or one of the big box stores to see what I could find around $10.
I was super excited when we stopped at Five Below and found a piñata for $3.99!  Now that was a price I was willing to pay! Of course it had a skull on it and Kaden was not sold on the idea that it would look like a Pokémon piñata.  I promised him it would.  He decided he wanted it to look like a Pokémon Poke ball.
What you need:
  • Piñata
  • Scissors
  • crepe paper (red, white and black)
  • Tape or glue (I used tape)
  • Card stock (I used white)
  • Black Marker
  • Glass or jar to create a circle
The piñata
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The cat inspectors making sure the piñata was up to code!
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Step 1:
Cut off the streamers on either side of the piñata
Note: If you have a piñata that you need to open-there is a ribbon on each side of the piñata. Do not cut those off until you have firmly pulled them to make the piñata stay open! I cut ours off after it was securely opened. You can see them in the photo below they are red and white striped.
Also if you have a pull string piñata you don’t want to cut those off! Ours were black and gray. Of course IF you did cut them off you could always give your kids a bat and have them whack it until they broke it open! Since this was inside in a smallish space I thought the pull string were much safer, if not as exciting. After all I didn’t want any of our guests getting “bashed”.
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Step 2:
Make a circle with the card stock. (you will need one for both sides) I didn’t measure and it is not straight. I  taped two pieces together to make a complete circle. It does not have to be perfect. No one will see this part. You might not have to do this step if your covering your piñata with a darker color. The black was showing through on ours.
You can also give the sides a trim if you want. I did. Hence those black specs in the photo.
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Step 3:
Start adding your crepe paper. I took a pair of scissors and fringed the paper. I was not too careful. I didn’t bother to measure any of the crepe paper as I added it. That’s how I roll! Once it was fringed, I just taped it on.
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The red almost done. I started in the center and worked my way to the top.
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Red and white done on one side. I did the sides the same way, just cut the crepe paper into smaller pieces.
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Step 4:
Add a black stripe the same way you did the red and white. Cut two circles (one for each side) for the center. I used a glass to make the circle and then used a smaller glass to make an edge and colored it in with a black marker.
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All finished. I did leave the opening for the candy and the black and gray strings on the bottom stayed that color.
It cost me about $8 total to make! The total time to make was about an hour. Super easy and Kaden loved it!
You could do this with any character. If Kaden had wanted Pikachu I would have made the piñata yellow and black and printed out a picture of Pikachu. I actually thought that was what he would want. The possibilities are endless. Just use your imagination.
Parties do not have to be expensive to be fun!
I have done a couple of other piñatas. Star Wars (scroll down) and Lego piñatas where both big hits here too! I even made little individual piñatas if you can to take a look. Maybe you will come up with some fun ideas!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-home Mom {Review}

How can a work-at-home mom raise kids, juggle a career and take care of family responsibilities with only 24-hour days? Working at home while raising kids and juggling a career and family responsibilities is no easy feat. Author and homeschooling mom Tricia Goyer shares her tips for finding balance among all your many hats as a mom. Balancing is a process and a journey, one that Tricia herself has yet to perfect. But between writing more than forty books, raising and homeschooling six kids, being a wife, and being active in her community, she has amassed valuable tips she shares in Balanced.

The book includes tips on:

-how to create focus themes for your family

-how to prioritize your schedule

-how to utilize your job so it also benefits your kids

-how to keep yourself out of the comparison game

-how to make working at home work for you

-and much more!

Purchase a copy, get a free downloadable workbook, and learn more at Tricia's website.

My Thoughts

 Balanced is a book written for work-at-home mom’s and those that aspire to be. I am currently not a work at home mom in the traditional sense of bringing in an income. However, I am a homeschooling mom who is home each day with my boys.

I have gleaned some wonderful insight from reading Tricia’s book! It is ok to follow my dreams while teaching my children. It is ok for my kids to see me working on a review or spending time reading my Bible.   My home does not need to be child centered, but I do need to be sure my children feel that they are a vital part of our family. Contributing to the family as a whole and as individuals. 

This book has encouraged me not only to seek my dreams and not feel guilty about it, but to encourage my children to seek their own dreams!

Tricia is full of encouragement and practical  advice as she shares with us how she balances work and home. She mentions in the very beginning of the book that God comes first and foremost in her life and that the balance she works to create would not work at all if God was not the center of her life.

Of course there are also sacrifices that need to be made. Even following our dreams we need to have our priorities in place. Some things will have to wait. We need to be aware of the needs of our families and remember that we have our children’s tender hearts to care for an nurture.

Whether you are a seasoned work-at-home mom, a wanna be work-at-home mom or if you are like me and are neither of these, I believe that you will find some useful ideas and wisdom in this book!

Visit the Litfuse website to learn more about Balanced.

 

Meet the author: USA Today best-selling author Tricia Goyer is the author of over 35 books, including the three-book Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series and Lead Your Family Like Jesus,(co-written with Ken Blanchard). She has written over 500 articles for national publications and blogs for high traffic sites like TheBetterMom.com and MomLifeToday.com. She is the host of Living Inspired, a weekly radio show. Tricia and family live in Little Rock, Arkansas. They have six children.

You can find out more about Tricia at www.TriciaGoyer.com.

disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Litfuse in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.