Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ready, Set....Convention! (And a Giveaway!)

It is my favorite time of the year again! Homeschool convention season! It always makes me happy when I know their is a convention on the horizon. The convention refills my soul for the coming year. It gives me hope after a long school year. It revives my spirit after a long winter. There are so many amazing things about the HEAV (Home Educators Association of Virginia) Convention. But, it can seem like a huge mountain for a first-timer. I am here to help!
I have personally invited quite a few newbies this year. Some have been homeschooling for many years but never attended a convention. Some are just thinking about homeschooling in the future. Some are pulling their kids out of public school and have no idea where to begin this new journey. Since I have been going to the HEAV Convention for a few years now, I feel like I have a good grasp of how to navigate it without feeling overwhelmed. There are always new things to learn though and I am open to anything God has in store for me.
The theme this year is "Building a strong foundation". Homeschooling is kind of like building a house. You must first have a solid and strong foundation. Otherwise, the whole thing comes crumbling down.
The convention lasts for three days. Thursday through Saturday (June 8-10, 2017). Each day brings different events and speakers. Upon completing registration at the convention, you will be given a schedule. It is very detailed and easy to use. There is also a map included for easy directions to each workshop or event.
On Thursday, there are free (that's right, FREE) classes for beginning homeschooling. You will learn the laws in Virginia for homeschooling as well as what, exactly, homeschooling really is. Visit THIS link for more information on these classes.
Friday and Saturday bring Keynote Speakers who each discuss different topics of interest to homeschoolers. These will be noted in your schedule. They are highly popular so get to the workshops early for seating. Throughout each day there are dozens of workshops to attend. They range from parenting to math curriculum issues to reading comprehension sessions and everything in between. There are even sessions for women-only and men-only.
For children, there are exhibits that have hands-on experiments, dissection labs, the children's program, photography lessons, and so much more. Some of these may cost extra but they are worth it.
On Friday and Saturday the Used Curriculum Sale will be held as well. Check your packet that you receive at check-in to see what time you are allowed to enter. They stagger the entry so that it isn't too crowded and people have enough time to really look around. On Saturday there is usually a time when things go on sale in the Used Curriculum Sale. You will have to check the schedule to find out more information on that.
On all three days, the exhibit hall will be open. This is my most favorite thing about the convention. You get to meet the people who make and/or sell the curriculum. You can talk to them about your child's specific needs and really get to know how each program works. You can pick the books up and look through them or try out a software program in-person. Having the ability to actually see what you are going to buy is amazing. I have enjoyed this part so much. You see the passion in each company. It's not pushy at all but very informative and helpful.
Since I blog for the HEAV Convention, I get to meet these people ahead of time. They are truly a blessing. The vendors work very hard to give you the best products possible. Most of the companies are family-owned and operated. They love what they do and want you to get the best out of their products. Try walking up to the vendors and really asking questions. They are glad to do so and you will learn so much more about each item than you thought.
No matter if this is your first or fifteenth time coming to the HEAV Convention, just remember to have fun, meet new people, and ask questions. There are many helpful and friendly faces all around. Everyone is eager and ready to help you in any way you may need.
Don't forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for live coverage of the convention. I will be posting any freebies from vendors that I hear about and will have lots of information that may be helpful.
Now, on to the good stuff! I am giving away one Family Registration to the HEAV Convention (valued at $79). That's right! All you have to do is enter below on the Rafflecopter and wait to hear back from me if your name is chosen. The Family Registration will get you in to the convention for all three days (it does not include any extras you may want to add-on). This is very exciting and I hope you enter for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Laura Story Open Hands CD Review

I mainly listen to Christian music. I have my favorites but Laura Story is always on my list. She has put some amazing worship songs and music out in recent years. Her newest CD, Open Hands, is truly amazing. Her voice is so sweet and I enjoy just sitting and sewing or doing a puzzle while listening to Laura Story sing.

As I was listening to this particular album, I heard a theme going on: God's love is enough and His mercy never fails. Laura is not only a musician but also a worship leader. Her way of singing to her audience is very worship leader style. She engages with the audience and gets them wanting to sing along.

The songs included on Open Hands are:

  1. Death Was Arrested
  2. Open Hands
  3. You Came Running
  4. Give You Faith
  5. For The Love Of My King
  6. Awake My Soul (A 1000 Tongues)
  7. Whisper
  8. Every Word You Breathe
  9. Majesty
  10. Extraordinary
  11. Grace Abounds
My three favorite songs are Give You Faith, For The Love Of My King, and Every Word You Breathe. Give You Faith is Laura singing to her children about the one thing she would give them that is above all else: faith. Faith, hope, and love are the most important things to instill in children.

For The Love Of My King sounded very hymn-like. It made me feel a little old-fashioned, in a good way. I loved the melodies and the slower pace of the words and music. Jesus is the King. He is deserving of all of our attention and love. In this song, we sing of Jesus' sacrifice and the glory of heaven.

Every Word You Breathe is about giving hope when you are down. It's about trusting God no matter what and clinging to Him. Through trials and distractions, God is with us and His word tells us so.

Open Hands, which the album is named for, is about always being able to be used by God for His glory. When we are fearful and unwilling to let God use us, we are not doing God's will. He wants to use us and fill us and be there for us. He can't do any of those things when we have closed fists.

I love this new album from Laura Story. If you are a fan of hers, you will truly enjoy Open Hands as well.

Buy Link:

Web and Social Links:

Video links:
Open Hands (Official Lyric Video) -
Open Hands (Song Devotional) -

 *Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing me with a copy of this CD in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.*

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Kindness Challenge (Shaunti Feldhahn)

Being kind can go a long way in any relationship. The Bible talks a lot about kindness and even calls it one of the fruits of the spirit. Shaunti Feldhahn's newest book, The Kindness Challenge, gives you the tools needed to be kinder to even the most difficult person in your life. It is a thirty day challenge that takes you a journey to transform the world through kindness.

 Feldhahn calls kindness a "superpower". She says it can change any relationship and make your life less complicated and a lot healthier. She takes you step-by-step on how to be kind to others and gives plenty of examples of ways to show kindness to anyone.

The author starts by telling you why kindness matters and why it's important to every relationship. Kindness does make a difference and people see whether or not you are kind by the way you interact with others and the words you use. Even a little kindness makes a huge difference.

The next step is to put your newfound kindness to action. Thirty days to a "Kinder You". That's it. Just thirty short days of being kind to others through words, actions, and deeds. The author helps you by listing things that you should do or get rid of during this time of kindness. There are many negative things that we say and do on a regular basis that seem so small but have a big impact. She gives examples of these and how to have better habits of kindness.

Then comes the actual act of being kind to others. She has you choose a person: your husband, wife, friend, co-worker. This person is the focus of your kindness challenge for the next thirty days. She has a guideline for each of the days on what to do that is kind or what to avoid that may be unkind. She coaches you through this journey of being kinder to others.

This book is written through a Christian perspective so God is sprinkled throughout the pages. His kindness to us is truly amazing and unforgettable. His example is how we should be living every day. No matter if you have difficult relationships with everyone around you, YOU can be the change toward a better bond and connection.

For more on The Kindness Challenge visit:

*Many thanks to Blogging for Books for providing me with a copy of this book. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.*

Friday, March 10, 2017

Attending the HEAV Convention With Children

My favorite time of year is approaching: Homeschool Convention Season. I prepare all year long for this one weekend (although there are many conventions, I only attend this one). The HEAV (Home Educators Association of Virginia) is one of the largest conventions in the US. It is faith-based but has a lot more than just religion to offer (although that is one of my favorite aspects).

The whole convention is very family-friendly. Obviously, us homeschoolers have lots of kids and have to bring them everywhere we go. But, no matter what your family size may be, you and your children are welcome and encouraged to participate in the many learning sessions and exhibits.

While the sessions may seem daunting to a family with lots of "littles", they are easy to figure out. There are a few guidelines to attending the sessions with little ones in tow. Bring things for your child to do to keep them busy and quiet. I have seen everything from board books to coloring books to iPads with earphones. Whatever floats your boat and is right for your family. Just make sure it is a quiet activity as each session is being recorded. If you must leave a session because of a fussy baby or inquisitive toddler, ask the session moderator for a ticket to get a free mp3 of the session to listen to later.

Children ages five to twelve can attend the Children's Program for $20 per day. This program runs on Friday and Saturday during the convention and has convenient hours to drop off and pick up. This program is truly amazing. The theme this year is "Jesus is Stronger". They will learn about Jesus through storytelling, crafts, and special guests (Happy Jumpy and her sidekicks). Children will be encouraged in their faith and learn new songs, Bible verses, and games. It is a blessing to all who have attended in past years.

If you have older children (or children who want to stay with you), there are many opportunities to learn and have fun. The HEAV offers a variety of different labs, tournaments, and competitions for children. This year there will be a dissection lab, chess championship, photography opportunities, music competition, or teens can volunteer to work the Children's Program. They also offer another option for teens, the Young Entrepreneurs. This is in the exhibit hall and the teens offer a product that they have made by themselves to sell.

Older children can also volunteer at the HEAV to help in certain areas. One area that teens usually like is the Used Curriculum Sale. They can help organize the items, put things back in there proper place, check out customers, or bag the items. I love seeing the older children in there helping. They seem to enjoy it very much (at least from what I have witnessed with their smiling faces).

Even just walking around in the Exhibit Hall will give you many hands-on experiences. There are little shops set up just for kids. There a robotics expo, a musical instrument "petting zoo", and a marine touch tank by Chincoteague Bay Field Station. Children will have a blast at the hands-on science booth by Sciexperience. That one is probably the most exciting for my kids.

If you are hesitant about bringing your children to the HEAV Convention, I urge you to go ahead and come. Children are the whole reason we have a convention in the first place. Our children are very important to us and that's why we have chosen to homeschool them. Come and be encouraged and inspired by the thousands of other homeschooling families. It is such a blessing.

*Please come back and visit my blog on the week of March 22nd. I will be having a GIVEAWAY for a family registration to the HEAV (June 8, 9, and 10 at the Richmond Convention Center).*

Monday, March 6, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday- 3/6/17

Hello March! Time is flying by this year. Wow!

The weather:::
It is a little chilly today but it's supposed to warm up by the weekend. Yipee!

On my reading pile:::
I have been reading my Bible a lot lately. Also reading some Amish fiction. Those kinds of books are my favorite.

Movies or Shows I watched this weekend:::

We watched Jurassic Park parts one and two. Those are so good.

On the menu for this week:::

Monday- homemade chicken noodle soup with crusty bread
Tuesday- leftovers
Wednesday- my little guy's 4th birthday so we are eating out
Thursday- Penne noodles with creamy sauce and sautéed chicken
Friday- leftovers
Saturday- grocery shopping day

On my to do list:::
Household chores
Menu planning for the next 2 weeks
Writing extra blog posts for when I have surgery

Looking forward to:::
Chicken noodle soup tonight! It is my favorite and I even bought some real Amish noodles to go with it.

Looking around the house:::

There is birthday party paraphernalia all over the house. A plate of uneaten French toast is sitting on the dining room table from lunch (my little guy!). It is not too bad but definitely needs some tidying.

From the camera:::
This is my little guy painting at our homeschool group.

What I'm wearing today:::
Black yoga pants and a gray and black hoodie. Just seemed appropriate for a Monday.

One of my simple pleasures:::
The smell of cinnamon. I could just sit and smell cinnamon all day long. It relaxes me so much and makes me feel safe and loved.

Bible verse, Devotional::: 
I leave you with another song today:

"They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have, right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul

I know You're able and I know You can
Save through
I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You'd just say the word
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone..."
-Mercy Me Even If

Monday, February 27, 2017

Happy Homemaker Monday- 2/27/2017

How can it already be the last Monday in February? Seriously! Time is flying by so quickly. Next week my youngest son will be 4! I feel like he is still a baby. Oh, I have been reminiscing lastly. Why can't they stay little for a little longer? Oh well. I am glad to have another week to be with my family and to praise God for every breath I am given.

The weather:::

It has been beautiful for the past month. There have only been a few cold days. Today is around 65 degrees. The rest of the week looks like more of the same with a dip into the 50's. I am loving it because my kids can play outside...a lot.

On my reading pile:::

Zip It by Karen Ehman (it is a 40-day challenge on keeping your mouth shut)

Movies or Shows I watched this weekend:::

We are loving Chef's Table on Netflix. We just started a new series called Frontier. Oh, and over the weekend we watched Caddy Shack...just because. LOL! I have not had much time to watch TV for fun lately unless my kids are in bed and by then I am exhausted.

On the menu for this week:::

Monday- burgers for all the guys and mama is going out to eat Mexican food with a few friends
Tuesday- Taco soup in the slow cooker with cornbread
Wednesday- Leftovers
Thursday- Breakfast for dinner (eggs, toast, bacon)
Friday- Cheeseburger macaroni with Rotel
Saturday- Pizza (we are having my little guys bday party that day)
Sunday- Chicken noodle soup in the slow cooker

On my to do list:::

Clean the house for the bday party on Saturday
Write a few letters

Looking forward to:::

Little man's birthday party this weekend. I can't believe it. Lots of family and friends will gather to celebrate his life. He is such a sweetie pie most of the time.

Looking around the house:::

It is a bit of a mess right now. I was so sick over the weekend with a terrible migraine that I didn't have time to even move. It will be cleaned this week though.

From the camera:::

What I'm wearing today:::

A new pair of leggings (went to a LulaRoe party last night). They are light blue and cream colored. Also, a pink shirt with a Bible verse on it and a long sweater.

One of my simple pleasures:::

Sunday afternoon naps. It is rare but I love them.

Bible verse, Devotional::: 
A song has been on my mind lately:
"If your eyes are on the storm You'll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You'll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted
In time, you'll understand
I'm painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands..."
-Casting Crowns (Just Be Held)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Words Hurt...But they don't have to

We have all been the victim of nasty words from someone else. We have also all been the one to use nasty words toward someone else. Either way, words hurt. The Bible speaks many times about words and the tongue. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that "Death and life are in the power of the tongue..." You can either speak life giving words or words that cause "death".

This whole blog post came from a recent encounter I had with someone. This person seems very nice and sweet. I have probably spoken to the person twice in a few years. Always cordial greetings of "how are you?" "you look nice"...etc. This person decided to personally attack me on a social media platform.

Admittedly, I cried. I was devastated that someone who barely knew me could think so little of me. I was hurt that they chose to publicly humiliate me instead of coming directly to me and asking me about the subject of their complaint. My husband was even angrier than I was. He is a protector. I love that about him.

I spent the day after this situation happened in prayer and reading my Bible. God put it on my heart to pray for this person. Pray that they would see the hurt they caused and to repent. I also prayed that I would truly forgive them in my heart. It is easier said than done.

God answered my prayer and that person apologized. I accepted the apology. I pray that there was true repentance but I am not the judge of that. I immediately got on my knees and praised God for His unfailing love. I thanked Him for giving me peace about the whole situation.

The bottom line is: words DO hurt others. We don't know what someone else is going through. Even if we do know, we should still guard our tongues. We should speak life of others and to others. This person may not be aware that I am going through a VERY difficult time in my life. I am about to have major surgery that is very dangerous and I am scared. I know God is taking me through this but I am still having difficulty with the actual surgery.

In Matthew 15:18, we learn that "..what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart..." Sometimes, the words others speak to us is a reflection of their own hearts. If they are going through a hard time they may choose to take it out on you (or anyone who comes across their path at the wrong time). If we start to think about hurtful situations in this way, it will help us to better understand others as well.

Proverbs 15:1 also tells us that "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." My understanding of this is, even if others throw darts your way with their words, do not get angry. I say this because Matthew 12:37 also tells us "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." Yikes! That scares me a little. We will be condemned for our words. That makes me really want to watch every word I ever say.

My final thoughts on this are this: always be kind to one another. Always show the love of Christ. Be a witness to others by the words you speak. In Psalm 19:14 we read "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." Before you say anything, think about if it would be pleasing to God.

And, remember, God doesn't want you to be hurt because of someone else's words. You are made in His image. You are a child of God, loved, redeemed, accepted, sanctified, a new creation, blessed, chosen, holy, blameless, forgiven, and free. You are not anything but what God says you are. If someone attacks you with words, pray for them. Ask God to help them to repent and for you to truly forgive them.

The words that Jesus said on the cross always come to my mind when I pray for those who have hurt me "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do..." (Luke 23:34)