Tuesday, November 27, 2012


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving last week! John's parents were visiting on their way south for the winter...we had our annual Mayflower/Pilgrim meal....and Thanksgiving was at our house this year!


Seppy with Grandma harvesting sumac to make "Indian Lemonade/Sumacade" but we called it "Seppy Tea". While walking with Grandma, Sep picked the berries and rubbed them on his hand and licked it saying how tasty it was. That reminded Grandma that you can make tea from the berries and we thought that would be a good contribution to our Mayflower meal. It was an experiment by steeping the sumac berries (of which we have an abundance) then adding honey but it turned out well after a few tries. Although, we decided to try it next summer when the berries are at their best.


Missy and Pete in the "Mayflower" eating beef jerky and hardtack. We attempted to dress up this year using some of the costumes we had borrowed after singing at the nursing home. How did a Native American end up on our Mayflower? :)


One of our Thanksgiving tables. I had to go out and buy more glasses because somehow a whole set of ours broke between this Thanksgiving and the last time it was at our house 3 years ago. I debated using goblets but just couldn't bring myself to do it.


My Grandpa chatting and eating with his sister. They began our whole gathering. I am so thankful for their godly example to all of us! Grandpa with his gentle quiet manner and Aunt Dorothy for her humble service to many and her hospitality.


The gang with a few to come later.


My sister makes something creative each year and this time it was rice krispy turkeys. Cute!


Annual football game. John cut a portion of our fields to make a larger playing area and put tubing around. Very blurry but I liked John jumping in the air. Look closely and you can see Tank is playing barefoot. It isn't often he wears shoes around here.


My favorite thing this year is my chalkboard! Throughout the day people added what they were thankful for.

So Blessed! So Thankful!

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thursday, November 15, 2012

TOS Crew - Teaching Kids To Sing

My last review of the year! I have probably mentioned this before but I love music and singing and am hoping that is passed onto our children. Most of them do sing but not many of them are able to stay in tune with the music and cannot seem to keep the right pitch. I have hoped to find a program to help them learn. And so I wanted to review Teaching Kids To Sing with Chris & Carole Beatty.

Chris and Caroly Beatty are the creators of Vocal Coach which is a leading publisher of vocal training products for all ages and have been training singers for over 4 decades.  Through their millions of products, as well as workshops for all ages, they have been instrumental in coaching and preserving the voice of thousands of singers ranging from beginners to Grammy Award and Dove award winning professionals.

Teaching Kids To Sing is targeted for ages 5 - 6th grade and is a systematic, interactive and fun tool for teaching the young singers in your life about their voices using either our DVD or CDs. The Teaching Kids To Sing series presents principles and exercises in a way that can be easily understood and implemented by children.


My kids (ages 5 - 13) and I gathered around the TV and used Teaching Kids To Sing during part of our day and you can find ideas to help you implement this in a homeschool setting on the Vocal Coach website. We ended up going through two lessons at a time as they were not very long. The first DVD -- Volume 1 is Building Foundations That Last and goes through:
  • Posture
  • Breathing
  • Tone
  • Warm-Ups
The children learn the elements along with helpful hints for example to remember good posture you pretend to pull yourself up at the back of your neck with a string. Then Chris along with the Vocal Coach Kids Choir introduce a song to help reinforce what was just learned. One of our favorite songs was the Breathing Rap which goes like this (think with a rap beat to it)...

I breath without moving my ribs and chest.
I breath this way because it's best.
When I breath in I expand my middle,
When I breathe out my tummy gets little.
I breath this way, it feels just fine.
It's all by God's design.

Volume 2 -- Essential Skills For Growing Voices contains:
  • Rhythm
  • Diction
  • Dynamics
  • Vocal Health (did you know that clearing your throat is not good for your vocal chords?)
  • and you also go through Warm-ups again and some reminders from Volume 1.
The CD contains Accompaniment Tracks to all of the songs and warm-ups that were presented both with the vocals and just the accompaniment. You can play it anywhere for more practice.

My Thoughts

I really liked how the elements of singing are taught and presented in a very easy to learn manner that each of my children "got it". Initially they were a little turned off by how "old" the video seemed in how the kids were dressed, the setting, and just how the video was made.  It was produced in 1999 (when George was born) and it is amazing to again be reminded of how far technology has come in just 13 years. But after discussing that aspect we got back into learning what was important. And they were able to have fun doing the various warm-ups that I remember doing in choir class, hah hah hah and ho ho ho, up and down the musical scales and so on. Even Zippy had fun dancing along to the beat of the music. He may be my musical boy as he can keep the beat quite well already.

I did find that after going through these lessons with the kids following the lead of other children that they are better able to match the pitch and go up and down the scale. They also learned better posture which hopefully will help them in children's choir at church. And as I learned the Beatty's say,“Practice makes permanent no matter how you’re practicing, so let’s do it right.” So, just because you practice doesn't mean it will get perfect so it is helpful to learn how to do it the correct way.

This would be great for a children's choir to go through or just to help your children at home learn how to sing. What a great music class!

You can purchase Teaching Your Kids To Sing DVD/CD set for $44.99.

**Disclaimer -- I received a complimentary copy of Teaching Your Kids To Sing DVD/CD set in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

TOS Crew - Growing Up Wild

When I first looked at the website for Growing Up Wild it brought me back many years to when I was a child and missionaries would come to church and give their presentations while on furlough. I always enjoyed learning about different cultures and about life in another land. One of the missionaries we supported is from Papua New Guinea which is where this video series takes place so I was very excited for our children to watch this and have a small glimpse into the lives of missionary children.


Growing Up Wild is a video series that began as a creative outlet for the Wild family who serve as missionaries to the Wanu people of Papua, Indonesia. They are a family of six and the videos follow the everyday life of the four Wild brothers. We were able to review Volume 1 containing the episodes: Home Sweet Hut, Supply Trip, and Sun & Water and Volume 4 containing: Amazing World Around Us, Adventures in Culture, and Tribal Calling.

                                            Photobucket       Photobucket 

These were excellent family videos to watch! I think my boys especially enjoyed watching other boys their ages in a different culture experiencing things like finding snakes, riding in a helicopter for a supply trip, seeing the beautiful creatures like the bird of paradise, and the cool house they live in and learning about a new people group. The only thing almost all of us hid our face from was when two of the Wild boys along with some of the tribal boys had their septum pierced with a small sharpened piece of wood, which is something that is normal for the Wano people. Surprisingly, it wasn't painful but the thought of it alone made my stomach turn. I laughed so hard at the end when the suggested activity was to pierce your septum. Thankfully she was just kidding! I was also pleasantly surprised to see a familiar face in one of the pictures at the end of an episode. A girl I was in a singing group with in high school, who I knew was a missionary as her parents had been, was in a picture with Mrs. Wild. It is a small world!

The best part of this is that God is glorified in all they do. And I love what the Wild brothers Mom tells her boys -- “We learn and work hard at gaining knowledge, not so that we will become smart or be known as clever, or in order to make a name for ourselves, but so that we can be used for Christ.”


The episodes are not very long and so we ended up watching each volume in one sitting. Keep in mind that the videos were made by the Wild family and so it is not a big production but the quality of what is being learned is so good. They are real people following hard after God and sharing their lives with you and there is a real connection there.

After each episode they list suggested activities to help you think more about your own culture and connect with theirs and make it more real. Those activities are also included on a separate CD in a pdf file. Activities vary from building a model hut like the house the Wilds live in to filling out a chart (included printable) on how the Wano culture differs from our own. You can learn about the various creatures in Papua and there are suggested scripture readings and research projects to write about. This video series is wonderful for not only to enjoy as a family but has educational value as well.

I highly recommend this series to any family that wants to help their children learn about how God is working in all parts of the world and expand their worldview.


Thank You Wild family for giving us a glimpse of your life with the Wano people! May God continue to be glorified through your lives as you serve Him.

Purchase Information

There are 5 volumes in the Growing Up Wild series and you can purchase each one for $18.99 or the entire set for $80.99. Each volume contains an activity guide.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

TOS Crew - Your Child's Profession of Faith


Grace and Truth Books is a Christian publishing ministry that doesn't merely follow the trends and offer fancy packaging but is an online bookstore with the purpose of glorifying God and offering material that will encourage people in their faith and help them find joy in following Jesus. They offered 10 selections of books to review and I was able to read Your Child's Profession of Faith by Dennis Gundersen (founder and president of Grace and Truth Books and also a Pastor for 27 years).

As a parent I always struggle between the desire that my children know Christ as their Savior and the fear that I am pushing them into a faith that is not genuine. What if your child asks to be saved? Is it a sincere desire or a passing fancy. Could it be simply for a reason as I saw with one of ours because they want to take communion? And am I brushing off a true desire? I was hoping this book would be a helpful guidebook in this area.

In Your Child's Profession of Faith, the author raises the questions: Are you instructing your children about the Lord Jesus Christ? Are you urging them to seek to know the Lord? They should be hearing a clear, resounding emphasis on the gospel...on what the Son of God came to do in seeking to save those who are lost. We should not merely be seeking to lead them to Christ by putting words in their mouths but creating an atmosphere in the home where they are at ease talking with us about knowing God.

This book reminds us of just how simplistic a child's thinking is. Even the bible makes that clear in 1 Cor. 13:11..."When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man I did away with childish things." He does agree that yes, children can be converted at a young age although we may not know with certainty. And children are changeable and easily deceived which is covered in detail.

The author goes on to discuss how there is a time in a child's life where everything revolves around learning obedience to godly parents through our loving training and that this is the preparation to learn the gospel and that we need to be patient that this will direct our children to Christ.

We must not rush them into a profession of faith and then baptism. And he does cover when your child is ready for baptism and some other counsel including questions for pastoral interviews with children about baptism. Ultimately, we must be wise and be content that our children are at a stage of learning the truths of God's Word and pray that He will burn these truths into their hearts. But also..urge them in every way to focus all their attention on coming to Him, Who is the Way.

I love the author's final blessing for us as parents. Here is a portion of that.

...May you be parents who see to it that, from childhood, your children know "the holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:15). And may they, like Moses, in their mature years forsake the passing world and follow Him!

I feel like most of the books I read have something to do with raising children which is applicable for this season in my life. I probably should be more balanced in my reading. I did find this book very helpful and filled with scripture and insight and much encouragement.  This is not a book to glance over or one to read simply for enjoyment as there are nuggets of truth you do not want to miss and really need to process through. I think it would be a good book for discussion groups to bounce thoughts off of one another. Also a good read for Pastors especially on the subject of when a child is ready to be baptized.

Grace and Truth books has the book Your Child's Profession of Faith available on their website for $7.50 and in ebook form for $5.50.


**Disclaimer -- In exchange for my honest opinion I was given a complimentary copy of Your Child's Profession of Faith.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Seppy turns Five! {November 2}

Mr. Seppy turned five years old! What a sweet age to be. A time when a child is very full of wonder and so observant still taking in everything around him. I love the chubby hands still held in mine and kissing that sweet baby-face that hasn't changed too much over these few years. A time when change is just on the horizon. How I need to remember to delight in these days!

Here is one of my favorite pictures of Seppy and his sister when he was around 18 months. Love those smiling faces! And what a little chunk Sep is! They were very good friends then and still now.


Sep's party was last week with his sister and it is a little hard to understand when exactly your birthday really is if you already had cake and presents.


For breakfast he picked french toast, sausages, and chocolate milk. And for his birthday meal out with Mommy and Dadddy he chose Culvers so he could have a hamburger and ice cream. I love the one-on-one time and a reminder of what a goofy little guy we have who makes the funniest faces.


And this past week we had the privilege of hosting three college age guys from a singing group that has been ministering at church. I think it was a bit of a glimpse into what life will be like around here in a few years. The kids all loved them and they were so sweet to also help make Seppy feel special. I missed all but the ending of their singing and it is blurry but you get the idea.

Happy 5th Birthday Sweet Boy!

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