Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Review: World of Science - Fascinating facts

With its holographic cover, the book World of Science does far more than just look appealing.  It's a great homeschooling resource with an easy to follow layout that discusses physical, chemical, and biological sciences. (248 pages)

Sections include: Matter/Chemicals, Energy/Motion/Machines, Electricity/Magnetism, Light/Sound, Earth/Life, Space/Time, and (last but not least) Science Experiments.

A few things stand out to me.  I love that the introduction begins with, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  From its very creation, the Earth was formed with guidelines established by our Maker...." 

We familiarize our children with evolution and do the best with the resources we have to teach them how (and why) to defend Biblical Creation.  One of the reasons we chose to homeschool our children was because our (once in public school) 1st grader came home one day telling us about how many millions of years old the dinosaurs were that lived before people existed.  Knowing that World of Science is using the same scientific evidences we all share without a slant towards the theory (not fact) of evolution makes me breathe easier.  I don't like having to scour books for false information before my children read it.

Another thing that sets this book apart is having the science experiments in the back of the book.  I prefer having the experiments all grouped together in one section as opposed to scattered through chapters.  It makes my planning easier.

My Father's World has paired up with Master Books to get this wonderful science book into the hands of discerning parents and educators.  Knowing what we do of the excellent curriculum resources that My Father's World offers, I was thrilled to receive a free copy of this book for review.  As soon as I started flipping through the pages, I knew this was a book that I would have purchased for our family/children.
World of Science is an excellent resource for elementary school students.  Even if you don't homeschool your children, this would be a wonderful way for your children to read about areas of science that they're interested in (or help them become interested in).  As a Christian family, it is a wonderful book to add to your library; a book that focuses on science, not an evolutionary theory.

Review: The Big Book of History

What can I say about this neat book except you have to read it to appreciate it.  The Big Book of History is truly one of a kind and is made for kids.  Yes, we adults have been equally excited to get "our turn" to read through the pages of history as well.  There's just something fun about reading a 15-foot time-line, right from creation through modern history.  Folded accordian-style, you can keep the book compactly stored, open it up to individual time frames, or pull the whole thing across your living room floor.  The only challenge might be in keeping your toddler from thinking it's a road to walk on.

We already own Adams' Chart of History, which is very detailed and such an awesome book to see from beginning to end up on a wall. However, from a child's perspective, The Big Book of History is the perfect timeline to begin with.  We love this book and believe every family should own a copy.  There's something to be said for "seeing" a timeline of history on paper where you can view how dates for events, inventions, discoveries, etc. line up.  While it isn't intended to be a game, it feels like a version of trivial pursuit when our children (and us as their parents) find interesting facts to share with each other.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review from Master Books.  It is a book I will also be purchasing for gift-giving purposes.  We love it!

Review: The World of Animals ~ Fascinating facts

I was thrilled with the opportunity to review The World of Animals for Master Books .  As a homeschooling family, this book has already become well-used in our household.

This is a beautifully put together book that discusses over 1,000 animals.  Nearly all the illustrations are from real-life photography as opposed to the artist renditions some other books have.  Animals range from microscopic animals to worms/snails/starfish, insects & other arthropods, fish, amphibians & reptiles, birds, and up through mammals.

The best part of this book is that I don't feel the need to sift through information given because it is based on the Biblical account of creation.  It doesn't dole out evolution as the basis for life.  In fact, the book begins with, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth..." (Gen 1:1)  What a breath of fresh air!

Part of our current homeschool curriculum includes "Exploring Countries and Cultures" from My Father's World.  While this book wasn't included in the core package we purchased, it is an excellent resource to go along with what we are studying.  As we go through geography and science, we are introduced to different areas of our world.  This book has been a wonderful way to further explore animals that are common to different areas we are studying.

If you are already familiar with My Father's World, you'll be happy to know that this book is a joint edition between Master Books and My Father's World.  If you don't know much about My Father's World, you should check out their website and request a copy of their curriculum catalog.  We've been quite impressed with My Father's World for a lot of our curriculum needs.

We've been equally impressed with the quality of books Master Books is publishing.  Finding quality books that place God as Creator of everything is exactly what we need.  So many books these days are filled with evolution and humanism.  While I've been grateful to receive free books in return for my honest review, I am even more thankful for a company that has chosen to set itself apart as God-honoring.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How to Make a LEGO iPod (old style)

Our boys are true LEGO fans/engineers/architects/builders/inventors/... you name it.  They also scour YouTube for tutorials on how to build the next great creation.  Our 9-year-old posted his own video directions today, where he detailed how to build an iPod (the old non-touch screen...seems so long ago, eh?) out of LEGOs.  I can already tell there will be future video productions.  The wheels are turning in those boys' minds.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Review: Just In Case You Ever Wonder ~ Max Lucado

I've always enjoyed Max Lucado's writing style and, as a family, we have read many of his adult and children's books. Just In Case You Ever Wonder is written from the perspective of a parent sharing a deep love for their child(ren).  It's a conversational book that speaks to the inner workings of your child's mind and spirit.  Every child needs to be reminded often of just how special and loved they are, both through words and actions.  This book helps you express the words your heart desires to let you child know.

While I want to love this book, I rate it just about average in a list of favorites.  The book is fully illustrated with thoughtful pictures.  However, there are two pictures that are scary to a child who isn't accustomed to hearing about "monsters in the closet" or a fear of the dark.  Just those two pages/illustrations were enough to refocus our 5-year-old's mind onto the pictures instead of the message of the book.

We have owned this book for a few years.  We read it from time to time but it isn't a favorite.  I think it could be higher on my list of choice books if those two illustrations were altered and if reading it to our youngest children involved the omission of the monsters/afraid of the dark statements.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Great Life Deception

There comes a time in some peoples' lives (women and men) where they feel a decision has to be made about their preborn baby's life ~ to allow him or her to continue living or end their child's life.  While there are many reasons why the mother and/or father might think abortion is a viable solution, I encourage you to watch the 180 Movie before considering abortion to be an option.  

Your baby is growing rapidly and when their heart starts beating at 3 weeks, most women aren't even aware they are pregnant yet.  It's a commonly held lie that the millions upon millions of babies being aborted are nothing but a mass of cells.  Far from it; they are tiny human beings.  From the moment of conception, time and nutrition are supporting their lives as they grow within their mother's uterus.  Preborn babies are fully alive, fully human, and fully children.

Preborn baby at 9 weeks:

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I sanctified you."  Jeremiah 1:5

"For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them."  Psalm 139:13-16 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Vision Forum ~ Home of Jonathan Park

If you're already fans of audio stories like Adventures in Odyssey (Focus on the Family), you'll want to check out Vision Forum's Jonathan Park CDs.  Our children love them!  They're just what we are looking for -- stories that teach Godly character traits, thrilling adventures that reflect on Biblical creation, worship of the Creator over creation, and honoring God through life choices.  We purchased a multi-pack of CDs to save on the cost but regardless of price, our children continue to listen to the stories over and over again.

Offering a multitude of other resources, I highly recommend Vision Forum when you are considering Christmas gifts this year.  We've purchased some of their DVD documentaries for family members in previous years and have yet to decide if we will go with Christian books or another DVD this year.  You have a tremendous witnessing opportunity in your choice of gifts for loved ones this Christmas.

Dreaming of a Blue Christmas

Why not have a tree in your favourite colour?  The boys picked out a blue tree for their bedroom a couple years ago.  At the time, someone else preferred the pink tree, but votes for blue won out.  The little blue tree made its grand appearance a few days ago.  The only casualty so far has been a glass bulb with Daddy's workplace inscribed on it; baby likes to throw things. We think the rest of the decorations are indestructible...

Makes a pretty nightlight!

The bulb-thrower himself...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Incredible Time Lapse Video of Earth From Space

What a beautiful video!   Our children love anything to do with space -- what a special way to view Earth.  I just love the rippling, shimmering Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis.  We were excited to pick out the Great Lakes and quickly locate where we (and Grandparents) live.

I tried to add the video here but I'm not sure how to get it to appear in HD.  I suggest going here to watch it so you get the BIG picture!  

These time lapse pictures were taken by the crew onboard the International Space Station during two expeditions between August and October, 2011.  Wonderfully edited by Michael Konig and special thanks to NASA for sharing with all of us earth-bound people! :)

Shooting locations in order of appearance:

1. Aurora Borealis Pass over the United States at Night
2. Aurora Borealis and eastern United States at Night
3. Aurora Australis from Madagascar to southwest of Australia
4. Aurora Australis south of Australia
5. Northwest coast of United States to Central South America at Night
6. Aurora Australis from the Southern to the Northern Pacific Ocean
7. Halfway around the World
8. Night Pass over Central Africa and the Middle East
9. Evening Pass over the Sahara Desert and the Middle East
10. Pass over Canada and Central United States at Night
11. Pass over Southern California to Hudson Bay
12. Islands in the Philippine Sea at Night
13. Pass over Eastern Asia to Philippine Sea and Guam
14. Views of the Mideast at Night
15. Night Pass over Mediterranean Sea
16. Aurora Borealis and the United States at Night
17. Aurora Australis over Indian Ocean
18. Eastern Europe to Southeastern Asia at Night

Book Review: Begin ~ (compiled/edited by:) Ken Ham & Bodie Hodge

An excellent start for exactly who it is intended for: "seekers and new believers".  I have thoroughly enjoyed the layout of this book and feel it will help answer some of the questions people have about the Bible, who God is, and why in the world they need to be saved -- saved from what?!

Growing up, the CSSM (Canadian Sunday School Mission) was warmly welcomed into the Canadian public school system.  I remember those flannel graph stories, the songs, the love of those teachers,.....and the conviction of the law (the weight of sin) in my life.  The law is a mirror of the sin in our lives and it shows us why we need a Saviour.

Today, more and more people know less and less of the foundations of God's Word.  You can't just assume that everyone has heard what the Bible says.  Not everyone has grown up in a Bible-preaching church, evolution is taught as fact in schools (books, tv, etc.), and the name of God in some circles is often heard more as a cuss word than the name of our Almighty Creator.

Begin is just that: it gives readers a foundation:  a beginning.  It is completely Scripture based and brings Creation through Redemption into focus.  Most of the book is the Bible, with commentary like a study Bible would offer.  It is giving readers a Biblical worldview, allowing you to see God's hand on and love for us right from His Creation of us.

From a personal perspective, I purchased a copy of this book before my "free preview" even arrived.  After reading it, I know that this is the book I will be giving to a dear person in my life who is a new believer.  It gives Biblical answers for the questions evolution has attempted to distort. 

"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever."  Isaiah 40:8

Book Review: Heaven Is For Real, ~ Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent

I have been wanting to read Heaven Is For Real for some time and wasn't disappointed at all, even with having heard others' opinions of the book. 

A couple years ago, I read 90 Minutes in Heaven (by Don Piper), a book along similar lines.  More recently, I was reading Heaven (by Randy Alcorn); more theologically based as it is rooted in Scripture vs personal experience.  I believe that the spiritual nature God has given us is reflected in our desire to know more about the place God has prepared for us after we die and leave the only physical place we know. 

While there isn't 100% surety on the accuracy of what Colton related to his parents about his time spent in Heaven, I have a few thoughts on the subject.

1. God doesn't "spill the beans" and tell us every detail of Heaven in the Bible so as long as the book is accurate as far as what the Bible does say, whose to say that the extra details Colton gives aren't just his imagination.  Arguably, they could be just imagination.  However, if he talks about Jesus having a horse with rainbow colors, is it possible that's the only way Colton would know to describe such a horse?  I've read reviewers who have referred to it as "Rainbow Brite's" horse, but is that a fair comparison?  How does one describe a crystal refracting light and iridescent light giving the appearance of shimmering rainbows to a person who has never seen it before?

2. We're talking about comparing Heaven with earthly terms.  It's like God giving John a glimpse of future events in Revelation when all he knew was what existed in the first century AD. How can we even imagine what Heaven truly holds for those who truly love God and have been saved through His Son?

3. I can't bring myself to discount Colton's experience because of his age.  When one of our children was 3, I saw him standing in our kitchen doorway with his hand slightly out to the side.  He was so quiet that I asked him what he was doing and he simply told me that he was holding an angel's hand like it was an every day experience.

Jesus told his own disciples to let the little children come to Him.  I lean towards believing that Colton did go to Heaven and meet Jesus and more than that -- I can't wait to meet my Saviour some day too!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Book Review: Thank You, God, For Blessing Me ~ Max Lucado

I recently downloaded Max Lucado's book, Thank You, God, For Blessing Me to our iPod.  A Read-to-Me "Little Hermie" book, this was designed for the youngest Hermie-lovers and I expect it comes in a board book format for those little listeners/book handlers. 

Our children all love Hermie books and DVDs.  Our 4-year-old enjoys and asks for this book to be read to her at bedtime.  Our older boys think its more of a novelty to read books on the iPod so will page through it...but not request it again.  However, it isn't in the same age-range of books they typically read.  Going by the age it was meant for, this is a cute story with simple illustrations.

Hermie is thanking God for all the ways He blesses his wee caterpillar life.  Our one-year-old is just getting into wanting to sit and read books with the family.  This is the type of book I will enjoy sharing with him - a book that encourages us to give thanks in everything.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Book Review: Unveiling the Kings of Israel ~ David Down

I have always been fascinated with archaeology.  When I saw David Down's books, Unveiling the Kings of Israel and Unwrapping the Pharaohs, I knew they were two book I just had to read.  In fact, I had signed up to review this particular book, but ended up purchasing it before the free copy arrived.  Since I enjoyed it so much, I'm grateful to now have one for our library and another to give as my Dad's Christmas gift; he'll love it!

I'm not an archaeologist; just someone who loves to read about it and look at pictures.  Of course, I'd love to visit those intriguing dig sites, but that remains to be decided at some future date.  Based on Biblical dates, this book leads you from the flood through Jesus Christ; God's renewed promise to Abraham to the Ultimate King, Jesus.  It adds historical elements of culture and geography to the what we read in the Bible.

While, I don't have firsthand knowledge of archaeological "pre-set" dates, Mr. Down presents a clear argument for Biblical accuracy in dates.  Apparently, commonly accepted dates for different eras in ancient history have been based on shaky Egyptian chronology.  This timeline needs to be reduced by centuries for an accurate history based on Biblical dates and ongoing archaeological discoveries.  The next book on my agenda to read is Unwrapping the Pharaohs, in which David Downs is sure to expand on this information.  I can't wait to get started!

Book Review: How Do We Know the Bible Is True? ~ Ken Ham & Bodie Hodge

One of the reasons we opted to homeschool our children was to instill in them the significance and truth of God's Word.  We didn't want them continuously exposed to the theory of evolution without seeing the flip side of the coin.  Evolution is taught as a fact in most schools, when it is nothing more than a theory; a theory that takes more faith to believe in than the Biblical account of creation.

Creation and apologetics are a passion in our family.  We want not only to read God's Word, but be able to defend it; that others would come to see who our Creator and Savior really is.  When I saw "How Do We Know the Bible is True?" available, it was one of those books that stood out.  Knowing what Ken Ham stands for Biblically, I knew this would be a book worth reading.

In fact, Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge are more editor than chief authors.  They both have chapters included, but there are actually 28 chapters/articles written by multiple studied pastors/scholars.  Each chapter focuses on different aspects of the Bible, such as the history, authors, archaeological evidences, inspiration of God, interpretation, inerrancy of scripture, and questions that non-believers and Christian leaders alike would bring up to question regarding it's accuracy/authenticity.

There are a couple chapters written by Jason Lisle that are very informative but had me feeling like I needed to spend more time on his presentation to wrap my mind around his thought processes.  We actually have his book, The Ultimate Proof of Creation, but I have yet to read it through.  He was at our church last winter and hearing him speak helped with understanding his writing style.

This is a wonderfully put together book with solid answers based on a literal God-inspired Scripture.  The various authors come from the same viewpoint, making the topics flow smoothly and giving the reader a lot to hold dear (and share)!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Book Review: Hermie - A Common Caterpillar, By: Max Lucado

Hermie is one of our favourite positive-character-trait-building cartoon characters.  This easy reader book is based on the original Hermie video and follows the story quite well. 

I found it to be longer than the average "early reader" book so depending on your child's reading ability, this may or may not be a book that can be read in one sitting.  Of course, it is an enjoyable story just to read aloud to young ones as well.

This is the first e-book I have read, so that in itself was something to be learned.  I was hoping to read it on our laptop and iPod with our youngest children but ran into some difficulties after downloading the book; how to do it?  It turned out to be quite simple.  On the iPod, there is a free app called iBooks that can be downloaded on iTunes.  Once downloaded, you just open your book in iBooks.  On a computer, you can download Adobe Digital Editions for free and open up your book to read. 

I'm looking forward to downloading more digital books - great for long car rides and I won't have to pack as many books; just the laptop or iPod.  My brother's family makes good use of an iPad with many digital books to occupy little hands.  I'll be recommending Hermie to them as well!

Monday, September 26, 2011

AWANA Sparks - Sky Stormer Book 3 - Printable Verses - KJV

Three of our four children are in AWANA again this year.  In an effort to remain organized with who is memorizing which verses, I've begun compiling their verses by book section.

The son (almost-7-years-old) who is currently in Sky Stormer doesn't read very well yet but has a phenomenal memory.  I love hearing him recite God's Word from memory.  As parents, our prayer is that our children will hide God's Word in their hearts now, hold Him dear all their lives, and share Christ's love with others.

If you are using the KJV AWANA books, here are are the verses and references to activities for the Sky Stormer book.  Click Here to open printable document.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Book Review: The Blessing - by John Trent & Gary Smalley

The most recent book I have received from Booksneeze (Thomas Nelson) to review is "The Blessing" by John Trent and Gary Smalley.

To be honest, I'm hard-pressed to read psychology-related books.  I much prefer a good story; true-to-life or fiction.  However, this was a book that caught my eye. 

We all want the best for our children and having our children feel valued, loved, and respected is important to my husband and I.  In turn, we want them to value, love, and respect others (both now and as they grow up).  This book helped me relate more to how to best go about instilling this heart-knowledge in their young lives.  The investment we make in their lives today will be something they take with them forever in their relationships with others.

Trent and Smalley focus on five primary areas: meaningful appropriate touch, spoken words, attaching high value, visualizing a special future, and an active/genuine commitment.

I regularly hug our children at bedtime but purposing to hug them, touch their hand while speaking with them, and maintaining eye contact all throughout the day has made a difference in my life as well.  I never want to be too busy to hear them out.  I want them to have the blessing of their father and I on their lives so they will always carry that built-in love and acceptance no matter where they go or what they do.  I truly believe the impact our blessing has on their lives will be felt for generations to come. 

Great book that serves as both a guide for parents and anyone seeking to model what giving of self really means.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Galactocele -- The Continuing Saga

I appreciated reading any (albeit few) first-hand accounts when I was searching for information online regarding galactoceles.  So, while our almost-15-month-old is sleeping I'll get a few things typed up.
Part of the information below is in response to one reader's comment on the original "What is a galactocele?" post. I was given the option of having the entire milk duct removed but since I'm still nursing, the surgeon recommended waiting until I had weaned first. When I was told that, I was very torn. On one hand, how in the world would I quit breastfeeding, knowing that as I cut back on milk this huge lump in my breast would get larger and more painful? On the other hand, if I kept breastfeeding, how would I ever get rid of it?

For the record, this is my fourth child and the previous 3 were nursed 13 months, 23 months, and 27 months so I wasn't ready to stop nursing unless I really had to. The lack of information on this topic is very frustrating.
Earlier this year, I cried and had a lot of stress surrounding this mass so foreign to my body. It's still in my breast but it isn't something I worry about anymore.

Our son, now 15 months, is still nursing and I figure that in itself is likely keeping it more under control. I continue to take a Lecithin supplement (thought to decrease the stickiness of milk) and Boiron makes a homeopathic remedy called Phytolacca Decandra 30C (5 pellets per day).  I was taking a Biotin supplement as well but when I ran out I never did get around to purchasing more; no difference noted once I stopped.

For about 3+ months now I've been on a gluten-free diet which has become better to manage as I get used to it. Gluten acts in an inflammatory way in your body. I'm so used to watching what I eat as far as gluten goes that I'm apprehensive to add it back into my diet in case the galactocele gets larger again. I can say that I have not had the brief shooting pain in my breast that I had before eating gluten-free. Based on my experience, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that stress played (plays) a major role in galactoceles (as with many other breast cysts).

When I was looking for the elusive answers to my questions, I often felt sick and worried about what was going on that no one seemed to be able to help me with. Other times, I just prayed it would go away on its own. Since its still there, I can only assume God has other reasons for not removing it in MY timing.

About 2 months ago, it was still about the size of a golf ball but today it is slightly smaller than a ping-pong ball.  I really do feel that since I let go of the associated worry and accepted it as non-cancerous, that has played a big part in it staying on the small-side.  It was quite large and painful at the point when I had it drained (only to refill...augh!). I've read in a few places (and the surgeon my ob-gyn spoke with where we live also said) that surgery isn't always necessary. It is thought that most galactoceles will dissolve away and be reabsorbed into your body after you are done nursing. I'm not at that point yet so I'll have to wait to see how that plays out.

Most importantly, if you are dealing with a questionable breast lump, DON'T worry your self sick-er. My thoughts often centered around "what if it's cancer". Even if it had been, worrying only creates more stress in our lives and stress wreaks havoc on our immune and every other system. Simpler said than done sometimes but I know the stress I felt only made it worse.

These days, I feel for a palpable size once in awhile but not constantly. In fact, even sitting to write up this note had me palpating the galactocele for the first time in several weeks. I look at this as a time-thing. The only reason mine shrank quickly after refilling (post-aspiration) was because I became so dehydrated from the flu . That was the perfect (well, aside from endless bathroom visits) jumping point to getting it under more manageable control again. Not that anyone wants to catch the flu, but I was never so thankful for an illness!

Looking back, it took a couple months to get to the point where I could accept that it is slow-going but still heading in a positive direction.  Three months beyond that, I feel that I'm eating better, have less stress, and the galactocele that I still have is a non-priority in my thoughts.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Review: Max on Life - by Max Lucado

Max Lucado has always been a favourite author of mine.  Max on Life:  Answers and Insights to Your Most Important Questions is a collection of anecdotes taken from questions Mr. Lucado has received from people around the world.  He has compiled a wide range of topics into a single book; many day-to-day questions we often have, some more reflective of the purpose of life, and others stretching into the harder to answer ponderings of God-given minds.

Like all of Max’s books, this one makes you think and come to a greater understanding of human nature and God’s gift to each of us.  He writes in such a way that everyone alike would feel at home with him.  Max on Life is just that – Max (author, pastor, husband, father, son, friend) and his Biblical take on life.   I appreciate that, as an author, He comes from a pastoral role.  I imagine that Mr. Lucado talks in the same manner as he writes, making you feel like he could be visiting in your own living room.  

Max on Life is only different from most of his other books because he takes individuals’ pressing questions and gives us all the answers to their inquiries.

Therapy for the soul comes to mind when I think of Max Lucado and his books.

Review: The Final Summit - by Andy Andrews

Last year I read Andy Andrews' book The Heart Mender and couldn't put it down; it's one of those books that draws you in and keeps you there through the whole story. 

When Booksneeze sent me a copy of Mr. Andrews' recent book The Final Summit, I had high expectations.  While I can appreciate his style of writing, this was in a completely different category than the historical fiction/semi-true-story found in The Heart Mender.  If you like court room drama, you are sure to enjoy The Final Summit.

The Final Summit takes a gentleman named David Ponder into the spotlight amongst other significant historical figures.  They are given the task of answering the single question that has but one true answer to save humanity.  With only a limited number of guesses at the correct answer available, Andrews takes the reader through a thought-provoking process.  In the course of discussions between a mainly well-known cast of names, the reader is drawn into brief historical accounts that show how individual experiences are part of the whole solution.

Personally, I found the process a tad drawn out since the location of the entire book is within a single heavenly room resembling a lecture hall.  However, if the reader takes the potential solutions and ultimate answer to heart, imagine what could be done in this world!

I was unaware that this is a sequel to The Traveler's Gift, but don't believe I missed anything that would have affected how this book played out.  The Final Summit is a motivational book and judging by reviews of The Traveler's Gift, they are both in this same genre.  Years ago in college we were required to read one of  Zig Ziglar's motivational books; it nearly put me to sleep.  I would have much rather followed this story of David Ponder to glean similar knowledge.

Zoo Daze

Zoo Daze vs. Days for two reasons:

#1. Ahhh!  The Milwaukee Zoo is a beautifully put together zoo - many well-cared for animals, lots of trees, clean, and plenty of fun for the family.

#2. It was so hot the afternoons (high 90's) we spent there.  Haze...daze...same thing.   Fortunately, they had several indoor buildings and mist-sprayers scattered around the property so we could cool off! 

Friday, April 29, 2011

What is a Galactocele?

Five months ago, I discovered a breast lump but chalked it up to something that would go away as I continued to nurse our then 7-month-old.  A few weeks after first noticing it, my milk backed up to almost my armpit.  I did all the recommended blocked-milk-duct treatments -- nurse frequently, massage, warm showers, etc.  Three days later, things were back to normal...except that lump was still there.

Two months after noticing it, I made a doctor's appointment to have it looked at since it was noticeably bigger.  It wasn't particularly painful but by the time I saw the doctor, it was the size of a kiwi.  Having scoured the internet for information on what I was dealing with, I felt prepared to meet with the doctor.  I explained to her that because it would slowly change in size (sometimes a tad smaller and sometimes bigger) that I didn't feel I needed to have a mammogram.

As functional nursing breasts, mammograms often show skewed results.  I wanted an ultrasound but was told that as per "procedure", I *had* to have a mammogram first before I would be allowed to have an ultrasound.  I didn't take to that very well so went looking for another option.

In the meantime, I went to see a massage therapist who specializes in breast issues.  She showed me a few techniques that I had pretty much already been doing on my own.

Following the advice of regarding mastitis issues (even though I never had mastitis), I was taking Hepar Sulphur and Phytolacca which seemed to help for a time to make the lump softer and more palpable.

Then, I caught a bad cold and it seems that my breast caught the sniffles too.  That was the point where the lump ballooned and it was totally obvious from the outside that something the size of an apple was pushing against the back of my areola.  It was very painful at this point...a constant pain.

I went to see a new doctor, an ob-gyn, who agreed that an ultrasound would be the best option.  It was scheduled for a couple days later.

A galactocele is something I had considered from my reading online and the ob-gyn I went to see thought that was likely what it was although she was concerned that it felt harder than she thought it should.  On an ultrasound, a galactocele resembles breast cancer but due to my age, the fact I was nursing, that the lump had gotten large fast and would sometimes be smaller, the radiologist was confident that I had a galactocele.  Many women have breast cysts; some dangerous and others insignificant.  A galactocele is a breast cyst that is filled with (you guessed it) milk.

The radiologist and my ob-gyn said that this was the largest galactocele they have ever come across.  They are rare in general and usually only happen once a mother ends breastfeeding.  I was (and am) still breastfeeding.

At the ultrasound, I did agree to let the radiologist drain it even though I had read that they can refill.  Indeed, 2 hours later, it was completely full again (and painful).  At that point, I was ready to give up breastfeeding and just cry out of frustration.  In case you are wondering about the draining, the radiologist uses a small needle to freeze the area (in my case at the beginning and half way through) and then uses a larger needle to aspirate the liquid (milk) from the galactocele.  Since it had been accumulating for almost 5 months, it looked like sticky white glue.  Pure white though so no infection.

Fast forward 2 weeks after the aspiration... I had been working on reducing breastfeeding on the affected side but that was creating its own problems since milk would start backing up again.  Then... I caught a flu-bug.  Who would ever be thankful to be that sick?  I was!!  I noticed immediately that the galactocele was shrinking.  What else could it do when I couldn't drink and ended up losing 4lbs over the course of 12 hours in the bathroom.

I had been talking to our children about thanking God in every situation because He is always in control.  He was using my dehydration to get this galactocele back under control.  (And, unbelievably, no one else got sick!  I don't even know where I picked it up since it's usually one of the kids who brings home an illness).

Yes, it is still there, but it is now the size of a ping-pong ball and not painful.  Sometimes there will be a brief shot of pain but it's usually over as quickly as it started.  I'm continuing with the Phytolacca and Hepar Sulphur, and I'm working on going 100% gluten-free.  I stopped drinking coffee and caffeinated teas about 3 months ago.  I am continuing to take Sunflower Lecithin as it helps keep milk 'thinner'.  Stress is what I believe created the galactocele to begin with so continually giving my concerns over to the Lord before they become worries is what I work at daily.

I'm very thankful that this is a galactocele and not breast cancer.  There is apparently no correlation between the two.

As I'm still breastfeeding and still have the galactocele, I will update about anything significant that changes or anything new I learn that could help someone else out in a similar situation.  If you are reading this and have any questions due to your own circumstances or have experienced this in the past and have suggestions, I'd love to hear from you.

March 2015 Update - HERE

August 2011 Update - HERE

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Planning for the 2011-2012 Homeschool Year

It's coming up on that time again to plan around used curriculum sales and free shipping specials. 

Homeschooling next year will consist of grades 4, 2, and Kindergarten.  There isn't much I plan to change but I love hearing about what other homeschooling families use for their studies.  That's what is both so great and challenging about choosing your own curriculum: there is so much to choose from!

We'll definately be buying from (Language 2 & 4, Letters & Spelling 2, Cursive 2, Arithmetic 2 & 4, and possibly Spelling for each grade).  Last year, I made the mistake of ordering a couple weeks shy of a "free shipping" promotion they offer in the spring.  Since I wasn't aware of that annual sale, I'm waiting to receive an email informing me of the free shipping dates for this year.  It should be soon.

We already have a My Father's World set of books to take us on a historical and geographical journey around the world.  I was excited about beginning this series in Fall 2010 but packing a household with a wee baby and moving to a new place had me prioritizing what I could and had to do.  It's now February and we are basically unpacked.  The past 2 months have given me time to normalize myself/ourselves into a new routine.  The MFW books were unpacked and have pleaded with me to pull them off the shelves at least a few times a week.  I want to!  However, I think we'll stick with the first Story of the World book and CD for now.  It feels like we are still playing "catch up" for all the down time in the packing, moving, temporarily no home, and moving into a new home hours away.

Real Science 4 Kids is a curriculum we have been having hands-on fun with these past few months.  Our older two sons are always wanting to concoct some type of  "experiment" so this is right up their ally.  The only thing I would have changed in my approach to the first book (Pre-Level 1 Chemistry) we are almost done is that I should have gone through the "materials you need" list for the entire book and purchased them all at once.  Instead, I have purchased materials needed in groups of about 3 lessons and it's a nuisance to have to look for these items at the store every few shopping trips.

We absolutely love Apologia's science curriculum, especially since it reflects the truths of the Bible in the design of our created world.  I bought a few different books with their related journals through when they were on sale last year.  (*Sign up at to be made aware of their various homeschool curriculum sales.)  So far, the only one we have used is Exploring Creation Through Astronomy; we all love/loved it!  I recommend purchasing the notebooking journals that are available separate from the textbooks as they contain additional ideas for hands-on projects.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Building Materials

Be it wooden blocks, Legos, Play-Doh, or snow; children love to explore, create, and build.  It's not obvious in the photo, but their underground tunnels travel most of the length of the snowbank.  Not to worry ~ Mommy made sure they added many large holes along the way.  They like all the emergency exits along the backside of their snow fort.

We've been told these snowfall amounts and big blizzards aren't normal for here (which would explain the under-abundance of snowplows).  Although quite a bit of snow has already melt/evaporated, the boys are by no means disappointed or disuaded.  This is the kind of snow that makes us feel "at home"!

When a Dream Isn't Just a Dream

What exactly is deja-vu and when is a dream not just a random picture show?

Sitting on the couch, visiting my parents, the phone was about to ring.  The children and adults were all exactly where they had been in that months' past (or was it only days?) dream.  That heart clenching feeling in my chest and a mouth void of moisture had me acting outwardly composed...but anxious about what was to come.  I knew it would be my mother-in-law on the phone and I knew she had bad news because that's how the dream went.  But it ended when I woke up.  I couldn't remember what the awful news had been.  In real life, it was just a regular phone call.  Life continued and whatever had turned bad in my dream never happened. 

Those not-so-nice moments catch me off guard and take awhile to try to forget.  No one else is bothered by it because they have no idea you knew it was about to happen... even if "it" doesn't end the way you dreamed it would.

That's not to say that all deja vu moments from dreams leave a bad taste.  Often times, you are just living every day life when you suddenly know what is going to happen next.  Sometimes it's fun to live in events you know will happen as they unfold.  Then, the moment passes and you are left trying to remember just how long ago it was that you *knew* this would occur. Interesting how our minds and subconscious work.

Last night I dreamed that someone close to us died in a boating accident.  It was so real and I woke up sick.  It's those dreams that can haunt you.  You know the person, the event, but not the time.  Not real though...just a dream.  But, when is a dream just a dream and when is it something your mind will pull up again in said moment of its occurance?  Is it a reflection of past or future events? 

My brother-in-law was killed in a car accident over 10 years ago.  Is this newest dream a memory put into a new situation with a different person?  So many questions with no real answers.  Tell you what though.. It sure puts a bee in your bonnet about the urgency to tell those you love about the salvation that only Jesus offers.

Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Romans 10:9-10 "If you declare with your mouth 'Jesus is Lord' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved."

So, why dream dreams that come true... but not always all the way true?  Maybe it's a reflection of what could have happened if someone in the stream of living had made a different choice on any particular day.  How often are we in a hurry and red light after red light blocks our path to get somewhere we need to be by a set time?  Physical red lights or metaphorical red lights.  When that happens to me, I may feel a moment of frustration, but I always consider that God was either protecting us from something or moving us through to where we needed to be (for our benefit or that of someone else). 

God knows the plans He has for us.  We just need to KNOW that; reflect on it daily and give our dreams (plans) to Him so He can mold them into where He wants us to go ~ who He wants us to be.

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the thoughts I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cream of Potato Leek Soup (DF/GF)

I just discovered the goodness of coconut milk in a dairy-free diet.  I've so missed cream soups but after being introduced to coconut milk, there will be an abundance of uses for such a versatile (and healthy) substitute in this kitchen!

Here's the recipe I threw together for dinner the other day; very easy to make.  Children all loved it and, as an added bonus, it was the perfect texture for baby to enjoy! 

Cream of Potato Leek Soup (dairy-free, gluten free)

5lbs Potatoes (peeled/quartered)
2-3 Leeks (sliced thinly up through bottom quarter-ish of greenery)
1 pkg Applegate Farms turkey bacon (no nitrates, antibiotics, etc.)
1 can Coconut Milk
1 tsp Curry powder (season to taste)
1 tsp Cumin powder (season to taste)
1 tsp Salt (adjust to taste)

Place quartered potatos into stock pot with enough water to cover them.  Cook on medium heat until soft.  Don't drain them.

Lightly saute leeks in coconut oil or olive oil about 5-8 minutes.  Remove from pan & set aside.

Cook bacon in same pan.  When not-too-crispy but cooked through, remove from pan and set aside to cool.  When cool, break it into little pieces.

Blend together (our handheld immersion blender works great with soups): cooked potatoes, water potatoes were cooked in, sauteed leeks, salt and crumbled bacon.  Once everything is blended together, add in the can of coconut milk, curry and cumin.  At this point, add as much water as you need to bring it to the consistency you want your soup to be.  I think I added about 1-1/2 to 2 cups of water. 

Keep in mind that this soup will thicken up overnight if you aren't serving this all at once.  I just added more water the next day when heated up for lunch.

I love how creamy and filling this soup is ~ perfect for cold days!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Laundry or...

There are 3 baskets of laundry and a 4th load of clean towels piled high on my couch; all waiting to be folded.  That doesn't include the 5th load currently in the dryer...or the load waiting to be washed. *sigh*

Why am I typing and not folding?  It's a much-prefered job to snuggle a baby.  The laundry fairy will have to appear later.

I did (amazingly) bake Banana Bread and create a delicious Potato Leek Cream Soup for dinner tonight.  A busy mom can only get so much done in a day, especially with a new crawler on the loose.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Enjoying Our Backyard Rink

It's freezing here but you would never know it... 
What a fun way to spend a January day in our own backyard!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Dedicated Hockey Dad

Our children have a fabulous father.  In temperatures with a windchill of -32 degrees, he is out there, in the backyard, flooding a backyard rink.  It took less than a week to get it up and running; no small feat, considering there was no snow 3 weeks ago and his base layer was basically grass. 

I've come to accept the ugly rolled-up waterhose housed in our kitchen.  For obvious reasons, you just can't leave a frequently used waterhose in an unheated garage.  It's one special Daddy who will stand outdoors in sub-zero temps, layering water as it freezes, to make sure his children can skate to their hearts' content.

**ETA: Our 8yo saw me taking this picture and asked, "Mommy, why are you selling our boots?"  I had to laugh!  I guess he assumed I was taking pictures for eBay, Craiglist, etc.  I reassured him that we wouldn't be selling their boots! :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Adventures in Odyssey

Our children love stories - reading, being read to, creating stories, audio books, radio dramas.

Adventures in Odyssey, a radio drama produced by Focus on the Family, is a definate favourite in our household.  Even now, we're all listening to CD #30...and all 4 children are so attentive, quiet, and still.  Ahh!  What a relaxing way to spend the evening. :)

Listen daily online or on your local Christian radio station.  You'll grow to love the characters!

I searched around for the best possible price on the Adventures in Odyssey CD's and found it at Library and Educational Services, based out of Berrien Springs, MI.  ($12.99ea if you purchase min. 15 CDs)  As per their website, "As a wholesale company we serve resellers, educators, librarians, and home educators, as well as church leaders such as pastors or directors of children's ministries. "

A homeschooling family, we have appreciated the wide variety of resources that LES offers.  If you register with LES emails, you will be happy to hear about $2.99 shipping specials and additional %-off promotions.

Our Story Hour

Every letter. Every journal.
Every blog. Every activity.
Every day. Everywhere.
Everybody... has a story.
This is ours.

Delighted to have you read along with us.