Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Grapevine Studies Discounts!!

Yay! I have just been contacted by the Grapevine Studies program that there will be a special discount period for readers of my blog. I get to pass that great news onto all of you!! Even if you don't homeschool, their Bible studies are a wonderful tool for educating your children (and yourself!) about the Bible.

Grapevine Studies is celebrating our new year with a fabulous 30 % OFF for the entire month of January!!

If you haven't read my review for this company, click here to read it. I love this company! You can also access other reviews of Grapevine Studies here. If you are already sold, start shopping here on or after January 1, 2010! Just enter the promotion code "crew" when you are checking out and you will save 30% OFF an already affordable Bible program.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm Allergic...

...to cleaning!

I know, it sounds like i must be making this stuff up, but i think it might be true!! Yesterday, i decided to tackle some of the unidentifiable junk that has been accumulating in various places upstairs over the past few months (with 1 birthday, Halloween, another birthday, Thanksgiving, ANOTHER birthday, 3 Christmas gatherings, and our regular routines, it has been all i could do to focus on the downstairs). About an hour into my tidying, my nose turned into a leaky faucet. A couple of hours later, my head was pounding a most unpleasant beat. Later in the evening, after i had ceased all attempts to organize the chaos that i had created during the gut-it-to-deal-with-it frenzy, i wanted to liberate my nose from my face for the constant itching and my eyes were trying to swim out of my head.


Hmmm.

To clarify things some more, i took some Benadryl before bed so i could sleep, convinced i was getting a cold and was going to be miserable for the duration. Not so: I slept like the dead! I woke up with Dania in bed with me, and for once, i didn't remember her climbing in!!

Well, the facts seem to be indisputable at this point: i am allergic to cleaning. Too bad....

;-)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Kids are Great!

Last night, we enjoyed a Christmas performance here at my house. My 2 oldest children and 4 of their closest friends told the story of the birth of Jesus, offset with LOTS of Christmas musical favorites. They worked so hard this month, memorizing their lines, learning the actual words to the songs, and learning motions to accompany the songs. They got a bit nervous and giggly in the first act, but they rose above it and persevered... ending with applause!

We had Christmas cookies, Birthday Cake, homemade hot cocoa, and two different kinds of decaf Christmas tea. I put a donation cup on the refreshments table and explained that we were raising money for a missionary family in New Zealand. At the end of the night, there was almost $40 in that cup! (God is really making his $20 point!)

I will be making DVD copies of the recorded production for everyone who couldn't attend last night's performance. A small donation of $1 to benefit the missionary family in New Zealand is all we ask in return.

Have a blessed Sabbath (sort of) and a wonderful Christmas season!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Maestro Classics (TOS Crew Review)

This first half of the school year has been very busy for us. We have been blessed to be a part of the 2009-2010 The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, benefiting from free curricula from various sources. It has been eye-opening as I didn't realize there were so MANY things out there for homeschoolers. It has also been a little awkward at times, like when the product we are reviewing is not our favorite, but we are using it for a time anyway. Occasionally, I have had to do a lot of prep to understand how to use a curriculum, and that has been especially difficult for someone like me! The value of the products have been well worth the effort, but it has been some effort.

That said, we recently received something fun AND easy to use and review: a CD from Maestro Classics of the fable, The Tortoise and the Hare. This is something that we just got to enjoy. There is the classic tale of the hare who believes he is so fast that he cannot be beaten in a race of speed, but he soon discovers the tortoise's motto of "slow and steady wins the race" is in fact true. The story is paired with classical music (performed by a fabulous symphony orchestra), which all alone might be intimidating to parents and children who have never studied or enjoyed listening to classical music.

We enjoyed the CD in the car over a period of days during errands around town, and the kids actually asked me to put the story back on when we got in the car the second time. The 3-year-old would even ask me to "turn it up louder" when she couldn't quite hear the narrator (she is the farthest from the speakers, poor thing!).

I hope you'll check out what award-winning Maestro Classics has to offer your family - and it's not just for homeschoolers! There are a variety of CDs available on their website that would complement your next road trip or supplement your evening quiet time. Click here to see what my fellow reviewers had to say.

*Note: I received just the one CD to use and review, and no further compensation has been provided to me for this review. This review is based solely on our use of this product and is my own opinion.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mathletics (TOS Crew Review)


Today, I have the privilege of telling you about Mathletics (from 3P Learning), an online math practice program that we have been blessed to be able to use and review for the 2009-2010 The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. My kids have tried several math programs already this year for the TOS Crew, many of them good, but this one has them genuinely excited! They couldn't wait to inform me of all the ways Mathletics was better than everything else they had tried. THAT is impressive.

Mathletics offers online math practice programs around the world, and kids actually have the opportunity to "represent" their country with their accomplishments. There are Top 50 and Top 100 categories for the kids to get that recognition, as well as a Hall of Fame - all right there on the home page for the world to see!

In addition, your child has his/her own account, and parents get a different login - that way parents can check how their kids are doing. Mathletics also emails results to the parents weekly. With the way video games seem to go, Mathletics starts out just like a game, with your child choosing an Avatar to represent himself/herself in the game. (Shh!! Don't tell the kids it isn't just for fun!) There are different categories of math practice activities, but there are also games of different sorts. Your child gets to see how s/he is doing, but there isn't a focus on how they are doing until it is done. That was one part that stressed my children out about other math games: seeing how they were doing WHILE they were playing the game became a distraction that slowed them down and frazzled them a bit. In fact, there is one part of Mathletics that allows kids to race against each other or the computer, and that part completely stressed my oldest out! While it will be good practice, it doesn't have to be the only way she practices her math.

Your child also earns points to spend in a "store" for his/her Avatar. [Much like the games kids play on sites like WebKinz, except this site's games are educational and don't play pop music!]

We did have some trouble using the program in Firefox, so I had to do most of the Parent things with Internet Explorer, but that isn't really a big hurdle for me. Plus, getting workbooks for the kids for each math topic was well worth the effort of figuring out how to get them to load! Overall, we really like this program, and I think we'll be signing up to continue our subscription. If you would like to see what my fellow Crew members had to say about this program, click here.

* Note: We were given a temporary online subscription to Mathletics for the purpose of using it and reviewing it. This review is based on our use of the program, and I have not been compensated in any way for this review.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kissing Cousins


This was too cute not to put on my blog! Dania and her cousin, Donald, love each other SOOOOOO much that they request play dates frequently. This picture was of the two of them sitting at the top of the stairs with a snack... then, WHAMMO! He laid one on her! Are they cute or what?
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Introducing The Corporate Wife

Well, the computer geek i married decided he needed a better career path - one that had more ability to move up in the company or greater potential with another company should something happen with his job. He put in for a management position and was offered the job. Congratulations. Yes, by all means, congratulations are in order; i am very proud of him. That being said, i turned into a corporate wife overnight!! He officially got named for the position yesterday and was handed an invitation to the "Managers Only" Christmas party at the VP's house... for tonight! No learning the ropes, getting used to the way things are done, or slipping slowly into the swing of things?!?!

Nope, being a good little stay-at-home wife, i exchanged my sweatpants for pleated slacks, my bobby pins for style, and my slippers for heels... and i accompanied my husband to his holiday party. We hobnobbed with the other managers, made nice with the Vice President, and exchanged small talk with people whose names i will never remember! It was fine. I was tense, worried about saying or doing something dumb, but it was fine. The house was beautiful, the people were kind, the food was delicious, and it was wonderful to be invited to such an elaborate Christmas party.

The Computer-Geek-Turned-Manager officially starts his new position Monday. Maybe we padded the corporate account a bit on his behalf by schmoozing with the higher-ups. I certainly hope so: my bunions would hate me if it was all for nothing!! I can tell you one thing: i am not cut out for this corporate wife stuff... not that it matters now. {sigh}

I suppose God often pulls us out of our comfort zones to find new gifts, skills, or talents buried inside us. Maybe that is what He is up to. He better be planning to dig pretty deep!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tektoma (TOS Crew Review)

Okay, being married to the Computer Geek of the Century, I thought we would have fisticuffs over the Tektoma 'Game Maker' software we received to use and review. Good thing I'm not a bettin' woman!

The makers of Tektoma: Game Tutorials for Kids were kind enough to give us a temporary subscription to their website, complete with the Game Maker Lite software and all of the many tutorials and assistance they provide so that kids (or interested adults) can learn the programming of making their own computer games. I was thrilled: finally, I could plug the Smallish Man's genius brain into something constructive that might lead to learning something useful for... I dunno, like a career or something... you know, someday. When he's eaten all our food, learned everything I know, and given me a head full of gray hair. You know what I'm saying.....

What I failed to count on is the Computer Geek of the Century deciding he should finally fix our Wii. Yeah, that was impeccable timing. Why make computer games when you can play your long-lost Wii games? Making computer games is fun, sure, but it seems too much like, well, work. I only have to use my thumbs to play the Wii. And, sometimes, my wrist... I guess.

Ahem.

Anyway, I am disappointed to say that I am the only one who made a computer game, and frankly, the programming lingo was lost on me... I just blindly followed directions. Bonus, though: blindly following directions in the tutorials WILL yield a computer game! I made a memory game because, well, I like memory games. Go figure.

Tektoma, I must admit, has a really cool product that I have never seen or heard of anywhere else. They have a product that works, but they also have tutorials that a dumb sheep like me can use to make something cool - a computer game! If someone had a few more brain cells or a desire to learn the lingo of all that programming talk, s/he could pick up a whole new hobby - and maybe a future career!!

Tektoma's website lists their tutorials by the type of game you want to create, the amount of time the tutorial takes, and the level of skill (like Beginner). The only real downside I can see is that each tutorial is at least 1 hour, but you are really creating at the same time, so it isn't like you are watching the hour program, then building the game. Your game is pretty much done when the tutorial is over, so go ahead and play it.

I am grateful for the opportunity to learn about this product, and I hope my kids show some interest in something like this at some point because, frankly, that's the way the world is heading and they better saddle up!

To see what my fellow Crew Members thought of Tektoma, click here.

* As a member of the 2009-2010 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's Homeschool Crew, I received this product FREE in exchange for my honest review of it. This blog post is that review and is my own opinion.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

All About Spelling (TOS Crew Review)

When I received All About Spelling (AAS) to review as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's Homeschool Crew, I thought it might be the answer to prayer! My eldest child is not a fabulous speller, but with the proper drills, she does great. The problem with this is the method: I think drills are ridiculous methods to teach spelling in early elementary grades because the children are so young, the language so complex, and rote memorization so limiting. So, needless to say, spelling has taken a backseat to all other topics lately, and my daughter is falling behind.

The first thing right out of the chute with AAS is the time-consuming, finger-cramping, scratch-inducing letter cards preparation. The Starter Kit that came with our Level 1 box included the letter tiles, CD-ROM with phonograms, and magnets for the back of the letter tiles. Unfortunately, the letter tiles are NOT cut out, nor are they perforated for easy disconnect. It took me over an hour to cut out all of the tiles (they are on sturdy laminated card stock or some such thing), and THAT is a real downside to this program for me. *Update: Just opened Level 2 and it has perforated cards!  They are making this part easier, so no more cutting!! Yay!!

However, moving into the lessons, I must admit AAS regained my trust with the manual and lesson plans. The Teacher's Manual is direct, easy to understand, and lays out each lesson (including teacher script) quite well. There is little to no prep once you get the letter tiles assembled (praise God!), and the lessons make sense and progress in a rather logical way.

I used the program with my 10-year-old and my 6-year-old at the same time, which was rather confusing since my older child was much more advanced. This can be done more easily with AAS by purchasing another Student Material Packet for $14.95, which would give each child his own set of flashcards. [NOTE: the system is such that the flashcards are put in certain places in the card filing box depending on where that child is in the program, thus making it confusing to have 2 children on the same set of cards working at different speeds - understand?]

I really like the idea of teaching children the sounds of letters, which is why we have always used Hooked on Phonics (well, that and we received it as a gift!). The problem I am beginning to see with HoP is that there are too many gaps and too many sight words... again, with the rote memorization! My son is actually beginning to think I have been lying to him when he tries to apply something he has learned to a word he doesn't know!

With AAS, the kids learn the sounds of the letters and the sounds of the letter combinations - these are called phonograms. There are only so many phonograms in the English language, so why not just teach them to the children in a logical way? Well, AAS has developed a program that does just that.

The CD-ROM that comes with the Starter Kit includes an interactive screen with all the phonograms for lessons 1 through 6. The children click on the phonogram and the program speaks the sound, as well as some hint, like "used only at the end of English words." This part was remarkably effective with my son, who is apparently quite brilliant {smile}, because after the first day, he could parrot those rules back to me if he heard any of the phonograms that he had clicked on that first day! He is clearly an auditory learner.

Overall, the program is well designed, makes complete sense, and seems to work. I have already committed to trying another program similar in concept to this one over the next few months, so I will not be rushing to purchase Level 2, but we'll see what next year brings.

The All About Spelling products can be purchased for $29.95 - $39.95, which is quite reasonable in my opinion. To see what my fellow reviewers thought of the program, click here.

Disclaimer: This product was provided at no cost to me in exchange for my honest review of it after using it. I received Level 1 and the Starter Kit from All About Spelling. I was not compensated in any other way for my time or for this review.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Our Thanksgiving!

We had a lovely Thanksgiving at our house, about 20 people dined and shared it with us. There was so much food, but it was all prepared by 4 different teams, so it worked well and wasn't too stressful for any ONE person. I even had time to lay pretty tablecloths and decorate each table a little to make it special.

I wanted to post some pictures, but i am having computer problems and am having to use my husband's computer, which is not where the pictures are stored, so i am out of luck! Maybe i'll get some of them up later....

I hope everyone is recovered from their overindulgence... nothing like Christmas shopping to burn some calories!!

Be blessed!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Kids Make Us Smile...

...and forget what we are stressed about, worrying over, and fretting for.

Today in Target, the Smallest Drama Princess on the Planet was playing with a squeaky toy we were buying for our dog, Oliver, for his Christmas stocking.

Walking through the Christmas section, where all those stressed-out shoppers were frantically trying to figure everything out, she pipes up:

"Is dat gettin' annoying, Mom?"

I giggled and answered that Yes, it was getting annoying.... naturally, the surrounding area was full of people laughing and smiling in our direction.

Sometimes, a small child can remind you not to take yourself so seriously.

Remember to savor the simple things, let go of the heavy burdens, and enjoy the season of JOY!

Monday, November 30, 2009

"F" is for "FARMING"

"A" is for the ANIMALS we got to see and feed.

"B" is for the BEAUTY we enjoyed at Fresh Earth Farm.
"C" is for the CREEK the Small Man-like Being couldn't resist jumping.
"D" is for the DUCK that waddled all around us.

"E" is for the EGGS we collected while we were there!
"F" is for the FEATHERS we admired in the chicken coop.
"G" is for the GOAT that tried to gore me with his horn!
"H" is for the HENS that were eager to eat.

"I" is for the kids' ICKY reaction to getting chicken poop on their hands!
"J" is for JESUS, who took Marble, the sick goat, home for Thanksgiving.
"K" is for the KID (who was bigger than his mama).

"L" is for the LOCKS that were expertly rigged all over the place!
"M" is for MAMA, who was the sweetest little goat.

"N" is for NOT wanting to leave.
"O" is for OVERCOMING a fear of chickens!
"P" is for POOP, which we scraped off roosting posts.
"Q" is for QUIN, who decided to catch a chicken!

"R" is for ROOSTER, who put up quite a fuss - vocally, thank You, Jesus!
"S" is for SURRENDER, when Quin thought he was giving up.

"T" is for TEAMWORK, which made the job more fun!
"U" is for UGH! when the children found a deer limb.
"V" is for the VARELAS, who got to play farmer for a day.
"W" is for WATER we checked and filled as needed.
"X" is for the X-RAY vision the animals had that we were there to feed them.
"Y" is for YIKES! which was heard by all the hens when the Small Man-Like Being finally caught one!

"Z" is for ZIPPING through the open spaces!

FaRmInG iS fUn!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Exploramania (TOS Crew Review)

As a member of the 2009-2010 The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I received a DVD from Exploramania entitled, Gymathtics. This is actually an exercise program for the family that talks about and demonstrates math concepts. That's quite an attention-grabber, yes???

So, the kids and I popped the DVD into the computer (that's how we watch videos downstairs), moved the couches and coffee table, and proceeded to get fit! The really neat thing about the DVD is that it combines the warm up, the program, and the cool down all in one session. I am terrible at remembering to have my kids warm up before exercise, and with Gymathtics, I don't have to! Plus, even the three-year-old can do the workout with us - which adds entertainment, for sure.

My kids didn't even realize the video had been talking about math... {yes, dear children, shapes and lines and angles and counting are math concepts} Anytime I can sneak learning into their day without them knowing it is a plus - I love sparing us those groans that accompany my announcement that it is time to do school work.

While we currently enjoy outdoor fun that gives the kiddos plenty to do and lots of time to burn energy, I can totally see this Gymathtics video being a lifesaver this winter. I am NOT a fan of cold weather, and the less time I spend outdoors in below-50-degree temperatures, the happier I am, so I foresee LOTS of indoor exercise in our almost-immediate future.... Enter: Gymathtics.

For only $24.99, those 30 minutes are quite a value. Easy for me to say, right, since I got it free?? Well, you can enjoy FREE SHIPPING for a limited time right now, so order one before the winter weather steals both your outside time and this special promotion!

To see what my fellow Crew Members had to say about the Gymathtics video, click here.

*This product was provided to me for free with the intention that I use it in our homeschool and produce an honest review. This review is my opinion based on our use of the video. No other compensation was received.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

AVKO (TOS Crew Review)

As a current member of this year's The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I have gotten some really interesting things to review. There are gobs of homeschooling and supplemental materials and resources out there to be had that I didn't even know about! AVKO is one of them.

AVKO (which stands for audio, visual, kinesthetic, oral) Educational Research Foundation was created with the intention of helping dyslexics learn to read, write, and spell using a multi-sensory teaching style. You can read more about their philosophy here.

For the purposes of this review, I was provided with the online membership, and it is the benefits of that membership (which generally costs $25) that I am reviewing.

The membership to AVKO comes with free downloads, articles, supplemental materials for their Sequential Spelling program, discounts on printed materials, and much more. While it may be an amazing deal for many homeschooling families, I was too overwhelmed by the website to get much use from it. There was so much information about learning styles and dyslexia, but we don't suffer from those problems at this stage of the game. There were downloadable PDF files, MP3's, and diagnostic aides, but we didn't need most of it.

Unfortunately, the stuff I did print out either went over my head or required too much time and focus to make use of it. We have a very laid-back attitude toward schooling, and I am not motivated to spend hours researching something that we don't currently have an interest in. The website itself was also very cluttered and time-consuming to navigate, with quite a bit of fluff that was unnecessary (and often off-color). All of which is a drawback for me. For a family looking to get some real help with learning difficulties like dyslexia, this is probably well worth the money. For us, though, it wasn't really useful.

To see what my fellow TOS Crew Members had to say, as well as read more about the AVKO membership, click here.

* As a member of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's Homeschool Crew, I was given a complimentary subscription to the AVKO website with the understanding that I would use and review the product. This is my honest review of that membership. No other compensation was provided.

Monday, November 16, 2009

God's Garage Sale

We Christians hear a lot these days about our purpose here on earth. We talk quite a bit about God's plan for our lives. We ask questions, read books, seek wise counsel, participate in Bible studies, and pray... all to determine some grand scheme that will give us a sense of belonging.

November has been an amazing month for me already... i have seen God move, i have heard God's voice, i have been a part of God's communication network, and i have helped God with His kingdom.... and now, i have to share a very memorable event with my readers in the blog-o-sphere.

Last weekend, God instructed me to have a garage sale, and He meant next week. [uh, really?] I planned the sale, packed up some stuff, involved a few others, and picked up some change... all in five days. God also told me i was to sell concessions to raise money for our adopted missionary family in New Zealand. I baked, bagged, and tagged muffins and brownies, made up some signs, and picked up some drinks from the grocery store.

Well, the day before the yard sale, we were priced, organized, and ready to roll - it was unlike any sale i have ever done... 'cuz it was God's garage sale. That night, lying in bed, i was second-guessing my efforts to raise money for the family in NZ... really, how much money could i raise with muffins?? $15?? $20?? God spoke into my spirit: "watch what I can do with $20"

The next morning, God woke me early. The garage sale was up and running almost an hour earlier than planned because it was God's garage sale, and He was in charge... i was just His puppet. At the end of a fairly successful sale, we looked at the money we had made in concessions. My sister-in-law said, "Looks like $14 plus a bunch of change." It came crashing back to me: "watch what I can do with $20" Excitedly, i described what God had spoken to me the night before. In anticipation, we counted out the coins.... Yes, we made $20 - almost exactly (it was something like $20.14).

We stood in awe.
What had we just witnessed?
What had we been a part of??

God's garage sale was a success - and in following His lead, we rid ourselves of unnecessary stuff, made a few extra bucks, and helped a missionary family in New Zealand. More importantly, though, we were part of God's amazing plan... is it a plan for my life? Is it a plan for my children's lives? Is it a plan for the Bennett family in NZ? I may never know... but what i do know is that i got to experience it.

When people ask me why i believe in God, this is the kind of stuff i tell them about.
How can i not believe in what i experience with all of my being?
We know the wind is there because we feel it, smell it, taste it, hear it, experience it.
I know my God is there because i experience Him... in ways i cannot even explain.

Be blessed.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thought for the day


Thought for the day from a song i have stuck in my head:
"It’s your life
What you gonna do?

The world is watching you

Every day the choices you make

Say what you are and who

Your heart beats for

It’s an open door

It’s your life.
"
~ Francesca Battistelli (co-written with Ian Eskelin)

And more important than the world watching me, my children are watching me...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Three's a Crowd!

Have i ever told you that i hate crowds? I really get uncomfortable in crowded rooms, long lines, and busy places. I am more of a stay-at-home, peace-and-quiet kinda gal.

Well, what they say about three being a crowd is too true! We have three children now, and the house is almost never peaceful OR quiet. In addition to the number of little bodies running around trying to get their own way, the Littlest Angel is now three years old - and for anyone with more than one child, you know that the Terrible Two's have got NOTHING on the second- or third-born child going through the Throw 'Em Back Threes!

These days, nothing goes unchallenged:
"Honey, if you want to go outside, you have to put pants on. It is too cold to wear shorts," Mommy explains.
"I won't be cold," counters the Negotiator calmly.

"You can't have candy right now; it is too close to bedtime," Mommy says.
"It okay; i not tired, Mommy," counters the Negotiator calmly.

"I will read you a story after I am done with my work," promises Mommy.
"Done now, Mommy?" she asks after climbing to her new position between me and the computer.

"You need to clean up those puzzle pieces before you can watch Caillou," reminds Mommy.
"You can do it," counters the Negotiator calmly.

There just isn't enough room in our house for all three of these little people to have their own way! On top of that, there are whole outlines of hierarchy inside their own heads, and somehow they have all come up with the same solution: i will be demoted to make room for them!

I realize that the Throw 'Em Back Threes are temporary; i have done it a time or two before. My question is this: In order to totally solve the problem of THREE, do i have to have FOUR? God, please, no.

Monday, November 9, 2009

American Heritage (TOS Crew Review)

As a member of the 2009-2010 The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I received a CD from the American Heritage Education Foundation. The CD is offered to all educators for FREE, so I am not really all that special this time - YOU, TOO, can get this one free!

Now, let me give you some background information about this product. The American Heritage Education Foundation (AHEF) is "a non-profit, non-partisan educational foundation dedicated to the understanding and teaching of America's factual and philosophical heritage to promote constructive citizenship and Freedom, Unity, Progress, and Responsibility among our students and citizens." AHEF provides a set of FREE lesson plans, but they also offer printed binders for a fee. I received the CD with the FREE information, so we
printed what we wanted to use when we wanted to use it.

The information contained in the CD was vast, and I can see how a family with younger children like mine could study these topics over and over, in greater detail each time. Unfortunately, our family found them to be a bit dry since we are more of a "learn about it because we're interested in it" kind of family and there were so many details in the lessons, so we discussed mostly the main points. The kids did enjoy learning about how America was established and why, and we talked quite a bit about the different kinds of government... which, naturally, made their backs go up when we talked about the not-so-nice and not-very-fair governments of the world!

The American Heritage study is in PDF format and is designed for all ages (elementary, middle, and high school), and though it is designed for group learning, as in regular schools, we homeschoolers are pretty good at adapting things to meet our needs. If you like the idea of teaching your children about the history of America no matter how many grades you are simultaneously teaching, this curriculum is probably a good fit for you. The program is also available in Spanish for those of you who would prefer that.

I believe in what the AHEF is doing, and I am always talking with my children about how blessed we are to live in America, the ways our country is different than other places in the world, and why we have to use the voice our democracy gives us to make changes when we disagree with the "powers that be." However, I also believe that some of the "fuzzy, warm" messages of our heritage are glossed-over atrocities that we wish we didn't have to own. Yes, the early people of the new America did some great things in establishing this country, but I also believe that they made
horrible errors in judgment along the way. American Heritage doesn't really address those issues.

My 2 cents about American history: If we only talk about the wonderful things our forefathers did, how can we learn from their mistakes? And if we are to discuss what "freedom" means, as the AHEF does in their lessons, how can we not feel hypocritical when we celebrate the Founding Fathers and their pursuit of freedom while ignoring the fact that they were responsible for killing Indigenous Americans and forcing them off their land at gunpoint? This strikes a chord in me, and it gave me quite a bit of discomfort during the lessons, so I eventually just put it aside. I believe in learning the truth, and while there is quite a bit of that in the American Heritage lesson plans, there is also quite a bit of it missing. To their credit, the information they give is accurate - it just isn't the entire story. (~This is probably a good place to tell you that we do not teach our children about mythical holiday figures like Santa or the Tooth Fairy, either, but rather the history behind a holiday and the meaning of it. Let that help you decide what to take from this review!)

I realize that many families would disagree with me in this, and so I hope each of you finds something you can use in this review. You can then make the best decision for your homeschool. To read the reviews of my fellow TOS Crew Members, click here.

* This product was provided to me for free in exchange for my honest review after using it in our homeschool.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Therapeutic Thursday - With a Twist!

Today, i am focusing on being "other-centered" rather than self-centered. Though i have not spent most of my life in a self-centered state, i have to admit these last few weeks have been quite full of unpacking myself - the bits and pieces of the child i was, the memories of events that shaped who i have become, and the issues and struggles of today and how they come from all those past events and memories. I am happy to report that this week, i have so much more peace.

I feel as if the pain is finally coming to the surface so it can leave, which is the whole point, according to my therapist!

I have not only attempted to get on a schedule, i am kicking schedule butt! I have not only endeavored to get caught up in our school work, we are tearing school work up! I have not only tried to make a molehill out of the mountain of laundry, i have eliminated the problem altogether! {although, with laundry, that is always a temporary state!}

Anyway, this week, the kids and i have adopted a missionary family in New Zealand.
We are praying for and writing to the Bennetts, a young couple following God over land, over sea, wherever He leads! We are so humbled to know them, to pray for them, to learn about them. God is so good to bring us this opportunity at this point in my healing. Please join us as we pray for them.

Yesterday, the eldest child gave almost half of her remaining birthday money to me for the Nashville Rescue Mission Thanksgiving Meal. I was humbled... and honored to be her mother.


I had the opportunity to participate in a conversation with God and a friend of mine regarding love, true love,
Godly, Jesus-like love, unconditional love. I was granted the most amazing words of wisdom, and i am humbled and honored to have been part of that.

You seeing a pattern here? Yeah, me, too. God is bigger and greater and more amazing than i can even hope for, and He loves me in a way i cannot begin to imagine or understand. And that, my brothers and sisters in Christ, is quite enough on any day.


I will now leave you with a chuckle. The littlest peanut decided not to wait for me to put on her favorite show, so she put it on "
all by her-soss." (note: the shows are recorded in a program on the computer that is hooked up to display on the television, and proper menu surfing with the mouse is required)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Wonder-FULL Website! (TOS Crew Review)

When I was given a complimentary temporary subscription to the ABC Teach website as a member of the 2009-2010 The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I was thrilled! It seems like nearly very time I do a web search for worksheets or handouts to compliment a lesson in our homeschool or my co-op, abcteach.com is one of the top (if not THE top) links that comes back. And that is when I put the word "FREE" in my search! I could only imagine the gobs of stuff they have for paying members.

Well, I had the privilege of finding out just how much they provide for members for a short time (and it seemed far too short!). The site is just so FULL of great stuff - it is like someone handed me $5,000 and set me loose in a homeschool supply store!!

There are lesson plans for all ages, handouts, coloring pages, and games for any subject you can imagine! For example, I searched for worksheets for my oldest to practice her cursive handwriting, and not only are there prepared handouts for just this lesson, but as a member, I had the opportunity to create my own! So, naturally, I did. I made her a couple of handwriting practice sheets with "story starters" - that way, she does her creative writing, grammar, and handwriting all at the same time... we're big fans of lessening the workload around here. Those turned out so well that I created some personalized handouts for my son to practice his name and telephone number!

In addition to all of the wonder-FULL materials you can get at abcteach.com, you will discover how well they are organized so you can get in, get what you need, and get on with your busy life! That was ABSOLUTELY, HANDS-DOWN my favorite part of this particular educational website. So many sites that offer free materials are time-consuming, tedious, and jumbled. Obviously, to be offering free educational materials, a site need not be fantastic or organized, and I shouldn't be complaining, but abcteach.com certainly breaks the mold on that one!

As great as the abcteach.com site's free stuff is, the "member's only" materials are amazing. There are more lesson plans, more activities, more subjects, more games, just plain MORE. This website absolutely proves that you get what you pay for. And with abcteach.com, you get A LOT. I absolutely believe that you can teach at least preschool and kindergarten with just this website alone. You can almost teach first grade (I know, because I am teaching first grade this year), too! In the upper elementary grades (since I do not have middle or high schoolers, I did not check the site out for those ages), you can search science topics, or math topics, or social studies, or grammar, or whatever! For example, I searched for information about leaves since I was slated to teach a science co-op on the subject, and I got some GREAT ideas, some lesson plans, and some handouts for my kids to follow up on the lesson.

There really is just so much there, and we had such a short time to enjoy it all {do you hear the whine in my voice??}, so this membership will probably be going in our school-year budget for next year... we have 2 more years of preschool and then kindergarten still ahead of us, and abcteach.com is an invaluable resource! To see what my fellow Crew members had to say about abcteach.com, click here.

* No monies were exchanged for this product or this review. This review is based on my own honest opinion of a product that was provided to me for free with the agreement that I would use and honestly review it as a part of our homeschool experience. This is that review.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bible Timeline (TOS Crew Review)

As a member of the 2009-2010 The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I received the Amazing Bible Timeline in the mail to use in our homeschool and review on my blog. This is that review.

I have to be honest, when I received the timeline in the mail, I was overwhelmed: it is so big, so detailed, and I am SO bad at teaching details in our homeschool. We focus so much on "big picture" stuff, the basics of schooling, and things that interest the kids specifically, and this timeline was way over my head! I didn't even recognize the names of half the people on the timeline (which is totally my problem, not that of Bible Charts and Maps, the creators of this timeline).

As a dedicated Crew member, though, I knew I needed to give the timeline a chance. I stuck it on the wall and studied it. I went on their website and read about it. I downloaded the Interactive Maps of the Holy Land that I was to receive as well, and I felt further out of my element.

I can certainly see how a family who is very structured in their homeschooling could really get a lot out of this timeline as it has so much information on it! I can also see myself using it in later years (my kids are 3, 6, and 9) as we learn more about the Bible. I think timelines in general are a great idea, and we did timelines of our family heritage last year. Although, admittedly, our timeline was much simpler than the Amazing Bible Timeline, we did enjoy putting people in perspective of when they lived in history.

Unfortunately, other than glancing at the timeline and pointing out when someone lived and how far after Adam or before/after Jesus they lived was about the extent of our use of the Amazing Bible Timeline. That part was cool, but I just didn't think we got any great benefit from all of the details at this stage in our homeschooling. Maybe other Crew Members had different experiences with this product. To check out what they had to say, click here.

* No monies were received in exchange for this product or this review. The product was provided to me for free (as a member of the 2009-2010 TOS Homeschool Crew) with the express intent that I use it to the best of my ability and provide an honest review of the product. This review is my own opinion, and I will not be compensated for the review in any way.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Therapeutic Thursday Continues!

I have offended my parents. Not my intention. I am not angry, resentful, or condemning at this stage of the process; the forgiveness happened years ago with the help of the Lord.

I just want to be able to break whatever chains are binding me to negative behaviors and unhelpful relationships. I want to look at my grandchildren some day and know i gave them the best hope for parents that i could. I want to use what God has brought me through to help others. I do not believe that God allows suffering for the sake of suffering; He has a purpose for this pain He has led me through.

I told my therapist a few weeks ago that according to statistics of my childhood traumas, i should be living on the streets, selling my body, and addicted to heroin. He asked me why i think i'm not. I told him that God carried me. I believe that with every fiber of my being!

This week has been hard: i have been down the paths of the past in the hopes of discovering places that i can change negative perceptions and habits and make them healthier. I have rediscovered the pain of abandonment, the shame of molestation, the fear of the adults in my life that i should have trusted. I have reconnected with the child who spent several nights in a strange bed, crying herself to sleep, feeling abandoned yet again. I have re-experienced the pain of an alcoholic parent who tries to commit suicide in my presence, the terror of hiding in a bathroom while a drunk man tries to break in to kill my mom, and the sadness of having the only person left that i trusted...turn her back on me.

As far as therapeutic, that remains to be seen, but it has certainly been exhausting.

I leave this entry with one final thought: if you are waiting to begin your journey to healing, i urge you to begin! This path may be painful, but it is the only way to cleanse the wounds that have been festering. And believe me, you may not feel it, but the wounds do fester.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Results Are In!

The Spring Hill area homeschoolers' Read-A-Thon benefiting the local public library was a HUGE success. We turned in our pledge sheets today and received certificates of participation - as well as a little bag of treats. The money collected will be used by the director of the Spring Hill Public Library to purchase homeschooling resources.

The group raised a little over $600, according to the director, and it looks like my kids raised almost half of that all by themselves!!! Way to go, kiddos!

And a BIG THANK YOU to all of you who supported their efforts - we have never seen Quin so motivated to read!!

We got to play at the park for a bit after handing in our stuff. Pictures are below!

Can you find the kids hiding in the trees?

Quin's crazy smile!

Calysta upside down on the geodesic dome.

Dania at the top of a big-kid climber!

The kids peeking out of the "castle."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pocketful of Candy Corn

Today, while i was making lunch, i heard rustling in the pantry. Since that is always a sure sign that Senorita Self-Sufficient is helping herself to some tidbit or other, i peeked in.

I had to giggle at what i saw: Dania was sitting in the floor with a plastic box of candy corns in front of her, and she was picking the candy out one at a time and stuffing them into her pockets. She put away the box when her pockets were full to bursting, then ran over to sit on the couch and munch her treats while watching Word World!

Yeah, i love that little bundle of mischief!

Have a Sweet Day!

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Good Read, Pure and Simple

I received a book to read and review as a member of the 2009-1010 The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. The book is Sarah's Wish, and it was written by Jim Baumgardner to offer his grandchildren an enjoyable way to learn about the history of some of the American people.

The main character's name is Sarah, and she is a 12-year-old girl living in the mid-1800s. The beginning of the story was hard for my kids because Sarah loses her mother in an accident. Once we passed the grief-stricken child to the story line, we recovered fine (especially since there is mention of a "secret" for a chapter or two before we learn what the secret is - nothing like a secret to keep a child's attention!).

Anyway, rather than spoil the story itself for you, let me tell you how much we enjoyed the writing style and story line. Sarah is a likable child with a big heart, and every girl could identify with her. In fact, my nine-year-old loves to play "back in the old days," so this story gave her more fodder for her imaginings! Plus, the book starts you off with a glossary of 19th-century terms that will help you understand the way the characters speak, so she has a new language, too!

The writing of Sarah's Wish is engaging and descriptive (which we recently learned is when writing paints a mental image!). The characters are real, the setting charming, and the plot unique. Reading a book like this is a real joy, and having Christianity and a faith in God woven into the tapestry of characters was a gem.

You can order Sarah's Wish from the author for only $9.99 right now, with free shipping and an autograph inside! What child (or adult!) wouldn't love to have a book with his/her name written inside by the author! If you want to see what other TOS Crew Members had to say about the book, click here.

* No monies were exchanged for this product or this review. This review is based on my own honest opinion of a product that was sent to me for free with the agreement that I would use and honestly review it as a part of our homeschool experience.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My New Love & Passion!

Okay, so as a wonderfully blessed member of the 2009-2010 The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I received FOR FREE a package of handmade soaps from Virginia Soaps and Scents - with the agreement that I would use them and review them for you all.

Before my review of their line of soaps, here's some background information for you: I know just enough about modern soaps and cleaning supplies to be leery of them, but I haven't yet been ambitious enough to learn more or do much about it. I have stocked up on all that I need to make my own laundry detergent, but haven't actually made it yet. I have stopped using "drugstore" type of soaps and hair care products (actually I stopped this some time - and money - ago). And I clean my house with vinegar (except that stubborn stuff on the bottom of the textured shower) instead of toxic mainstream chemicals.

Enter Virginia Soaps and Scents.

They sent me a small "make your own" laundry soap kit. It came with everything but the water, including instructions for mixing it into laundry soap. (yes, God, I hear you)

I also received a Shampoo Bar (who knew shampoo could come in a bar of soap?), which incidentally, is a different shape than the body bar so that you can tell the difference in the shower (seems like they've been around the block a time or two).

Finally, I received three of their body soaps, each a different scent (I gave my 9-year-old first dibs on which scent she wanted - ain't I sweet?).

Okay, so now that you know why I am telling you about this product, what the product is, and how I came to know about it, let me tell you what you have been waiting for!

I love... no, LOVE, absolutely ADORE, am completely SOLD on Virginia Soaps and Scents!

The laundry soap forced me to try something I had been putting off, and it was so easy with their kit, so I may never actually get around to making my own from scratch! The clothes are clean, have no smell to irritate my husband's allergies, and have no chemicals in them to irritate my youngest child's sensitive skin. Incidentally, I no longer pre-treat any of them - just toss 'em in! Anyone want some of that in their busy life?? SOLD!!

Plus, the shampoo bar is amazing! To be perfectly honest, I was nervous about trying it since I have frizzy, dry, not-straight-but-not-curly hair and a dry, itchy scalp. I cautiously washed, then applied a bit of leave-in conditioner, but found my hair was actually a bit oily after 2 days (generally, I should go 2-3 days without washing my hair because it is so dry). So, I tried it again - only sans conditioner this time. Wow! I couldn't believe it: my hair was brushable, soft, and not too frizzy. In complete honesty, my hair actually did better with the shampoo bar after the 3rd wash (which makes me wonder what was on my hair from all my high-dollar salon products!), and now, my hair can be blown dry and brushed to be styled without headbands or pins - very unusual!

Okay, so on to the body bar soaps. (You sure you need me to tell you about this line? Can't you see the trend here?) My skin is clean, free of itchy, dry patches, and I do not smell like perfume. My husband's allergies thank us, our skin is happy, and I can use one soap for my entire shower - even my face! You ready for the really big deal?? That's right, I haven't even told you the most amazing things about Virginia Soaps and Scents yet! I used the bar soap on my face (the oatmeal one), and I had immediate breakouts. Now, for those of you who are thinking, "okay, no deal," let me tell you something you may not know: when you change cleansing products for your face or hair, there is a sort of purging session during which the new product gets the build-up and leftovers out of your system and off your hair/skin. So, I decided to wash my face twice a day for a week (by the way, I have never washed my face twice in one day - too dry - I thought my skin would flake off!). I got breakouts, they cleared up, I got new ones, they cleared up. After about that week, my skin was younger-looking, plumper (you know, more moisture), and was showing a minimizing of the fine lines I had been developing over the past year. I won't even tell you how much money this bar of soap is saving me in facial care alone.

Seriously, I plan on visiting their website for some Christmas presents so that my entire family can experience the freedom from detergents that I have been blessed with. As if their products aren't enough of a sell, this is a homeschooling, Christian family living in my home state of Virginia. Their soap making venture began as a part of their studies of Colonial times, which is where my kids and I are currently stuck - in complete fascination, mind you. I couldn't be more sold on the products, but the company itself - the family itself - also draws me.

If you want to see what other TOS Crew Members have to say about Virginia Soaps and Scents, click here. Enjoy!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fun, Fabulous Friday

Today, the kids got to go to work with Daddy for an hour. {BIG smile} He let them eat breakfast in the cafeteria, work on their writing in his office, and hang out with him. Calysta says he doesn't really work, he just talks to people about computers... "and not just work computers, either!"

Then we raced home to walk all four dogs in the never-ending chilly drizzle, and off we went again! This time, we headed in the opposite direction to visit Grandpa and Grandma, who had the cousins over for the weekend. We made homemade scare crows (with newspaper and construction paper, if you can believe that!) and played in the yard with the cousins and grandparents. Yay, mud!! It was a blast, if a bit chilly!

I desperately needed that second cup of coffee that came far too late in the day, so i will probably pay for it late tonight when my eyelids refuse to shut! Oh, well, it was bound to happen. Still, it was a fun, fabulous day!

Y'all have a fun, fabulous Friday night!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Therapeutic Thursday

Okay, today is a day for therapy. As i take a break from our lessons and pick up the book i am reading for healing past betrayal, i am compelled to blog about my journey. Maybe God knows this will help someone else. Maybe God knows it will help me. Whatever the benefit... Therapeutic Thursday is born.

In the book The Betrayal Bond by Patrick Carnes, i have discovered some things about myself, not the least of which is that i am waaaaaaay better off than i could be.

As a child, i was abandoned by my mother. Not her fault, i have told myself, because she has always been a bit emotionally unstable. {incidentally, reading this book shows me clearly WHY she is emotionally unstable, and it truly isn't her fault} My sister and i were placed with our father by the judge (not normal in the 1970s), but he had us only by a thread, and he knew it. Not long after our upheaval, Daddy found us a new Mommy and went off to work. In his mind, he had replaced what we were lacking - because, really, what did a 20-something man know of raising daughters?? - and set off to show his love for us by providing for us. He was in sales much of my life, so he worked a lot. Yes, that is abandonment #2. Incidentally, this is when the preschooler who was me stopped attempting to bond with people. But let's keep going.

Sometime after my step-family was introduced, the molestation began. By a family member. I cannot be sure when it started because i have blocked most of those memories, but i am almost positive it began when i was 4 or 5 and continued until i was about 10. I have memories of being 9 or 10 and knowing that this was a normal part of my life, but actually having memories now... just a handful. As an adult, i have often told myself, "at least i wasn't raped" and "it could have been worse."

Anyway, the abuse was discovered during the summer i turned 11 (i think), and a new leg of the journey began. Kidnapping, police, social worker, foster home, courtroom, psychiatrists... yuck. {hard to believe that is my life i am calmly typing about, but that's just another sign of the trauma} Eventually, a plea agreement was reached because i was too traumatized (or manipulated - not sure) to sit in the witness stand and speak of it all in horrifying detail, and the offender went to a rehab facility of some sort. By Christmas of that year (i think), we were back to "business as usual" - only this time with secrets. We should attend the traditional Christmas Eve gathering at this person's home, but we should NOT speak of the abuse to anyone... never mind that there were female cousins i thought had a right to know. {you keeping up with all the betrayal?} We were to pretend we weren't afraid of the offending family member... act no differently toward him.

During all of this, my alcoholic mother, who was sexually and physically abused as a child by her father, had a major meltdown about how it was all handled, and the Battle of the Exes intensified for her. We got to listen to the verbal bashing of our father, stories that may or may not be true about how he wronged her, reasons our stepmother (the woman who has been raising us for years, mind you) was horrible, and all while dealing with stepfather #3 (i think) and the abusive situation between the two of them. Not long after that, my mother filed for divorce with strangulation marks on her neck, and i began to feel insanely afraid for her - her mental well-being as well as her very life. I think this is when i began to take on the worries of adulthood - with the coping skills of a child. {trauma, anyone?}

Sometime in my teens, i realized that my mother picked men who could be pushed to abuse, then she repeatedly pushed them there. {the Betrayal Bond book also explains this} I remember calming her down after such episodes, all while my older sisters were out partying because "she did this to herself." She even tried to commit suicide (maybe just a plea for help/attention) at least once that i remember clearly (swallowing a bunch of pills when no adults were around, then telling us kids about it and blaming us for her pain) - the time i remember clearly, we had to call 9-1-1 to have her stomach pumped. I also remember her sending me to hide in her bathroom one day when i was in my teens, then listening to her talk to the police on the phone while her current abusive boyfriend was trying to break down the door to "kill her." I remember trembling and wondering what i would do if i had to listen to him hurt her - would i stand there in that bathroom and pretend i wasn't there so he wouldn't hurt me? Or would i rush to defend her, possibly getting us both killed? To this day, i have no idea what i would have done since the police were fast enough to scare him off. What i do remember is that these stories became more secrets. Secrets that i couldn't share with anyone because that would cause my father to restrict my visits (if not revoke them altogether) - and then who would she have? I also wonder, as i work through this book, if the secrets were also kept because it allowed me to pretend it wasn't real... it wasn't my life... it didn't happen.

I am going to stop here for now, but i want to say this: if any of this reminds you of your life and you are feeling like you haven't healed, ask God to help you. I have been through at least 3 different Bible Studies and healing books, and i have received some amazing peace. However, i am finding the healing is not complete; the damage for me is so deep and the manifestation so extensive in my adult life. I have also discovered that i am likely to gloss over the pain because that pattern helped me deal with an unpleasant reality growing up.

The process of healing takes time.
Don't wait to begin yours.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Guardian Angel Publishing (TOS Crew Review)


As a member of the 2009-2010 The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew, I received a few e-books for free from Guardian Angel Publishing to use and review. The books we received were Earthquake, The Sum of Our Parts: No Bones About It, and Andy and Spirit Go To The Fair.

The books are easy to read and interesting, with illustrations that catch even the youngest child's attention. The kids (and mom!) really enjoyed the book, The Sum of Our Parts: No Bones About It! I adored human anatomy in college, and with all of my well-developed language skills, all those parts' names were fun to learn (mostly) - and I love teaching the kids about our bodies because of my fascination with the topic. The Guardian Angel Publishing book had a lot of great information inside, with eye-catching images and a fun rhyme about the body's bones. In essence, if you read the book, then memorize the engaging rhyme, you could actually know the major bones in your body by heart! How fun and easy is that?!?! {smiling big}

We also enjoyed the other books, with Andy and Spirit Go to the Fair being our second favorite. This book is a touching story of a child with a disability, some insecurity, and an opportunity to rise above his handicap. My daughter especially loved this book, and both of my [school-age] children commented on the detailed pictures. At the end of the story, there is some information about wild horses and the programs dedicated to ensuring a quality life for them. There is also information about adopting the domesticated horses that are brought out of the wild when the population gets too large. If you or your children are horse lovers, this book would be a great read for sure. And if you enjoy exposing your children to the "differently-abled" people in the world (as I do), this is a MUST have for your home library.

Check out the Guardian Angel Publishing website for more books, as well as a section for free downloads!

To read what my fellow TOS Homeschool Crew members thought about Guardian Angel Publishing, click here.

{I have diligently checked this blog entry for grammatical and typographical errors, but I have found myself typing "Angela" so many times instead of "Angel" and I do not think my brain recognizes the error very easily, SO if you see those mistakes, I apologize.}

Monday, October 12, 2009

When there is no death...

... there is God.

When someone who knows Jesus is no longer with us on earth, we mourn our loss, not theirs. Because of the unique relationship with Christ, we do not die... we merely pass on.

The phrase "pass on" is maybe overused to some, but it has great meaning to people of the Christian faith. People with a relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ, do not die because Jesus, himself, overcame death and conquered the grave. Therefore, to be absent from the body is to present with the Lord! [2 Corinthians 5:8]

Let's look at what "pass on" means.

We pass on from a mortal life on a wounded earth to bigger and brighter things.
We pass on to a place that is more wondrous than we can imagine.
We pass on to forever worship our Lord.

Also...
We pass on suffering.
We pass on loneliness.
We pass on anxiety.
We pass on sorrow.
We pass on regret.
We pass on anger.
We pass on pain.

Answer this question today: does your spiritual belief give you comfort in knowing that you will be released from suffering and free from death's anxiety, all based on a personal relationship rather than personal effort?

I choose to pass on things of this world and embrace the tender mercies of the Lord.