Vacation Scrapbook: Visiting My Sister’s Family

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One of the most wonderful parts of our California vacation was getting to spend time — five full days — with my sister and her family.  It has been four years since we last saw them.  We had never met her two adopted kids, and they hadn’t met my two youngest.

They live in a beautiful community in the mountains about an hour from Reno, Nevada.  It was very pretty there.  The dads and kids spent a lot of time exploring nature while my sister and I went through some of my mom’s things.

The cousins (12 of them ranging in age from 2-13) got along so well!

They have a zipline and trampoline on their property.

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And they have chickens!

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The girls doing their nails:

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My sister and I going through old pictures:

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Exploring nature:

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My brother-in-law is a forest fire fighter.  His son created this sign that was put up as a billboard!  Here he is posing with it:

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This was my Mom’s wedding dress.  My daughter is modeling it here:

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This is the trailer where my Mom lived, right next to my sister’s house.

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Here is a display that we had at my Mom’s memorial service.  My family (with nieces and nephews) sang “Come to Jesus” by Chris Rice.  We sang some great hymns that my Mom loved.  Some friends of hers sang another beautiful song as well.  My sister shared some wonderful words.  It was a great blessing to meet some of her friends and to hear how she had affected their lives.

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And lest you think my kids are little angels–here they are after the funeral.  My niece really didn’t want to wear this dress because she said it made her feel like she was in jail.  :)  My son wet his pants, and all I could find for him was a diaper in the church nursery.  And I think my 2-year-old decided to roll in the dirt.

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My daughter LOVED their dog!

 

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Some more wonderful pictures of our time there:

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Join me next time when I share about our travels to Monterey, CA!

Here is California Post #1

Here are my Money-Saving tips to Legoland California

Vacation Scrapbook: California, Here We Come!!!

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Well, after what seems like a hundred sponsored posts, I’m happy to share some fun times about our family!  We recently returned from a trip to California.  My sister and her family live out there.  We’ve been wanting to visit for years, but it isn’t easy to get our big family from Chicago to California so we hadn’t done it before.

Then, my mom (who also lived in California) suddenly passed away.  Since she had spent her last 5 years out there, we decided to have the funeral there.

I called the airlines to see what they could do about getting us flights with our frequent flier miles.  We were able to get 6 free tickets, buy 3, and the baby could ride free!  What I didn’t realize until we had everything set was that the flight leaving here left at 10 p.m. and the one coming home left at 8 a.m.  Not the best times for a young family to travel!  However, God was gracious and worked out so many details for us.  The plane travel wasn’t nearly as stressful as I expected it to be.

We had a friend from church drive our van and drop us off at the airport.  We quickly figured out a routine of who was carrying what or pushing which stroller.  My husband led and I brought up the rear.  I was so afraid of losing a child–or a piece of luggage.  We had 4 carseats, 2 strollers, 3 big suitcases.  At one point I counted that we had 16 items to carry on the plane!

The first hurdle was that the 10 p.m. flight was delayed to midnight.  When we were waiting in line to get on the plane we were next to a really nice older lady who just loved my kids.  She ended up being the seatmate of my baby and me!  Perfect!

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We arrived in San Francisco at 4 a.m. and finally made it to the hotel (in 2 different mini-van cabs).

I highly recommend the hotel we stayed at in both San Francisco and Los Angeles--Staybridge Suites.

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Opening some presents:

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The next day we explored San Francisco!

The Golden Gate Bridge:

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Stinson Beach:

It was a really neat, scenic drive to Stinson Beach:

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These bathroom signs really made us laugh.  My daughter is trying to decide which side to go into.

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The Warming Hut (where my uncle–my mom’s brother– works):

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We did a LOT of driving this day to see as much of the city as we could.  We drove through Fisherman’s Wharf, over to Oakland, and saw several college campuses.  I think we drove over every different bridge–just to say we did. :)

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The next morning we woke up early and drove to Sacramento.  We had a funny situation with the van we rented.  We were supposed to get a 12-passenger, but they gave us a 15-passenger.  It was awful–about 150,000 miles and didn’t drive well at all.  Since we were going to be driving all over California, after the first day they came and switched it out for us.  It was still a 15-passenger van, but drove better.  Then when we were on our way to Sacramento the next morning they called and said they had a 12-passenger and wanted to switch with us again. We had a deadline, so we couldn’t stop for long to meet up with them.  Everytime we stopped, they weren’t there yet, so they ended up chasing us all the way to Sacramento!

When we got there we had lunch at Carl’s Jr. (for the 1st of 3 times on the trip) and then my husband dropped me and my four oldest kids at the theater to see. . .  Wicked!  My sister met us there.  We had spent the previous few weeks at home listening to the soundtrack over and over and memorizing every word.  It was so good!  (By the way, don’t read the book.  It is nothing like the musical.)

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While we watched the show, my husband switched out the van, drove around Sacramento, and played in the park with the kids.  They even saw these awesome redwood trees!

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After the show, we ate at Chili’s and then drove to my sister’s house in the Sierra Nevada’s.  I’ll share about the adventures we had there next time!

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Giveaway “Summer Family Fun Pack” from Chicago Botanic Garden

Botanic Gardens Summer Family Fun Pack

 

I’m happy to offer a Giveaway “Summer Family Fun Pack” from Chicago Botanic Garden.  You probably know the Botanic Garden is one of our Favorite field trip destinations!  It’s one of the great wonders of the Chicago area, and if you haven’t been there (or haven’t been there lately), you need to go!  I’m excited to get out there again soon.  Last time we were there we missed the Fruit and Vegetable garden, which will be in full growth in a few weeks!

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We also love the Model Railroad Garden and Butterflies & Blooms.  The Garden itself is free–and it’s huge.  But there is a cost for parking and for the special exhibits Model Railroad Garden and Butterflies & Blooms.  That’s where Summer Family Fun Pack comes in.  You can save 30-40% off with the special.  It includes parking for one car and tickets for 5 to the Model Railroad Garden and Butterflies & Blooms.  Valid through September 1, 2014.  It costs $50/family (limit of 5 people).

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Enter to win on the Rafflecopter app below.  Please only enter if you live in the area–or will be visiting before September 1!  The winner will be chosen on 7/20/14 and will have 24 hours to respond to my email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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(Disclosure:  I received a Summer Family Fun Pack for my family.)

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Preschoolers Getting Bored? Try This!

ABC Say it With Me: Bible Memory Verses is one of those DVDs that I don’t feel guilty having my little guys watch over and over.

What you’ll find are fun little vignettes, one for each letter of the alphabet that has a Bible verse associated with it. Kids learn to understand the meaning of the verse and the repetition helps them memorize it. Check out the website for samples of the videos!

 

You can even get some free coloring sheets to go along with the DVD!

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(I am an affiliate of Moore Family Films, and they sponsor I Choose Joy!  This post contains affiliate links.)

Linked to http://www.rosilindjukic.com/2014/07/use-call-to-action-write-blog-posts.html

Free Kindle Book on Minecraft

Are your kids Minecraft lovers like mine? We just started using a new safe and educational server that I’ll be sharing about soon. But in the meantime, pick up this free book on Minecraft secrets on Amazon– the Kindle version. You don’t need a Kindle to read it, though. Your computer works just fine!

Minecraft: Ultimate Book of Secrets: Unbelievable Minecraft Secrets You Coudn’t Imagine Before!

(This post contains affiliate links.)

Vacation Scrapbook: Legoland California

Legoland California

 

For the next few weeks I’ll be sharing about our recent California trip.  I thought I’d start today with the last thing we did–visit Legoland California!
As you can see from this picture, the lines to buy tickets weren’t too long. We arrived about 10:30 a.m. (The gates had opened at 10 a.m.) And we stayed until they closed at 6 p.m.!  I had visited the Lego Store near us and picked up 3 Lego magazines in order to get the coupons for “Buy one adult ticket, get one child ticket free.”  We were also blessed by Legoland California to get two free tickets in exchange for this honest revew.  So, our admission price was half what it would have been!  (I’ll share at the end of the post some different ways to get discounted tickets.)

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One thing you will definitely see all through Legoland California are some incredible sculptures made of Legos.

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The first ride we went on was Fairy Tale Brook.  We rode in little boats and saw fairy tale creatures built of Legos.  They were even moving!

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We enjoyed getting our picture taken with Emmet.  My daughter didn’t want to stop holding his hand!

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This cute train ride was in Duplo Village.  Sometimes when the younger children were on a ride, the older kids went to look in the stores which were spread throughout the park.

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Another thing in the Duplo Village were Water Works:

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Both the older and younger kids did the Driving School (called Junior Driving School for ages 3-5).  It was so cute to see my 3-year-old son driving a car!

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We ate at the Fun Town Market Restaurant.  The hamburgers were huge and really filled us up. We even got free cups of ice water, so it wasn’t too expensive.

We all enjoyed visiting Miniland USA which included several U.S. city’s landmarks built of Legos.  Really cool!

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Some of these Miniland buildings we saw while we were riding in the Coast Cruise as well.  Our boat captain was pretty funny and kept making fun of my son’s Yankee ball-cap.

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And, of course, we also loved Lego Star Wars!

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I got to sit and take a break while the kids played at The Hideaways.  I also spent some time exploring the free Legoland California iPhone app and discovered they updated the wait times for the rides throughout the day.  That was quite useful as we decided how to plan the rest of our time there.

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My oldest even went down this slide, although he said it was a tight squeeze!

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While the older kids went on the totally awesome Lego Technic Coaster, the younger ones did the Bionicle Blaster twirly ride and Dune Raiders slide.

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And one of the highlights was visiting the set of The Lego Movie.

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Another ride that I did with the kids was Kid Power Towers. We set out to do the Sky Crusier, which is probably the post popular ride. It didn’t have less than an hour wait all day long. So we headed next door to the Kid Power Towers. You ride it in pairs. I was with my 3-year-old. You pull yourself up with a rope and then let go to float to the bottom. I was proud of myself for doing this one since I’m afraid of heights!
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Toward the end of the day a few kids rode on Captain Cranky’s Challenge while others played in the Skipper School (and another slept):

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There are a few rides where you can get wet, and the Aquazone Wave Racers was one of them!

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So, we left Legoland California happy that we had gone there over the more popular California theme park.  It was the right place for the kids’ ages, 13 down to 2.  My oldest was a little bored since there were so many “little kid” rides, but the little kids were thrilled to get to do almost everything!  The park wasn’t too crowded.  We did wait in line for different rides, but not too long.  My older kids tried three roller coasters and definitely like the Technic Coaster the best.  They love Legos, so they loved Legoland.

Here’s the Technic Coaster:

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By the way there are 3 other attractions connected with Legoland California that we didn’t check out:  the Chima Water Park, the Sealife Aquarium, and the Legoland Hotel.  We only went to the main park and only did about 1/2 of it even though we were there all day.  Some coupons and specials give you options for 2 or 3 days.  You could definitely spend that much time there!

Ways to Save MONEY at Legoland California:

- American Tire Depot: IN-STORE PROMOTION – if you purchase a certain
dollar amount at the American Tire Depot or Evans Tires, you can fill
out a form online or in-store to receive 2 or 4 LEGOLAND tickets
directly from ATD/Evans Tires.  If the form is completed online, you
will receive an email stating “Thanks for your submission, please allow
us 6-8 weeks to process.” Promotion runs through December 31, 2014.

- Buy 3 Merlin Annual Passes, Get 1 Child Merlin Annual Pass FREE: not
valid on the monthly payment option or with any other promotions,
discounts or offers. 4 Merlin Annual Passes must be purchased in the
same transaction and must include at least one adult Merlin Annual Pass.
Promotion runs through August 31, 2014 and expires 8/31/2014

- Circle K / Unilever Promotion: Free Child with Paid Adult “Pick One
Hopper” to LEGOLAND California Resort. Coupon offer available at Circle
K locations in California with the purchase of any Good Humor, Popsicle
or Fruttare brand product. Promo runs through June 30, 2014 and expires
12/31/2014

- Wendy’s: Free Child with Paid Adult “Pick One Hopper” to LEGOLAND
California Resort. Coupon offer available on Wendy’s 30 oz cup,
trayliners and on coupons inside all San Diego, Orange County, Inland
Empire, Los Angeles, Ventura, Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, Bakersfield
and El Centro restaurants. 

- LEGO Store & Shop.LEGO.com: Free Child with Paid Adult to LEGOLAND
California Resort 1-day Pick One Hopper. (Valid 1 for 1). Receive this
offer with ANY LEGO purchase inside a LEGO Store (Does not include
LEGOLAND Attractions) in North America, AND/OR on www.shop.LEGO.com with
any LEGO purchase. Promotion runs through June 30, 2014 and expires
12/31/2014.

Sign up at lego.com to receive their free magazine.  It includes a coupon for Free Child with Paid Adult.  You can also sometimes get the magazines at Lego Stores and Discovery Centers.

Also, children under 3 get in to the park FREE!

 

Post linked to http://apronstringsotherthings.com/summer-family-fun-series-linky-party-3/, http://www.hiphomeschoolmoms.com/

(Disclosure:  I received 2 free tickets to Legoland California in exchange for this honest review.)

 

Field Trip to Chicago Botanic Gardens

 

We love going to the Chicago Botanic Gardens every year!  This time we had the kids’ grandmother, aunt, and 4 cousins join us!  Enjoy the pictures!

We did a big study of world geography this year, so it was fun to see these small gardens separated by continent.

South America:

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Africa:

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Australia:

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Europe:

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Asia:

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We love this Bonsai tree display:

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We’ll be heading to California soon, and we hope to see some of these places that were in the Model Railroad Garden.

Grauman’s Chinese Theater:

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The Hollywood sign:

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Napa Valley:

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San Francisco:

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And here is my daughter doing her “Amelia Earhart” impersonation.  She has had these goggles on for about 2 days–even in bed!  Toddlers are so silly.  :)

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Busy for the last few weeks. . . See Pictures!

Join us for a picture journey of the past two very busy weeks!

Drama Showcase:

From the show “Honk”:

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From the show “Hairspray”:

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My 7-year-old graduates to the bigger classes for next time. And he’ll be able to audition for the fall show: Oklahoma!

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Band Concert:

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Field Trip to Recycle Center:

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Field Trip to Trader Joe’s:

We had a fun field trip at Trader Joe’s.

Here we are at the demo station–yummy chocolate covered bananas!

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The cardboard crusher machine:

 

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Inside the freezer:

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Did you know that Trader Joe’s employs full-time artists?  Their artwork is incredible!

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And I made a lot of Robin Hood bears!  (I’ll be sharing a tutorial for these soon.)

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Mesothelioma Awareness

Today I have a guest post from Heather Von St. James who is sharing today about a very important issue that I was unaware of: Mesothelioma which is a rare and deadly form of cancer caused by asbestos.

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“At age 36, just 3 ½ months after my first and only child, Lily, was born, I was diagnosed with mesothelioma and given 15 months to live. Miraculously, I beat the odds and I’m still here eight years later.

Mesothelioma is considered one of the most aggressive and deadly cancers; most people are given just one year to live upon diagnosis. There is no known cure for mesothelioma and the future continues to look grim as attention to the disease as well as research funding continues to decline.

The only known cause of ‘meso’ is exposure to asbestos, which is still not banned in the US. Sadly, it doesn’t look like asbestos will be banned anytime soon, as there is too much money being made by using this deadly mineral.

Since May is National Cancer Research Month, I’ve made it my personal mission to try and spread awareness of this rare, preventable disease. The more people that know about this cancer, the more lives are potentially saved! “

Thank you to Heather for sharing this and thank you to God for sparing her life!  Visit her web page at mesothelioma.com/heather. Please share this post so that others may learn about this important issue.
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A Mother’s Day Tribute for my Mom

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My mom passed away on Friday.  She was 71 years old.  She had been quite sick for the past few weeks, but it wasn’t expected.  I’ve decided to dedicate this Mother’s Day post to her and her legacy.

**If you knew my mom, will you please leave a comment below about a story or a memory?  It will mean so much to my sister and me and our children!

My mom Judith Louise Horton was born in and grew up in El Paso, Texas.  She married my dad Gene Kimes Boswell in 1968, had me 1972, and my sister in 1975.  I am amazed about the stories she tells of being married to a petroleum engineer.  They lived in Big Bend Texas for a while and had issues with snakes and tarantulas. Eek! She also spent quite a lot of years overseas, often flying alone with her two little daughters.  When I was 7 and my sister was 4 she was suddenly widowed.  It was an absolute shock for her–my dad had a heart attack in his sleep.  But she was strong.

Below: My mom and dad in 1968

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Below is my mom with her parents, me, my sister, and my grandmother’s sister.

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We moved from Anchorage, Alaska to El Paso, Texas to be near her parents and her sister’s family.  I really loved the stability she brought us to.  My grandparents were a rock for my sister and me, and it was a joy to grow up near my 3 cousins!

My mom went to business school and became a secretary.  After a few years she went to paralegal school and became a paralegal.  She worked hard for my sister and me.  We were happy.  My sister and I were able to do just about all we wanted to.  We were very involved in our church Immanuel Baptist and in music lessons and were honors students in school.  My mom gave us the support we needed to succeed.  She loved us dearly.

Below: My mom, her mom, and her sister

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After my sister and I were in college at Baylor, my mom moved from El Paso to Houston.  I’m glad she lived closer to Waco so we were able to see her more often.

Below: Me at my senior recital in college with my mom and sister

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When my mom retired she moved to California to be near my sister.  What a blessing it was for her (and Jill’s family) to be able to spend so much time with her.  My sister has four children who love their grandmother so much!  And I, of course, have 8 children.  I always thought it was pretty amazing for her to have 2 children and get 12 grandchildren!  I’m so grateful that she was able to be here with me when all 8 of my children were newborns!  And one of my sister’s favorite pictures is of my mom meeting her adopted grandson for the first time at the airport.  (As soon as I get a  copy, I’ll post it here!)

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I love this next picture with my mom, her daughters, her sons-in-law, and first six grandkids.  I only just wish we had been able to all get together with the next 6 grandkids.

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Below is my sister’s family:

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My mom loved music and loved to sing.  She spent many years from high school to her last year singing in choirs and in other groups.  I’m sure that my sister and I got some of our musical aptitude from her (and my dad)!

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My mom had a number of health issues but has always fought through them.  (Remember the aneurism in 2006?)  But this time the Lord felt it was time to take her home.

 

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I am most grateful to my mom for bringing me to the Lord.  I needed Jesus and she showed Him to me.  I praise the Lord that I will be with her again one day!  I love you, Mom!

I leave you with a few more pictures–hope it’s not too many for you!

 

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Baby J:

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Baby L:

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B, J, and M:

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The next two are my sister’s baby:

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M and R:

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M,R, L, and I:

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B, J, and T:

Baby E. :

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E:

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Bye, for now, Mom.  This life is but a breath, so it won’t be long until we are together again!

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**Please leave a comment with a story or memory of my mom.  Thanks!

Is Snapchat Dangerous?

Is Snapchat Dangerous

 

One of the sessions I took at the 2:1 Conference last weekend was about technology in our homeschools. I learned about a new app, which really isn’t new but I had never heard of it. It’s called Snapchat and apparently it is extremely popular among teens today.  I came home and asked my 13-year-old son about it. He said yes he knew about it and could he get it? All of his friends had it. I said absolutely not!

A couple of years ago when many of my friends started using Instagram, I downloaded it on to my iPad and was going to look into it. But before I even had a chance to, I realized that through the “cloud” it had gotten onto my son’s iPod and he had set up an account for himself and was already using it!  He was sending pictures to complete strangers and receiving pictures from them. Thankfully nothing bad was sent or received, but because young teens (and some older teens) don’t have much discernment about these kinds of things I knew that we needed to stop that immediately at his young age.   We had an important and fruitful conversation.  I deleted Instagram and decided not to use it at all even for myself.

Now kids have completely bought into the Snapchat idea. They send pictures and videos to each other which are supposed to disappear after certain amount of time. This, of course, increases the likelihood that they will be sending something that that isn’t as carefully thought out because they think it will be deleted soon anyway – compromising pictures and videos of themselves.  You will see below that we cannot trust Snapchat as a company. And we must protect our children from the dangers of these practices.

Why was Snapchat created in the first place?  According to businessinsider.com:

“The app they built allowed people to send self-deleting photos, fixing the problem of having embarrassing pictures — sexts, mostly — come back to haunt you.”

From neontommy.com:

“What Snapchat really does is they give the user an illusion of security, having them think their information and pictures are private while they are actually not. The very reason people use Snapchat is to send a picture or video to a friend with the security of the file never being seen by the light of day again. This is, however, an impossible task to do when one is introduced to the fact Snapchat holds every single picture and video on their servers. There is no legitimacy behind Snapchat, nor is there any truth behind the concept.”

“Teens are at risk because the pictures and videos they share actually have a very high chance of being exploited. ”

 

And, no we can’t trust Snapchat to “do the right thing”, because in 2013 they compromised the user names and phone numbers of 4.6 million of their own users!

Please keep open lines of communication with your children about apps and technology. More important than just saying they can’t use a particular app or play a particular video game, is to help them grow in their character. They will be leaving our homes in a few years. They will need to be making these decisions on their own. And we need to help them make the right decisions and understand the dangers of technology and that we live in a fallen, immoral world.  Help them know that nothing in the Internet world is private, nothing in the Internet world is deleted, and that their decisions now can very possibly come back to haunt them in the future.

If you have experience with Snapchat, please leave a comment below and let me know about it. I am always looking to learn more.

Robin Hood the Musical

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My four oldest are at a dress rehearsal right now for Robin Hood the Musical.  Performances are this weekend and next.  Please come see it if you’re in the area.  There are so many competing events right now, and ticket sales are really low.  The kids have worked so hard for the past few months to prepare!  There are lots of new kids to Spotlight in the show (including my 2nd son), and many others have leads that haven’t had the opportunity before (like my oldest who plays Friar Tuck).  You can also see my older daughters!  Buy tickets here–and be sure to credit one of them for the sale.  Thanks!

Pictures from Easter and Fire Station & From House to Home {Link Party}

Here are some pictures from the last week or so.

Easter:

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A Field Trip to the Fire Station:

We were just about to get our picture of the whole group sitting on the front of the fire engine when the fire fighters got a call.  It really added to the effect to watch them speed away with the siren blaring!

Fire Station Collage

This was an artifact/memorial from the World Trade Center that was just inside the fire station doors.  It was nice to see a Bible verse in a public building.  :)

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After the fire station our group went to the park to play.  It’s still too cold around here!  I’m so ready for spring!

Park Collage

 

It’s time for our Link Party:

From House to Home!

Only 2 rules:

1. Link up family-friendly posts (exact post, not website) about making your house into a home: homemaking, parenting, homeschooling, marriage, loving God! Giveaways, too!

2. Link back to my site with the button below or a text link. Thanks! The code can be found at the top of the Link Party page. (If you don’t link back somewhere on your blog, your link might be deleted.)

I Choose Joy!
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See the wonderful blogs I’ve linked up to here.

5 Reasons Preschoolers Need Music

 

Preschoolers Need Music

Before my homeschool mom days, I was a music teacher, and I’d love to share with you today why it’s important to give your preschoolers a start in music education even while they’re young.

Below are 5 reasons Why–and to read 5 ways How to “Teach” music to your preschoolers, be sure to head over to the Educents blog where I’m guest posting today!

1.  Most children can be musical talented if they are exposed to a musical environment at an early age (before age 9).  You can help them reach their full musical potential by making their musical environment rich and full.

2.  The vast majority of music that children hear today–on the radio, in apps, in toys, in church, and on TV shows (such as Barney) is very simple in its meter, rhythms, harmonies, instrumentation, and style.  You can provide your children with variety, especially with more complexity than what they are usually hearing.

3.  A lot of children’s music that you can hear on CDs and the internet (YouTube) gives very poor examples of singing.  The childen are doing what I call sing-yelling.  You can provide your children with examples of beautiful, excellent, on-pitch singing which will help them sing beautifully and on pitch themselves one day!

4.  It’s important to help children increase readiness for audiation.  Audiation is the ability to hear the music and beat in one’s mind when there is no music being played.  If preschoolers can start to sing on pitch and feel the big beats of the music, they will be prepared to audiate as they grow.

5.  We want our young children to form as many neural pathways and connections as possible in their rapidly growing brains.  This is one reason why musical children typically do better at learning in many other areas of life.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below!

 

(Post contains affiliate links.)

Collage Friday–What’s been going on around here?

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Collage Friday post!  See our life in pictures from the last few weeks:

 

Our co-op has ended for the year. We had a great time studying Exploring Creation Through Chemisty and Physics. We ended the year with some simple machine projects. I’ll do a wrap-up post of our whole science year in May.

Simple Machines Collage

Today we went on a field trip to our local police station.  We got to see the dispatch center (where 911 calls go in), talk to some detectives about their work, see the jail (and learn that those in holding cell only eat Burger King), and see the squad cars!

 

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Aren’t these cupcakes beautiful?  My daughters made them with their grandma.

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The mallard ducks made their annual pilgrimage to our backyard.  :)

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Last week we went on a field trip to the Long Grove Confectionary.  It’s a chocolate factory!  See a solid chocolate Statue of Libery and Santa Claus.  Also a cacao pod which contains the chocolate “seeds”!

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This is an old fashioned machine for grinding the chocolate seeds.  And next is a chocolate dress!

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My husband has to fix our deck and asked my oldest son to put a note on the door telling people not to go on the deck.  He got a little creative.  It says, “Warning! Hard hat area. All unauthorized people will not be admitted. Death is inevitable and you could pay a fine of $10 by supreme court law. Well, just don’t go on the deck, Dad said.”

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We had a birthday. My second son is now 12!

 

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My sweet girls with matching pillows and necklaces that say “Big Sis”and “Lil’ Sis.”

 

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For the kids’ play rehearsal they can dress up as different characters each Saturday.  Here are a few of their clever costumes.

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And I’ll end today’s post with this gorgeous sunset we saw a few weeks ago.  Have a blessed Easter.  Thank you, Jesus, for your sacrifice and “He Lives!”

 

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“ABC Say it With Me: Bible Memory Verses” DVD on Sale for $10!

Moore Family Films is having a sale on one their best DVDs today (and for a couple more days):  ABC Sayit With Me Bible Memory Verses!  It’s only $10.  This DVD is one of my 3-year-old’s favorites!  I love how there are fun little vignettes, one for each letter of the alphabet.  Each is a verse from the Bible which is repeated several times and acted out.  It really helps the kids to understand the meaning of the verse.  There are parts of the videos to watch to see if it’s something your family would enjoy.  Just click on the banner!  :)

(I am an affiliate of Moore Family Films, and they sponsor I Choose Joy!  This post contains affiliate links.)

An Impromptu Trip to Cincinnati: Zoo and Creation Museum

Last Wednesday my husband and I decided to make an impromptu trip to Cincinnati to visit the zoo and Creation Museum. We don’t usually do this. It’s not that easy to get a group of 10 people ready to go on vacation. But the kids were as excited as us, so we did it! My oldest son and I went to Solo and Ensemble contest Saturday morning where he played a violin solo, sax solo, and sax duet. I accompanied on the piano for his solos. Then, I took him to musical rehearsal where his siblings were  already practicing. They are working on the musical Robin Hood. (More on that later!) We picked the kids up at 2 p.m. and headed to Cincinnati!

On Sunday we went to the Cincinnati Zoo.

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My favorite animals at the zoo were the manatees!  Here is the baby.

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I thought this monitor lizard was neat because it really reminded me of a dinosaur — which we were going to see a lot of at the Creation Museum the next day.

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One of the things we did at the Creation Museum was a workshop on Ice Age animals with Buddy Davis.

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The kids did a “sculpture” of a saber tooth tiger out of clay.

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This cute chameleon reminded us of the movie “Tangled.”

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The museum is full of incredible exhibits to help understand creation science.  Here is an example.  See at the top the casts of the skull bones found for “Lucy,” the so-called ape-man.  The bones don’t give you an idea of the face, but see how different versions make it look more like an ape or more like a human.

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This exhibit talks about the Bible being written by different men such as Abraham, Moses, King David, and the Apostle Paul.

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The Garden of Eden is beautiful.

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A zebra/horse and a zebra/donkey.  They are able to mate so they are part of the same horse “kind.”  There only needed to be 2 horse kinds on the ark to have all the varieties we see today.

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My two oldest boys and second daughter did a zip line!

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Giveaway of “ABC Say it With Me” and “For His Own Glory”

Would you like to win these the two DVDs “ABC Say it With Me” from Moore Family Films and “For His Own Glory” from Crowe’s Nest Media?  Go here to enter!

“ABC Say it With Me” is a wonderful DVD for preschoolers which has a short vignette and Bible verse to memorize for each of letter of the alphabet.

“For His Own Glory” teaches sign language to little ones.

Giveaway ends 3/6/14!


(This post contains affiliate links.)

 

The Piano Guys–”Frozen” and Vivaldi’s Winter in the Ice Castles

This is absolutely beautiful! The Piano Guys perform “Let it Go” from Frozen with Vivaldi’s Winter in the Ice Castles!

(By the way, if the videos don’t show, click over to http://ichoosejoy.org)

And so fun to see “behind the scenes”:

And this one is for moms only :)

http://moms.popsugar.com/Mom-Let-Go-Cover-34169989

Lastly, the scene that inspired it all–with 113 Million Views!

Moore Family Films–Sponsor Shout Out

I’d love to share about one of my sponsors today:  Moore Family Films.  They are a homeschooling family that has produced some very special DVDs!  We have ABC Say it With Me: Bible Memory Verses, and my preschoolers LOVE it!  Go ahead and click over to their site so you can see some previews and see if any of the videos would be right for your family!

(I am an affiliate of Moore Family Films, and they sponsor I Choose Joy!  This post contains affiliate links.)