A Real Christmas Lesson: If He Had Not Come {a review}

Christmas Book If He Had Not Come {Quiet in the Chaos}

With the holidays coming up, it is important to our family to focus on the reason for Christmas- Jesus Christ’s birth.  We were able to read and review a precious book, If He Had Not Come.  Originally written by Nan F. Weeks, it has been reintroduced by David Nicholson, a retired school teacher and missionary.

This is a wonderful story for any Christian family that wants to truly show their children what Christmas celebration is all about.  Though the book is recommended for ages six and up, my (just turned) four year old really enjoyed and understood it.  The casebound hardback version can be purchased for $18.95, or choose the e-book version at $3.99.

About If He Had Not Come

This book was such a pleasant surprise to receive in the mail!  In the front cover was a special, handwritten note from David himself, which Lexie thought was just wonderful.  The book is a beautiful hardback, illustrated by Charles Jaskiewicz- there is a lot of detail in the illustrations that support the story so well.  We have read this book many times already, and Lexie has noticed something new in the pictures each time.

The story begins with a young boy, Bobby, getting ready for bed on Christmas Eve, anticipating opening the gifts from his family the next morning.  (I will say, one of my favorite things about this book is there is no mention of Santa Claus).  But when he goes to sleep, he dreams of a world where there is no Christmas; there is no church, no Christian run/owned businesses like homeless shelters, hospitals, etc.  When he goes looking for each of these things, in its place he finds a sign reading, “If I had not come.”

After realizing what a desolate world he would live in were it not for Christ, Bobby wakes up and thanks Jesus for coming, for being the very best Christmas gift.

What We Thought and How We Used It

This is honestly one of the best Christmas books we own.  Really.  It isn’t too much for a young child to understand, and it clearly and honestly opens their eyes to Christmas and the Christ in Christmas.  The story shows them not only would we not have Christmas to celebrate His birth, but our world would be so different without Jesus. There are so many things we take for granted that we would no longer enjoy if Christ had not come to save us.  This is a great book for all families, and Sunday school classes alike!

We have been reading this book for my four year old’s bedtime routine.  I wasn’t sure at first what she would think, or if she would enjoy it.  Well, she has requested it for nap and bed time since the day we introduced it!  My husband and I have been able to take If He Had Not Come and go deeper into the meaning of Christ’s birth-even farther than the meaning of Christmas.  (in the picture she was in her gymnastics leotard and I am not sure what was up with the crazy headband ..)

Wonderful Christmas Book: If He Had Not Come {Quiet in the Chaos}

In the back of the book you will find several helpful pages.  There is a page of interactive topics for families and Sunday school teachers- the questions are thought provoking and open ended to allow plenty of discussion.  They will really help you have a deep, wonderful, honest, discussion with your child/ren.

There is also a section titled, “Going Deeper;” these are questions to help you and your child explore what the Bible says about the birth of Christ.  I really like this section, as it has possible answers for you to share/follow up with, and references specific Bible verses!  That is really helpful for any parent trying to lead their little one to God.  There is also a small section on the last page with an idea to help you celebrate Christmas using a fun activity.

If you are looking for a book to add to your Christmas collection, or want to do a unit on Christmas with your children, this is the book I would suggest you look at first.

Connect with David Nicholson

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My Favorite Things: August

This month I want to try to begin a series of posts about my favorite “things,” that help me in my family life, and thus homeschool life (because homeschool is our lifestyle, right?).

  1. The Read Aloud Revival Premium Membership– I have heard Sarah discuss it on her podcast for ages. I’ve been a loyal listener for a few years, and never really thought the Membership applied to me. Our whole family life revolves around books, after all. Boy was I wrong! After a very hard summer (emotionally physically, mentally) for our family, I needed to simplify, set new goals for our homeschool, and get started FRESH. And I needed to do this without the drudgery of “too many things” on our to do’s. Just because it is good, beautiful, and wonderful doesn’t mean we have to cram it in right now. We have SO many days, so many weeks, so many month, and years to add in the many wonderful homeschool resources. They don’t all have to fit RIGHT NOW. (remind me of this in 3 months haha)
  2. The Read Aloud Revival Book Bag– Nope, I am not being paid to tell you how much I love RAR. I just really do. And her book bag is no exception; beautiful, perfect for library trips, easy to load, strong, wide straps, lined with a zippered pocket … I could go on but I won’t. These make great gifts (I think each child will get one for Christmas because I love mine) and you get a discounted rate when you are a RAR Premium Members!
  3. Thriftbooks– I love books. I love cheap books. I love cheap books that come in the mail.
  4. Little Jewel Books– I wasn’t so sure what to expect with these, but I ordered 2 I thought we would like for our family. These are beautiful little books … really they aren’t so little. I have found them to be perfect for my almost 4 year old 3rd born who needs a little “help” remembering right from wrong. The covers are enticing, and the pages are really lovely. I can’t wait to order many more!
Rain = happy ducks

ducks swimming in the flooded chicken run

  1. Rain- We have been in a pretty serious drought in our neck of the county since the winter. This month, however, mother nature has decided to bless us with something like 20 days of rain. I am *so thankful* for the rain! The pond my finally fill up this year, the grass and trees feel better, and the ducks are sure enjoying it!
  2. Playing games- In our efforts to take a step back in everything, we have found our afternoons and evening usually empty, meaning we have time to play games as a family, crochet, and water color. Mostly, I play UNO with my son and oldest girl while the other do crafts, art, etc. It has been so pleasant!
  3. Reading Aloud-We have finally found our groove for reading aloud again, and *it is perfect.* Even the 2 year old is getting better about being quiet so we can listen. Whew whooo!
  4. More Free Time- did I mention we all have more free time now? Everyone is picking up books more often, playing outside more often, loving on the goats, playing pretend, climbing new trees MORE. It makes my heart happy, and I can already see a big difference in the kids’ emotionally without the stress of everything we had on our plates before.

What have you enjoyed most this month?

 

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My Best Goat Helper

… is an almost 4 year old girl that loves deeply. She is endlessly full of snuggles, dances, hugs, smiles, and spunk.

She reminds me so much of how I played and saw life as a child-  She would rather love on a cat, a dog that weighs 120 pounds, or goat than be surrounded by things that don’t interest her.

Miss cares so deeply for those that walk into her world; the strangers at the store, children at the ball park, friends and family.

While she lives life in her “la-dee-da” world, and much of  her character K also saw in my Granny- she doesn’t superficially care- if this girl welcomes you into her world, if she says she loves you, SHE LOVES YOU.

It is hard to believe Miss will soon be 4; she lit up our world the day she was born with her endless smiles and happy disposition, and she hasn’t stopped yet!

God has big things in store for this little package of wonder. (Lord, I just pray I can survive her! haha)

 

My Best Goat Helper

 

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In the Reign of Terror Audio Drama {a review}

Heirloom Audio LogoWe *love love love* audiobooks and audio dramas, so when offered a chance to review In the Reign of Terror by Heirloom Audio Productions I knew we should say yes, please! What better time to listen to an adventure filled audio drama than summertime travels?!  That’s just what our family did.

In the Reign of Terror

*What It Is * How We Used It*

Let me begin with Heirloom Audio Productions- I truly can’t say enough good things about this company, the integrity they uphold with historical stories, and what they stand for.  You can read more about who they are HERE, which clearly outlines what they believe, and how they get these stories which are shared with listeners. The best part is their stories is they are wholesome (ie: safe for my kids to listen to without me needing to know every detail before pressing play).

Heirloom Audio offers several audio adventures, and this time we listened to In the Reign of Terror. We received the 2-cd set, along with access to their Live the Adventure Club, which is really cool (more details to follow).

This 2.5 hour audio drama is full of non stop adventure and action! Recreating a story by G.A. Henty and set during the French Revolution, executive producer Bill Heid and cast have blown this production out of the water!  You will recognize star voices (from Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Downton Abbey and more!) which have made this one-of-a-kind audio adventure so much fun and full of life.

The synopsis is a boy, Harry, (16 years old) visiting France during the French Revolution. All that ensues challenges his faith and expectations, after he is taken in by a family which he grows to love.  He struggles to survive, while his new found friends are taken captive and persecuted for something they cannot control-the blood line from which they were born.

What We Thought

Heirloom Audio does a beautiful job showing these stories of history are imbedded in Christianity. The story shows the faithfulness of God in all circumstances, and how our faith in God brings people out of this darkness. This production is exceptional.

My daughter who is almost 7 years old, was better able to keep up with the story than my son, who is almost 5. They both said they liked listening to Victor the most. They loved the music and how it made them “fill with excitement!” (per my daughter haha) I wasn’t in the car the first time they listened, but my husband said he really enjoyed it too!

I have since been able to listen to parts and pieces, and can say I am so thankful for the values and lessons taught in this adventure. Unlike twaddly books and shows,  In the Reign of Terror teaches lessons of love, truth, and history deeply rooted in God without jeopardizing quality and rigor. Yes- rigor! It takes great listening skills to truly capture all of this multifaceted story at once. I suspect the more we listen, the more we will learn. The settings throughout are really brought to life with the birds, crowds, and other background sounds, that are so clear you can picture the action- I felt like I was right there.

I love that on a basic level, this is a fun, adventure of a story that brings everything back to God; but as my children grow and develop in their understanding of history and the Lord, we can delve deeper and deeper into this production, over and over again!

Truly lifelong learning.

The digital study guide is *amazing.* It includes everything from comprehension questions and vocabulary to recipes, deeper understanding/background information, and Bible study! Not only is it a helpful tool, turning the listening experience into a great educational experience, it is beautifully written and designed.

You can learn how to get the study guide and other extra features below.

Live the Adventure Club

The Live the Adventure Club is a subscription service that provides access to tons of bonus features. There are really too many to list, but some of my favorites include:

  • the many study guides-one for each audio adventure
  • a free crash course on Christianity and our constitution
  • early American curriculum resources- all rare, from American and world history, to biographies and readers (this is so cool!)
  • a club member discount on future audio purchases
  • access to purchased audio adventures, via mp3 listening
  • an old time radio vault of wholesome, public domain, listening from years gone by- all in one place!
  • daily devotionals
  • a plethora of kids activities

Inside the Club site you will find all these extra resources and much, much more!

I really like that you can follow along with a script, look over defining words, read thinking further questions, as well as take chapter quizzes while listening to the audio, thanks to screen in screen technology! They have really thought of it all.

The website runs seamlessly (even with my 15 million many tabs open), is streamlined, and so easy to use.

Below are screen shots of the study guides and a few radio shows from Live the Adventure Club site:
Study Guides in Live the Adventure

 

Radio Screen Shot

I am not exaggerating when I say I can’t believe all of these resources have been included for such easy access, at a subscription rate. This is so exciting, and I can’t wait to use these during our history lessons this school year.  Thank you Heirloom Audio Productions!

**Right now you can purchase an audio adventure and receive a 3 month trial of Live the Adventure Club for $1! After your trial is over, Live the Adventure Club is $24.75 every 3 months, which includes a new audio adventure and access to all the club benefits. (click the links for more details about the subscription).

If you want a fun way to include audio dramas and adventure in your homeschool, this is it!

Connect with Heirloom Audio Productions:

 

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Friday on The Farm {Babies, Babies, Babies!}

Ok y’all, I know it isn’t Friday.  =)  But I didn’t have time this past Friday to write anything, so here I am on a Monday evening writing about a wonderful day I had with my kiddos.

Spring has been around the farm for a while, but it is finally LOOKING a LOT like spring, and the babies GALORE prove it.

Oh the beauty!  The grass is green, there is a nice breeze, the garden is GROWING, the chickens are happy, the dogs are laying, the sun is shining, and the kids picked up their wagons and toys so the yard is semi-clutter-free.  =)

50 meat chickens

the meat chickens in tractor coop, just before we moved them to a new area with fresh grass

These are our new baby chicks!  we have 3, but left one in the brooder with a fellow left over chick … there is a story here.

We ordered 60 meat chickens, they sent about 65 or so + one lone little “exotic” (they’re usually roosters).  So we have 55 or so meat chickens left, living out in the tractor coop so they can pasture.  But we had this one little chick who is much smaller than the Big old waddling meat chickens, and s/he needed another chick with it, (because they don’t do well alone).  Initially husband said no; after a trip to the farm store this weekend with the kids they came home with 3 silver laced wyandotte pullets.

So here are two of them.

Image may contain: grass, bird, plant, outdoor and natureWhat else …

The garden is coming along so great!  I really need to look up how to harvest lettuce.  I am most excited about what we planted this year.  We are doing a lot of plants we either haven’t done in years or have never done, including broccoli, okra, watermelon, cantaloupe, sugar snap peas, banana peppers, lettuces, and cabbage!  We also planted some daikon radishes from seed (hoping they come up), so I have everything for my fermented kraut except carrots (which aren’t worth the time they take to grow haha).

the compost bin (which we will soon be updating, somehow) and the Arkansas rose bush that we have literally moved all over this country)

I think these are the cabbages …

peas that will hopefully grow up the trellis

 

my little lettuces! I’m so excited about them

 

We’ve been enjoying lots of asparagus and eggs.

Oh!  EGGS!  Ya’ll! My mammy duck is broody!  One of the really dark campbell ducks (possibly a cayuga cross), spent a month laying eggs and getting her nest all … nest-ed.  About 8-10 days ago she started sitting!  I’ve only caught her off one time and it was too bright out to candle the eggs, so I still don’t know if they are any good.  Drake Campbells only have a 30% fertility rate, so unless some of those 18+ eggs are crossed with our pekin drakes, there probably aren’t many fertile eggs.

Mammy {the broody campbell duck}

Anyway, I am excited!  Hopefully we will have ducklings in a few more weeks (or 3…).

And, speaking of baby things-this little one here is Heidi.  She is our 12 week old Great Pyrenees. (I think I mentioned in a previous post that Anne had a lot of genetic issues with her mouth and jaws so she was returned.  She should have never been sold to begin with … anyway).

Heidi is pretty dang cute, and feisty … and nothing like Huck!  haha  She has a lot to learn.  Like, a lot. But she will get there, just slower than Huck I think, mostly because she is truly puppy.  Huck has always been an old man.  He does a good job of keeping her in line and teaching her about pack manners and such.

Sometimes he literally just lays on her lead so she can’t keep pouncing off.  haha (see the 2nd picture below)

Heidi {great pyrenees LGD 12 wo}

 

I can ask Huck, “Where’s your puppy?!” and he will almost always go right to her and just lay on her. =)  So far she is learning to do okay around the chickens.  She doesn’t chase or play when around them, but when in the pen part of the chicken run she will try to chase through the pen.  So that behavior has to stop.  I am working on it, and will let you know how that goes.

 

He most definitely interacts with Heidi differently than he did Anne, which is interesting to me.  He knows she is different in character and treats her as such.  They’re such awesome dogs.

Huck and Heidi

 

Each of my babies and me today:

Friday on The Farm

 

 

We spent the afternoon doing chores, loving on dogs, chicks, and cats, then rolled the ball back and forth.  Dinner was in the oven and everything was perfect … then the cows got out.  That was frustrating and exciting and exhausting.  But they’re back in now.  Stubborn hamburgers.  I love them dearly, and I will miss them after freezer camp, but am looking forward to a freezer full of grassfed, hormone free beef for my family.

 

SIlver Laced Wyandotte QuietInTheChaos.com

www.Quietinthechaos.com

he started acting all wild and barn-catty right after this … cause he’s a barn cat

www.Quietinthechaos.com

www.Quietinthechaos.com

dirty babies and chicks!

 

Homeschool and Childhood: Am I Doing It Right?

Homeschool- Am I doing it Right

Several years back I described our homeschool as a Charlotte Mason/Classical approach.

We probably lean more in both of those directions, but I am finding more and more we are very eclectic. We use *everything* to school, focusing on living books for most things, but preferring a math curriculum, and a bit more structure than unschooling.

But, I am not here to talk about how we school.

I am here to encourage you in however YOU school.

I don’t prescribe to a “schedule” for our lessons; we have a general rhythm, a routine, that works. The baby’s naps and feeding times are schedule, as are all other naps and meals. Everything works around that.

Routine = peace here.

But recently (maybe since baby was born? or no… since Christmas?) I have stopped requiring so much of my son, 4.5yo and toddler, 2.5yo. I *thought* I was doing more justice to their childhood by not doing school so much with them and letting them play freely all morning.

*INSERT EYE ROLL HERE*

Yall- people mean well, friends, fellow homeschoolers, ME, we all mean well.

But just because someone says that it works for them, and they believe it is best, doesn’t mean that it is best for your family.

——–

I have high expectations of my kids, as I am sure most people do. I believe kids meet the expectations that we lay in front of them. Expectations should be challenging but not frustrating; not easy, but still something they need to put effort into. They should also include lots of play. It’s so important to make sure children have a good work/play balance. When homeschooling, it can be more difficult to do this, but there are always ways to separate schoolwork from playtime. When it is time for the kids to relax, try doing something they want to do, such as going on the games console and playing super smash bros brawl iso, for example. That is a good way for children to enjoy their time at home, without it feeling like a place where they have to be constantly focused on their schoolwork.

Somehow in the past few months I managed to forget that play CAN look like school, and that school can look like play without it being chaotic free play.

One of the main points taught in my teaching program, which was largely spent logging hours and observations in the preschool room in our University’s child center, is that play can be semi-structured. Play can be guided by an adult with rules and boundaries, but enjoyed freely by a child.

And explorative play can be controlled chaos. (thank you for that term, college professor who had years of classroom experience)

And when you I have 4 kids, each 2 years a part, by golly, we need some dang boundaries, structure within the routine.
I can’t expect a 4 and 2yo to stay inside those boundaries completely on their own every day while I school the oldest. (I know- DUH, right?) But somehow I stopped doing what I know, and began doing what others said was good?!

My point is, please, please, please do not let anyone, even well meaning friends or acquaintances, make you feel like you are doing something wrong because they are justifying or suggesting how they do things.

When You Doubt … or Forget

Re evaluate your own goals and beliefs about education- they probably don’t line up exactly with many other people, and that is okay! That’s why we homeschool, right?

When I looked around our home (and reflected on recent days) I realized we ALL felt chaotic and out of control, there was unnecessary stress and behaviors that didn’t make sense, and it all pointed back to structure for us.

Instead of heeding advice from people who don’t need the same structure we do I should have just kept on with what we were doing, because THAT works for us.

We are happy in our structured, eclectic homeschooling home; my kids excel there, my only boy who is not so independent all of the time feels included and it keeps him from getting bored (aka, in trouble), they all get more time with mama at the table which equals happiness. It’s where we learn, where we find rabbit holes and I feel comfortable enough to follow them because I have a structure to come back to.

Our home is structured, but our days are relaxed and peaceful when my kids know what to expect (oh my gosh, how many times have I written that on this blog?! Maybe 25 … maybe more).

So why did I stray from what I knew the last few months?

I can’t say with certainty. But I do know, that sometimes you have to block out the noise and seeds of doubt no matter where they come from. Stay the course and do what works, as long as it true and good.

Maybe I am just writing this as a reminder to myself, because it will surely happen again.

We really don’t need others validations, we really should do what works for us, and the more we know our children the better we can educate them, regardless of what that looks like from the outside.

So here we are mamas, almost to the end of the school year for many (we keep going through June). Be encouraged, be excited, enjoy your time with your children.

Know you are doing it right.

 

 

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The One With The Boys {a simple woman’s daybook 30}

Outside my Window …
My boys.

Mister has been attached to his daddy all day long.  He’s done tractor work, dirt work, garden work, and now they’re playing baseball in the front yard.

I am thinking…
I wish this baby wasn’t so fussy so we could go join them; but she currently hates the cold, and it has turned cooler again.

I am thankful…
for a husband that loves spending time with his babies, guiding them, and teaching them how to be good people.

In the kitchen…
nothing.  Lots of dirty dishes and no meals planned.  That’s my kitchen today.

I am wearing…
pajama pants and a tshirt

I am creating…
plans for a few dresses; but I did get some things done in the sewing room last week, so that was nice.

I am going…
to Costco tomorrow!  woo hoo, our favorite. =)

I am reading…
a few different titles, and my The Old Schoolhouse catalogue that came.
I am hoping…
Baby speeds up this teething process because this last week she was a bear, and still is!

I am looking forward to…
The Walking Dead tonight (yes … I love that show).  School and relaxing this week.

I am learning…
This parenting thing is just flying by.

Around the house…
it is a disaster.  Mama is lazy today.

A favorite quote for today…

My 6 month old teething …

‘Nuf said.

One of my favorite things…
bonfires with good friends, late nights with my husband,, easy mornings with my babies,

A few plans for the rest of the week:
get lots of school done, rearrange the living room a little, plan the garden

A peek into my day…

 

 

 

 

 

Simple Woman {Daybook}

The One With a Puppy {Simple Woman’s Daybook 29}

Outside my Window …
It is warm and cloudy; why is it in the 70’s in February?!  I won’t complain about the fog and early morning drizzle, we need the rain. And I won’t complain about the warmth, but I mean really?!  If this means we will have snow in May, I’d rather it be cold now!
I am thinking…
I have so much to get done this week!

I am thankful…
that we had a friend from AR come visit this weekend, that we had rain this morning, that we have a little farm, and that we added a new buddy to the farm this past week!

In the kitchen…
There is bone broth in the crock pot, eggs on the counter, and leftovers for dinner.

I am wearing…
leggings and a shirt

I am creating…
a few things in my sewing room

I am going…
to Costco and the library this week

I am wondering…
if we are going to have anymore winter between now and spring?!

I am reading…
Teaching From Rest, as recommended by so many homeschoolers … it is a good book.  Except I have already implemented most of what I am reading so far, and my train of thought is already there, so I am wishing I had picked it up at the library and not purchased it.

I am hoping…
I find more info in the book that is helpful, and not just a bunch of ideas and thoughts I already have, agree with, implement in my home. =/

I am looking forward to…
The warm week-warmth means mama and Baby can go out more (she does NOT like the cold, even bundled up, so I’ve been inside more than I’d like this winter).

I am learning…
how to work with a puppy, specifically and LGD puppy that is going to hopefully bond with and protect my chickens and family- he is NOT for playing with.  He has play time, in the evenings, but the rest of the time he is watching chickens, sleeping with chickens, and sitting with me as we learn about chickens.  The cows are too big for him to be with right now, but I wouldn’t be against adding a few calves for him to bond with soon.  =)

Around the house…
It just is.  Things are pretty clean, tidy.  I just have a ton of laundry to get through.

A favorite quote for today…
Dog best friend
One of my favorite things…

Meet Huck!  As in Huckleberry Finn.  He sure is a sweet, sensitive boy that likes adventure.  We are sure the 40 acres will be a good place for him to learn, grow, and protect.
I won’t write about how we are training him, because honestly there is a LOT that is going into it, and I don’t know if it will all be successful.  I have spoken with a consultant that has assured me Thora’s escalating resource aggression wasn’t a result of anything we did.  So I am hoping that what we do for Huck can prevent any issues and create a great guardian.  Because these kinds of dogs don’t necessarily “bond” with chickens like they will mammals, we have to do a little extra work to ensure he is okay around them.

However, so far he gets very upset when he is not in the run with the chickens.  He was raised with his parents and chickens for 14 weeks, until we got him, so he is used to them.  It is just avoiding playing with them at this point, that is important.

Huck is part Great Pyrenees, and part Anatolian Shepherd.  Anatolian Shepherds are more aggressive with predators than a Great Pyr, and are better able to take on a coyote than a GP might.  They are also more likely to stay closer to home than a GP, or so I read. So we will see how he does. =)

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Run errands, do school, get some sewing done, work with Huck, menu plan, and work around the farm in the WARMTH!  woo hoo

A peek into my day…
See Huck’s photo collage above.

Peek Into My Day {SD 29}

We did school, then went for a walk in the woods after lunch.  Aaah, fresh air, and fun!

Simple Woman {Daybook}
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