Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Technology Free Wednesdays


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     Something new our family has started to do is technology-free Wednesdays. We love some of the benefits that technology gives us. Being able to stay in touch with loved ones far away, helping with our homeschooling, and yes, entertaining us!
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     However, we also know how addicting this form of entertainment can be, and so we have decided to make one day each week our technology free day. That means, no computer-time, no TV or movies, no tablets or smart-phones (we still do allow texting since that is the easiest way for my husband to contact me when he is at work- but it's very minimal).

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     The first week, the kids all came to me again and again asking what they could do. =) I had become very dependent on keeping the little ones entertained with a movie or educational games on the Kindle while I homeschooled or cleaned.

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Yes, mom joined in the coloring fun =)


     So we enjoyed some "low-tech" fun, spent sometime taking a walk outside in our beautiful Southern spring weather, and got a lot done!  We are a family that spent 5 years without any cable, so this isn't a new idea for us, however, I think it is invaluable for our kids to teach them how to spend a day entertaining themselves without instant gratification that electronics supply.

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     And though I am very grateful for our technology and think that in many ways in has taught us new things and helped us learn, I also believe that, its very easy to become addicted to those forms of entertainment, especially for young children, and to struggle to let your brain calm down enough to be entertained by something less stimulating.


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     We have so many children these days that are being diagnosed with attention-lacking disorders, is it possible that simply teaching them how to slow down could make it easier for them to focus and pay attention?

       I am someone who grew up watching TV a lot. When I first got married nothing changed and we spent most of our meals in front of the TV instead of at the table. When our second child was born, and we were still eating in the living room, we knew we had to learn how to sit at the table and eat as a family. But, honestly we were so addicted to the TV that it was very hard to stop! So we did something drastic, we had the cable disconnected!
 


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     It was hard at first, but my husband and I always say that first year without the TV we got more accomplished than we had in the previous 8 years! It was amazing how much our time had been occupied by that TV. I also found that I could sit and read a non-fiction book much easier without feeling bored. That was what really made me wonder about the influence of TV on our ability to focus, it certainly negatively effected my ability to focus!

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     So, I am here to encourage your family as well! Pick a day and turn off the technology! Teach your kids how to entertain themselves in lots of creative ways!!!






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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Curiosity Quest DVD Review

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     Curiosity Quest DVD's asks the question, What are you curious about? These videos are like taking a field trip from the comfort of your own living room!


     The two DVD sets that we were given were DVD Combo Pack Produce:Mushrooms, Cranberries, Orange Packing ($24.95 for three episodes) and DVD Combo Pack Swimmers of the Sea: Sea Turtle Rescue, Penguins, and Salmon($24.95 for three episodes). My three older kids (8, 6, and 3) were so excited to watch them that the second we got home from the post office I had three eager little faces asking, "Can we watch them right away?" (These DVD's are geared towards children from 7-14, but all three of my children enjoyed them and were able to understand at least part of the information)
Curiosity Quest Review
    
     We started with Swimmers of the Sea. These videos are very professionally produced, and the children's interest was engaged right away! My oldest son (8) has a stuffed sea turtle which goes everywhere with him so he was particularly interested in learning more about them, especially when he learned that the Sea Turtle Rescue Hospital is not too far from us in the Florida Keys!


Curiosity Quest Review

      And he was sure to tell his dad as soon as he arrived home from work that when THEY go fishing the need to only use non-stainless steel hooks, because the stainless steel ones can last forever and if a sea turtle swallows one in can do a lot more damage than the ones that will eventually rust away. We also watched how Salmon returned to where they were born to spawn and how much of an active role that people take in assuring there are enough salmon to eat and a big enough population to continue to grow. My oldest son informs me that on the Penguin DVD he learned that penguins actually do have a kind of feather to keep them warm, and that all penguins do not live in cold climates.


Curiosity Quest Review

     When we watched the second set of DVD's my second son (6) was very interested in learning how cranberries bounce if they are good and that they are harvested by flooding the bog! He also was amazed to learn that the mushrooms we eat from the store actually grow indoors! And they all enjoyed seeing oranges grown in a different state from our own and learning how they pick them by hand. After we watched the second three episodes I asked my children to draw a picture about what they saw (see the picture collage at the top of this post to see them all) My 6 year old son was very excited to draw this and came back to me over and over again to ask how to spell all the words he learned on the DVD's.


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Picture drawn by my 6 year old. At the top he was trying to show how they cut the mushrooms with a knife. =)


     These DVD's were the perfect mix of educational and entertaining. The host Joel Green has a happy and engaging personality that is likeable for children and helped my kids stay interested in what they were discussing. In fact, they have asked over and over to watch the videos again, and each time they have learned more!


Curiosity Quest Review
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Friday, April 11, 2014

Star Chronicles Book Review

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     When I was offer the chance to review the new book Star Chronicles: A Bible-Based Study of the Stars by Dawnita Fogleman I was intrigued by what Dawnita said:



"This is a unit study on the constellations and Bible prophecy.  When I did this study with my own children it was out of a desire to get to the bottom of the Stars.  ...no, that doesn't sound right...  I wanted to get to the truth."







     Well this idea appealed to me as well! I too wanted to hear some TRUTH about astronomy. It's an area of study that is often ignored by Biblical scholars, but the Bible if full of references to star study and the constellations.


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What Dawnita said next appealed to me as well:



"What this book is NOT:  It is NOT a book of zodiac, astrology, or horoscopes.  You will find NOTHING of the kind in these pages.  There are references to myths and legends and they are clearly stated as such for historical purposes only. "

     Yes! This is what I was looking for in my own homeschool astronomy star study! I wanted to find a book that would help look at the constellations from a Biblical perspective. Since God made the heavens, why did he form the stars in specific patterns and shapes? Does it make sense that they would be meaningless, or that there was no forethought in the way that they were laid out?

      No! Of course not! When we study God's creation, we see design in everything He does. From amazing creatures like the Mimic Octopus to God's amazing spirals using Fibbonacci numbers, there is purpose and precision in his creation and it makes sense that the stars would be no different!



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     Star Chronicles is set up for an interactive study of the stars. We used a scrapbook and printed many of the pictures and verses to cut, paste and color in. This method really helped to keep my 8, 6, and even the 3 year old engaged in the study  (she really enjoyed cutting and coloring!)

     Star Chronicles goes through 12 of the most well-known constellations and examines them in the light of the Bible.
  • Virgin and Bride (Virgo)
  • Justice & Balance (Libra)
  • Sting of Death (Scorpio)
  • Archer (Sagittarius)
  • Goat (Capricorn)
  • Water Bearer (Aquarius)
  • Fish (Pisces)
  • The Lamb (Aries)
  • A Bull (Taurus)
  • Twins (Gemini)
  • Resurrection (Cancer)
  • Lion (Leo)


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     Lets take a quick look at the first constellation, that of Virgo. Virgo, from the Latin Virginis means "virgin". How did that association not come to me before?!? The Virgin Mary, the Bride of Christ. Do we know for certain that God's intention in placing these stars in the sky in this sequence was to foreshadow His plan that the Son of God would be born of a Virgin? No, and Dawnita makes no such claim in her book. Only the possibility and the claim that God certainly intends to point us to Christ through His creation, and that includes the stars!
    
     I found this book incredibly fascinating and would have enjoyed going through it even without my children (although that was a fun bonus!) I really think you'll enjoy it too! There are several ways you can purchase it:


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To buy the book, Star Chronicles: A Bible-Based Study of the Stars by Dawnita Fogleman you can

Amazon (affiliate link) for $22.35 (paperback)
Create Space for $25.00 (paperback)
Fogleman Forerunner for $12.00 (pdf)

And Dawnita has also given me the opportunity to give away one free PDF copy of the book to one of my readers!! So be sure to enter through the Rafflecopter widget below!!








Sunday, April 6, 2014

Scripture and a Snapshot


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"How many are your works, Lord!
    In wisdom you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.
 There is the sea, vast and spacious,
    teeming with creatures beyond number—
    living things both large and small." ~Psalm 104:24-25


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Scripture and Snapshot

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Captivated the Movie Review

Captivated Movie Review
     Have you ever worried about the consequences to ourselves and our children from this media-soaked culture? Have you experienced, or are experiencing, an addiction to texting, social media, or watching television? Media Talk 101 has produced a new movie that attempts to address some of these concerns and promotes discernment in both media choices and time spent "tuned in".


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     We are living in an unprecedented time. Never in history have we had so much instant access to information, entertainment, and quick social interaction. So what will be the long term effects? Will there be negatives along with the positives?
 


     The Captivated documentary interviews many people who have studied the effects of media on our culture, such as  Ray Comfort, Dr. Ted Baehr, Dr. Jeff Myers, Kevin Swanson, Dr. David Walsh, Al Menconi, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, Professor Mark Bauerlein, and many more. It was written, produced and co-directed by Media Talk 101's founder, Phillip Telfer along with the help of award winning director, Colin Gunn.


     The DVD talks about a key Bible verse to help us with controlling our media consumption:


 "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." ~ 2 Corinthians 10:5

     My husband and I watched a DVD copy (which can be bought from the link above for $16.95, or can be rented online for $3.99, or downloaded for $12.99) of the movie provided to us by Media Talk 101. We found much of what was expressed about practicing self-control when it comes to media consumption lines up with our own beliefs about keeping this form of entertainment in it's proper place. No media should become an idol that takes the place of Christ in our lives.


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      This DVD could certainly be watched by the whole family, however older children and adults will probably be more able to follow along with the discussion more fully. It is a tool that can help to promote an important discussion about media's role in your own family and help to discern any media addictions that may have gone "under the radar" up 'till now.


Captivated has already won some impressive awards as well:
2013 Gold Crown Award for Best Documentary at the International Christian Visual Media Conference
2013 Best Documentary at the GloryReelz Christian Film Festival
2013 Official Selection at the Midwest Christian Inspirational Indie Film Festival
2012 Best Documentary Runner-Up at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival
2012 Best of Festival Finalist at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival


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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

These Days....

     These days are filled with dirty dishes, and laundry, and lots of "Mommy, I need help!!"











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As soon as one job is done, another quickly takes its place and there's lots of "Mommy how come..." and "Mommy come look!"


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There's glue on the tables, and paper scraps on the floor. There's an endless supply of small legos to be stepped on.


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There's giggles, drooly smiles, and  tears to be wiped away


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It's busy, it's hectic, sometimes it's even chaotic.

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But I wouldn't have it any other way....