Saturday, September 5, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I Just Needed a Laugh Today!

The following is obviously not my original work. It was published by the Examiner but, considering the fact that we as a homeschooling family have actually encountered some of these arguments before, I thought it was absolutely hilarious!

Memo: Top 10 Reasons to Criminalize Homeschooling

In an effort to increase the public drumbeat for criminalizing homeschooling, a memo has been distributed containing the top 10 reasons why public schooling is better than homeschooling. Here is an excerpt from that memo:

1. Most parents were educated in the under funded public school system, and so are not smart enough to homeschool their own children.

2. Children who receive one-on-one homeschooling will learn more than others, giving them an unfair advantage in the marketplace. This is undemocratic.

3. How can children learn to defend themselves unless they have to fight off bullies on a daily basis?

4. Ridicule from other children is important to the socialization process.

5. Children in public schools can get more practice "Just Saying No" to drugs, cigarettes and alcohol.

6. Fluorescent lighting may have significant health benefits.

7. Publicly asking permission to go to the bathroom teaches young people their place in society.

8. The fashion industry depends upon the peer pressure that only public schools can generate.

9. Public schools foster cultural literacy, passing on important traditions like the singing of "Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg..."

10. Homeschooled children may not learn important office career skills, like how to sit still for six hours straight.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Managers of Their Homes

Another favorite tool that works especially well for large, homeschooling families is the Maxwell's Managers of Their Homes. At first glance it looks like just another home management book but it is so much more. It is packed full of all the tools you need to make your home run much more efficiently.

Managers of Their Homes (MOTH) not only gives you the tools you need to set up an effective family schedule but it is full of examples of how other families do it.

Basically, you learn to break down your day into 30 minute segments. Then you arrange those segments on the same schedule with all the other people in your house. Looking at everyone's schedule this way prevents conflicts like; your 7 year old trying to practice piano at the same time your 1 year old is napping. That is never a good combination around here!

After I had read the book and worked through the tools. Here is what the finished product looked like for us.
As you can see, there is a different color coded line for each person in the home. Even our baby has a schedule. The children love it because they can always see what they are supposed to be doing. Sometimes, they don't even need direction to move on to the next item on their schedule.
I believe the process took a little more time for me than for most because we really never have the same daily routine. We do the same thing almost every morning until about 10:00 and then everything is different every day until about 7:30 in the evening. So, instead of having just one chart to follow every day, we have a different chart poster for each day of the week. The best part is, when the schedule changes, you just move the pieces of your schedule around and you can still see how each change will effect everyone else.
The Maxwell's are coming to Knoxville for a conference the first weekend in October!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Super Noots

With four children, there will always be one or even two that simply will not eat anything that is not shaped like a chicken nugget or mac'n cheese. Our oldest daughter in particular would eat almost nothing except chicken nuggets. We tried everything to get her to eat some healthy food with absolutely no success, until now...

Super Noots has been a lifesaver for us! I think I saw SuperNoots for the first time at the local women's expo. I liked it then but wondered if we would really use it. A year later, when we were still not making any headway with Abby's eating habits, I decided to order and try the SuperNoots boards. They worked like a charm!

Basically, SuperNoots are dry erase boards with food group circles on them. As your children go through the day, they move their Noots into the circles. At the end of the day, if all circles are filled in, they get a prize. The SuperNoots board allows parents to reward their children for making healthy choices.

There is also one circle on the board with room for only one treat noot. So, when your child has moved his one treat Noot. The board says, he has no more treats for the day. Woohoo, the board is the bad guy, not mom!

As you can see, SuperNoots boards can be attached to other boards to accommodate all members of the family.
The starter pack also comes with a really cool dry erase shopping list that is made to hang on the buggy and a Snack Pack with snack options for your kids. The really cool part is that everything is color coded. Even if your child cannot read, they can look at thier board, see that they need two more brown (bread) Noots for the day and a green (veggie) Noot and flip through the snack pack and find a card with brown and green. When we bought the system, Lily Grace was only 3 and she was able to use it.

SuperNoots has also been very educational in that it has taught our children the difference in breads, protiens, fruits, milks and veggies.

We love SuperNoots!

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Fearless Boy

Not only does my oldest son ride BMX style bikes and do things that make his mom cringe, he is also a competitive gymnast. Here are the latest photos from his team party where they boys got to enjoy a rock climbing wall. Caleb was so proud to come home and tell me that he had climbed all the way to the top 11 times.

Here is a shot of the team.

This is Caleb on the way up the wall.
Look at that sweet baby face.

Caleb coming down the wall. Gosh, I am sure glad I wasn't there!

My Father's World

I know that the official "school year" is just about to start for most of our neighbors but we have been "doing school" for quite a while now. We just couldn't help ourselves! My kids have been so excited about school time ever since the new "box" arrived.
I went to an amazing homeschool conference and resource fair back in May in North Carolina. What an amazing experience. There were tons of homeschool families in the same place. It was absolutely heavenly! In the resource fair, you could find any kind of book, curriculum, teaching tool you can imagine. Even a few other things like this magnet I found for the back of my van :)

Anyway, the conference was more than a shopping excursion. There were more seminars than I could ever get to. I am so glad though that I popped into one seminar called "Keeping your Preschoolers Occupied during School Time" or something to that effect. This one was particularly appealing to me since last year I had even numbers; two preschoolers and two school age. In that seminar I was introduced to Lauri Toys. They are fun, appealing and educational all in one. At the same time, I was introduced to My Father's World.

Keep in mind that up to this point, we used one curriculum for everything. We used Abeka. Don't misunderstand me. Abeka is wonderful. It is strong in all areas and very aggressive. You will have plenty of worksheets, lots of teaching aids and a day full of work. It is just like "real school" at home. Looking back now, I know that is never what I truly wanted. Why should it really matter to my kids where they would spend hours sitting in a desk doing worksheet after worksheet. It mattered to me of course. I would never risk sending them to public school. At least if they were home, they were safe. Plus, the 1-1 student teacher ratio did cut the time in half. However, I still wasn't grasping all of the wonderful opportunities that homeschooling had to offer.

I spent about an hour at that conference in the MFW booth talking to one of the owners and learning why both I and my children would like this approach so much better. It was hands on. Instead of using worksheets, we would use real life activities to learn. There would still be a daily lesson plan for each day, a strong math component and a phonics based reading program but the best was yet to come. I learned what a real "Christ Centered" curriculum looked like. It was not just incorporating christian elements into each subject. Every aspect of the day grew out of the bible lesson for the day. Even the math and science were beautifully woven together into the bible lesson. This is what sold me. We pray that our children can see that Christ truly is the center of our home and family. This was another way to show them.

So far, we are loving it! We look forward to school time each day. I highly recommend My Father's World for anyone who wants Christ at the center of their homeschool.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Thoughts About Facebook

Now really, how many folks out there actually want to hear about every second of every day of every person they ever knew since highschool? Okay, yes, I am ranting a bit today. Seriously, I have tried to let the whole concept of Facebook grow on me but, it just isn't happening.

My husband has a facebook page that he uses to stay in contact with his youth kids and folks at church. Today, we were sitting in our office talking as he checked his facebook account and I could not help but notice all of the posts to his "wall". There were tons of them, from only a single day!

Now don't get me wrong. I can totally understand posting pictures to share and the occasional update of a noteworthy situation. This, however, was madness! The compulsion to post every feeling of every moment of the day just begs the question "Does anyone ever actually ask you how you feel?" Frankly, I can't believe that teenagers, with all of their insecurities would get caught up in such. Having to post the fact that you are bored and begging others to text you basically screams that no one is texting, calling or otherwise communicating with you. Then there is this business of when one posts on facebook, the post does not only show up on your own wall but on the wall of all of your "friends". They don't even have the option of not knowing how you feel that day and how many trips to the bathroom you make.

When you add all of this to the fact that most of the posts were not even coherent sentences...ugh...

Is it possible that some e-genius out there has figured out that people have this need to be needed and accepted? Has someone figured out that we all want to be the one with all the "friends"? Have they guessed that we all want to believe that everyone is just waiting to see what we are doing today? Could they be feeding our needs with empty synthetic relationships? Oh goodness, could someone be making money off of our feelings?

You may ask, how does all of this fit into the usual bent of my blog. Well, the truth is that someone does care about every second of every day of your life and mine. Every insignificant detail of our existence is beautiful to Him. In fact, He has numbered the very hairs of our heads. May we fill our voids and feed our needs with Jesus.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dad's Birthday Cake

Finally, pictures of the cake. It was a family effort. Abigail helped bake the cake and cover it in icing.

Lily Grace licked the spatula.
Caleb sketched the picture for the cake. (He said I didn't do a very good job of transferring the image.)
In the end, Daddy loved it!

You Know Kalli Ann...that Owen

I am so late in doing a blog tribute to my favorite little Owen girl. Our best friends, Brian and Brandi, had a beautiful baby girl in May. I have been saving pictures of her since before her birth :) First, here she is now..

Her first picture with her betrothed, our son Joshua :) (We are keeping our fingers crossed. It's hard to get good in-laws!)

Finally, her debut.
Our Lily Grace refers to each member of the Owens family individually as "you know Brian, that Owen". So here she is Kalli Ann...that latest Owen!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Birthday Wishes

Today is my husbands birthday. That makes it a very special day around here! Thought it is not a good picture, here is the birthday boy heading off to the skatepark, his favorite pastime.

We usually don't do big birthday parties with lots of gifts and such. Instead, we like to celebrate with just our family and sometimes a few close friends. We like homemade cards and cakes instead of store bought and we like to be at home. The real excitement is watching the children all day. They each have their own special and top secret surprise planned. You never really know what they will come up with.

Lily has all of her friends lined up at the table waiting for the cake.

Rarely are doors shut around here but, it can be acceptable on birthdays. Caleb's project is obviously super secret.
Here is a picture of the Abby working on her card for Daddy.

As for me, I am trying my hand at my first character cake for the occasion. Plus, I am trying to find all the ways I can to celebrate my husband today. I could write forever and tell all of the ways I admire him as a husband and father. Today, however, I would celebrate him as a brave man who continues to allow our Lord to do a mighty work in his life. I don't know many men with the strength of character to self examine and then invite God to make changes in their lives. I am blessed to have my husband.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Defining People

Why is it that we as humans feel the need to define people, to categorize them or put them into nice tidy boxes? Personally, I find boxes stuffy and confining. Is it absolutely necessary that once categorized by society, we must bear all of the attributes of that category and stray not from the box of that type of person?

What happens when a person we have categorized does something, wears something or says something that does not fit in the box we have them in?

Here is something worth chewing on...

If you are the type of person who tries to label or categorize those around you, what kind of box are you living in? Do you really know who you are or do you just do what you do because that is the box you live in?

My opinion...we are made in the image of God. There is nothing about my great God that fits in a box.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Things Learned at NWLC

1) There are many things we don't do cause "we saved"!

2) There are many times when you think you have it all figured out, but in fact, "You got the wrong one"!

3) We don't do that "W" word.

4) You just don't touch Jon's electronics!

5) There are few things in life that Missy gets really upset about...her jeans are one of them:)

6) There are some higher levels of thought that we hope we never achieve.

7) Visual worship is a declaration not decoration.

8) Jackie can bind the popo in Jesus name in 3 states!

9) We know what Larry would look like with spikey hair:

10) We Know what we must do to become great song writers :)

11) Lee's wife Kristy is an exceptional motivational speaker!

Out of Town and Back Again

No, I did not just quit blogging again. My husband and I had an awesome opportunity to attend the National Worship Leader's Conference in Leawood, Kansas this last week. I was a bundle of nerves of course because we had never been away from our kids that long. Fortunately, we have a great Nana and Poppy who took them to the mountains for the week to keep them busy.
We had 6 other folks from our church that went to Kansas with us that made the trip absolutely amazing! In fact, here they are...

This is the whole crew. My husband, Stacy, Jon, Justin, Lee, Pam, Missy and Jackie. What a blast we had. (While learning of course!)

These are those crazy boys that drove for us, carried our bags and took great care of us ladies. Thanks guys!

I just couldn't leave this one out. This is my brother and sister (or Lee and his girls :)) Much love to you guys!

The conference itself was nothing less than spectacular! Just imagine a huge auditorium full of worship leaders being led by folks like Laura Story, Mac Powell and Michael W. Smith.

Anyway, all is well and we are home again. We picked up Sandy from the vet and we are getting back into the swing of things.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Style All Her Own...

I just had to share this one! This is our youngest daughter and her latest fashion statement. This morning she chose a pink satin princess dress, her new pink cowboy boots with sparkles in them (courtesy of the Crowe family), and a pink silk flower in her hair.

I love the way that she feels free to have a style all her own uninhibited by the world's rules of fashion. I hope she is still doing this when she is 15 years old!

Playing With Our Father

Earlier this week I was talking with a friend on the phone when our conversation turned, as it often does, to the Lord. We were talking about a book I had read that beautifully depicted the Father side of our God. Not the father that guides, privides or chastises but the loving Father that longs to spend time with his children just being with them. We talked about how good earthly fathers often just play with thier children and how our heavenly Father must long to do the same with us. Why do we keep Him at arms length when He so longs to be a part of every aspect of our lives. Do we remember that he wants to sit and talk to us while we cook or go about our daily activities? Isn't he the same God that walked with Adam in the cool of the evening? Can we imagine what they talked about?

Anyway, that conversation with my friend has reminded me to look for my Father God each day and not miss an opportunity to play with Him and teach my children to do the same!
As a family we have always been willing to take a "rain break", but today it was different. My dear husband had been outside on the mower for a while and the kidos were out playing while I was working in the house with the baby. The kids had been running in and out periodically for water because it was soooooo hot out. Suddenly, my oldest daughter burst in the door and announced that it was raining without thunder and lightning. So, without hesitation, we took a rain break. As we were standing out in the rain with the kids, my husband mentioned that God was playing with us.

How awesome it was to take a break and cool off. It was even more awesome to know that our Father sent that rain so we could play in it. The bike ramp became a water slide and our clothes were instant bathing suits.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

To Blog or Not to Blog...

...that has been the question for the last couple of months.

It all started when our oldest son was invited to join the gymnastics team. We quickly discovered that this would require a much larger time commitment than his usual 1 hour per week gymnastics class. In fact, it would require 6 hours per week just for training and that would not include his meets. It would also require a much larger financial commitment. We had to sit down with our son, now 7 years old, and discuss priorities. We decided that we would allow him to be a part of the decision making process of which activities he would continue. We strive to keep our kids active. Until this point, he took 2.5 hours of dance, art, piano, gymnastics and was involved in cub scouts.

While praying about how to explain the situation to him in a manner that would allow him to start making Godly decisions, the Lord impressed upon me Ephesians 5:16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. This began a whole new discussion about they ways we spend our.
The way we spend our time is a sure reflection of our priorities. I began to consider the things that I put the majority of my time into. Those are the things that are priorities in my life. Then came the moment of truth. Did those things in which I invest the most of my time serve a kingdom purpose? Do those things actually make an impact on this world for the kingdom of God?

I began charting my days to see how my time was actually spent. I listed all of the things I usually do or want to accomplish. When blogging finally made the list, I had to ask myself if it served a kingdom purpose in my life. Honestly, at first I did not think so. Then, last Sunday night, a dear friend was testifying in church service. He said that sometimes he just wanted to scream to the world that he loved Jesus. Just this morning I realized that this blog is one of those ways that I scream out to the world that I LOVE JESUS!

So, with that said, I cannot promise that I will blog every day but I will do my best to testify to the glory of God in my life in this venue at every opportunity.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


It know its late but we are still in our catch up phase of posting so here are the Halloween pics.

Halloween is always a fun time for the kidos. This year we had a Power Ranger, Princess Belle and Princess Snow White. I always plan to make the childrens' costumes. I have these wonderful ideas for family themed costumes that never quite seem to work out. Oh well, there is always next year.

We seem to have made a tradition of attending the Hallelujah Hoedown at Trinity Chapel. They always do a wonderful job of having lots of food and fun for the kids.

After the Hoedown when we were already home and in our PJ's our favorite scarecrow showed up. It was our Aunt Debbie!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Let it Snow!

A few weeks ago we got to enjoy a rare treat in East Tennessee, SNOW!! I bundled the kidos up in as many layers as I could get on them and sent them out with thier Daddy to build a snowman. Who knows, with the way the weather is here, it could be the only one they ever get to build.

What began as a simple trip outside to build the snowman quickly turned into screeches and screams as someone started a snowball fight. Nothing says love from Daddy like a face full of snow!

Of course, it didnt take the children long to join in. Even a 3 year old can manage to form a pretty decent snowball.

Finally, all of the hard work paid off and we had a snowman in the yard. Many thanks again to Ms. Faye for sending us all the wonderful hats. We got to use one on the snowman.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Side Buns

I didn't realize that children in the 3 to 5 age category even noticed the fashion around them or set and noticed styles and trends. Believe me, they do. There is a beautiful little girl at our homeschool co-op named Emma. She is older than our 3 year old screecher but we pass her in the halls and say hello. This past weekend as we were getting ready to go out with our kids to a birthday party our youngest daughter announced that she needed a different hair do. When I asked her how she would like her hair done she replied "Like Emma's hair mommy, you know, in those side buns!" We all busted out laughing. In her tiniest three year old voice this sounded much like sideburns. So, for all of those who can't get the mental picture, here are the "side buns".
Isn't that just the cutest thing!


For many in our country, whether by choice or necessity, frugality has become a way of life in this present economy. I could not believe it when my freshman grammar class had never even heard the word frugal. We got a nice vocabulary lesson that day :) Anyway, its true, we are all pinching pennies a bit more these days. Many of my friends have asked me how we seem to stretch our food and necessity dollars so well with so many in the home and one still in diapers. My oft repeated reply is cooking at home, clipping coupons and CVSing 101 as taught on (see link on my blogroll). The first two are self explanatory, time consuming and worth it! The last is a bit of a puzzle for some.
Though I have directed many friends to the MSM site, they seem to come away either confused or in disbelief. I have promised for a while to show the CVSing in action so, here is my first post.
On Sunday after church, I stopped by the local CVS on the way home to pick up a newspaper and the new monthly Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) book. This is always available on the first of every month and should be tucked away as reference for the entire month of CVSing. I admit, the planning of such shopping takes some time. In fact, I had not been CVSing in a while so, I was nearly starting from scratch with my ECBs.
So here is the concept, you invest a little money in the beginning to get lots of ECBs, combine those with coupons in the following weeks and keep rolling them over. Essentially, you turn an original $20 out of pocket purchase into free toilet paper, paper towels, toiletries and other necessities for months.
Here is how I got started again. I pulled all of my coupons from my Sunday paper, printed all available coupons online (including the ones emailed from CVS) and began scouring the CVS circular and monthly ECB book. I found the items that I could use that I had coupons for and offered ECBs. This usually makes for the best purchases! I had a $5 off of $15 purchase and a $4 off of $20 from CVS to start with. I also had a $2 off of playskool wipes from the CVS website. So, there was $11 off of my first $20 before any other coupons or ECBs. Playskool wipes and Pampers were on sale at CVS this week offering ECBs as well (buy $20 of these combined and get $5 ECBs). There were also coupons in the paper for pampers. You see the deal coming together?? There were several other items on sale that I could use that offered ECBs and for which there were also coupons available. Here was the result of this week's CVSing:

This is a 6 pack of Charmin, 8 roll pack of Bounty, 2 Jumbo packs of Pampers, 2 large tubes of Crest, 2 bottles of Tylenol PM, 1 Secret deodorant, 2 bags of playskool wipes and a 16 pack of duracell AAA batteries.

We got all of this for about $30 out of pocket with $18.99 in ECBs to start out with next week. I know that $30 may seem like a lot but when you consider that two jumbo bags of pampers cost at least that much, you see the savings. Plus we got a lot more! Also, we will not have to spend that much again unless I fall behind and quit turning over my ECBs again. A typical weekly CVS shopping trip costs me anywhere from $4 to $8 out of pocket and we come home with at least this much. I will keep posting these shopping excursions for a few weeks until those interested parties get the hang of it. Happy shopping this week!

Blog Safety

It never occurred to me that I would need to protect my childrens' names on my blog. However, just the other day I read a blog by a mom who nicknamed her kids online. As I was thinking about how cute that was, it dawned on me that it was for safety as well. Now for me, being on of those people constantly preaching about those stickers in the back windows of cars with the kids names and sports numbers and how that gives predators way too much info about our kids, I felt like a complete idiot for posting so much about them on our blog!! I first considered deleting our blog all together or just not including the kidos. However, I know we would have several readers that would be terribly disappointed with us so, here is our answer. We are carefully going through our archives interchanging our kids names for some nicknames. Those of you who know the kids know they fit.

First, there is the Monkey Man:

He is 7 years old and all monkey. At any given point in the day you can find him hanging from something. I don't think I even notice it so much anymore. In fact, I think he practices his memorization each week while swinging from his top bunk!
Next, there is the Tater:
While some may argue that our 6 year old could only be labeled the "Princess", I respectfully disagree. She is the house trickster, instigator, aggravator, agitator know, a Tater! She and her daddy have even started their own "Tater Club". It is a very special members only kind of club to which only the most skilled Taters are invited.
Next, the Screecher:

All who know our third child know that she is absolutely tiny in body but HUGE in vocal ability! Her one offensive and defensive weapon is her ear piercing screech! This is heard daily around the Langford home, most always when the baby has just drifted off to sleep. After a sleep deprived night, I threaten the worst of consequences on anyone who would make her screech.
Last, but not least, there is our Little Man:

As he grows, I am sure he will show us a better nickname but for now, the only other thing that would fit would be the "Spewer" and that just isn't a pretty thought :)
So there you have it, our newly named crew!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Catching Up

Wow! I can't belive it has been 2 months since my last post. We were terribly sick for the holidays and it seems that we are just now getting caught up with everything. It seems that when you have more than one or two children, any illness must cycle through the entire family at least twice :) We are all healthy now. Praise the Lord. Just because we were not feeling well, things really didn't slow down for us. I hope to catch up on posting some pictures from the last couple of months in the next couple of days.