Thursday, February 28, 2013

This, on repeat all day

This song has ministered to me so many times. 

Today is one of those days. 

I am playing it over and over. The kids and I are singing it over and over. 

God, we look to You.

Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, Who is the help of my countenance, and my God. Psalm 42:11 

O our God, will You not exercise judgment upon them? For we have no might to stand against this great company that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You. 2 Chronicles 20:12

Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror andbe dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice. Isaiah 41:10 

For I the Lord your God hold your right hand; I am the Lord, Who says to you, Fear not; I will help you! Isaiah 41:13 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday

Today's theme is simplicity!

sweater - Kohl's
jeans - Kohl's
boots - Steve Madden
earrings - TJ Maxx

pleated poppy

{Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.}  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

College Common Sense {Review}


If you have a child in high school who is planning to go to university, you may want to know about College Common Sense. My Emma, who is in grade 11, and I were given the Going to College and Paying for it Online Video and Workbook for this review. This product is suitable for ages 6-18.

College Common Sense is a website that was created by Denise Ames, a financial aid counselor at a university in Texas. She has experience as a student, a parent, and, of course, as a professional who spends her time helping others find money for their studies and life while in university. Denise actually recommends starting the financial aid process for your children as young as age 6, as there are apparently scholarships available for that age. For the purpose of this review, I used the material with Emma only. 

In the Going to College and Paying for it series, there were six online videos to watch. The titles include:

  I - The Big Picture
 II - How Financial Aid Works
III - All About The Free Money
IV - The System That Works
 V - You In The Process
VI - Put It All Together

For each video, there are corresponding workbook pages in PDF file form to print out and look over while listening to the videos. It was suggested that I watch the videos first and then have my student watch them and go over the lessons or assignments. We started it this way but found that for our situation (only one computer) and time restraints, it was better for Emma and I to just watch together. Each video is between 10 and 25 minutes long. There are approximately 34 pages to print, with a few additional ones, such as the The Campus Visit. You can spiral bind these pages, put them in a 3 ring binder or put them in a file folder, which is what we have done for now.

Here is an example of one of the pages Denise has provided in her materials. This one is the College Cost Worksheet:

We learned so much from Denise's experience and expertise. We found out about several resources we had never heard of, including College Navigator, where you can enter your zip code to find what higher learning institutions are close to your home or in your state. We learned new vocabulary, i.e. FAFSA, EFC and COA. We learned that there is an astounding number of scholarships out there (40 million!) and how to find the ones that would work for us. Denise has a very well-thought out and organized strategy for making a scholarship notebook. It would work for a high school student to organize his/her scholarship applications, and could carry over after university, if that student was then looking at either job applications or an additional degree. I like the practical aspect of the scholarship notebook very much.

For us personally, we are still seeking God's will for Emma's future. She has several interests, talents and desires. Maybe we have an odd perspective, but we do not necessarily believe that college is the one and only way to steer our children in their respective futures. We are certainly not opposed to them going to university and are excited to see what God has planned for them, but if He does not have university for them, either right after high school or at all, that is also fine with us. There are so many avenues that He could lead them down and we want to help guide and pray with and encourage our children to follow Him, no matter where that leads.

Emma has been in contact with two universities and we had actually planned to visit one during this review period, but it ended up being on a Saturday when Bob was scheduled to work. We had to cancel the campus visit due to having no one to care for my other children, but we will probably reschedule at some point. Emma is exploring schools even though we are not sure that is the route we will go immediately following high school. At this point, we are open to anything.

Having said that, if we believe our children, starting with Emma, are on a path that includes university, we will certainly make use of College Common Sense and all the resources that Denise has to offer. I appreciate all of her hard work in setting up the website and filming the videos. I learned a great deal and will recommend this to all my family and friends, homeschooling or not, who need help in finding financial aid for their children. It is a great resource!

Going to College and Paying for it DVD & Workbook: 
$50 + $5 shipping and handling

Going to College and Paying for it Online Video & Workbook:
$25 for 12-month log in access 

Sign up for Denise's Free Lesson Plans.

Sign up for Denise's Free Monthly Newsletter.

Connect with Denise on Facebook and Twitter.



Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekly Menu Plan {25 February}

I'm not usually in a hurry for one month to end and another to begin, but for some reason I am ready to finish up February and head on in to March. I love winter, so I don't think it's spring fever. Maybe I just have great expectation or anticipation of something happening in March. 

Who knows?

Anyway, on to the plan for this week. It's the end of the month and I am trying not to go to the grocery until payday. So, I'm trying to plan based on what is already in my pantry or freezer. 

Monday - Leftovers for Bob and the kids (Emma and I are taking our friend out for a birthday dinner!)

Tuesday - Black bean salad and baked sweet potatoes

Wednesday - Mexicali Bean Bake (didn't make this when it was scheduled last week)

Thursday - Potato soup, biscuits

Friday - Homemade pizza, salad

Saturday - Butter chicken, basmati rice

Sunday - Grilled cheese sandwiches and/or chef salad

I hope you have a great end to the month of February! xo

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A+ TutorSoft, Inc. {Review}

A+ TutorSoft Math, Inc. is a fantastic online company which offers highly interactive, multimedia math in two formats for grades 1-6, Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1. Ava and I were given an online subscription to review A+ Interactive Math for Grade 2. They also offer a CD option. 


The online program is very detailed and has fun graphics. The interactive voice which teaches the lessons is pleasant. At first, I wondered if all the buttons and options on the site would be too overwhelming and confusing for her, but Ava quickly learned how to maneuver the different pages and options for lessons, worksheets and exams. This may be a problem for some who like a more simple layout. It was not a concern for us.

There are fifteen lesson categories in grade 2, with multiple sub-lessons. The categories include: 

Number Sense
Rounding & Estimating
Charts & Graphics

This program is to be used on a daily basis, which is how we are using it. To do a lesson, i.e. Lesson 1.3, including watching the video portion, doing the interactive Q and A, and completing the corresponding online worksheet, takes Ava about 25 minutes. At first Ava said she was bored because we started with Lesson 1 which was very basic counting. I wanted her to start there, though, to get a grasp of how the program worked. I expect more difficult material to take her a little longer as we move on to material she is unfamiliar with.

She has gone through the lessons fairly easily and looks forward to doing her math every day. She really is my first child to love math and I am thrilled to have access to this interactive program. Ava said to make sure I include how "fun" it is in this review! 

What I also like about this program is that with the online version, there is automatic progress tracking. I understand that with the CD program, I would have to manually enter Ava's grades and progress, but with the online version, it is all done for me. It is so easy to click on one button and see where she is in the program, what worksheets and exams have been completed and what her overall percentage is. This allows for more independent work for Ava, too. I don't always have to sit right beside her, although I have enjoyed doing so and watching her progress. There are also certificates of accomplishment to print for your child. 

In addition, there is a tab for lesson plans that are already structured according to which lessons to do per week. If you have to document this type of information to report to your state, this would be helpful information. I am not personally looking at the lesson plans too often, as we are just going in order and working on a daily basis. According to the lesson plans, you should be able to accomplish one lesson every week or every two weeks, depending on how many sub-sections there are.

There are also printable worksheets and exams for extra practice. Of course, if using the printables, those grades would have to be manually entered by you, the teacher.

If you would like to learn more about this program, they offer a Quick Tutorial Video.

If you are unsure as to the level your child is on, there is a placement test you can have them take (with registration).

You may also register for a free one-month trial subscription. What a great way to try out this fantastic program!

To purchase:

Online Edition - Monthly only $19.95, Quarterly only $49.99, Full Year only $124.99

CD Edition - $99.99

Right now, they are generously offering a 50% off code for my readers through the end of March! Just use the code SPOFFER50 when you check out.

If you would like to read more reviews, click on the TOS Review Crew banner below!


I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. 

Why Not Here?


In my last update I briefly shared about a time of repentance on Inauguration Day here in DC, and the sobering, passionate message by Jonathan Cahn inviting us as a nation to look at what is happening in our country and seek the Lord in fasting, humility and brokenness.

Now, I want to share with you a story of hope from Thailand that started in 1996 when people across that nation started doing what the Lord is inviting us to do here in America.

“Imagine a school where children are more eager to enter into the worship of the Lord than to play on the playground. Where revival is led by four-year-old children who rise at 4 a.m. to pray and meet with their Lord. Where the land is producing an increased harvest, and new species of fish are appearing. This is no fantasy story, but the reality of what God is doing today in the Omkoi Province of Northern Thailand. The story of God’s work of transformation in Omkoi is a story of persistence, sacrifice, and committed leadership.”

Click here to read the full article from The Sentinel Group:

If there…then why not here?

I believe the Lord is eager to do similar things here in our country…community by community.  We at IFA are putting some things in place right now with The Sentinel Group to start coming alongside and walking with friends who want to seek the Lord for His invasive, transforming, loving Presence in their town.  More details to come in the next several weeks.

In the meantime, thank you for your prayers and financial partnership.  I need your help to continue casting vision, travelling and consulting across the country.  To join with us, please click Field Staff Support below.  We need your help.

What will it look like in your community when the Lord comes with healing in His wings?  Let’s find out together.

Thanks so much.


Bob Royce
Mobilization Coordinator
Intercessors for America
PO Box 915
Purcellville, VA 20134
540-317-2097 Direct

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Granola

Last week I was looking through some recipe websites and ideas and came across this one for Chocolate Peanut Granola. I think I may have made granola one other time, several years ago, but it is not something that I usually think about making. Maybe it was the "chocolate" in the title or maybe it was that I am trying to be more and more frugal and save money on groceries. Either way, this recipe called my name!

The ingredients are wholesome and are all things that I already had either in my pantry or in my refrigerator, so this did not take much thought or time. It was simple to mix up, and it bakes only 45 minutes and you're done.

We have all enjoyed it. Well, almost all. Some of the children do not care for all the peanuts, but they love the chocolate flavour. We all savour the cinnamon and ginger spices with the chocolate. I think it would also be fantastic made with pecans or walnuts in place of the peanuts. We have enjoyed it both as a cereal and just as a snack.

I will make this one again soon! xo

Monday, February 18, 2013

Weekly Menu Plan {18 February}

Happy new week! 

We have a busy week ahead but an exciting one, too, as Austin has graduation for the next level in his martial arts training, Emma continues in her rehearsals for the musical she is in, and one of our Canadian friends is coming for a visit!!! 


So many great things happening. 

We are very blessed.

Here's the plan for this week:

Monday - Fish Tacos (didn't make this last week)

Tuesday - BBQ Meatballs, rice, salad 

Wednesday - French Onion Soup

Thursday - Lasagna Casserole (thank you to Crystal for sharing this on Twitter last week!), salad

Friday - Leftovers or grilled cheese sandwiches (Since my friend Rebecca will be here for a visit, I think the two of us may go out to eat!)

SaturdayFire-Pot Soup (cannot wait to try this!)

Sunday - Mexicali Bean Bake, salad

Have a wonderfully blessed week! xo

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Be Loved

I love the lyrics to this one...

This line: "And it's in our resting, that we rise up singing..." is so very profound. That is where I want to stay.

Rest and be loved by Him today. xo

Friday, February 15, 2013

VocabularySpellingCity Review Program

I've been given a Premium Membership to for a candid, personal, online review.

VocabularySpellingCity helps students study word lists using 25 different learning activities such as UnscrambleHangmanWordFind, andCrossword Puzzle. Parents can create their own spelling lists, find published lists already available on the site, or use any of dozens of free teaching resources on topics such as Analogies and Syllables

Be sure to come back in three weeks to read about my experience.

There might be more free memberships available for bloggers. If you're interested, find out how you can review

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sesame Chicken

I switched up our menu plan for this week and made the Sesame Chicken last night because several of us had been craving Chinese food. We love, love, love Asian food (Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean...) but it is a special treat to order take-out from our local Chinese restaurant. I had seen this recipe on Pinterest and thought it would be a great substitute for take-out. Sesame Chicken is one of the most requested items on the take-out menu and enjoyed by all seven of us.

I, of course, had to triple the recipe for this crew. I served it with steamed rice and sautéed vegetables.

This was a big hit!

What I Wore Wednesday

Well, this week I failed to photograph more than one outfit. I'm not sure why...just didn't happen.

So here is the one (and even this outfit had mostly blurry photos) and only.

chocolate brown sweater coat - T J Maxx
red shirt (not seen) - Belk
skinny jeans - Kohl's
SODIAL- Fashion Leopard Pattern Shawl Scarf Wrap for Women
 - Amazon (This CRAZY DEAL is still available. Free shipping.)
bracelets - Charming Charlie
boots - Steve Madden

pleated poppy

{Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.  Thank you very much for supporting The Scarlett Thread.}

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Exploring Creation with Zoology 3: Land Animals of the Sixth Day {Review}


Exploring Creation with Zoology 3: Land Animals of the Sixth Day by Jeannie Fulbright is published by Apologia Educational Ministries, which is a Christian company that produces quality science curriculum for homeschooling families from a creationist perspective. It is written for grades K-6. For this review, we received the hardcover textbook ($39) and the regular note booking journal ($24). There is also a junior notebooking journal for younger students ($24).

Austin and Ben have both been animals lovers since they were little tykes, so I knew they would be excited to add this curriculum to their school day. Austin is a little old for this curriculum, but I love that it is flexible and interesting enough that both he and Ben can work on it together. We have used some of the other Exploring Creation books in the past and enjoyed them immensely, so we were very excited to receive our new books in the mail and get started. Apologia uses a Charlotte Mason approach to science, which involves reading, narration and note booking. It is a gentle and easy approach to teaching and learning, and one that I personally prefer.

The textbook is packed full of interesting facts on many different animals, their habitats, scientific classifications, Bible verses which correspond with the lessons, as well as beautiful colour photographs. 

There are 14 lessons in the textbook, which include:

Introduction to the Animals of Day Six
Carnivorous Mammals
Caniforms Continued
Feliform Carnivores
Primarily Primates
Rodentia and the Rest
Order Artiodactyla
Orders Squamata and Rhynchocephalia
The Rest of the Reptiles...and Amphibians
Arthropods of the Land
Gastropods and Worms

The boys are reading the lessons on their own and then coming to narrate to me what they are learning. They take one week to read through the lessons, each of which has multiple sub-headings. At the end of each lesson is a fun, interactive experiment for the kids to do. Then they take one week to work through the notebooking journal. 

I have to add a humorous photo that involves the buying of the supplies for the first experiment. I had forgotten to purchase the necessary candy and asked Bob to pick some up on his way home...

Here the boys are working on their first experiment which demonstrates predators and their prey, using coloured pieces of candy and coloured paper. How easy would it be to find the prey in a the laundry basket filled with coloured paper? This was a creative way for the boys to see how difficult it would be to be a predator to prey that is similarly coloured to its habitat and surroundings. And how fun that their "prey" happened to be candy!

The notebooking journal contains a wealth of activities, including crossword puzzles, copy work, stickers and a place to document the experiments. It also lists supplemental books and movies to go along with each lesson. 

We highly recommend this curriculum and are looking forward to continuing with the remainder of the material!

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Winner - The Utter Relief of Holiness!

Sorry to be a little late in choosing the winner. I stayed off of the computer almost all weekend, which was very productive in getting some things accomplished around the house. Yay! Today I am catching up on blogging. chose #4! Congratulations to Wendy!!! I will email you shortly.

Thanks to everyone else for entering. I will have more reviews and giveaways coming up soon!

Have a great week! xo

Weekly Menu Plan {11 February}

Monday - Bean soup (have had this on the menu for two weeks and still haven't made it), cornbread

Tuesday - Oven Barbecued Chicken, broccoli, pasta

Wednesday - Leftovers

Thursday - Stuffed peppers, sautéed kale, salad

Friday - Sesame chicken, rice

Saturday - Fish tacos with creamy cilantro lime cabbage

Sunday - Fettuccine alfredo, salad

Happy Monday!!!

Friday, February 8, 2013

How I Lead My Children In Worship

One of my favourite things about home education is having the time in our school day to include worship and prayer to our God. This is a significant part of our morning and one that I try not to let slip. If we do go a day or two without it, we cannot wait to get back to it!

I remember reading a devotional by Jeannie Fulbright several years ago that said this:

If I could tell moms only one thing that would help their homeschooling, 
having regular morning devotions would be it. 
Truly, nothing else has blessed our homeschool experience more.
(You can read the entire post here: First Things First)

I could not agree more. Having time in the mornings for time in the Word, prayer, worship and being in the Father's Presence is crucial to everything else we do and really, to who we are. We have learned and are learning to wait before Him (not always patiently), to press in to what He wants to say to us. And we have learned and are learning to hear His voice.

I thought I'd share what we do because I have had a couple of moms ask, out of curiosity or out of wanting some encouragement to do something meaningful with their own children.

We start out reading a chapter from the Bible. We do not always go in order, from Genesis to Revelation, but we happen to be doing so at this time. I pray and ask what book God wants us to read and hear from Him. Right now we are in Leviticus and I am reading it from The Message version. 

Then there are two email messages that I receive on a daily basis and I usually read both of those aloud to the children. The first one is The Spirit Of Prophecy by Bill and/or Marsha Burns. The second one is The Elijah List by numerous prophetic ministers from several different countries. Both of these emails are FREE. SOP comes Monday through Friday. The Elijah List is every day.

If there are any reports from our friends in Kenya, we read those, as well. If not, we continue on with our journal. I record items under the titles "Prayer" and "Thanksgiving", as well as any dreams anyone had the night before. (It's a great idea to document dreams, especially if you think they have a prophetic significance.) Our journals have served as a tremendous tool in reminding us what God has done in our lives and the lives of those we have prayed for, how He has spoken to us in specific situations and in showing us the themes that were present in the past. It is a great practice to look over our journals at all the "Ebenezers" (from 1 Samuel 7, meaning "the stone of help" which signifies a symbol of remembrance for how God provided, intervened, came to our rescue) and give Him thanks and praise for who He is and what He has accomplished.

After we record items under our "Prayer" and "Thanksgiving" categories, I turn on my Pandora app on my phone and we listen to several different worship songs, anywhere from 3-10.  I just click through until I find something that is fitting. It's just personal preference. We take time to focus on Jesus and worship Him. This can involve dancing, raising our hands, bowing before Him, sitting, lying on the floor, etc. 

There is no formula. 

Our goal is to worship Jesus and focus everything on Him and to be led by the Spirit in doing so. I truly believe this is the most important thing I can teach and lead my children in (and yes, academics are important to me, but I believe that being in God's Presence, praising Him and hearing from Him are crucial to daily living).

And then after we have spent a little time (or a great deal of time on some days) in worship and praise, we pray. Sometimes we are just voicing what we have written in our journal, other times we are just listening. Sometimes I just encourage the children to speak out whatever the Spirit puts on their hearts, which may be something we have discussed and written down, or not. 

One of the biggest things the Father has taught me, and the children, in turn, in the past 10 years or so is about spiritual warfare. I'll leave that subject for a whole other post, but we are very aware that speaking our prayers, our decrees and our declarations are a form of standing with the Father and against the enemy. We also speak directly to the enemy in our offensive strategy against him. We give praise to God and we stand firm against the devil. This is something we are given the opportunity to practice over and over. I consider these practices to be basic life skills and again, crucial to daily life.

I just want to close by saying that even though I am writing this from a homeschool mom's perspective does not mean that I think moms whose children are not homeschooled cannot or do not lead their children in worship. 

In fact, I'd love to hear from you. What does your worship and prayer time with your child/children look like? 

Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship,
for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord.
Psalm 85:15

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday

Here we are to Wednesday again already! Wow. Time just flies, eh? 

white sweater - Old Navy (thank you to my brother and his family for the Christmas gift card!)
jeans - Kohl's
boots - Kohl's
necklace and bracelets - Charming Charlie
black coat - a hand-me-down from a friend!

my well-loved grey sweater - ?
striped t-shirt - Target
jeans - Kohl's
boots - my trusty Timberland snow boots (Canada)
red scarf - Tuesday morning (shown two ways, with sweater open and with sweater buttoned up)

purple sweater - ? (maybe JC Penney from several years ago)
blouse - Gap
jeans - Kohl's
shoes - Target
necklace - Macy's
earrings - TJ Maxx

Happy Wednesday!

pleated poppy

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Thankful Heart

I have been intending to sit down to write a thankful post from the past week. All seven of us share a laptop so I am grabbing the opportunity now before someone needs it for school!

My mom and uncle drove up from Texas and spent a few days with us. Mom got sick before they came and didn't feel well the entire time they were here, so that was a bummer. But I was thrilled to have them here again and so very thankful that they made the very long drive. And the reason they drove was that they were bringing a wonderful gift.

Mom had recently had trouble with her car and after a time of researching vehicles, bought a new one. I knew that she had found someone to put a new motor in her old vehicle and just assumed that she traded it in on the new one. But at Christmas she said she wanted to give us her old vehicle, now that it was repaired and in good working condition. What a surprise!

So she and Gerald made the long journey to bring us our second vehicle (which we actually bought from her). It's been ten years since we've had two cars. We did not need two vehicles in Canada due to living in a very pedestrian-oriented community. There were only a few times when we had to rent a second car, in the event that we needed to have more people riding with us than just our family of seven.

Of course, that has changed being back in the States and in a non-pedestrian culture. It's kind of sad for us in a way and one of the biggest adjustments, but we are adapting and it has been part of the journey and adventure to try to make one vehicle work. Bob and I have been having 10 "mini dates" every week whenever I drove him to and from work. I have enjoyed listening to several audio books as I taxi him and everyone else to their necessary destinations.

It has been an adjustment (although this one won't take too long, I think) to realize I don't have to run him to work in the mornings or be ready to go and get him in the evenings. What a great freedom having a second vehicle is giving us.

Thank you to Uncle Gerald for giving up your time and making the effort to do all the driving on the way up. And thank you to Mom for your continuous generosity and sharing. I am thankful, thankful, thankful!!! xo 

And thank you, Father, for Your provision and continual love and blessings in our lives. I am amazed, once again.