Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Thin Stix Review and GIVEAWAY!

This post contains affiliate links.


When my children and I saw that we had an opportunity to receive a package of Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors by The Pencil Grip, Inc. for review, we were psyched!  We loved reviewing their Kwik Stix before and were excited to see how the thinner paint sticks would work.

http://traininghappyhearts.blogspot.com/2016/05/kwik-stix.html


We discovered that the Thin Stix are much like the Kwik Stix, as they are:




Thin Stix by KwikStix

  • Easy for anyone – from toddlers to grown-ups – to use.

  • Quick to set up and clean up.

  • Bright and bold to paint with.


Like the original glue-stick sized
Kwik Stix we tested out before, these  thinner quick-dry tempera paint sticks have become a staple item for creating art work at home and on-the-go.  They pack easily into our bring-along bags, are super simple to use (just uncap, twist up, and paint away!), and clean up in seconds (just re-cap, put back in the plastic tray that comes in their box, and you're done.)  There's no need for smocks, drop cloths, brushes, water, etc. Just paper and the Thin Stix and vibrant art can happen anywhere!

What the Kids Said




My daughter said:
I wanted to do this review because we had done the other Stix that they had made.  Those were thick, but fun, and I thought these ones would be cool.  I was right!  Because they are skinny, they are easier to paint with.  It's almost like I am drawing with markers.

I like that they look like pens, but they are quick-drying paint.  They are good for little kids, I realized, because they dry really fast.



Some things I have made with them are a design, a painting of a bowl with soap, a picture of the crucifixion, a paper hat, and wrapping paper.  I also painted a picture of the Divine Mercy with them. 

The
Thin Stix are fun!


My youngest son said:
The Thin Stix are thin paint sticks that work like markers.  I used them when our friends were over to make a battle scene.  One of my friends made a moon castle.  Our pictures dried quickly. 




I wish there were even larger ones, because it would be easier to draw people with a thinner tip.  These ones are good for skies, walls, and bigger things. 



My oldest son said:
I liked using the Thin Stix .  They are super thin compared to the other ones we've used.  That means it is easier to draw things.  I painted some quick battle scenes from an audiodrama we've been listening to.  Then, I put the paintings on my wall.  I want to make one to go with each audiodrama.


The Thin Stix are like super thin glue sticks, but they really quickly and leave paint.  So they are easy to use and clean up.

All three of my children have been using our
Thin Stix as go-to art supplies often.  We are still enjoying the thicker Kwik Stix, too.  In combination between the thick and thin sticks, the kids have a lot of fun!

So do friends!  Because the
Thin Stix  are so mess free - and are different than other art supplies many children have used - they are always a hit when we have playdates, babysit friends, or gather with families that have younger children.  Seriously, we share our Stix with so many folks and every child and parent comments on how cool they are!  If you haven't tried them yet, I'd encourage you to do so.  I bet you'll love them like we do.

THIN STIX GIVEAWAY!



Thin Stix by KwikStix


We love our
Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors here and are delighted that The Pencil Grip, Inc. has been generous enough to offer an additional set of these fabulous no-mess, quick-drying paint sticks for me to giveaway to one lucky Training Happy Hearts reader from the United States - maybe you!  (Sorry if you are not a U.S. resident, but this giveaway is only open to U.S. residents.)

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post before midnight EST on May 31 telling me what you'd create with these awesome art tools - which are also sold at select Toys R Us stores and at toyrus.com -and leave an email address that I can reach you at in case you win.  (If you don't want to leave your email address in the comment, feel free to private message me it through the Training Happy Hearts Facebook Page.) One winner will be chosen at random and announced on our
Facebook Page as well as through an email.  So long as that person responds within 24 hours, the Thin Stix are theirs.  If the person doesn't, another winner will be chosen.  Good luck!

LEARN MORE


Thin Stix currently sell for $8.49 on Amazon and are available at toysrus.com and select Toys R Us stores, too.



The Pencil Grip, Inc



You can find
The Pencil Grip, Inc. on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.


No Mess Art with Thin Stix Classic Colors {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}

See what 100 Schoolhouse Review Crew families created with
Thin Stix by clicking through the banner.

Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, May 21, 2017

When Divine Mercy Intervenes with Parenting a Preteen


Some days parenting is hard.  Very hard.  "Lord, whatever made you think I could steward this child?" hard.

In the past couple of weeks, such days have been numbering greater and greater in our home.

Be it the change of seasons, neuro-differences, or just plain old preteen testing of limits and pushing of patience, but lately something has had my eleven-year-old reaching new heights of... I don't even know what to call it.

Moments that make me cry out interiorly (and sometimes aloud!),  "Lord, help me with this child!" "Mother Mary, please wrap us all in a calming blanket of grace."  "Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner, and on my son, too.  Help us grow in virtue."

Yes, in recent weeks, it has become more and more apparent to me that the hurdles my husband and I faced when helping a sensory-challenged four-year-old through day-to-day life some years ago were likely just mere training granted us so that we might be better prepared to navigate the more strenuous ups and downs and ins and outs of parenting a preteen.

Indeed, the course we are on now is wearisome at times.  Yet with our Lord's generous gifts of strength and grace, we remain steadfast in it.  And -praise God - it is not all hardship. 

In fact, even through our most challenging traverses, there are always footprints of hope to follow and - blessed be to God -  regular moments of respite, too. 

Sympathetic fellow sojourners, literal breaths of fresh air, and surprise vistas of glory.  Each and every moment of challenge is balanced by real and present hope.  By respite.  By fortification.  By gratitude amidst the grumbling.

Further, I know I am blessed with
an incredible and vital item in my "parenting toolbox": prayer.  And, here, I do not simply speak of my own prayers.

I know that many pray for me and mine and am thankful for that.  Today, I am even more grateful for the prayers of the very child that has been challenging me the most in my parenting journey of late.

Thursday, that child hit an apex of insolence.  His behaviors were anything but acceptable and I was calling on every bit of grace I might be gifted with to get me through the night.

Friday, was better, but not exactly easy going.  As the day wore on, I wondered if, when evening came, I would have the stamina to get through it alone since my husband was not going to be home.

In fact, I was so weary from Thursday's eruption and Friday's residual aftermath that I almost skipped going to Divine Mercy Holy Hour and Mass.  I just was not sure that I was up for keeping my children quiet enough there so that they would not to disturb anyone else's prayers, much less my own.

However, the Spirit prompted me: "Go," and I listened.  I told my children to get whatever faith books, paper, or pencils they might need to keep themselves prayerfully engaged during the Holy Hour and headed to the church.

What a refreshment to my soul, it was.  As I prayed... as I gazed at the image of Divine Mercy... as I looked to the crucifix and to a stained glass window depicting Mary at the foot of the cross... as I examined the gentle face of Mary looking down at Baby Jesus in carved statue crowned in blooms, my heart filled with gratitude and reassurance.  I did not doubt our Lord's mercy at all, and I even felt at peace when redirecting my younger children's expected antsiness.

That peace, though, only went so far.  In fact,
as prayerful and peaceful as I may have been kneeling in the pew, I was really still "she of little faith".

My oldest son had been so contrary prior to going to Holy Hour, that when I glanced over at his pencil moving steadily across a page, I wondered if what he was writing was completely inappropriate to where we were.
I suspected what was going from mind to paper on my son's side of the pew was just more of the "ick" that he had been spewing out in writing and verbally over the past days and weeks. 

I just did not have the energy to face another potential altercation with my son, especially in the middle of Holy Hour.  Plus, I truly just wanted to savor the solace of placing focus on prayer over parenting my preteen, so I chose to just breathe and to overlook whatever my son might be writing.


Little did I know how silly I was being. 

That is unti
l my oldest son, who had been holding out on honest apologies and sincere acts of reparation since the day prior, not only slid past his siblings to offer me a spontaneous and genuine embrace, but also handed me the stack of papers he'd been writing on.

With a deep breath, I looked down at the papers.  On them were prayers. Amazing prayers.  Prayers that I am certain came from Divine Mercy as a balm for my boy and me.

Now, with my son's permission (and even a smile in a photo!), I share the prayers that he wrote in case they might help you or your preteen redirect moments of hopelessness to ones of mercy and grace.


God, thou are the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Savior of Saviors, and Protector of Protectors.  You are the only way to Heaven.  God, thou are greater than great, the best of the best, kinder than kind, and more merciful than mercy.  Jesus, you are the only Way to the Father. Jesus, thou are the Prince of Peace and King of Kindness.  Father, you are the Lord of Love and Emperor of Mercy.  Holy Spirit, you are the Bestower of Gifts and the Life within us.  Holy Trinity, you are the God on High and the Giver of All Things.  Thou are Love, Truth, and Life.  Mary, you are the Mother of God and our Mother, too.  Joseph, you are the Father of Jesus and the Protector of the Church.  Holy Family, you are the perfect family.  Mary and Joseph, pray for us.  Amen.

***

O Joseph, Protector of the Church and Father of Jesus, help us to obey God.  O Joseph, pray for us.  O, St. Joseph, I love you.  Amen.
***

Holy Joseph, Father of God the Son, thou are great.  O Joseph, thy son is God.  Thou is blessed.  Amen.

***
O Jesus, save us from the tortures of Hell and bring us to Heaven.  O Jesus, bless us and all we love.  Amen.


***

O Holy Spirit, pour on us thy blessing.  Save us from Hell and bring us to Heaven.  Amen.


***

God, you are the end and the beginning.  Thou, O Lord, are the way to Heaven and will save us.  Amen.


***
St Paul, you are the apostle to the gentiles.  St. Peter, you are the first pope and the great pope for you met Jesus.  St. Luke, you are author of one of the great gospels and painter of beautiful icons.  St. Mary, you are the Queen of Queens.  St. Joseph, you are the Protector of the Church.  Saints, please pray for us.  Thank you.  Amen.

***
St. Paul,pray for us and help us to be good.  Thou, Paul, stopped your bad ways and started to do good.  Help us to do the same as thou did.  Amen.

***

Jesus, you are my savior.  Jesus thou deserve more than I can give.  Jesus, thou died a painful and horrid death for us.  We don't deserve thy mercy, but thou have given us more than we could imagine.  Thou, O Jesus, are the Son of God and are God.  Thy Mother Mary is the Mother of us, too.  Thou gave us thy mother.  Amen.

Indeed, Jesus did give us his mother - a model of strength, trust, and love.  A mediatrix of grace that I am thankful for.  And, He continually gives us more than we can image each and every day.  In prayer, in the examples of the saints, in the Eucharist, in His continual presence, our Lord offers each of us incredible amounts of mercy, strength, and hope.  Hope born of love. 

True and unwavering love.

As I reflect on the past week, the day's reading, and a rereading of my son's prayers, clear messages of mercy, hope, and love prevail.

I pray:

Lord, thank you for being such a kind and merciful God.  Mother Mary, thank you for so often wrapping us in your protective mantle. 
So many times as a wife and mother, I have felt woefully lacking, but, just as often, I have recognized truth in the saying that You do not call the equipped, but rather equip the called.
You, Lord, gift me everything I need to parent my preteen.  You are also equipping him for what he is called to do in this world.  Thank you for this.  Thank you for placing my focus back on your merciful love and generous grace.

Now, I know there will continue to be moments, days, and even weeks and months when I struggle with living my calling and stewarding my children, yet I also recognize that I have never been alone on my journey and never will be.  The same is true for you.

Please, whatever your situation today, be confident that
He is there, equipping you, loving you, constantly offering you hope.  Embrace this hope.  Walk with it.

The journey may be long, but it is oh so blessed - even through the challenging times.



Whether you are parenting a preteen or not, I pray that, today, you are filled with God's mercy, kindness, and love.  Indeed, it is always there for us. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I Just Love NOT Worrying About the Comics My Kid Is Reading {A Captain Absolutely Review}

I love reading almost anything together with my children and enjoy reading on my own, too.  However, there is one type of book that's just not my style: comic books.  So, why would I have ever gotten excited to review Captain Absolutely from Focus On The Family?



My son!


You see, I don't love comic-style books, but I do love my oldest boy and his smile and, truly, comic-style books and graphic novels get my boy to grin.


As a matter for fact, as soon as our copy of Captain Absolutely came in the mail, my boy smiled big and, then, dove right in.  At that time, my children were putting away some groceries for me while I began sorting mail.  When I opened the package with the book in it, my son got excited and was so eager to browse the book that he forgot to finish his grocery job, failing to notice that he had not ye put away the cucumbers his sister wanted to try making pickle out of.  So, after I had completed a few more just-back-into-the-house tasks, I found my son browsing Captain Absolutely while absentmindedly using the cucumbers as an elbow rest.


After laughing and taking a photo of this, I pointed out to my son that he had not finished his job, whereupon, he apologized for maybe bruising the cucumbers, and, then, stole away with to his room with
Captain Absolutely

A day later, my told me he'd read the book cover to cover and enjoyed it.  Since I had not even had time to look at it before he'd hidden himself away with it, I asked him to write me a narration of the story as his writing exercise for the day so I'd know what the book was about.  He  wrote, and later redrafted, this:

Captain Absolutely is about a librarian guy named Josiah King.  Josiah's life changes when the library explodes, an he becomes Captain Absolutely. Josiah gets sent flying into the banned books pat of the library and, when he reads Bible and is waiting to get rescued, radiation from the explosion makes him strong and gives him the ability to fly.

Josiah had a friend named Darren Gray. 
but in the same explosion when Josiah became a super hero, Darren became a bad guy.  He was blasted into books about relative truth.
Later, Captain Absolutely meets a girl called Hana who becomes his sidekick as they fight Dr. Relative and his legion of bad guys.   Dr. Relative and his legion are Captain Absolutely's nemesis.


Captain Absolutely fights the Fear Chemist who thinks fear is power, the Unifier who thinks everyone should do it HIS way, Baron Von Confuser who creates chaos, Cap'n Crastin     I think this book would be good for those who like comics who technically say,s, "Be lazy,", Sloppy Joe who makes messes everywhere and many other bad guys.  Sometimes he wins.  Sometimes he loses. But he always fights for real truth.

Captain Absolutely is inspired by Josiah in 2 Kings 22:1.

I think kids who like comic books and adventure will like this book.

 Captain Absolutely


Adding to that, I'll explain that
Captain Absolutely is a 105 page soft-cover comic book aimed at ages 8-12 and is a compilation of comic strips originally featured in Clubhouse magazine as a spinoff from the hugely popular Adventures in Odyssey series (which my children and I know and love from audio CD's!)  Not only does it contain the actual comic, but, its closing pages include ones that summarize the cast of characters that "star" in the comics. 



There is also a helpful "Big Questions" section that can be used as  conversation starters, thought provokers, etc.  Thus, the book truly proves itself as more than just a comic. 


Captain Absolutely is packed with the usual bright, bold effect of full-color comics and has thought-provoking end material, meaning book does more than entertain.  It uses an engaging story about someone who is transformed into a superhero with the help of mysterious radioactive fumes to help children discern how to be strong in faith in today's world by standing up for truth and justice while keeping eternal truth and God's Word in mind.  Then, it helps children reflect on life and faith with questions and Bible references.

Best of all for me, since
Captain Absolutely is put out by the well-reputed Focus On The Family and spun off of a long-time family favorite Adventures in Odyssey, I had absolutely no qualms with handing it to my son to read before I'd even cracked its spine.  I was confident that the book would be filled with faith, fun, virtue, and adventure - keeping my son engaged and edified, and, I dare say, I was right.  My oldest devoured the book and got a helping of encouragement to keep God's Word at heart while he was at it.  Now, my only "problem" with that book is that my youngest child wants wants me to read it with him.  Me.  The person who does not cotton to reading comics. I appears that with this Christian comic in the house, I might just have to offer up my lack of love for comic-style reading material, so I can honor my youngest's request and - perhaps - even begin enjoying comics myself in the process.

If your children like comic books and you like to rest assured that the material they read is wholesome, fun, and edifying, then I would not hesitate to recommend
Captain Absolutely!

Learn More


Focus On The Family


Captain Absolutely currently sells for $9.99 and is available to purchase in the Focus On The Family Store and Tyndale House Publishers.

You can visit Focus On The Family and Captain Absolutely on Social Media: 

 
Captain Absolutely {Focus On The Family Review}

Seventy Homeschool Review Crew families were sent
Captain Absolutely and, from what I hear so far, many Crew families also had children that stole away with the book and read through it as quickly as my oldest son did.  Click through the banner to read everyone's takes.

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Homeschool Rescue {A Review of an Online Course for Mamas}




Ahhhhh.  In my ideal little plan for the day, I  was meant to be relaxing and writing this review of
Homeschool Rescue by Heather Aliano from Only Passionate Curiosity while my children read or prayed themselves to sleep and I had some quiet time after a fulfilling homeschool day.  Instead, even though our day was a positive one, I have barely been able to collect my thoughts for this review while dealing with disciplining, consoling, and parenting children to bed. 

Yep.  Tonight is proving to be "one of those nights" when my children's choices are less than best, and, therefore, I have to adapt.  


Where I Was When I Started Homeschool Rescue?

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue 

It was during a series of draining days (like this night is proving to be!) that I decided I could use the opportunity to breathe new life into my homeschool with Heather's e-course.  For, even though I often say I would not change my husband and my decision to homeschool for anything, I just as often realize that I need to change - or at least tweak, refresh or reset - our approach to homeschooling regularly if my family is to come anywhere close to our goal of training truly happy hearts.  For, without question, starting our homeschool journey was a lot easier than living it day to day has been and  - wow! - sometimes it certainly does take EFFORT to maintain even a modicum of happiness


So many things can step into to set homeschoolers off course, right?  In the past four or five months for my family, such things have included my mother-in-law's passing, a surgery for my husband, the necessity of another impending surgery for one of our children, bouts of sickness, car trouble, over-scheduling, pre-teen hormones and more. Oh, plus the "usual" of life with beautiful, creative, active children that also challenge me daily with their unique learning and thinking differences... You know - just life as it rolls, and life as it sometimes rolls right over you and leaves you feeling so battered and bruised that you forget what a blessing it all is and start letting doubt, distress, stress, and burnout get the best of you, instead of embracing the trust, gratitude, and grace that is really yours to carry on with.

So, anyway, that's where I was when I decided it was time to hit the reset button by taking advantage of Heather's 60-day
e-course that promises practical lessons - and oodles of encouragement - to get homeschooling back on track! 

What Has the "Rescue" Been Like?
Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue


As soon as I started the e-course, I appreciated it.  The website the e-course is delivered from is clear, clean, organized and easy to navigate.  Heather's approach is one of encouragement, yet challenge.  She is a homeschool mama who has been in the trenches, too, so she understands just how discouraged one can be and just how necessary it is to both BREATHE and WORK to make things better.  Sometimes, you let go.  Sometimes you dig in.  Always, you take an honest look at yourself, your kids, and your homeschool and confront challenges while embracing grace - and, if you need to, you pause to get professional help if circumstances demand.

Heather also gets that time is often one of the biggest hurdles or homeschoolers, so, although she has organized the e-course to be completed in 60 days, she understands that it may take some mamas longer.  Thus, while she encourages all to make time to watch, learn, reflect, and implement ideas from each of the courses five modules in order to effect positive and lasting change, she lets you know it is okay to go at your own pace - pausing to get a handle on some of the module's suggestions and work at times, or putting some work aside to move on with other portions of the course, before circling back around.

For me, the need to do both these things came up early on in the course. 

During Module 1, I was asked to do some homework with my husband which, well, was not well-timed.  I tried to complete the exercises together, but it was leading to more stress than "rescue" help to do so. 

I ended up mentioning this on the Facebook Community and immediately got feedback from other moms - including Heather - offering support and encouragement, plus a "pass" to tweak the "work" of the assignment to a way that worked for my then-present situation.

A bit further along in the course, the whole organizing your home thing brought me to a stand still.  For, my home has been rather a large stumbling block for me and mine for quite some time.  I am making minute progress with it, but if I paused to really declutter it all,  well, there'd be no time to homeschool.  In response to someone's Facebook pot about delcuttering, I mentioned how the decluttering part o the course had me a bit "stuck" and Heather responded:
"Don't get stuck in the rabbit hole! ) If it's not something you want/can tackle right now, make a note to do it later and move on. Is it possible to "outsource" some of the decluttering to any of your kids? Can you assign a small portion of the work to do to them each week? (clean a drawer, organize a shelf ... that sort of thing?)"

 Our conversation progressed some from there and left me thinking about how I could continue small progress with the clutter and get moving on the course again.  I appreciated at this point - and others - how the e-course and Facebook community, when paired together offer more than any book or static course could on its own. 

You get all the benefit of having prerecorded video and audio, downloadable/printable transcripts, exercises, and extras and  an interactive forum to ask questions, get personalized suggestions,a and, okay, just vent a little.  That all makes
Homeschool Rescue aces for me.  Access anytime.  Multi-modal offerings (audio, video, online print and paper printables).  Opportunities to work through things on your own or with the support and input of others, including the course's creator.  That just works!!

What also works is that change happens even before the course is completed - or so it is happening for me.

I actually had my oldest fill out one of the homework assignments meant for my husband and me, and have been using that to help us communicate and plan our summer learning experiences forward.




Another assignment made me realize that both my husband and I weigh practical life skills over many other typical "by the tie my child graduates" skills and knowledge.  This translated, for me, into a new approach to - of all things - grocery shopping with my children.  Just this past week, I had my longest, but most peaceful grocery shopping experience with them in ages.  Not a single one of them bickered or begged for items in the store as they all had portions of our grocery budget to plan and purchase items of their choice for meals and snacks they'd be responsible for this week and - woah - my oldest (who  is the hardest one to get to bed and the latest riser) asked me to wake him at 7:30 tomorrow so he can make his breakfast before our day's commitments start.

This personal-to-our-family-fruit came from seeds planted by reflections from the e-course.  Your fruit, no doubt, will be different should you take the course, but, undoubtedly, there will be fruit!

Who Would I Recommend This E-Course to?


Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue 

If you've been homeschooling a year, a decade, or more, and seek a structured approach that will guide you though taking an honest, introspective look at your homeschooling in order to make lasting changes to improve it, I daresay the
Homeschool Rescue e-course has something for you.  Between the five modules that are currently offered in the course, almost every aspect of homeschooling - and how to go about refreshing your experience with it - is touched upon.

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue 
 
 
The e-course will get you reflecting on how best to troubleshoot your homeschool and set your children up for success.  It will offer you tools for time management and organization.  You'll find practical ideas for planning and implementing curriculum for children of all ages, including older students.  And, most importantly, you will be encouraged to let go of guilt, seek balance, and allow GRACE to enter into your homeschool efforts.
 

Sure, you may find some points where you become uncomfortable as you take an honest look at where you're at and why, and you might even struggle through some steps towards improvement.  You might also find that Heather's structured approach, say to curriculum planning, does not 100% mesh with your own style (as is the case for me), but you will also likely realize that some areas of your homeschool are not in need of as much of a reset as you might have thought and that the parts that are in need can be dealt with one step at a time as you put into practice what the course presents. 

If my experience with
Homeschool Rescue is anything to go by, you will find community as you reflect and (re)gain confidence, making positive progress towards a more organized, purposeful homeschool.

"Remind Me Again, What's Involved.  I'm a Busy, Burnt-Out Mama"
 
Homeschool Rescue is and e-course delivered in 5 modules that contain 20+ short video segments in total. There are audio options or the segments, too, as well as easy-to-download transcripts in case you rpefer to read or review ideas in print.

Each module also includes helpful printable "homework" exercises and reflections and resource links.  (Mind you, when I say "homework" it is not the kind of homework that makes you sweat and groan.  It's the kind that makes you think, reflect, and create action plans.)  Plus, there is ongoing support from other homeschool parents in a private Facebook community, and there is bonus content - like Mom Planners, a Homeschool Student Accountability Pack, and a Teen Academic Planner -  that is added to regularly. 

This means that no matter what kind of week you're having, you can access and benefit from one aspect of the e-course or another - a video playing when you do chores, a printable tucked into your go-bag to take out while you wait for an appointment, a quick plea for help or understanding in the Facebook group...  I speak from experience, the multi-modal way the e-course is delivered makes it work under multiple circumstances.

Oh, and one of the best parts, as I mentioned earlier, is that Heather gets how intentions and reality don't always match up.  So, even though the course is designed to be a 60 day one, she offers lifetime access to its 20 +video lessons and encourages those who need to (like me!) to just breathe and take the course at a pace that works with real life!


Learn More

There are currently two options for taking advantage of what Homeschool Rescue has to offer.  With both, as soon as you purchase, you'll receive an email in your inbox within an hour with login information.  Then, using the information, you'll easily be able to get instant-access to course materials so you can begin working through the course on your own, with the next "live" course beginning June 1.  
One hundred Homeschool Review Crew moms have been blessed by Heather's Homeschool Rescue course.  You can read about each of our experiences by clicking through the banner below.

Homeschool Rescue {Only Passionate Curiosity Reviews}

 

Now, it's time for me to honor part of the advice of the course: Get some sleep!  And you?  If you need to breathe some new life into your homeschool, this homeschool parent resource might be just what you're looking for.

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, May 15, 2017

Adventures in Wild Edibles: Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Dandelion Cookes

The other day, relative cold and dampness had me feeling a bit sluggish.  I longed for afternoon sunshine to burst through the clouds, offering its warming energy, but there was none to be had.  So, I decided to embrace the chill by doing something I refuse to do when it is warm and sunny outside:  heat up the kitchen by baking. 

And not just baking anything.  Rather, I suggested we make Dandelion Cookies!



My daughter and youngest son were all for it.



My daughter has been keen on wild edibles this spring and was eager to try a new-to-us one.



My youngest son likes to explore in the kitchen with me and claims eating is one of his favorite things to do.  He also enjoys being outside.  So, he was psyched with the idea of making cookies from wild edibles.


Thus, outside we went to collect dandelions from our front yard.



Then, in we came, where the kids found ingredients set on the table for a recipe I put together myself, since I could not find any gluten-free, casein-free dandelion cookie recipes online that called for ingredients I already had on hand.


Once inside, we washed the dandelions and pulled the yellow flower bits out of the bitter greens.



We mixed these with the rest of the ingredients...



...popped them into the oven, and baked them for 10-15 minutes.

The result? 



A light lunch:  Cookies that my youngest boy loved, my daughter and other son liked, and that Daddy and I liked, too. (And,
yes, cookies can be lunch in our home at times when paired with fruit.)


Each cookie had visible dandelion pieces in every bite, but not a strong dandelion flavor.  (So, we might try the cookies again with even more dandelion flowers next time.)

Here's the recipe we created want to try it:


Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Dandelion-Almond-Coconut Cookies

1/2 cup dandelion flower heads (or more, next time)
3 eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup almond flour
3 cups shredded coconut

Preheat oven and baking stone to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wash flower heads and separate the yellow parts our from the green parts, discarding the green portions.

Mix yellow flowers together with eggs, maple syrup and vanilla.

Add in almond flour and coconut.

Mix well.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a baking stone.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, checking for golden brownness at 10 minutes.

Cook for a few minutes and enjoy!

You might also like recipes from one of our prior adventures with wild edibles.

 
http://traininghappyhearts.blogspot.com/2016/06/wild-clover-chia-seed-pudding.html

We'd love to hear about your favorite wild edibles and how you prepare them.  Please do share recipes and notes with us in a comment!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

When Mother's Day Gets Stormy...

Happy Mother's Day to all Mamas out there.  Moms of children on earth and children in heaven.  Godmoms. Grandmoms. Aunties.  Spiritual moms.  Stepmoms.  Foster moms.  Just-like-moms.  For each and every mama, I pray that God's love and grace may shine in you, through you, and to you and that Our Blessed Mother continue to intercede for you.

I also want to let you know that if you have been having hard day, you're not alone.

My day missed the mark of a picture-perfect Mother's Day by a mile.  In fact, even the only photo that was taken of the day missed the mark. 

Yep, Hubby caught the kids and me in the frame, but neglected to include what I wanted him to take a photo of - the breakfast my daughter had so eagerly gotten up to prepare for me.  





(Just so I won't forget it over time without a photo to remind me, she made GFCF French toast, diced apples, and diced strawberries for us all on her own.)

Yes, hearing my daughter move around the kitchen to surprise me for breakfast - and ignoring the overly sensitive smoke alarm that went off as she did - was a sweet moment this morning. 

Going to Mass together as a family was as well.  In fact, I almost got good-teary when my fidgety oldest took my hand and positioned it palm up, hand flat, so he could rest his hand on mine.  At that point, he discovered his hand is as big as mine now - or just a hair's breadth smaller - and showed me.  Wow!  When did he get so big?  I welled up, remembering the long journey we've had with him so far and how God has graced us so many times throughout it.

Thankfully, such graces continued throughout this day, because shortly after Mass was when the "happy" in Mother's day became a choice, not a given.

At our lunchtime meal, my boy's ridiculous aversion to the mere presence of certain foods that were on the table for his sister got him going.  That, coupled with the knowledge that he'd lost his online time for a week due to some behaviors the other day, kept him going, and, before long, a tempest of whining, complaining, disrespect, and carrying on
blew through our home.

My son's stormy behavior threatened to wash any "happy" away from Mother's Day for us, but, Daddy, his siblings, and I chose not to let it.  I firmly invited my son to leave the table and, then, the rest of us coached each other to ignore as many behaviors and words as possible and to act and react with happiness.

That worked for a bit, and we got through lunch okay.  As we did, I kept inwardly thanking God for filling me with extra measures of patience, good humor, and grace as my son's storminess ramped up further and
further.  I also was grateful for my youngest's grin and my daughter's strong smile.

Unfortunately, my my oldest son's dark and angry front did not blow over after lunch, but persisted to hover in our home. 

Through God' grace, I managed to avoid the not-so-great reactions that I sometimes fall prey to when one of my children carries on so incessantly. 
Throughout the literal hours of my son's nonsense, I did not yell in frustration nor anger, nor did I cry in exasperation or disappointment.  Instead, I just kept quietly calling on Our Lady in my heart and mind and reminding myself of how the newly sainted Saints Jacinta and Francis, as well as Blessed Lucia, offered their sufferings - great and small - up.   I also thanked my other two children for staying cheerful and playing kindly with one another as I tried to remain firm and loving with my son.

Yet, things escalated and got a bit ugly.

Then, thanks be to God, a change of location helped. 

For years now, I have recognized that changing activities or location can help reset my children, so, even though Grammy was not home today, when there was a bit of lull in the emotional storm hitting out home, I decided that we should go as a family to drop off Grammy's Mother's Day gifts.

Daddy gallantly agreed to drive and even stood out in the cold drizzle when he noted our gas tank too empty to get to Grammy's and back - bless him!

Before departure, I quickly went through our Catholic audio CD's to see if there might be one that would help reset my tempest preteen.  Mathew Kelly's Best Way to Live caught my eye.  Once popped into our minivan CD player, the talk quelled the kids and, hopefully, spoke to their hearts some.

We were able to drop off Grammy's gift and even get a bit of an apology and smile out of my son (albeit coaxed with a bag of treat snacks) before heading home.

Things were beginning to look up, until, during the ride home, I was overcome with a sudden case of feeling awful.  Headache, muscle aches, belly not right...

As soon as I let on how poorly I was suddenly feeling, my husband, who has never been great at things like cards, gifts, or even acknowledgement of special days (as in I do not even think he spoke the words, "Happy Mother's Day" to me at all today), immediately stepped up with what he is good at - being a steady husband and dad.

He had no qualms with me heading straight into our home and into bed, where he rubbed my head and comforted me for a bit until it was obvious the children needed him.

After resting for a short period, I recalled a toy my youngest had been asking to play with this past week and one that my oldest had not seen in a while which I though would interest them.  Thus, when I heard some squabbles erupting in the front rooms, even though I knew my husband could handle them, I rallied to get the toys from the attic.  I, then, told my husband what might be easy and healthful to make for dinner, and thanked him for letting me rest.

I heard a few residual storms from my son after that, but they were short lived, and, between the toys, some video time, and Daddy's care, the kids remained content enough most of the time that I could spend the remainder of the afternoon and evening trying to rest off whatever has physically hit me.    I even heard laughter and joyful interactions at times - praise God!

My husband brought me soup upon request, which I was able to keep down, so I tried to sit with the kids and him at dinner for a bit.  I felt awful then, though, so, went back to bed, where I remain, thankful for the luxury of being able to rest on this less than picture perfect Mother's Day.

As I rest here now, my boys and Dad are watching a series on the history of Rome, and my daughter has come in to snuggle with me.  So, it's time to stop sharing and to get to mothering again.

Through challenges and through cheer, I know I am blessed to live in my calling as a mother.  I am thankful for my children each and every day - even when the storms hit.  I am also grateful for Our Holy Mother, who generously bestows such grace upon us.

May you Mother's Day - typically "happy" or not - conclude with a true inward happiness.  I know mine is.

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