Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Online Library

Recently I came across a treasure - an online Christian library! Think Netflix meets CBD!

I receive just about every homeschooling catalog that is produced in this country. I am not sure how all these places have gotten ahold of my name and address, but they have, and they continue to bombard me with stacks of catalogs. Sometimes I find it almost distressing. I mean, each catalog has such great ideas, and as I flip through them, I see so many interesting and fun projects that I would like to do with the girls. Not only am I limited by time, I mean, how many different ways can you study one topic? But a big hindrance to carrying out many of these great ideas is a lack of resources. Most of our homeschool budget goes towards curriculum. Yes, we have invested into a program that most consider quite costly, but we have found something that we believe in, that works for us, and that has proven successful in our family, so we don't deviate from the plan. But do I often wish for more? Sure! I can't tell you how many times I have circled wanted items, and bent back pages of catalogs, just waiting for "a few extra dollars" to purchase it. I typically wait a few months, and then ditch the catalog into the recycling bin, feeling bad for missing out on those great finds, but knowing and accepting that it is not in the budget right now.

Well....not anymore! Thanks to some industrious sales of used curriculum on ebay, I earned enough to invest in a membership to The Family Vision Homeschool Library. I went big, and bought the premium membership that allows me to have 10 items checked out at once. As I searched through the online catalog of over 9,000 items (books, DVD's, periodicals, and e-books) I found tons of items to move into my "bookbag".  I was so excited that I stayed up one night for a couple of hours just browsing the online catalog. I dusted off the stack of catalogs with circled desires, and typed the titles into the online card catalog. To my great delight, I found all but one of the items available in the library!!  They have a great assortment of Christian and family based items for all ages.

I easily had 100 items in my bookbag before I knew what was going on, and I wasn't even done yet! Going through that list, I selected my first ten items, reserved them, and got an email a few hours later that those items were on their way, complete with a tracking number for me to watch for their arrival.

With a paid membership, all the shipping fees are included. The library ships the items 'media mail', and when your three week borrowing time is up, you print out a pre-paid label to ship the items back. The only expense is the annual membership fee.

I chose a wide assortment of books - something that would appeal to every member of the family. They even have a wide variety of curriculum books for those who want to see a book before deciding to purchase it. 

In my first shipment, I will be receiving a cookbook that I have long wanted to buy. This will give me a chance to check it out to see if it is actually worth it or not.  There are also some supplemental history and government resources for Heather, who is studying American Government this semester. I added in a few historical fiction books for Melissa, who seems to chew through books in a matter of hours. She has pretty much exhausted the supply of acceptable books at our local library, and in our personal library. She reads quickly and really enjoys it. I am thrilled to have an almost unlimited source of new material for her to devour. Kelly is following close behind, and is getting better at reading every day.

I have a list of great Thanksgiving resources - both video and printed material - lined up for my next shipment. So far, I have encountered very few things that were not available, meaning they were already checked out by someone else. Even if that is the case, you can still reserve them, and place yourself on a waiting list for when the item is returned. Members are allowed to have materials checked out for three weeks, and there is an option to renew items if you find that you need to keep them a little longer.

The other thing that impressed me about this library is their great communication. All my emails have been met with quick, friendly, and polite responses.

Anyone who follows a literature based curriculum should definitely check this library out, and consider buying a membership. It would save the expense of buying all the books that you will only use once or twice as you move through that area of study. Instead, you could just reserve the books, and plan your shipment to coincide with those lessons.

I am looking forward to getting some very good use out of this library, without ever having to leave the house. I believe it will be a great addition to our homeschool program, and am excited to have been able to become a member.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Free American History Video

I love a good freebie! This came across my email this morning, so I want to pass it on: A free DVD to teach children the process of how we get our president! This would be a great DVD to watch and discuss together with your children as we are in the thick of presidential elections this month.

It does have a small shipping fee of $3.95 which is well worth it. This video is recommended by HSLDA.

Disclaimer: I just ordered my video this morning so I obviously have not seen it yet, to know how well it is put together, but I wanted to pass the link on quickly in case there is a time limit on how long this DVD is available.

Election Day: Choosing our President

Learn Our History - Take Pride in America's Past

Monday, October 1, 2012

Turning Hearts

It is very important to have a purpose to your plans. I am the type of person who likes structure, and having things organized. I have had to learn to relax a bit, and "go with the flow" with the life that I have. Usually the days that are the most organized will be the ones where chaos can break out and change everything. Sometimes, I think the Lord will send things my way to "mix it up" on purpose, just to show me where my heart is at. Am I really willing to have my day surrendered to Him? Am I willing to trust that what He brings is for my good and His glory?

That being said..... I think it is important to plan times "on purpose" to build relationships with your children.  It is easy, as a homeschooling parent who has to be everything to your child, to actually neglect building a relationship with them.  You get so caught up teaching and meeting the physical needs, making sure they have healthy food and clean clothes, that you can easily neglect their spirit. Most days, it is the spirit that needs more work than the body!

Malachi 4:6a says, "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers,"

This verse reminds me that I need to work daily at "connecting" hearts with my children. I am aware of the fact that if I have their heart, the rest of daily life will be easier. When I have to say something that is corrective, they are more willing to listen. When they need some advice, I am one of the people they think to ask. They value what I say more when our hearts are connected.

How can you connect with your child?  Think of what interests them. It may be that you have to learn about some areas that you really aren't all that interested in, just so you can discuss it intelligently!  For example, I am not an avid follower of the US Women's National Soccer Team, yet I can tell you the names of at least half the players and what positions they play! Why? Because two of my children ARE avid followers and loyal fans!

I found a great resource I would like to share that can promote a great mother/daughter relationship. I bought this for one of my children, and have used the activities in there on a regular basis. We will have "Mom and Me time" where she can choose an activity and we will do it together. It has been a wonderful way to connect and grow in our relationship.

The American Girls Collection publishes this book, and it can be found pretty much anywhere where American Girls books are sold.  They have since come out with supplemental books, entitled "Just Dad and Me" and "Just Grandma and Me". (hmm....maybe good Christmas presents???)

Some of the best activities we have done in this book include a list of 'favorites' - I wrote mine and my daughter wrote hers. Then we compared to see where we had similarities and differences. The other 'favorite' was a small note that we have played "tag" with for months. It is just a folded little love note, and we hide it in a place where the other will find it. I think the best spot that my daughter hid it was hanging off the light in my bedroom. I didn't see it till I woke up one morning, and in my half awake daze, couldn't figure out what the little pink thing hanging over my head was!

The best attribute this book has is that all the activities are easily laid out and organized already. For people who lack creativity skills (raising my hand!!) all you have to do is pick a page, tear out the cards, or fill in the lines, and you are ready to start your fun activity.  You can easily be tying heart strings and connecting with your daughter without a whole lot of advance planning. You can plan out your day, knowing you might have only an hour to spare, and easily find something in the book that can fit into that time slot. It's a small investment that pays big dividends in the relationship department!!! And your daughter will love it!!!!