Sunday, February 28, 2010

RANDOM.ORG - Integer Widget

And the winner of my book giveaway:

is BECKY! Email me at alice at excellent quests dot com. (Remove the spaces.)

RANDOM.ORG - Integer Widget: "True Random Number Generator

Powered by RANDOM.ORG"

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Joy of Fellowship and a Book Giveaway!

Yesterday I had the pleasure to host a few homeschool moms at my home for coffee and tea.  Oh, the joy that comes from being in fellowship with like-minded people!  I think we all left that gathering last night with renewed joy and excitement to homeschool our children!  The interesting thing is that everyone was new to someone there.  I was blessed with sweet ladies from my church, my homeschool group and a sweet new friend. 

While we all love to find that special place of fellowship, often we allow hurdles to block out paths to this joy.  We may allow cold weather (and wow, it was cold last night!) and attitudes of those around us rob of us of the opportunity to be in fellowship.  I urge you to find that special place, that special group of friends that you can surround yourself in encouragement and allow your cup to be filled.

As homeschool moms we give all day long.  We give to our children, we give to our homeschool groups, we give to our churches, we give to our husbands.  When we give and give, we need someone to give to us.  We simply cannot allow ourselves to give and never receive.  We empty our cups of all the encoruagement and sweetness and we are left with an empty cup.  Find a way to fill it up! 

Last night my cup was filled as I sat around the table of like-mind women connected by homeschooling and our faith in a loving God!  What an encouragement and cup-filling event!  It all comes back to seeking God's will and turning our eyes to what He has for us each adn every day!

My birthday is tomorrow, but I want to give the gift!  I am giving away a copy of my book Curriculum Workshop! So leave a comment below and I will pick a random comment to win a copy!  Comments left by 8pm ESTon Sunday are eligible.  I will post the winner shortly after 8pm on Sunday. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Joy of Being Present

Being present, in the midst, in the here and now is something I find difficult sometimes. Yet, it is something I strive to achieve. I want to be in the midst of the every day stuff. 

It is my nature to be a researcher and planner.  I love to plan for the next big thing.  What is the next big thing?  The next trip, the new lesson plans - even the menu for next week can all be things I am planning. While I enjoy planning the next big thing, I need to be mindful of the here and now. 

I love meal time at our home.  We gather around the kitchen table for every single meal.  I LOVE this!  We even gather for a snack or special dessert too.  So on any given day we are gathered around our table as a family at the very least of three times a day.  This is precious time to me.  Sure, not all meals are full of great attitudes.  And sometimes my "surprise" meals are better in the garbage.  But...we are present.  We laugh together almost every single time we gather around the table.

I challenge you to be present this week.  Life can pass us by so quickly.  Become part of your family time together.  Find something you can all enjoy together.  Family game nights can be a source of great laughter and memories.  We enjoy family movie nights at our home.  What do you do the be "in the moment" with your family?

Chcek back Thursday for a giveaway!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Joy of Dependence

This past weekend was filled with joy. The joy of being in the arms of my beloved husband of twenty years as we danced at the Valentine’s Day Dance hosted by our church was unlike any other Valentine’s Day we have shared. As I danced with my husband, I actually was reflecting on something our pastor had shared in the Saturday night service the prior evening. In the midst of his sermon, he used the phrase “there is joy in dependence”. Of course this immediately brought me back to my quest for Joy.
Dependence is usually looked at in such a negative light. According to society we are to be independent. Yet, I find myself relishing in the thought of being dependent on the Lord and what he has for me. I depend on the Lord much like the Israelites depended on the Lord: for their daily sustenance and guidance. I depend on the Lord to take each fear away, and replace it with his reminders of his provision, protection and love.

After praying on this subject for a few days, God reminded me something very significant. I often have unrealistic expectations of others. As a server, my nature is to meet another’s expectations. I enjoy serving my husband dinner, taking my children places they need to be, and giving my service to others in need. I hold high standards for myself when I serve. On the flip side, I find myself never allowing many to serve me. I don’t want to be a bother to anyone. Yet, when I find myself needing help, I expect someone to help me. My expectations are that someone will remember a date, will know to check on me when I am sick or lend a helping hand without being asked. God reminds me that I need to depend upon him alone. Sure our human nature allows us to become upset when we perceive that we are forgotten. But there is joy in dependence on the Lord and those he places around us. It is okay to depend upon others

I continued to think on this thought of joy in dependence as I danced with my husband Sunday evening. I depended on God to give me a husband that I could depend upon. I have been blessed in immeasurable ways. I stand in awe of what God affords me and blesses me with. I need to remember to depend upon the Lord and realize that my expectations of others need to be realistic.

On to other thoughts today….I am thinking and planning our curriculum for next school year. This week I am working on realistic expectations for our school year. You can follow along with me over at my website: Excellent Quests.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Joy of Accomplishing a Goal

Well, it is February 7th, also know as the day after "the conference". All this past week my family and I adopted a motto: after the conference. So when something needed to be done or an errand needed to be completed, I would reply, "after the conference". Well, today marks "after the conference."

Since August, I have had the pleasure of working with Linda Oberg to plan, organize and now execute the Tampa Bay Homeschool Conference & Expo. And in a word it was: Awesome! I was overjoyed with the speakers that delivered messages of strengthening our homeschool - both parent and student. I was overcome with respect for the staff members that gave their heart and their Saturday away from family to serve the homeschooling families of the Tampa Bay area. I am thankful to my vendors that shared their products and experience with the attendees. And what would a conference be without volunteers? I had the opportunity to work with wonderful volunteers from the Tampa Bay area. Thank you one and all! We could not have done this without you!

I have always had a goal of serving homeschool families. A few years back I was given the opportunity to attend graduate school on a full tuition scholarship. This was truly an answer to prayer! I made a commitment to serve my homeschool community with the knowledge I gained from studying curriculum development and instructional technology. I had the joy of presenting a workshop at the conference yesterday. I often speak of "my cup being filled". Presenting this workshop filled my cup to overflowing. When I can see another homeschool mom's eyes brighten and a passion reignited, I feel like a goal has been accomplished - I have served another homeschool family.

To be in the place where God can use me in my strengths, I feel content and full of joy. God is good.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Joy of Creating Lesson Plans

Today is February 1st. This marks the time of year when I begin the process of planning the next school year for our children. So you are invited to join me on this journey this year.

The 2010-2011 school year will be a bit different from other years. Actually it will be the first year since 2000 that I will be homeschooling only two children. Nick is graduating this year, and will be living on campus. So in the fall, I will be teaching 9th grade and 11th grade. (I will refrain from an entire week's worth of reflecting on the years of homeschooling the kids!)

When I begin this process each year, I write down who and what grade I will be teaching. Sounds basic, but it is needed. And yes, I do actually use the pages from my book to do my planning! You can find a copy of my book here. I then write down the subjects I want my children to study. (This is a different list from what I am teaching, and what resources I will be using.)

So my working list looks something like this:

Age 15
Grade 11
Civics/American Government
American Literature Honors
Constitutional Law vs. Exodus Law
Algebra II
Advanced Biology
English IV
Sewing - Garment Construction

Age 13
Grade 9
American History
American Literature
English I
Algebra I
Sewing - Garment Construction

This is the beginning of my list. This week, or rather after the Tampa Bay Homeschool Conference & Expo, I will sit down with Katie and Aimee and ask them what they would like to add to this list.

This is a process and only the beginning at that. Next week I will spend time really examining my children. I want to define, validate and celebrate their strengths!

Come by adn see me at the Homeschool Conference this weekend!