Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Tribe Life Tuesday: Kindness -- The Immeasurable Currency

A weekly post from my childhood to grown-up friend Carrie ~ 
sharing her awesome life and her desire to have community while doing it!

Welcome to TribeLife Tuesday! We are so excited to have you here. 

Today, I invite you into my world. You set the scene - we can be drinking margaritas laying in our hammocks as the summer sun bathes us in her glory. Or we can be cozied up by the fire drinking lattes watching the snow softly fall and quickly pile up. 

Take a moment and picture it. 

Are you ready to embark on the word journey? 

Here we go!

I recently was out people-watching, because it’s simply the best, and observed masses of people going about their day. That was all they were doing: going about THEIR day, seemingly oblivious to the world around them. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good "zone out" day but the more I watched, the more I realized there was simply no awareness of one another. I thought to myself "if we only just knew what was going on in each of these peoples' lives we would probably be kinder with our actions. Probably with our words too.” 

Then I found myself pondering the concept of kindness: what is it really? What does it look like walked out everyday? Why is it important?

As a wannabe historian, I naturally start from the beginning, searching for great acts of kindness throughout history. These brave acts are all over - Robert Owen was a capitalist who transformed the city surrounding his mill. Zoltan Kubinyi was a Hungarian Nazi officer who helped rescue Jewish prisoners during the Holocaust. The group of Louisiana men and women who dropped everything, grabbed their boats, and drove over to Texas to help rescue people trapped in rising flood waters. There are hundreds of thousands of more stories like these out there. All because our nature is to help - we are made to be kind.

There are many inspirational quotes out there all about kindness, but what is it really? Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Sounds easy enough, right? This is one of those main things in life. Keep this at the forefront of all you do, because it is reciprocal. And friends, this is a quality, something that is built and nurtured through practice, and each of us has the ability to build this stellar quality. Whether you’re not kind yet or you’re part-time kind, this is not out of reach for you. You only have to start practicing. 

How do I walk this out?
Walking kindness out every day looks like slowing down and looking around. Finding a need and fulfilling it. Taking from my pile to give to another. Seemingly, the best stories come from the kind acts that are extended to those who need it the most - the destitute, the marginalized, the broken, the hurting: these people need our kindness. Then there are those who don’t appear to “need” our kindness but it is our duty, as contributors to all things good and beautiful in society, to extend it to them as well. It’s the paying for someone’s order in the drive-thru line or at the counter, it’s giving the person begging on the corner some change. As Aesop says, "no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”

Why is it important?
Kindness reminds us of how significantly insignificant we are. We all have role to play in society and being kind is part of it. While what happens in each of our individual worlds is very important, it is equally important to make sure we are contributing to the world around us. And may we never get so caught up in our world that we lose sight of others and their needs. 

My hope is that we stay awake to society, giving where we can and loving all over the rest of it. 

Remember, kindness is an immeasurable currency and it should spent lavishly. 

Thank you for reading. 

See you next Tuesday.  


Review: Review: Let's Go Geography

Let's Go GeographyWhen it comes to homeschooling, geography is something I've blogged a lot about. My kids love studying geography. It's a very popular activity in our family as both of my boys participated in a geography bee last year, and Isaac has taught himself the location and flag of every country in the world. (He's currently working on capitals.) For this reason, you can understand why I was so excited to review this homeschool geography curriculum from Let's Go Geography. 

Let's Go GeographyThe concept behind this program is very simple. You purchase one of three plans. You can buy a program for the semester ($14.99), the year ($21.99) or make two payments of $12.99 each.

There are 30 countries every year set up to run on a three-year curriculum plan. Our world is so interconnected. And yet despite the fact that this is the case, most kids do not know where places are on a map. This needs to change! And Let's Go Geography is one way to get that done. They pride themselves on not just touching the surface of geography which many programs for kids do. Instead, this digs deep into various countries.

Whichever financial option fits your family best, the results are the same. You get one or two semesters with full access to all the lessons. You get a reminder email each week telling you which country you will be exploring for that lesson/week. Let's Go Geography takes your K-4th grader on a tour of that country with hands-on-activities, crafts, coloring, studying, etc.

Here is a sample of the three year breakdown in the curriculum:

Let's Go Geography

Here is a video that discusses what you can find on this very reasonably priced program:

There is coloring, cutting, gluing, music, watching videos, writing and much more. I used this program with all four of my children (ages 4, 6, 8 and 9). My four-year-old did some of the coloring and "pretended" to be studying with her big siblings. However, my older three totally followed and really enjoyed this program. Usually someone complains when we do a program at our house. But this one did not receive any  complaints. And in fact, they were often asking if we could do it on that particular day.

Here are some personal photos of our experience with this product:

Each of my kids created their own "My Travel Journal" for use as we moved from country to country.

The kids loved coloring these American maps. (Although we realized we have a shortage of good reds in our home.)

Abigail loved all the coloring assignments. She always took them seriously and did a fantastic job on this part of the unit.

Basically, each unit required us to open up an email, click on the link, and zip around that particular PDF document. You can pick and choose what you would like to do or not like to do. There are videos you can watch and things you can color and maps to print out and online links to navigate to. You can do some or all of what is listed for a particular country.

If you were doing every single thing in a unit, my guess is that there would be about 2-4 hours worth of work in that unit. However, you could zip through a country in about an hour if you wanted to do it more on a surface level.

The only negative thing I can note was simply a difficulty in clicking and then returning to the original document. Sometimes after you opened a document and then went back, you'd end up back at the beginning of your document. However, I learned that if I could simply open the link in a new window, this problem was eliminated.

You can find more information on this fun homeschool geography curriculum for kids by visiting Let's Go Geography on Facebook and Pinterest.

Let’s Go Geography {Reviews}

 Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

More pics from Vermont #2

We were not expecting good weather in Vermont. This was not an ideal time of year to go, but it was the only time we could make it work with our schedules. But it turned out, it was the best week of summer that they had. The weather was marvelous -- still a tad too cold to do major swimming but good enough to get in and have a ton of fun. 

The kids had a TON of fun on the water. It was so fun to watch them all playing so hard in the water. Last year Isaac did his normal rock collecting, but didn't want to spend much time in the water. But this year he was right there with the other kids.

And Sidge is amazing on the kayak and on the paddle board. He really has a gift with the outdoors and nature. It's just in him.

Joan's lake neighbors, Lee and her boyfriend Jim came over to see us. We LOVE Lee and her boyfriend was equally WONDERFUL!

Hannah having a conversation with Lee.

Check out this series of pictures below which shows how the kids work together to go under the dock. It was so fun to watch them do this:

Monday, September 18, 2017

Review: Barbour Publishing

IMAGINE... The Great Flood I'm constantly looking for books for my children to read, especially my third grade boys. They love to read, but they are at a point that they complain if the book isn't something that meets their expectations. I want to find books that will allow them to enjoy reading while learning and getting some adventure at the same time. That's why I was especially excited to have the opportunity for them to read: Imagine . . . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich from Barbour Publishing. What was even better is that this was a Bible Adventure!

This 112-page paperback Christian kids book is geared toward older elementary or middle school children. It feels so nice to open up a book and hand it to your children knowing there won't be anything that you don't approve of in the pages.

I would personally give this book the age range of 7-13. (The age listed on the back of the book is 8-12.) My boys are 8 and 9, and they were able to read it in just two days (approximately 30-60 minutes in 2-3 sittings) with no difficulty. They didn't need any guidance from me whatsoever while reading.

Barbour PublishingIn addition, the even GREATER bit of information was that neither boy complained about reading this book. They actually said they liked it and that they would give it at least 4 out of 5 stars.

I am working with Isaac and Sidge on comprehension and being able to remember and discuss what they read. We are just starting book reports. I asked them to provide me with just a sentence or two after they read summarizing the book. Here is what they came up with:

Isaac (9): "This book is about Corey who goes back in time. He sees Noah and the ark and the flood before he gets to go back home."

Sidge (8): "The Great Flood was about a kid named Corey who goes back in time and goes to the time of Noah and the Ark. He almost dies a couple of times!"

They both summarized this pretty accurately. A modern day boy is sucked back in time and gets to experience the flood! How cool is that?! When the book opens, Corey is having a discussion with his mother about their upcoming move to Florida. He is incredibly upset about having to make this move. He hits his head and is then transported back in time.

Corey meets Shem and eventually the rest of Noah's family, but one of the most interesting aspects to me was meeting the Nephilim. The Bible talks about giants, however, my kids had never heard of this. It is something that is usually very overlooked when retelling the story of Noah. Corey helps Shem load the animals back into the ark, and on the way he begins to understand trusting God and trusting God specifically in his life when it came to his family's move.

This was probably the thing I liked most: the intertwining of God into things we do and to look to him for encouragement. This message was loud and clear throughout the pages of the book.

This book met my expectations precisely. It was exactly what you would expect it to be: a Christian book that was clean and presented Biblical history for my newly reading children.

One of the things that we spent a lot of time discussing after my boys finished reading was the idea of historical fiction. Some of it is not true. There are liberties taken to bring the story to life. How does that work? What is okay to include? What is not okay to include? How do we know what is historically accurate and what is made up for the sake of the story?

Priced at under $5.00, this book is incredibly affordable and a wonderful inclusion to your library -- whether you be a homeschool parent or not. As always, please don't hesitate to contact me at for more information on this book.

You can find out more information about Imagine . . . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich from Barbour Publishing by visiting Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube

Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich {Barbour Publishing}
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Vermont 2017: Post #1

Our family just returned from a week at our favorite place to vacation: Joan and Roy's cabin in Vermont. 

This is actually the sixth summer that some portion of our family has spent on the lake. 
We absolutely love this time together as a family. I don't know how to properly write it and share how good this place is for our family any more than I have. It is so peaceful, there are so many birds for JB, we are mostly unplugged, the water is beautiful, the noise is non-existent ... I could go on and on.

Joan, as always, took a ton of pictures. I will be sharing some of my favorites in the coming days. We play a lot of ping pong, take a bunch of naps, lay around, read outside, and the kids especially play in the water. Isaac loves to collect rocks, but this year he really joined his other siblings for a lot of water sports.

We thought this would be a cold week, and that we wouldn't be able to get in the water much. It was the only week we had to go so we went anyway. But it turned out to be one of their most beautiful summer (nearly fall!) weeks and we were able to spend quite a bit of time on the water.

For now, we are home. Our farm is equally peaceful but in very different ways. We hope that we can continue going to Vermont in the summer for many years to come.

Here's just the start of a few days of pictures.