Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Family Toolbox GIVEAWAY

Y'all have no idea how excited I am to be part of the Family Toolbox Blogger Team!  The Family Toolbox is a program that we have recently started using in our home and we can already tell this is going to be one of those things that impacts our family for the positive and brings us closer together too.  Every family has some type of issues they are facing and the Family Toolbox is a wonderful resource to help walk you through resolution in these areas and help bring unity and harmony into the home. Not to mention, since David is a Student Minister this is a program we can use with our families at church and in our community too.  I can't wait to share a full, detailed review of this amazing program with you very soon but in the meantime, you just keep reading to learn more about The Family Toolbox and enter for your chance to WIN a bundle of Biblical Parenting Resources & an Amazon gift card too!

The Family Toolbox is a DVD/video-driven program that brings parents and teens together for constructive dialogue around significant issues of discipleship. Conversation is sparked by engaging video clips. Sixteen Life Success Principles are communicated through eight lessons that give parents and teens biblically-based, practical topics for discussion. The format grabs teens and gets them interacting. The Family Toolbox has 8 lessons. Each one has a 1-2 minute scene of a family living life and experiencing common challenges in their relationships. A discussion guide prompts dialogue between parents and teens and a 10-minute teaching session for parents featuring Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN gives practical tools to use right away. Family Toolbox Giveaway
 I am excited to be joining with the National Center for Biblical Parenting (NCBP) to bring you a wonderful giveaway to celebrate the release of the Family Toolbox.  The giveaway includes a $50 Amazon Gift Card + a bundle of biblical parenting resources from NCBP, including: 

The Christian Parenting Handbook and Companion Guide

The Christian Parenting Handbook contains nuggets of parenting wisdom condensed into 50 short chapters, each one biblical, practical, and relevant for parents of children ages 2-18. Learn appropriate ways to correct, instruct, and set limits. Glean wisdom for dealing with emotions, conflict, and developing closeness in your family… and much more. These 50 strategies provide you with hands-on tools for parenting children of any age.  The Companion Guide is a workbook of 50 lessons along with 50 audio tips to take you through The Christian Parenting Handbook step by step. 

Cultivating Responsibility: Parenting Wisdom for Ages 9-12 Years

The later elementary age years are among the greatest times to build responsibility in children. Heart transformation takes place when parents use other tools than behavior modification. Sometimes though, bad attitudes, disrespect, and a lack of cooperation can muddy the waters. You’ll want to learn from the experts how best to navigate these years. Your children are making significant developmental leaps in their cognitive, social, emotional and spiritual growth. Understanding how best to help children through these years is essential.

Family Heart Moments

The Family Heart Moments book is a treasure. Over 70 inspirational true stories from parents who are eager to connect with their children's hearts. The heart is a special place in the life of a child. You don't want to miss it. This book will give you practical ideas for touching your kids in the deepest place.

Family Time Activity for Teens

Teenagers are in an exciting time of life. They're learning a lot about themselves and the world, and they need lots of spiritual guidance. The activities and applications in this book are designed specifically for teens. The object lessons and games are captivating and the biblical lessons are timeless. Walking Billboards, Fear Factor, and Gender Differences, are just a few of the titles. Nineteen lessons are included, all unique and powerful. Make Family Time a regular part of your family's spiritual growth. 

Learning About Sex: Love, Sex, and God

In a natural, conversational style, this book answers tough questions that help teens separate sex and love facts from myths. Straight facts on dating, marriage, sex, and sexually transmitted diseases are presented here.

Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining and Bad Attitudes, in You and Your Kids

It affects the way people think, the way they act, and the way they treat others around them. Honor motivates parents to treat children differently. It gives children more constructive ways to interact with their parents. It helps siblings develop tolerance and patience. Honor builds incredibly strong bonds that, in turn, benefit all members of the family. This book shows you in practical ways and shows how honor can transform your family. To enter, use the Rafflecopter below. This giveaway is open internationally to those age 18 and older. a Rafflecopter giveaway   
 Also, please join us for The Family Toolbox Facebook Party on Thursday, October 16, 8-10PM ET where there will be even more great prizes, an opportunity to ask your parenting questions, and lots of fun and fellowship! The winner of this giveaway will be announced at the Facebook party! RSVP for the Party here: Family Toolbox Facebook Party

Monday, September 22, 2014

Life Update (with pictures)

A couple of weeks ago, I flew back home to Alabama to attend my aunt's funeral.  Some dear friends of ours here in Texas offered me the opportunity to fly round trip via stand-by tickets.  I had never flown stand-by before but it really wasn't too bad.  Actually, I really enjoyed it.  I learned you just have to be very flexible in your schedule, have a lot of patience, and it is a fun way to meet new people because you spend a LOT of time just waiting in airports.  At one point, I thought for sure I was going to have to spend the night at the Dallas airport (and was totally o.k. with that possibility) but the Lord got me on the plane at the very last minute (I was the very last passenger to board & they literally closed the door behind me).  I am so thankful for sweet friends who knew how close my aunt and I were and who graciously gave me the chance to fly home and be at her funeral.  I always love flying!  I had a window seat on several flights and when you get up in the air you can't help but stand in awe at the awesomeness of God.  Just looking down at the earth below, flying above the clouds, and being reminded what a great Creator we serve is much of the fun of flying.  
This is the old barn at my aunt and uncle's homestead in Alabama.  They lived out in the country and lived in the same house from the time I was born so I have lots of great memories at their place.  My uncle used to do wood-working in this barn and my aunt spent many hours do art in this barn. I used to love going out there with them and watching them work and just seeing all the cool stuff they had in there  I also lived with them when I went to college.  They had a basement that was set up like a little apartment. It had a living area, huge bedroom/bathroom and private entrance/exit and they let me live down there while I was in college. My uncle passed away a few years ago after a heart surgery and my aunt was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease not long after his passing.  My aunt and uncle always made every moment with them so much fun and so special. I praise God for the lives they lived and the beautiful legacies and memories they left behind.  The best part is that while I am sad they are no longer here to continue sharing life with, my goodbye at her funeral was not a final goodbye.  I can look forward to seeing them both again in heaven one day!  
While it is still almost 100 degrees here everyday, the month of September is also our "rainy season".  It started about 3 weeks ago and the rain has barely stopped.  We had a tropical storm come in (picture on the left) that lasted about a week and now it is still raining almost everyday and raining a LOT.  It does make for some beautiful weather pictures though because the clouds are amazing and sometimes it pours down rain even when it is bright and the sun is shining.  The downside is all the mosquitos the rain is producing.  We can't enjoy being outside anymore because the mosquitos are so bad.  And like they say, everything is bigger in Texas and the mosquitos are huge down here!  We're used to really small, almost impossible to see mosquitos and these are so big you can see them very easily. 
We love going to the local flea market to buy fruits and vegetables.  You can often get more fruits and vegetables for your money at the flea market.  Most of the vendors at the flea market speak Spanish so we get to practice our (very limited) Spanish too.  We get a lot of locally grown fruits and vegetables there too.  I bought a huge bag of poblano peppers at the flea market and made chili rellenos with them and they were delicious.  Wyatt loves the Dragonfruit (the pink thing in the right picture) and can eat an entire one by himself.  All of us love the Dwarf Pineapples because they are so sweet and juicy and easy to hold the little pineapple rings when we cut them.  One of the blessings of living in a different culture from where we grew up is the unique foods we get to experience living this close to Mexico.  We have really grown to love it here.  

And now for a little laugh.......
This little comic reminded me so much of my Dad who loves to play Candy Crush.  Actually, I think he has a love/hate relationship with it but he plays it a lot.  I played it too but after about level 137, I got frustrated and lost interest. I'm more of a Bingo Blitz kinda gal.  Yeah, I can admit it, I will probably one of those little blue-haired ladies running around to all the bingo halls with my big purse full of daubers.  I love playing Bingo.   What games do you enjoy playing on your phone?  

Hope you have a marvelous week!  Keep checking back for more giveaways and new content too.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

K'NEX Cat Mario Building Set GIVEAWAY

Our kids love building blocks and K'NEX has been one of the companies they enjoy since they were little.  We started using K'NEX when they were just a couple of years old and they still enjoy K'NEX building sets to this very day.  Recently, we were given the opportunity to check out some new K'NEX building sets.  Over the next few weeks, I am going to be sharing each of these new sets with you but today I will show you the one the kids LOVED simply because of the characters and the endless possibilities of play....K'NEX Cat Mario 3d World Building Set!  
K'NEX Cat Mario Building Set features K'NEX's all new jump disk and launcher that allow Mario to run and jump, like he does in the game.  Build Cat Mario use the moveable jump launcher to enter the course. Look out for a Mouse - he could smash you!  Defeat the mouse, then use the next jump launcher to reach the high platform and collect the spinning coins!  Make your way though the clear warp pip, then pop-up the goal flag and you've cleared the course!
We have a WiiU just because our kids love Super Mario Brothers so much!  So you can imagine their excitement to see a K'NEX building set featuring Super Mario Brothers and designing play pieces that resemble the Wii games they play.  On a side note, Wyatt is using a headlamp to build not because it was required but simply because he is obsessed with wearing a headlamp these days.  This building set contains 226 pieces and comes with a full-color step-by-step instruction book.  
Thanks to K'NEX making simple, easy to understand, colorful directions for kids, Wyatt loved working on putting this set together and he had done in fairly quickly too.  Best of all, this is a 3D building set so when it all put together it looks like a real obstacle course for Mario to travel through.  This particular set comes with 2 character figurines:  a Cat Mario and a cute little mouse.  After you complete the set, you can lead Mario through the different obstacles, collect "coins" as you travel along, use the launcher to go higher, sail through the clear warp tunnel, and even raise the flag on the flagpole at the completion of the course.  This building set let Wyatt feel like he was actually playing the game with Mario instead of using a controller on the WiiU!  

This K'NEX building set with also connects with other K'NEX Super Mario building sets so you can expand the game play into even bigger courses, challenges and story lines.  This particular set is designed for ages 8+ and is available at Walmart and  The set retails for $34.99.  You can also follow K'NEX on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to stay up to date with the latest products, sales and specials.  Best of all, the awesome folks at K'NEX are giving one of my readers their very own K'NEX Cat Mario 3D Building World Set!  For your chance to win, simply fill out the form below:
Disclaimer:  I received the above mentioned product for review purposes only from K'NEX.  No monetary compensation was received.  The opinions expressed here are my own and reflect our own personal thoughts and experiences.  Your results may vary from mine.  K'NEX is providing the prize for this giveaway and is responsible for prize fulfillment.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Kidecals Review & DISCOUNT CODE

I am a person who loves to be organized and have things labeled so not only can I find things easily but other people can as well.  Most of the time, I end up making my own labels so I was really excited to be introduced to Kidecals - a woman owned label making company that specializes in labels that are dishwasher, washing machine and even dryer safe!  

They have an outrageous variety of labels to choose from too.  You can sort by gender, shape, age, style, keyboard stickers, value packs, designer series and more!  There is literally a label for everything you can imagine and probably even some things you had never thought of labeling.  The sweet folks at Kidecals sent our family 2 types of labels to try out.  
We received a set of Chalkboard Staches and a set of keyboard stickers.  Now, let me warn you that this review may be different from any label company review you've ever read before because my family found some very unique ways to use those "staches"!  So, we will start with the more "normal" part of my review...the keyboard stickers.
Keycals are super awesome keyboard stickers designed for your computer.  They are printed on premium quality removable vinyl with a non-residue acrylic adhesive that is ideal for delicate surfaces.  I have to tell you, as cool as I think these look I've always shied away from using them because I was afraid they would be hard to apply.  Kidecals "keycals" are so incredibly easy to apply and even simpler to remove (yes, I had to remove several of them because after I applied them they looked crooked).  They don't make typing on the keyboard feel weird and they don't "catch the corners" either when I type.  I'm a pretty fast typer so I have been very impressed with how well these "stick" to the keys.  Not to mention, they make the computer keyboard really cute and festive.  You can see the before & after pictures below:
Keycals range from $10.00 - $16.00 per set for a full keyboard set of stickers.  The Pink Chevron keycals I received are currently on sale for just $10.00 per set!  If you don't want to jazz up your entire keyboard, you can purchase a Small Set of keyboard stickers for just $7.00.  Now to share with you the "unique" ways we used the "staches".  
We also received a set of 12 Chalkboard Staches.  These Chalkboard Staches are not only mustache stickers but you can write on them with chalk as well just as if you were writing on a chalkboard!  These are super durable and best of all, they are waterproof.  However, they don't leave a sticky residue on surfaces so you can place them anywhere you want.....and our kids took that last statement very literally as you are about to see!  So I found mustaches on:
Our son's headboard.  He and his sister share a room and he said he was making sure everyone knew which bed was his....not that there has ever been any debate on this issue?!  
Our kids get one drinking glass in the morning and they use it all day.  For the last few weeks, there glasses have all had "staches" on them so they can easily identify whose glass belongs to whom. I personally love this idea because it makes it easy for them and for me to identify drinking glasses.
Our son gave his toothbrush holder a "stache" too!
He was even nice enough to share a "stache" with his sister which has made for some pretty hilarious "let's pretend" scenarios.  To see them both running around the house with "staches" is pretty funny!

Chalkboard Staches can be used in a multitude of ways (and I'm sure they were probably designed to be used a little differently than our kids have used them) but not matter how you choose to use them, they make really fun, chalkboard labels.  Chalkboard Staches are just $12.00 per set.  

Kidecals would make great gifts for parents, teachers, friends, baby shower gifts and even Christmas stocking stuffers!   Check out the great selection of products on their website or like them on Facebook.  Just in time for the holidays, Kidecals is offering all of my readers a 15% discount on any order you place by simply entering code:  ilovelabels when you checkout!  
Disclaimer:  The opinions expressed here are my own and reflect my own personal thoughts and experiences with these products.  Your thoughts and opinions may vary from mine.  I received the above mentioned products in return for this review but no monetary compensation was received. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Catie Conrad: Faith, Friendship & Fashion Disasters Book Review

It is sometimes difficult to inspire our "tween" age children to read books but thanks to Angie Spady's first book in a new series "The (Desperate) Diva Diaries" that task just got a whole lot easier for tween-age girls.  The first book in this new series is entitled "Catie Conrad:  Faith, Friendship & Fashion Disasters".  Here is the book blurb about this particular book:  
Meet Catie Conrad - a typical, tween Christian girl, with oh, the weight of the world on her shoulders.  And if that isn't bad enough, no one seems to understand the social pressures of being the greatest at everything, donning the latest fashion and carrying the trendiest technology.  Catie's Dad is about to uproot her and her family to an Indian reservation during spring break for his job.  Throw in a school dance, a major art contest, and an arch nemesis known as Miranda Maroni, and there is bound to be an epic meltdown of Biblical proportions - or maybe not.
The first book in this new series, chronicles both the small triumphs and general mishaps of 6th grade Christian want-to-be Catie Conrad.  While her Christian journalist father is often a co-conspirator on making Catie's life interesting with mission trips and church projects, Catie never ceases to realize God's hand in all situations." 
As a parent, I was super excited to get the chance to review a book that is written in a way that girls will love and has a Biblical foundation too.  It is quite difficult to find good story books for kids with Biblical concepts in them....especially in the tween/teen stage!  This book brought back my days of having a journal (complete with a lock & key) in middle school.  I still have that journal and it is hilarious to look back at and read what I thought was "major problems" in life during that time.  One of my favorite parts of this book is the way it teaches girls that their family and friends and even school teachers are their "pillars" of support.  In those "tween" years, these people are often considered to be "enemies" or "against us" because of they often don't approve of choices kids are making at that age.  This book had a fantastic underlying message that God is helping Catie through each and every situation she faces and He is always watching over her.  What a beautiful reminder for our girls today.....that the people around you aren't against you but they are FOR you and supporting you and that no matter what, GOD is always there and watching over you!  

Now, to be honest, I thought our 13 year old would just love this book but when the book arrived, I found it in our 11 year old daughter's room that night beside her bed.  The next morning I asked her about the book and she said "Mom, I love that new book you got.  I've already read to page 124!"  (She read 123 pages the first night, y'all!)  So I let her finish the book (which she did in 3 days) and then gave it to our 13 year old to read.  While our 13 year old said she enjoyed it and it was a good and easy read, to be honest, this book was just right for our 11 year old.  Our 11 year old loves fashion design and sketching, she has a diary, and she has a younger brother (just like Catie).  In fact, she offered to write a short review of this book because she loved it so much.  

Our 11 year old's review of this book:
I loved how Catie Conrad was all about fashion and how she drew fashion designs.  I liked how she would use her sewing machine to make the cute little designs she created.  I also liked how the cover looks like a true diary with a little lock on it even though Wyatt could still open this book and read it. I liked how the book read just like a real diary would with dates at the top and then that day's entry.  Her little brother reminded me of Wyatt because Catie's brother and Wyatt sounded a lot alike so I could relate to Catie in that way.  I enjoyed all the different doodles and sketches in the book because they made reading more fun too.  I also liked the different Bible stuff all in the book.  It was fun to read a book that had a good story and Bible references all in it.  

"Catie Conrad:  Faith, Friendship & Fashion Disasters" is published by B&H Kids.  The book is 304 pages and is geared for grades 3-7 and ages 8-12.   The book retails for $12.99 and you can purchase the book here.  If you are looking for a good, Christian book that is fun to read and something your child can easily relate to, I highly recommend this book.  By the way, Christmas is coming up very quickly and this book would make a great gift for a child, a teacher, a school library, etc.

Disclaimer:  I was given a copy of this book to review from Shelton Interactive.  The opinions expressed here are my own and reflect my own personal thoughts and opinions.  Your thoughts and feelings may vary from mine.  No monetary compensation was received for this review.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Dolphin Tale 2 FREE Curriculum & GIVEAWAY

I was recently introduced to The Homeschool Movie Club.  They are a group that creates FREE curriculum to go along with certain movies.  I was given the opportunity to use and review their curriculum for the Dolphin Tale 2 movie!  Did you know that tomorrow (September 12) is not only Homeschool Day 2014 but also the premiere release of Dolphin Tale 2 in theaters?
About the Movie "Dolphin Tale 2"
Inspired by true events, Warner Bros. Pictures and Alcon Entertainment's "Dolphin Tale 2" continues the story of the brave dolphin "Winter", whose miraculous rescue and recovery  - thanks to a groundbreaking prosthetic tail - made her a symbol of hope and perseverance to people around the world.  The film reunites the entire main cast and of course, the remarkable dolphin, Winter, as herself.
It has been several years since young Sawyer Nelson and the dedicated team at Clearwater Marine Hospital, headed by Dr. Clay Haskett, rescued Winter.   Yet their fight is not over, Winter's surrogate mother, the very elderly dolphin Panama, may have even greater repercussions for Winter, who, according to USDA regulations, cannot be housed alone, as dolphins' social behavior requires them to be paired with other dolphins.  Time is running out to find a companion for her before the team at Clearwater loses their beloved dolphin to another aquarium.  

Our family saw Dolphin Tale and we all thoroughly enjoyed it so the kids were very excited to learn that there would be a Dolphin Tale 2.  As a homeschooling Mom, I was excited that The Homeschool Movie Club offered free curriculum for us to enjoy as a family prior to seeing the movie.

The Homeschool Movie Club curriculum for Dolphin Tale 2 is designed with a curriculum intro video and then 5 days worth of lessons. Each lesson contains a short video and there is a PDF that gives you more material, coloring pages, games you can play, etc.  These lessons cover the anatomy and physiology of dolphins, a day in the life of dolphins, dolphins in the ocean, aquarium life, and dolphins and us.  There is also an answer key in PDF format so you can easily check their work too.  Also, if you enjoy Classical Conversations, there is even an entire Classical Conversations curriculum PDF at The Homeschool Movie Club too for this movie!  

We live just 20 minutes from South Padre Island, TX and on the island at Isla Blanca State Park, there is a place called "Dolphin Cove".  Many times you can go out to this area and see numerous dolphins out in the water and most of the time they are feeding there.  Our kids enjoyed doing this week long curriculum through The Homeschool Movie Club and then we took a trip to Dolphin Cove for them to see dolphins in the ocean.  It made seeing dolphins much more fun for them because they now had a much greater appreciation and understanding of dolphins.

You can watch the movie trailer here, check out the movie website, like Dolphin Tale 2 on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter: @DolphinTale.  You can also help spread the word about Homeschool Day 2014 and Dolphin Tale 2 on social media by using hashtags #DolphinTale2, #HomeschoolDay2014 and #WinterHasHope.
You can also WIN some Dolphin Tale 2 swag ~ your very own  Dolphin Tale 2 t-shirt and a pair of Dolphin Tale 2 sunglasses!  For your chance to win, simply fill out the form below: 

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.  Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”  

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Remembering why we chose to homeschool

I have to admit it, this year we actually did consider putting all 3 kids into public school. You see, we graduated from our 2 year missionary training program in May and were planning to go to Peru to serve.  However, the Lord has HIS own plans and timing for our lives and instead of going overseas, the door to Peru closed but the Lord opened a door of opportunity for us to stay here at the TX-Mex border and make this our mission field for the next few years.  David is going to serve as the Student Minister (for Kindergarten - 12th grades) at our church here in South Texas.  We live just 12 miles from the Mexico border.  Since we were going to stay "stateside" for the next few years, we considered public school.  We talked about it a lot, we researched the school system here, we talked to teachers and administration at the schools here, we discussed it with our kids and we did lots and I mean LOTS of praying over this. We discussed the opportunities the kids would have to make new friends here in our community through school, being able to invite new friends and their families into our home,  opportunities to share Christ,  the extra-curricular activities like band, chorus, sports, etc. they could be involved in and the extra help they would get with their learning issues. However, after several weeks of discussion, deliberation and prayer we made the decision to continue homeschooling.    
When it all boiled down, we remembered why we had chosen to homeschool in the first place.  We didn't choose homeschool because we had to....we chose it because we felt called to it, we felt it was the best decision for our children, and we wanted to do it.  In fact, our 2 daughters both went to public school for several years and I was heavily involved in the public school (PTA, homeroom Mom, etc) and David attended every event and activity he could as well.  They had some great experiences and some that I wish they could forget!  Our oldest daughter was clinically diagnosed with moderate Dyslexia and Dysgraphia not long after she started 3rd grade.  She was getting some intervention in school but we were watching her get further and further behind, not retaining necessary information and watching her self-confidence and self-esteem diminish too quickly.  We also wanted them to have a more Biblical education.  We wanted them to grow up with a Bible knowledge that was equal to (if not greater) than their academic knowledge.  We could not afford a private, Christian school for all 3 kids and after much research, talking to friends/family who already homeschooled, and praying about this big decision, we decided that homeschooling was the best choice for our family.   Our son has never gone to public school and has always been homeschooled.  He was clinically diagnosed with severe Dyslexia at age 7.  

Homeschooling is not easy!  There have been many days I've shed tears out of frustration, tears of fear (that I'm not good enough in teaching them), tears of sadness as I watch them struggle due to learning issues, etc. Then the first year of homeschooling I think I simply tried to replicate public school at home.  We had "desks", curriculum that would rival any public school curriculum, we had set "times" for each subject, I had a grade/attendance book, etc. and I was so frustrated when our day didn't go like my schedule said it should!  The 2nd year was a little less "structured" but still pretty much the same.  Last year, I had a "light bulb" moment:  homeschooling means we can do it our way...the way that works best for our family and our schedule...the way the kids learn at their own paces....using whatever methods they need to both understand and retain what they need to be learning!  So, we ditched the schedule, we ditched the curriculum that looked like public school books, we lost the desks and we schooled in such a way that our kids actually enjoyed learning and I enjoyed homeschooling!   I also realized that our kids can "learn" in simple everyday life activities and sometimes the greatest lessons they learn are outside of our "homeschool time" in the mornings.  We still used some curriculum but it wasn't so formal, textbook-daunting type materials.  

You see, 
* I want to be our children's biggest cheerleader academically.  I want to be the one who is encouraging them as they learn and lifting them up when they are struggling with concepts and not rushing them or pushing them to go on ahead even though I know they aren't ready to move forward just because the education system says I should.  
* I want to be there beside our son listening when he finally catches on to reading and can read with confidence and a smile.  Until then, I want to be the one smiling at him (even though he is struggling to read) and encouraging him with each little word he utters as he tries his best to read while we sit on the couch together or while he is in my lap "reading" to me.   
* I want our children who have learning issues to learn that they will not be defined by them.  That yes, they may have struggles and they may learn a little differently than others, but they can still be awesome in whatever God calls them to in life despite these issues.  I want to be the one teaching them to have self-esteem and confidence despite the "labels" the world wants to so quickly place upon them because of their learning issues.  
* I want to be the one who gets to see them excited as they learn new concepts, who see their eyes sparkle when they finally "get" it and to be their biggest encourager when they've tried something hard and failed. 
* I want our middle daughter (who has no learning issues) to be able to work at her own pace and move forward when she is ready and not be held back by "grade levels" or having to keep pace with a classroom full of students who all work at varying levels.  Homeschooling gives her that freedom!   
*  I want to be the one they ask questions to every day (even though sometimes I consider giving them 3 popsicles a day to use to ask questions).  I love some of the questions they can come up with as they study and learn though and sometimes we have great laughs together over them or deep, serious conversations as they grasp to understand what their little minds don't understand.   And sometimes I wonder how in the world they derived their question and where it came from!   
*  Sometimes I just want to sit at the table before we open up any homeschool book and pick up a crayon or marker and draw pictures with them, spend time talking to each other and sharing stories and then plaster our refrigerator with the artwork we created together.  
*  I want our kids to know that having a relationship with Jesus Christ is the single most important decision they will make in their lives.  Thankfully, all 3 of our children have now accepted Christ and we begin the process of discipleship and teaching them to share the gospel with their friends.  
*  I want to teach them to be good wives/husband one day and this comes through Biblical teaching as well as teaching them household skills now.  It's not always easy and they don't always do chores the way I want but this is how they learn and I constantly have to remind myself of that as we do chores together each day.  It isn't about doing it my way.  It's simply about them learning how to do it.  
* I simply want to homeschool our children...........and there are a million more reasons why!  
We know everyone doesn't agree with that decision.  Given that we have 2 children with learning issues, we get a lot of "advice" and "pressure" to put them in public school where they could get additional, specialized help but we truly believe we can give them just what they need at home.  We don't have any hard feelings or judge those who go to public school. We used to be one of those families.  In fact, my sister is an amazing elementary school teacher who teaches in a Title 1 school and I am constantly in awe of her teaching skills, the way she handles her class, her unique teaching styles, and the impact she is having on those kids lives.  However, the Lord has led us to homeschool and He has given us the opportunity to do it and we are so very, very thankful for it.  Our children are blessed with great friends at church and in the community and we are joining a homeschool co-op in our area this year also. 

My prayer, as a new school year begins, is that whether you homeschool your children or they go to public/private school, that the following prayer cover your children and mine.  I'm not sure where this prayer came from but I read it recently in a back to school article and loved it.  It reads as follows:  

Dear Lord, 
Please guide our children's hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  
Help them focus and learn this year. 
Give them favor with their teachers and peers. 
Help them make Godly friends and be a Godly friend.

In Jesus name,