Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Gratitude Project - Day 25

Today is Thanksgiving! This year, we decided to have Brient's parents and my parents come to our house for lunch, instead of the six of us trying to run back and forth seeing each family. It was such a wonderfully relaxing day, for which I am most thankful.

Simply put, today I am thankful for family and for the wonderful day we had to spend with them. We never know where we will all be at this time next year. So we enjoyed today for what it was - a time to just be with each other.

I am so thankful, and have been so blessed by God.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Gratitude Project - Day 24

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Our house, for the past three days, has been non-stop cleaning, cooking, or decorating for the big day. (When I say "decorating," I really mean letting Little Sister do some turkey crafts and color sheets to hang on the wall!) I'm sure for most of you, things have been pretty much the same at your house. My kids are so excited about having family over tomorrow to celebrate and give thanks for all that God Almighty has blessed us with so abundantly. And I must say, I am pretty excited myself.

Today, I am thankful for peace within my spirit. The last few years have been full of worry and anxious thoughts, both of which I know are not of God. But all throughout this day, as we were making crafts and talking about what we were thankful for, I just felt God's peace all around me, like He was wrapping His big arms around me and holding on tight. It is a peace unlike any I have ever felt. God helped me to realize today that, no matter where He leads us, He is always there and nothing is too hard for Him.

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

Today, for the first time in a LONG time, I didn't worry about anything. I have been praying, but I have still been worrying. But not today! And, oh, to experience God's peace in such a way. It truly did exceed anything I could understand. I know it could only come from God. And I am so thankful for His peace.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Gratitude Project - Day 23

This morning, I woke up a little extra early, because I wanted to spend a little quiet time alone with my God and my Bible. It's been over a week since I've had a chance to do some Bible reading, and I wanted to catch up a little. I've been trying not to rush through my reading, but instead, to look at each verse individually to see what it says to me. I picked up where I left off, in the book of Genesis, chapters 15 and 16.

Genesis 15 recounts God's covenant promise to Abram. A "covenant promise" is a PERMANENT promise. That means, God will not change His mind of forget. God made big promises of great blessings to Abram. He said through a vision, "Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great."

But Abram still had something troubling him. He asked God, "O Sovereign Lord, what good are all Your blessings when I don't even have a son? Since You've given me no children,... a servant in my household will inherit all my wealth."

But the Lord God took Abram outside, looked up in the sky with him, and said, "Count the stars if you can. That's how many descendants you will have!"

WOW! What that said to me was this. I serve a God who is willing to listen to my doubts and questions, and still loves me anyway. When I have something troubling me, I, like Abram, can go to The Sovereign Lord and present my problems, and He will not get angry with me or think me silly or unreasonable. He will listen to me, and then, just as He did with Abram, will reassure me that He is still in control and I have nothing to fear. Thank you, Jesus, for that promise!

"And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith." When God reminds me that He is still in control, all I have to do is believe Him and His word, and trust that, whatever happens, it is in His hands.

Chapter 16 begins with Sarai, Abram's wife, attempting to do what we women often like to do - fix things. Sarai knew the covenant that God had made with Abram. But she also knew her age (very old!) and knew that she had been barren for her entire life. She had never birthed any children, and she could not see just how God was planning to bring about all these descendants that He promised. So she decided to "help" God along with His plan.

She told Abram to take her maidservant, Hagar, as a wife, and have a child by her. She said that child would surely fulfill the promise. But what that showed was her lack of faith in God and her impatience with Him to bring about His promise. Because of this, she caused all kinds of problems in their family, including mistreating her maidservant to the point of Hagar running away.

"The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. The angel said to her, 'Hagar, Sarai's servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?...The Lord has heard your cry of distress.' She said, 'You are the God who sees me. Have I truly seen the One who sees me?'"

Even though Sarai made a huge MESS of things when she became impatient with God and His plan, God still kept His covenant promise with Abram. Also, He did not forget Hagar, but heard her cry and had compassion on her. Sarai not only made a mess of her's and Abram's lives and God's plan, but she also succeeded in "helping" to make a mess of Hagar's life. But God loved Hagar and took care of her still.

I am so thankful that I serve a God who can redeem all of my major "messes" that I seem to often make with my life. Why He continues to have compassion on me and love me, I cannot understand. But I am so thankful that He does!

So today, I am thankful for two things, revealed to me through the scriptures. I am very thankful for a God who does not hold it against me when I have doubts or questions or things troubling my spirit, but loves me and reassures me that He is in control. And I am so very, VERY thankful that I serve a God who is big enough to take all of my mess-ups and turn them around for His good.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Gratitude Project - Day 22

Today, the kids and I spent a few hours cleaning the school room. Oh my goodness, I did not realize just how bad it was! And unfortunately, I can't blame all of it on the two year old this time. It was a combined effort of all six of us that got that room in the terrible shape it was in.

But today, we buckled down and went to work on that disaster area. And I am proud to say, you can see the floor again!

Thursday, for Thanksgiving, we will have my family and Brient's family over to eat lunch. Also, we have invited a friend from church who may join us. I am so excited that we will have Thanksgiving at our house this year. Usually for holidays, we spend the day running from one house to the next trying to see each of our loved ones, and by the end of the day, we're so worn out it isn't even funny. And generally, we end up with a really fussy baby on our hands, because she missed her nap with all the running. So this year, we will be home where the baby will have her bed, so she can take her nap whenever she is ready. And we can continue visiting with everyone without rushing. I am really excited about that!

So this year, I am thankful to be staying put on Thanksgiving day. I am thankful that my kids pitched in to help clean up the school room (and they'll help me hit the rest of the house tomorrow), so we can have people over and they can actually come in without tripping over baby toys. And I am thankful for a house where we can have friends and family over for fellowship and good food. I am thankful...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Gratitude Project - Day 21

This morning in children's church, Brient and I opened up the Big City Mall! THAT, my friends, is a time when Brient and I pull out lots of great items (toys, books, movies, games, and whatever!) that have been donated or bought by some great people, and give the kids a chance to spend all those Big City Bucks they've been earning for the last few months. Big City Bucks are the incentive we use to encourage kids to come, remember to bring their Bibles, and participate in all the fun on Sunday mornings.

Well, this morning's store was SO STINKIN' FUN! We had children there today who have never had the chance to participate in the Big City Store, so it was VERY exciting to them to be able to spend their bucks and go home with some great prizes! I love watching these kids pick out prizes for themselves. But I also LOVE seeing how each one of them thinks about other people they want to buy for, like their sisters or brothers, parents, and friends. It is so encouraging to see them thinking of others. It's also great to see some of them share their Big City bucks with other kids who maybe haven't come to children's church very long and don't have very many bucks. I am so thankful to be able to witness their sweet, giving spirits! It really encourages me!

Also, my friend, Tammy, came back to help with the store and see all the fun. I was thankful she had the opportunity to be there. She had a great time!

We played a new review game, and the kids LOVED it! It was FAST, it was LOUD, and it was FUN! AND, it showed me that they remembered EVERYTHING we taught them over the last 3 months! I am so thankful for that! It does no good whatsoever to teach kids if it is not on their level and if it is not done in a way that they will remember it. I am thankful that we found a program that teaches in such a way.

The game was a very simple set-up, but the kids LOVED it!

And I am very, VERY thankful for all the great people in our church who have donated things to be put in our store. There are people who have gone through some old things, and donated some of their used items that were still in great shape.

All of our items were donated, either by someone cleaning out things not being used in their house (maybe their kids outgrew a toy), or money was donated for us to purchase things. I am SO thankful for each person who gave something for our store! 

These were some AMAZING and REALLY LARGE posters that were made for camp this summer. My friend, Rena, along with several other great artists, painted them. They were still in GREAT shape, and I really didn't want to see them end up in the trash. So Rena said we could sell them in the store. Now I ask you, who WOULDN'T want Optimus Prime or Bumblebee on their wall!?

It was a great morning! I am so thankful for how everything turned out. The store was a great success, the kids had fun, I knew they had learned a LOT over the last quarter, and it was just an all-around GREAT morning. I was SO THANKFUL!!!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Gratitude Project - Day 20

Today, I am very thankful for my dear friend, Amy. I had the opportunity to spend the day outside visiting with her in the fresh air while we watched the kids play. We don't often have the chance to just sit and enjoy each others company, so today was special.

I went to high school with Amy, and we graduated together. She and I loved many of the same things, like drama and music, and we hung out together sometimes. She and I went places together, and shared many of the same friends.

When we grew up and married, we still kept in touch. And now, we live about 15 minutes apart. Our children enjoy playing with each other. It's just kind of amazing to me how she and I have stayed good friends, and now our children are friends. Pretty cool.

Today, I really needed a good friend to sit and talk with. It was a hard day, and she was there to be that friend. I am so thankful for her!

~Thank you, Amy, for being such a good friend for all these years. I look forward to many, many more years of friendship with you!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Gratitude Project - Day 19

As many of you know, I am a proud homeschool mom to four great kids. God called me to this "job" when Britches was about 2. I knew that was what He wanted me to do with and for my kids. God asked me to give up having a job outside of the home, and focus my time and efforts on the children he would put in my care.

I can't say this is always the "job" I wanted to have. There have been, and still are, days that I'd really like to throw my hands up and just put my kids out by the road to wait on that big yellow bus to drive by and pick them up to go to public school. But, because I know that it is God Almighty who has asked this of me, He WILL see my through the hard days.

I have no desire to let a public school teacher spend more time with my children than I. I have no desire to see my kids only in the evenings while doing homework. I have no desire to put them on a freezing cold school bus in the winter to sit for an hour on a bus route before getting to school. (Yeah, I know what I said before!)

But even though my kids don't attend public school, I am still thankful for what goes on there. Today, I am remembering how thankful I am for Christian men and women who go into the school system to make a difference in the lives of children. So many children today come from broken homes, abusive situations, neglect, and any other number of terrible situations that most of us can't even imagine. I am thankful for the teachers who are there to encourage, uplift, and teach these kids. Because, if there weren't good teachers out there, one can never know how those kids from bad home situations would turn out. I am thankful for the cafeteria workers who work hard to feed all those little mouths that, otherwise, may go hungry. I am thankful for a "safe place" for these kids who may not have that "safe place" anywhere else.

Just because you adore your kids and take wonderful care of them doesn't mean that all parents do the same. Not all parents love or even WANT their children. It is a very, VERY sad thing. But I am thankful for the teachers and workers in the schools who care about these kids, and help them to have a better life through education.

Just because I homeschool doesn't mean everyone wants to. Just because I choose to be home with my kids all day every day doesn't mean all parents feel the same. So I am thankful for the people in education who are there for these children.

I am especially thankful for 2 of my favorite teachers, Ms. Hebert and Ms. Oaks, who taught me English and Creative Writing. I would not be where I am today, or where I am headed, with my writing without them taking time with me and encouraging me.

So for any of you out there who feel the need to talk bad about parents who send their kids to public school, about the public school system's failings, or "those teachers", remember this. I take great offense when someone criticizes me for my decision to homeschool my children. We should not be so quick to criticize the ones filling the gaps for children whose parents do not feel the same.

Thank you, teachers, for all you do.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Gratitude Project - Day 18

For the last 18 days, I have been taking part in The Gratitude Project, a challenge put out by my friend and pastor, Ray, to be intentionally grateful for the 25 days leading up to Thanksgiving. If you are new to my blog, be sure to check out all the details of The Gratitude Project in my first post of the challenge.

The kids and I spent the day at home. It was the first day in a LONG time that I have simply relaxed. I sent the kids to do a little school work from their 4H books, but other than that, we took some time off from our regular schooling.

I spent some time sitting down and talking with my honey. We brought in my new table that we bought last weekend at a garage sale. He had it out in the shop refinishing it, and it is BEAUTIFUL! I'll post pictures of it after I have a chance to take one!

I did a minimal amount of housework with the kids help. I enjoyed THREE cups of yummy scrummy hummy hot cocoa.

I finally finished the article I have been working on for the last few months, and sent it in to be considered for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.

And we rounded out the day by having Brient's parents over for deer burgers (a vegan one for me!), corn on the cob, and chips with Brient's homemade salsa.

The kids watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. And I'm sitting in the bathroom blogging right now, while the 2 little girls are playing in a bubble bath.

It has been a wonderfully slow and relaxing day. I am just not sure how it could have been much better. I am very blessed, and VERY thankful!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Gratitude Project - Day 17

Today, I am thankful for several things! The first, and THE MOST IMPORTANT thing I am thankful for are two really sweet ladies. Today at co-op, my friend, Kayla, brought me a HUGE sack full of boy clothes for my Little Man. And my other friend, Tara, brought me 3 sacks full of girl clothes for Little Sister! I am so thankful that both of these ladies thought of me and my children, and were willing to pass down some good outgrown clothes to us!

Over the years, God has always seen to it that my kids were clothed. All throughout my kids lives, I have been given hand-me-downs for each of my kids. If I had to buy enough clothes for each season for all 4 of my kiddos, I would go BROKE! Granted, I have some girl clothes that I keep from one girl to the next. But there was a BIG gap in between Britches and Little Sister, so I had already given away a lot of what I had. So I have always been VERY thankful for the wonderful people God has sent our way to share with us. My kids have never gone without in that area.

And I LOVE being able to hand down clothes that we no longer need to other families. These people have blessed me by giving me clothes for my kids, and I LOVE having the opportunity to be a blessing to someone else and pass on to them for their kids.

Also today, I am thankful that it was a beautiful day so we could sit outside and have a picnic while eating PIZZA! I just LOVE picnics at co-op! I love that I have a standing lunch date with my friend, Linda, for our picnic! I have come to really look forward to it each week.

During third hour, I sit in on study hall and make sure those crazy teenagers stay quiet and actually STUDY! So, while I was sitting, I had an entire 45 minutes to work on an article I have been writing for the past few months. No, it's not that it's just that long or that great. It's just that I haven't had enough quiet time to collect my thoughts and make complete sentences! So this article has been very slow going. But today, I made quite a bit of progress, for which I am really thankful!

I am VERY thankful that today was our last day of co-op for about 2 months! I NEED A BREAK! My kids are very disappointed, but I am quite looking forward to slowing our pace just a bit. Also, I am looking forward to getting my lessons for next semester planned and organized. That way, when we start back, I will not be so rushed. I will greatly miss the aforementioned standing lunch date with my friend, Linda. But I am very grateful for a break from running.

And I am most thankful that God provided me the opportunity today to share truth from His Word with a man whose beliefs are not in line with the Bible. I'm not really sure that I made a difference in his life today. But I do have the promise from God that His Word does NOT return void, AND whatever good work He begins, He will see it through to completion. Thank you, Jesus!

It has been a great day! The baby didn't scream for the entire day, for which I am VERY, VERY THANKFUL! The sun was shining. The rains came again tonight. My week is officially slowing down, and will continue to do so for the next week or more. My co-op classes went really well today - which isn't something I can say for every week. We all had time to see friends today. I am just really thankful that today went so very well.

And in the morning, I'm going to slow down and make a nice cup of homemade hot cocoa...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Gratitude Project - Day 16

It occurred to me that this 25 day journey of intentional gratefulness is more than half-way done. It doesn't seem like the time has passed so quickly, and yet, Thanksgiving is upon us in a little over a week. WOW!

I must admit, there have been a few days that I have had to sit for awhile and FIND something for which to be thankful. I have four children, and the two littlest ones, ages 4 and 2, have been giving me a run for my money lately. I have been just a little, shall we say, STRESSED! So by participating in The Gratitude Project, I have made myself stop and reflect on the things in my life, and not just the "stressful at the time" things, and I realize that I do have MUCH for which to be thankful!

Today, I am simply thankful for this yummy, delicious cup of homemade hot chocolate sitting in front of me waiting to be savored. Back in January, I gave up a BIG addiction to coffee, and that is something I have not regretted. But I have realized that, besides the caffeine addiction, I really just LOVE having a warm cup of ANYTHING in my hands. It is so comforting and soothing. Especially on dreary, rainy days like we have had at my house this past week, a nice, hot cup of something is wonderful! I LOVE a nice cup of hot tea, mainly chai or Earl Grey. And at this time of year, a cup of hot apple cider hits the spot. But what I have really developed a love of is hot cocoa! Homemade hot cocoa, to be exact!

I came up with my own recipe for a delicious, healthy hot cocoa, and I wanted to share it with you. I promise, you will be THANKFUL for this cocoa, too!!

1 C Blue Diamond almond milk (non-dairy, low in calories, low in carbs, and VERY YUMMY!)
1/2 TBSP cocoa powder (very high in antioxidants and a mood booster!)
A dash of cinnamon, to taste (lowers cholesterol, regulates blood sugar, and reduces arthritis pain)
1 TBSP honey (aids stomach and digestion, treats allergies, heals ulcers, and MUCH more!!)

Add everything to a small pot, and use a whisk to mix everything well. I continue to whisk everything until it reaches the temperature I want it, because I don't want it to burn. (Nothing worse than burning a good cup of hot cocoa!) When all the cocoa is dissolved and you get it to the temperature you like, pour it up in a nice, big mug. Take your cup to a nice, quiet place, get a good book or a magazine, and relax while you enjoy your yummy hot cocoa!

I hope you like this recipe as well as I do. It has become one of my favorite afternoon "snack" drinks, and I make a cup nearly every day. I am very, very thankful for my chocolate treat!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Gratitude Project - Day 15

This morning, I woke up to the sound of a light rain falling outside my living room window. I woke up early, and everyone else was still in bed asleep. So I laid on the couch, closed my eyes, and just listened to the sound. It was so peaceful, I fell back asleep. But it was such a light sleep, I could still hear the rain drip, drip, dripping off of the house and into my herb garden.

I am so thankful that God sends the rains at just the time when we need it most. Just when my garden is looking very parched and cracked, God sends the water from Heaven to soak into the ground and bring life to everything it touches. My garden bursts forth with color and fruit. 

Sometimes, that is how our lives seem to be. The "things" in life just keep coming, and we just seem to get drier and drier, and we think we can't go on much longer in this drought. But then, at just the right time, God sends a refreshing rain to soak into our souls and bring life back to our spirits. That refreshing rain may come through a word you read in your Bible, it may be something said by the preacher or other minister, or it could even come through a song.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is found in Romans 8:28. It says, "And we know that, in ALL THINGS, God works together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose." What that says to me is that, no matter how badly I screw things up, He can and WILL still turn it around for good! Thank you, Jesus! My other favorite verse is found in Jeremiah 29:11 - "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you. Plans to give you a HOPE and a FUTURE.'" WOW! Those are 2 verses that really refresh my spirit!

There are many songs that bring life back to my soul - songs reminding me of God's promises, His love, and His constant presence in my life. This is one of my favorites!

I am so thankful today that God sends the rains, both the literal and the spiritual, at just the right time.Thank you, Jesus, for Your rains.

Ben Franklin

When you hear the name Benjamin Franklin, you probably think of a guy from long ago who had something to do with our country, but aren't really sure what. Hey, it's in the past. What does it matter to me today? What makes this guy so special that HE gets to be on our hundred dollar bill? This week, Britches and Little Man went back in time to meet up with one of the greatest men in our country's history, and to find out just what DOES make this man so special.

To help us on our time travels, I, of course, turned to Download N Go, who has a FANTASTIC Ben Franklin unit. Already prepared for me were great lesson plans, fascinating online links to videos, and really cool templates.

I started out by printing off the pages I wanted to use, and then put together the lapbooks (because I don't want to spend the precious little time I DO have trying to get the kids to cut everything out on their own). DNG provides a book list that you have the option of using during the unit. In truth, there is enough information already included in the unit that you really don't HAVE to use any of these. But since I LOVE the library and using actual physical BOOKS, I did borrow several from the list.

One of the first things we learned about Ben was the fact that he had a large - VERY LARGE - family! We learned about his parents and his siblings, where they lived, and things he enjoyed doing as a kid. Then, after learning a little about Ben's family tree, we made our own. The kids thought that part was pretty cool.

Britches and Little Man found it amazing how many lives this one man lived! Among some of the amazing things that this guy did, he was an inventor, a printer, a writer, a world traveler, and a statesman. How did that man do so many things in his life? Well, that's just it. He DID THINGS. He didn't just talk about what needed to be done, but he went out and found solutions.

We learned that Ben started a weekly club that met to talk about important matters. So I asked the kids what kind of club they would start, who they would invite, and what they would talk about. Both went straight to work designing their clubs. Here is what they came up with.

Little Man decided that his club was going to be called "Boys Bible Group." WOW! I was pretty impressed. He said he would invite the boys from church, and they would discuss things in the Bible. 

Britches, of course, wanted to start an all girls club. She named it "G.I.A - Girl's Improvement Association." They would meet to discuss things like self improvement, fashion, and whatever other "girl things" they wanted to talk about.

On the day that we learned about Ben's printing press and business, we started the day by watching the video link about how the press actually worked. It was REALLY cool to see the machine that took the place of hand-writing documents! My plans were to go from the video straight to working on our lapbooks. But as soon as the video went off, both kids told me they were off to build a printing press. Well, who am I to stand in the way of creativity?! So they both headed to the recycling bin, pulled out some cardboard, and got to work. Here are their finished products. 


Britches got all her supplies together and started on her printing press.

This is the open printing press, and the paper goes right in the middle.

The cover folds down over the paper. The letter tiles go on the bottom flap, where the "beater" uses an "ink ball" to apply the ink to the tiles. 

The entire press is folded over to press the ink from the tile to the paper.

This is her "ink ball" and she is the "beater."

Little Man began work on his printing press.

It folds over, much like Britches' press, with the "window" opening for the paper to show through and press against the ink.

The cardboard over the "window" represents a piece of paper that would have been in his press. 

Little Man beating ink on his letters.

The finished printing press! Tada! 

One morning, we started out to watch one or maybe two videos of Ben's famous kite experiment, and we ended up spending about an hour and a half watching Youtube videos! What a fun way to learn about how Benjamin Franklin discovered that lightening is really electricity! We began with the video links already provided by DNG, and then just kept watching more! 

There were so many other amazing things we learned during this week of Benjamin Franklin history. I could go on and on telling you about all the amazing things this man said and did, and all the things my kids took away from this lesson. But instead of me telling you, you should get your own copy of Ben Franklin and have some fun with YOUR kids! 

There are many other homeschool mom's using the Ben Franklin unit with their kids. Visit the blog tour to find their blog sites, and go check out the way they used this unit! You will get lots of ideas for when you teach it to your own kiddos!

History is one of my favorite subjects, so it makes it very easy for me to get enthusiastic about teaching it to my kids. We all really, REALLY enjoyed this unit! I am so glad we spent the week traveling back in time to learn about one of the greatest men to ever live.

~I received a free copy of "Ben Franklin" in exchange for my honest review of this product.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Gratitude Project - Day 14

I am thankful today for all the amazing kids that I am allowed to work with every Sunday morning who make my day so FUN! It was nearly a packed house this morning. We had three new kids today in Big City Studios, our children's program, which was VERY exciting for us! All the kids had a great time learning about God and playing some fun games. I am so thankful I have the chance to hang out with these kids each week.

I am thankful for my honey, who is the backbone of the whole shindig. I'm the "up front" person, but without him working "behind the scenes", the whole thing would just fall apart!

And I'm thankful that I have some great teenagers that come in to help me each week. I am thankful for Angel, Emily, Maicee, Christian, and Zac who take turns coming in to be motivators, game helpers or leaders, and anything else crazy that I ask them to do. Thanks, Zac, for letting me smoosh cookies to your head! (You just never know what's going to happen in children's church!)

I had pictures somewhere, but I can't seem to put my hands on them. So you'll just have to take my word for it that this is a great looking bunch of kids who know how to have a good time!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Gratitude Project - Day 13

This morning, I looked out my window to see the leaves raining down. One thing I love about living at this house is watching the leaves change colors every fall, and then, with the slightest breeze, get blown to the ground. It is simply a beautiful thing to see, and it's something I look forward to every year.

Besides the leaves, there are many other beautiful fall signs and colors bursting out at every turn. This is my favorite time of year (right next to spring), and I am so thankful that God shows me his beauty in all of His creation.

God promised Noah that there would always be seasons. He keeps His promises. So I know, each year I will be able to sit at my window and see the beauty of the leaves falling.

This morning, I just couldn't stand it, so I went outside and tried to capture some of the beauty in photos. No photo could ever truly show all the beauty of nature. It was so much more beautiful in front of me. But I want to share with you some of what I observed.



This is what my woods look like in the fall. BEAUTIFUL!!


I LOVE the pinecones that are all over my yard right now. 

This is my neighbors tree that I see across from my house each day. I LOVE this time of year when their tree starts turning colors. I have no idea what kind of tree this is, but I'm glad they planted it in their yard!

 My sasanqua tree blooms every year around the end of October or the first of November. It has beautiful pink flowers that last through a lot of the cool weather. It is a beautiful burst of color this time of year.

Every fall, my althea tree's leaves turn light yellow and green. In the spring, it puts out beautiful purple flowers. It is equally beautiful in both seasons.

In the fall, my lemon balm herb turns from a bright green to a beautiful purple and green mix. It is so amazing to see how this plant can change so much during the year.

When I look at all of the beauty around me, it is easy to see why fall is one of my favorite seasons. I am so thankful that God makes His creation so diverse and gorgeous. It takes a BIG GOD to make things so different and all so beautiful.

Friday, November 12, 2010

My God is Bigger Than...

Recently, I was talking with a friend of mine who was telling me about a money issue she was having. To be specific, she was telling me the cost of putting braces on her son when they have no dental insurance. He is going to need oral surgery, too, which is going to cost quite a pretty penny.

I was telling her how I completely understood, because, when I was just out of high school, I had the same TWO things done - oral surgery and then braces. She told me she didn't care about all the facts, because she was praying that God would just take care of that whole situation, and then she wouldn't have to pay for it anyway. Either God would take care of his mouth, or God would provide the money.

You have to understand my friend, Myka. She smiles ALL THE TIME, and she is just so stinkin' funny to listen to as she talks. I was nearly rolling as she was telling me this money issue, all while she kept a smile and was laughing.

At one point, she raised her voice and said, "I'm gonna show my giant just how BIG MY GOD IS!" She and I both started laughing together, mainly because she was SO FUNNY the way she told it.

But in the last few weeks since she said that, I haven't stopped thinking about her words - I'm gonna show my giant just how big my God is. There is so much TRUTH in those few words.

In everyone's life, there are guaranteed giants. There WILL be problems that you will face, and they will be HUGE. But we have a God, a BIG GOD, who is there at our side. He is THE ONE to turn to when our giants come at us. I am so thankful that MY GOD is BIGGER than ALL my giants!

So thinking about all the giants you are facing in your life today - job loss, sickness, a death, depression, money, or whatever - fill in this sentence, "My God is bigger than..."

He really IS bigger than ALL our giants. Thank you, Jesus, for that truth and that promise!

The Gratitude Project - Day 12

There are so many people in my life for whom I am thankful. So many people have loved me and guided me along the way. And there are still new people God places in my life from time to time. But there are a handful of folks who are very dear to me, and I just have to say how thankful I am for each of them.

At the top of my list is my mother. Sherry is not only my mother, but she is also my friend. We have always had a close relationship, and have loved spending time together doing things. Since I have had kids, she has been a helper, an encourager, a sounding board, a counselor, and an all-around great grandma. There are days on this journey of motherhood that I just don't think I can move another step - not often, but occasionally. She will come and get all four kids and give me a break for the day. And for rare treats, she takes them all for an entire weekend! I am so thankful for all the help she gives. Last night, I left the kids at home with their daddy, and I went shopping with my mama for a few hours. She joined a fitness club a few months ago, and she needed some new workout clothes. Hers were getting too baggy! YAY for her!! I'm so proud of her for FINALLY doing something for herself, and for sticking with it even though it's hard! She is in her 50's and has decided to make a life change for the better. You are never too old to start an exercise habit. (Not that 50's are old!) I love my mama dearly, and I don't know where I would be without her.

Next is my daddy. He and I didn't always get along when I was younger, but since I moved out of their house, we have become very close. I work for him now doing all of his Internet work, including keeping up with his web site and sending all his e-mails. So I talk to him every week day. On the weekends, I sometimes call just to say "hi," because I get so used to talking to him during the week. He and I share a love of gardening, growing and using your own herbs, and wine making. We can talk for a LONG time about any of those things! I used to take the kids every Wednesday to see him for breakfast. He works from home, so on those days, he would make breakfast for us. We started that, because after breakfast each Wednesday, he taught me lessons on how to play the mandolin that he built me. After my 10 week course was up, we just kept coming to breakfast - for about 3 or 4 years! But alas, when I had baby number 4, it was MUCH harder to get everyone up and out of the house to go have breakfast with him. So we eventually had to quit. So I don't see my daddy as often as I'd like, but at least I do get to talk with him each day. And for that, I am very thankful.

I am thankful that I have all four of my grandparents. Not many people can say that anymore. At least not people my age. One set of my grandparents lives in South Carolina, so I don't get the opportunity to visit them as much as I'd like. But my other grandparents live right up the road from me! So any time I feel like going for a visit, I can. Of course, homeschooling has caused my visits to be a little more infrequent, what with trying to accomplish the things in front of us in a fairly timely manner. But I still love when I am able to go see them!

My grandmother is a wonderful woman who has taught me many things over the years. Brient is thankful that she taught me how to cook! She also taught me a lot about Almighty God. She used to babysit my brother and I during the summers while my mom worked. So I spent a LOT of time learning from her. And now, my children love spending time with her learning all sorts of things.

My granddaddy is just plain FUN! I am thankful for all the FUN times he spent with me out in his pasture, on tractor rides, and sitting on his knee. I am thankful that he is a veteran and fought for MY right to be free. I am thankful that he was a hard worker, and supported his family! I am always amazed at the knowledge rolling around up in that brain of his. I think mine would explode if I tried to remember the things he knows.

I love all of my grandparents and am very thankful to have them still around, but I am especially thankful for my Granddaddy and Grandmama Kelley.

God has put some great people in my life, and for them, I am very thankful. God has blessed me abundantly.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Gratitude Project - Day 11

I woke up this morning to a quiet house. All the kids, plus Brient, were still in bed. So I snuck down the hall and headed to the kitchen. I made myself a lovely cup of Earl Grey tea, and then went back to the living room to find my Bible. In the quiet moments of the morning, I was able to sip my tea and read from God's Word. That is sometimes a rare thing around here, with four little ones always needing something from mama.

So this morning, I am thankful for the opportunity to be alone for a few minutes and soak up some of God's Word for this day.

My favorite book of the Bible is the book of James. I don't know exactly why, but I find myself coming back to that one book often. It is FULL of great truths and instruction, and every time I read it, I either find something I didn't notice before, or realize there is something I haven't succeeded at doing yet. So I keep reading it, and I keep trying to "get" what James is saying.

Go check out the book of James for yourself today. You will be amazed at what he has to say, and you will be challenged in your walk with Christ.

~ The Book of James

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Gratitude Project - Day 10

Today, the kids and I went for our weekly trip to our homeschool co-op. Our homeschool group has had a co-op in effect for a few years now, but this is our first year to join.

We decided to participate this year, because Little Sister REALLY needed some time to play with other friends her age each week! She REALLY needed an outing! And Little Sister LOVES it! In fact, she was really disappointed today to hear that next week would be our last week before starting our 2 month winter break. She has completely enjoyed every minute of every day that we spend there.

Another benefit of doing co-op is that the oldest 2 are able to take several classes that I just don't have time to teach them at home. For example, Britches is taking a chemistry class, something she has asked me for YEARS to teach her, from my friend, Penny. I am so thankful that Penny decided to teach that class this year! And Little Man is having a blast in all his art classes, especially "Draw Write Now," taught by my other friend, Linda. That is his favorite class, I think!

I am so very thankful that we decided to join this year. I have met so many great ladies, and have gotten to know some of them better. I am really thankful for the friendships that I have made.

I am really thankful that I have a chance to get out of my own four walls each week, so I can go do something different! If you don't stay home 24/7 with your kids, you probably can't fully appreciate that. But it is SO needed!

And I am thankful that, several years ago, some ladies got together to work out all the details of how to make this co-op run smoothly, so I am able to participate with no problems.

I am also very thankful for all the moms who work very hard teaching my kids each week, the moms who help in classes, and the moms who clean up after us all. And I think what I am most thankful for are the ladies in the toddler room and in the four year old class! Thanks to Terri L. and Donna G., I am able to have a break for a day from running after my little ones and finding something to entertain them. Thanks to both of you girls! You have no idea how very much I appreciate you both!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Gratitude Project - Day 9

Today, I am thinking how thankful I am for TWO things. The first is this...

After I finished doing school with the kids this morning, I sat down to do one of my least favorite jobs - paying bills. I hate this job! But it's something that I simply must sit down and do regularly, so I can keep everything straight and it will be less of a headache later. But as I sat down and began balancing and budgeting and writing and mailing, I am reminded how thankful I am that we are able to pay our bills.

Last year, my sweet friend's husband was out of work for several months. It was really hard for them, and she told me that one thing she just really wanted was to be able to pay her bills. And when her husband finally was gainfully employed once again, she called me just to tell me how excited she was when she paid her bills for that month.

For 2 years now, we have been wondering about Brient's job and whether or not he will still have one after this company buy-out. So far, he is still employed, and it looks as though he will remain employed. And for that, I am so very thankful.

So, as much as I hate the task of actually sitting down and doing the math, I am very thankful that God has provided for us and I am ABLE to pay our bills.

The second thing I am thankful for is this...

In just a little while, a guy from our church, George, will be coming over to help Brient fix something on his truck.

Brient recently took his truck in just to have his tires balanced, but he came out with an estimate of well over $100 to fix this part. We have been holding off until we just HAD to do it. If we took it in, it would cost a lot. But Brient wasn't really sure exactly how to fix it himself, which is what he usually does on all our vehicles.

But Sunday, George told Brient that he knew exactly how to change out the part and get the truck fixed, and he would be happy to come talk Brient through the process. George had back surgery last year, and can't actually DO the job. But he was willing to TELL Brient how to do it. Which is better anyway, because then Brient will understand better just in case we have this come up again in the future.

So I am thankful for my honey, who is willing to tackle jobs himself, and save us a lot of money by having someone else do those jobs. And I am especially thankful right now for a good friend who is willing to give up some of his time to come talk Brient through this project! George and his wife, Jamie, have become some very dear friends to Brient and I, and we are very thankful for them!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Gratitude Project - Day 8

Later this morning, I am going to start cutting out all the templates for our next lapbook unit. I am very excited about that. So today, I am reminded how thankful I am that I have the chance to homeschool my children every day.

When I tell people that I homeschool, most of the time I get crazy looks and the question "Why?" There are many reasons why I do what I do, but the main reason is that God has asked me to do this. That's all that matters, and that's my biggest and most important reason for homeschooling my kids.

I am thankful that I am able to be home with them each day, and watch them as they grow. Time goes by so quickly, and I don't want to miss anything!

I am so very thankful that God has blessed Brient with a good job, so that I don't have to work and am able to stay home with the kids. We certainly don't make as much as a family with 2 working people, and we do have to make choices and sacrifices. But God has provided for everything we NEED through Brient's job.

Since it is God who asked me to teach my kids, I take this very seriously. One day, when I stand before Him, I want to be able to tell Him that I have done the best I could with the gifts He entrusted to me. This is too serious to care what others will think or say.

I am thankful that our family is supportive of our decision to homeschool. It can be very hard when you have no one backing you, but it can be really great when you know others are in your corner standing behind you.

Homeschooling is not all roses, and there really are days that are just plain HARD! There are days that I really need grandma to come and take the kids for awhile, so I can regroup. But there is no way I would do it any differently. I love being home with my kids, and I am so thankful today that I have the opportunity to homeschool them.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Gratitude Project - Day 7

This morning, I woke up to a nice, warm, quiet house. I am so thankful that my sweet mama and daddy took the kids for the weekend, so Brient and I could have some time alone together. We have had a full weekend of shopping and eating out - something we rarely get to do together!

And as I walked down my hall to the front of my house, I noticed how warm and cozy it is. A few days ago, Brient climbed up on the roof with a "borrowed" chimney sweep, and cleaned our chimney himself. He saved us about $50 by tackling that job on his own. And now, I have a lovely fire going in my living room. It is warm, and it smells so good! I am very thankful that we bought that insert (used, of course) when we moved into this house 7 years ago.

But mostly what I am thankful for this morning is for my church. In a little while, Brient and I will pack up all our things and head to Liberty Grove Church of God, where we will spend some time with a room full of great kids, as we teach them all about God's love! I never would have dreamed that one day we would be where we are now.

Several years ago, we were going to another church across town. It was a great church, the preacher could preach a wonderful sermon, the people were nice, and, most importantly, there was a GREAT children's program. Thanks to Jerry and Rindy, my kids were taught each week about God in a fun, interactive way that they could completely understand! I LOVED IT! I loved listening to them on the drive home tell me all about what they learned. They couldn't take turns talking, because they were so excited about all they had been taught, and they kept interrupting each other. So I would sit listening to 2 stories at the same time, and I loved it! I loved their enthusiasm!

But what I loved most about the children's program (for me, at that time in my life), was the fact that I could send them back to Jerry and Rindy, and I could sit and listen to the sermon without doing anything else in the church. Of course, I was always taking care of Little Sister during the sermon, because she would scream her head off if I tried to leave her in the nursery. But, for the most part, I was able to go to church and be a pew warmer. And I liked it that way.

Two years ago, that church announced that they would be moving their location to a bigger building, because the church had grown and couldn't hold the people anymore in their present location. Everyone was excited! But for us, that meant stretching our already long drive to church into an even longer drive. It would make our commute change from 30 minutes to 40 or 45 minutes. Several factors made us stop and rethink if we should continue going to this church. The price of gas, at that time, was outrageous, and I also had Little Sister who was always ready for a nap after church. I was also expecting Baby Girl then, and was getting quite worn out from the drive every week. And if Brient had to work on a Sunday morning, I would just stay home with the kids, because it was too difficult to get them all there. I mean, all I was doing was taking the oldest 2 for their class, and I would sit outside with Little Sister and not even hear the message, because she wouldn't be quiet or go in the nursery. It just wasn't worth the drive anymore after the church moved. So we began our search for a new church.

For several months, we visited many different churches. Some were nice, but were still a far drive. There were a few we liked, but they were a little too big for us, and I didn't feel comfortable leaving my kids alone with people I didn't know in such a big place. And then, there were a few churches who we simply didn't agree with, so we left! But finally, FINALLY, God brought us to where we are now.

From the time we walked in the doors of Liberty Grove, we could tell God was telling us, "Stop here." We had this overwhelming feeling, both Brient and I, that this is where we were supposed to be. This is where we belonged. The people were wonderful, and it really did feel like they were family. Every time we came to church, it felt as though we were going to a family reunion! I just couldn't get enough of seeing these people.

The pastor and his wife were unlike any others that we have met - EVER. For starters, they're average people who work hard, just like us. They have kids, just like us. And they hang out with average folks, just like us. And the people that attend Liberty Grove are actually FRIENDS with each other, and they spend time together during the week, and they even hang out together on the weekends. They don't just talk on Sunday mornings, and then forget about church the rest of the week.

And yay hooray, Baby Girl LOVED Cindy, my sweet friend who kept the nursery! I could actually sit in the service and know she was OK. And even more of a yay hooray, Little Sister would actually go to toddler church. I was finally in a place where everyone was happy, and I could listen to the sermon! And, since Liberty Grove is only 10 minutes from my house, I could still go to church even if Brient was out of town working!

Not long after we decided to put down roots with this church family, God started leading us in a new direction. One of the things I really missed about my old church was the lively children's program that they were involved in each week. God spoke to Brient and told him, "You do it." WHAT??!! Brient isn't a children's leader! He's a great dad, and a fun guy, but there was no way he was ready for that! But wouldn't you know, right after that, God spoke to me and said, "You help him." Darn it!

God called me to children's ministry years ago, while I was still a teenager. I have worked with kids off and on for years. But I have always tried to get out of my "calling," because I just really didn't want to do it. It takes time, you have to work hard, and I had other things to do. I have, over the years, acted much like Jonah, as he tried to run from the job God had laid before him. 

We spent the next few months arguing with God about how bad of a choice the two of us were for this job. I had my own kids now and really didn't care about getting involved with other people's kids again. I was happy just dealing with my own kids. And anyway, I really just wanted someone else to do the lively program that I was used to, so I could sit and be a pew warmer at this church and just listen to the sermon! Children's ministry is WORK, and I really was just too tired to tackle it! I had four kids by now, and I homeschooled 2 of them. When did I have time to do this?! And Brient! Well, he was barely even home, because his job was always calling him off somewhere else in the state, and I barely even had time to see him! When did he have time to do this?! But God never wavered. He kept speaking to us saying, "You do it."

Finally, when we couldn't argue with Him anymore, I just threw my hands up and said, "God, I have no idea how You think this is going to work. I have no idea how to make this work! But if you want us to do this, FINE! You figure out a way to make it happen." I was pretty ugly to God, and I am so thankful He didn't hold that against me! (Yeah, I had to ask forgiveness for that one.) And you know what, He DID figure out a way. Actually, He already had the way planned. He just needed Brient and I to say "yes," and then let Him work.

God doesn't need any of us to do His work. He IS, after all, God, and He could do anything He wanted without us. We are nothing. But God loves to take "nothing" and make a great "something" out of it! God CHOOSES to use us, but we have to be willing to let Him. And let me tell you, there is no better feeling in the world than when you say "yes" to God and then let Him use you for His purpose.

Over this last year, God has shown me so many things about Himself through this children's ministry. He has shown me how to pray when I need something, or when I feel like I've hit a brick wall and don't know which way to go from here. He has shown me that I CANNOT do anything - ANYTHING - on my own. He has shown me that He is willing to wait for me as I throw my little temper tantrum, and then, after I give up, ask forgiveness, and look to Him, He picks up right where we left off. He has shown me how to take a leap of faith. He has shown me that He doesn't need pew warmers. And He has shown me how He can work all things together for good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

God used my old church's move to uproot Brient and I, and to bring us to the place we are now. If they had not moved, we would probably still be going there warming a pew and "sending" our kids to children's church. God took something that I saw as "bad" and worked it together for good.

So now on Sunday mornings, Brient and I are leading the same children's program that Jerry and Rindy led, and, not only do my kids get to enjoy it, but, all of the kids of Liberty Grove get to have fun with us while we learn about God and his great, great love!

I am so very, very thankful that God knows what we need better than we know ourselves! Brient and I were talking just the other day, and we both agreed that, from this point on in our lives, if we were not in some way involved in children's ministry, we would feel like something was missing. We would feel empty. We have embraced the calling God has put on our lives, and we are so happy now. You are ALWAYS happiest when you are right in the middle of God's will.

So in just a little while, I will load up all my "stuff," and get ready to head to church to do the job God has called us to do. I am ready and excited about pouring God's love into a great bunch of kids!

I am so thankful that God called me to join in His work, and I am so very, VERY thankful that He didn't give up on me when I tried to say "no."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Gratitude Project - Day 6

Two years ago today, my youngest sweet Baby Girl was born. Yep, today is her birthday!

I am so thankful that God blessed us with this little fun, energetic, opinionated, loud, sweet, cutie girl! She was completely a surprise to us, but sometimes surprises are the best!

Today, my sweet Baby Girl gets to spend the day with her grandmama, which will be the BEST birthday present EVER for her! She will be completely spoiled ROTTEN, and she'll enjoy every minute of it. And then tomorrow, we will celebrate her birthday with all of her grandparents.

Baby Girl is completely spoiled by her older sisters and brother, and pretty much anything she wants, they see to it that she gets. They all tote her around so much, it seems like she's THEIR baby more than mine! But they all love it! I am so thankful that God gave this sweet surprise to us, and I am excited to watch her grow and see what God has for her life.

I love you, squirt!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Gratitude Project - Day 5

This morning, as Little Sister came bouncing in to the living room after a good nights sleep, I was reminded how very thankful I am that God gave her to us.

This girl has the sweetest spirit and the most energy of anyone I have ever seen. She doesn't walk anywhere. She either runs or bounces. I must admit, she tires me out more than my older 2, but her energy is just fun to watch.

She is always laughing and playing. I love watching her when she is playing with her toys at the table. She is so imaginative.

Little Sister loves life, and I love that about her! She brings so much happiness to our house. When she is gone to stay with someone, like grandparents, for a few days, the house gets so quiet, and we need our happy girl back with us.

I love how Little Sister loves people, and she will play with everyone. She doesn't meet a stranger. I love that she is excited about going to church on Sundays and Wednesdays, and she looks forward to seeing her friends on co-op day.

If I could use only one word to describe this kid it would have to be "HAPPY"! She is always happy! And I am so glad that God chose to make her that way, and to bless our family with her. Our house would not be the same without her!

Expedition Australia

This past week, the kids and I have been on an adventure! We have been traveling all over the continent of Australia, and what an expedition it has been!

 Geography is one of my favorite things to study, so when we started this latest Download N Go unit, I was thrilled. I decided to approach this unit a little differently than our last few units we have done. I told the kids on the first day that this was going to be a lesson all about art and maps. Well, since Little Man LOVES drawing, this sounded great to him. And Britches loves drawing as well, so she was excited about getting started.

As with each of the Download N Go unit studies, Expedition Australia was designed for five days of studies. Each day, we learned about a different, unique animal that is native to Australia, and then I sent the kids to the table to sketch that animal. Also, we traveled to a different area of Australia, and they had to sketch several of the different landmarks of that place. The kids each labeled their map of Australia with all the different landmarks they learned about. It was interesting to me to see the varied landscape of the country. They have everything from hot deserts to cold mountain tops and everything in between. We spent a lot of time on the computer looking at all the sights, and it is just BEAUTIFUL there!!

A study about Australia wouldn't be complete without learning about the original people of the country, the Aborigines. They are a people "of the land," and they have been here for hundreds of years before explorers "discovered" the place. The kids were fascinated by the pictures of the Aborigines and their lands. One thing we learned about is an instrument made by them, the didgeridoo. We listened to some sound clips of them playing this instrument.

Then, the kids and I went to one of the links provided in the unit study, and we found some great instructions for making your own didgeridoo craft. OK, so it wasn't authentic, but it got the point across to the kids. And they had a blast making them!

Here are a few pictures of the kids lapbooks. They turned out so CUTE! 

I make a lapbook for each of my kids. Yes, that is a LOT of paper. BUT, Britches and Little Man are old enough now that I expect them to do their own writing and think for themselves. It makes it very hard to be creative when you are sharing with someone. Occasionally, I do let them do a project together, but for the bigger part of our lapbooking, they work in their own books. Plus, Little Sister thinks she needs to have the same thing as each of the older two, so I make a book for her as well. Of course, her's doesn't have nearly as many things included, and I really don't count on her to sit and do school with us every time we are learning. But her book is there for when she does want to join us. And it makes her feel like a big girl. Point here: don't teach only to the older children! Include your younger kids in the fun. It will make them love learning and look forward to the next exciting adventure with you!

When you purchase a Download N Go unit, you get all these pre-made templates to use with your lapbooks. I love that, because that saves me so much time trying to make my own templates! (Please be sure to take note of the upside down picture of Australia. Yes, mom's brain went a little crazy when I was gluing these things in!)

This is Britches' sketch of The Great Barrier Reef. She used color pencils as her art medium, and I think she did a fantastic job!

All said and done, the kids and I had a BLAST doing this unit, and we have all agreed that we are going to start saving our money to take a trip to REALLY tour Australia! That would be one trip that would convince me to step foot on an airplane! I've never flown before, but Australia is calling me, so I think I could talk myself into it for the chance to see all of that country!

If you are thinking about trying a Download N Go unit, I would highly recommend starting with this one. It was so much fun, and my kids learned a LOT about Australia! And it saved me so much time having the information readily available. I didn't need to spend what little time I DO have for school trying to hunt down what I wanted to teach them. Even if you use textbooks, this would make for a great addition to your lessons. It is a nice break from the book studies. And right now, Download N Go has a special price on Expedition Australia - $5.95, but only through November 8. So now would be the perfect time to buy.

I encourage you to enter the contest at DNG's site, because, up for grabs is a FANTASTIC laminated Australia political map from National Geographic! I LOVE MAPS, so this contest is so exciting to me! But you need to hurry, because this contest ends on November 8! (TOS/DNG affiliates, including the DNG review team and TOS crew are not eligible. I know, it knocks me out, too, but at least I get to offer it to you guys!)

If you're not interested in learning about Australia (and I can't see why anyone WOULDN'T be!), be sure to check out the Download N Go web site where you can find all kinds of other unit studies to pick from. They have several specials going on right now (including the special price on Expedition Australia!!). There is sure to be something for your family! There are also many other great products that you can purchase from The Old Schoolhouse Store. Be sure to check out those!

And be sure to visit the Download N Go blog to read reviews from other homeschoolers! You can find all sort of other ideas for teaching Expedition Australia!

~I received a free copy of Expedition Australia in exchange for my honest review of this product.

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” ~Dr. Suess