Welcome to my blog

Welcome to the sometimes random posts of Gina Reynolds. Use the labels at right to select your area of interest. Comment and let me know what you think. Scroll down on the right to follow this blog. Please feel free to check out my website as well at http://ginareynolds.org
God Bless...Gina

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Convention season is here!

Do you love going to homeschool conventions?  Never been?  Here's my short and sweet top 10 reasons to attend!  Seriously though, it will change your homeschool for the better, just go!  Scroll down for the ones I'll be at this year; stop by and say "hi".

10.  Where else can you find such  a plethora of ROLLING CARTS?

9. Homeschool extra stuff, T-shirts, key chains, mugs etc...  You don't see this at Wal-mart!

8. You can sit down before a workshop and strike up a conversation with the stranger next to you and realize you have almost everything in common!

7. You get to see close up what's out there that you didn't know existed in the curriculum realm.

6. Your kids finding other kids, just like them!

5. Do you love to page through new books?  

4. You can find comfort and counsel with others about your book addiction.

3. Where else will your family of 4+ seem normal, or even small?

2. No where else will you find this collection of amazing speakers.

1. This is THE place for encouragement, inspiration and information for your homeschool journey!

Here's where I'll be this spring.  Stop by and say "hi" if you are attending any of these events.

March 21st      Farmington Hills, MI (Homeschoolworks)

March 27th+38     Indianapolis, IN (IAHE)

April 9-11th    Cincinnati, OH (Midwest)

May 15th +16th Lansing, MI (INCH)

May 16th Fort Wayne, IN (my kids will be at this one)

May 28th-30th Sandusky, OH (TTD)

June 4-6th Naperville, IL (ICHE)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Overcoming Overload Book Review

I'm not sure I've ever publicly confessed this, but I consume books!  Typically, I try not to buy a lot of books because it just is not worth the price per hour for me (not to mention the fact that I REFUSE to buy another bookcase!)  I'm an avid fan of the library.  When I do see a bargain on a book though, I will pick it up as I've always got some "snatches" of time to read.

Overcoming Overload by Steve and Mary Farrar just happened to be one of those books I took a chance on and just got to finish (due to subbing Friday and having an unexpected planning hour!)  I have to say I was not initially "wowed", but as I read on I did find some nuggets I hadn't heard before. 

The book covers much of the typical "time management", "busy life" type stuff I've read in many books and actually occasionally speak on myself, but it had some added insight that intrigued me.  They talk about King Josiah (one of my favorite stories!), William Tyndale, Edward VI and Samuel and Abigail Adams.  I love it when authors use historical examples!  What can I say, I am a homeschool mom at heart.  And they cover the sabbath rest in detail and give a wonderful, balanced perspective on it.  But the nugget I'll share with you that really nailed our society on the head and made me ponder was "non-evangelicals".

They site George Barna who differentiates "Evangelicals" and "non-evangelicals" who still refer to themselves as Evangelical.  "Barna calls these people "non-evangelicals."  But that is not how they refer to themselves.  They believe that they are Evangelicals, even though they don't accept the authority and teaching of the Bible.  Some don't believe in hell.  Some believe that God doesn't know what will happen in the future.  Others reject that Jesus is the only way to God." 

This is covered on a chapter really devoted to the sovereignty of God.  It's an excellent chapter that really delves into what believing in the sovereignty of God really means.  And, I agree with the authors, many claiming "evangelicals" miss the mark on believing in a sovereign God"And that is a very serious issue.  In fact, it is the core issue."  As I began to dwell on this concept, it is incredibility correct that is possibly THE CORE ISSUE of today's world.

I won't expound more, but suffice it to say that I do recommend reading Overcoming Overload and taking some time to dwell on the thought provoking content.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Going to Bless My House Today!

You know in life things get put on our plate all the time.  Many times we can just tip the plate and they can fall right off.  But other times gravy gets ladled on, it oozes all over everything and covers up the things you know God intends for you to have on your plate.  If you tip the plate to remove the gravy you lose the good things too.  It must be carefully and painstakingly removed which takes way more time than you have.

favorite place to enjoy the peace!
Seems like these last  few  weeks and even months have been a gravy season.  I can’t say the gravy is fully off the plate yet, but some mashed potato moats have been erected and I’m getting back to the items that are supposed to be on the plate in the first place.  It’s in these times that the “good” things can get neglected, and for me the one that will go first is the Home.

Like it or not, for most women their Home is supposed to be one of the main things on their plate.  Most of the time I like it, or at I at least like some of the things about the “Home” part of my plate.  I enjoy creating new decorating things for my home, making great food,  even choosing the d├ęcor and style (even if I don’t like the painting!) and yes, I do enjoy a clean orderly home!

The part I don’t seem to find time for, especially when gravy has been flowing, is the day to day upkeep and cleaning.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we’ll be featured on Hoarders anytime soon (well maybe one of the kids room, but that’s another issue) but it’s not as “refreshing” as I’d like.  I take great joy and peace in sitting down to have a cup of coffee in a clean and clutter free home.

So today my husband is off shooting for the day and I intend to Bless my House.

Bless my House?  Yes, I think it’s a term I originally found in an Elizabeth George book.  It really does change your thinking when you look at the upkeep and “chores” of housework as “blessing”.  Ultimately you are truly blessing  your family.

They will now be able to find that bill they left out in a pile somewhere, or have clean socks and underwear.  And low and behold, there are now plenty of clean towels in the bathroom closet and spoons for cereal.

I may not get it all accomplished, but I will surely succeed in several rooms, so tonight I can sit down with a cup of coffee, maybe a book , fuzzy socks and enjoy the peace and relaxation of a clean room!

Have you Blessed your House lately?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Review of America the Beautiful

I picked up American the Beautiful by Ben Carson a few weeks back and have found a lot of interesting information and refreshing thoughts coming from someone who some claim could run for president.   Now that is not to say I agree 100% with everything.  My views differ quite a bit on the healthcare issue from what Carson suggests, however there is much I agree with him on.

For instance, he does a fantastic job of going over our history and what got our country where we are today.  This is interlaced with a pretty accurate assessment of our current political and economic situation.

You may notice that the picture of the cover I chose to post was in fact my own copy of America the Beautiful.  This is because I wanted to point out all the purple tags I have hanging out the side.  These my Lincoln Douglas debate friends are all sections where he points out things that I want my debate students to note about our current economic situation.  Here's just one of his thoughts that I fully support, "The Constitution is quite clear that the government has the right to tax in order to support its programs, but there is nothing in the Constitution to support redistribution of wealth."  That's probably not even the most remarkable quote, but you get the idea.  Very worth a read for those of you debating in NCFCA Lincoln Douglas this year.

Ben Carson speaks with great candor and actually has first hand knowledge of what he speaks about.  Much of the book focuses on problems of the poor and redistribution.  He grew up very poor in inter city Detroit and shares his story with his readers.

My homeschool mom friends will appreciate the huge impact his mother had on him.  She actually could not read but realized the importance of learning so when she saw her boys failing at school she required them to read a book from the public library each week and write a report.  Carson attributes this to turning him on to learning and changing his direction.  He says, "...in the beginning I sure hated reading those books.  After a while however, I actually began to look forward to them because they afforded me a fantastic escape from our everyday poverty...Every single day my knowledge of our would expanded, which excited me to no end."  He says he didn't know then that his mother couldn't read the reports he wrote but it didn't matter.

Through literature a whole word was opened to him.  Through literature he became a better speller and had inspiration to move forward.  I just love what good literature can do for people!

Anyway, I digress...  Its been a great read so far (I have a few pages left) and I highly recommend it.  If you live near Buchanan MI you may still be able to pick it up at a significant discount as well through Library Education Services.  I was able to get it off their $2 table!  Huge savings, but even if you have to pay full price I think it's worth it.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Mystery of History IV

The year is well underway and its been a busy one.  I've not had much time to "review" what we're using this year but I'll try to catch up a bit here at least on one subject.  We are probably one of the first to use the newly released Mystery of History IV.  It has been great so far.

We started in September with the textbook and companion guide downloaded to us since the publisher was experiencing delays.  This was a bit challenging at times.  There were a few lessons I really wanted the students to have their books in class for and it just wasn't possible.  On the other hand, it came in handy with planning my syllabus to be able to switch from text to activities right on my computer and not have to have the hefty textbook with me.

Lexie doing her presentation of Civil War medicine
Thankfully though we finally got the physical book, now my girls "see" more of the pictures.  (It was a little awkward to pass around the computer screen!)

That said, we are using this in our co-op as well as at home.  We read our own lessons and have an assignment to do at home each week.  I select these ahead of time from the companion guide.  They are usually pretty close to what Linda Hobar recommends in the guide, although I sometimes "tweak" the ideas to fit our needs.  We also make a timeline card for each lesson at home on an index card.

At class we go over our timeline cards.  These should be the "highlights" of each lesson on one index card.  The students have made a timeline out of card-stock with pockets to hold the cards (we did this the first day of class.)  Most weeks we then also do the map for the week, also straight from the companion guide. Over the years I've created this method for the cards which isn't exactly like the Mystery of History books suggest but it works very well for us.  You can find my blog with a couple pictures of our timelines here.

Ariel's presentation was on Art of the Civil War
The third thing we do at class each week depends on what our homework assignment was.  The last two weeks we did our Civil War specialist presentations in class (a modification of a companion guide suggestion.)  We've done anything from card memory games, quizzes, salt dough maps, cooking, reading first source documents and discussing, watching DVDs, listening to music etc...  I love to have all the ideas in the companion guide there for you, it makes doing to class in a co-op so easy!

If you've done other Mystery of History books this will will "feel" very much like Mystery of History III in length, format and type of activities. 

For those that may be interested in MOH for a co-op I am happy to share my syllabus, only I don't have it completely done.  I will post as soon as I do but since I didn't get the entire book until December I only had the first half done to start (working on the other half this week.)  Leave me a message and I'll be happy to send you what I have or let you know when I get it all done and posted (very soon, I think!)

I was and still am thrilled that MOH IV is finally out and we are able to use it!  Highly recommend it and the whole series.  Check the history label at right for lots of other posts on history in our homeschool, many of them with Mystery of History.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Competition IS a good thing

I recently encountered an attitude that really frustrated me.  I guess I should not be surprised in this day and age of changed curriculum and tolerance.  We are supposed to applaud everyone, and there are not winners or losers, right?!!?  Seriously, this type of thinking is so flawed.

You may be able to try to take this out of the classrooms, shelter your kids from the "pain", work to suppress the natural desire to succeed, or portray an attitude that you don't care but why would you try to do this?

Competition is not only helpful, the American way and all that, but also a very Biblical principle.

1 Corinthians 9:24 ESV "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it."

The writer here is talking about a broader subject but assumes as a universal principle that if you enter a race you do so to win.  You are "competing", it is a given.   Our very nature tells us to succeed and do our best.  It's part of life.

We are to strive to do our best.  The Bible tells us in 1 Cor. 10:31 ESV, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."  I've had this one up on my kitchen wall for years.  And yes, the writer was talking about food for idols but the principle remains.  We are to strive to "glorify" God.  Does it really glorify God if we don't "run is such a way as to win?"

Got wants and expects our best.  No, we will not always "win", but if we strive for that we are constantly improving and "doing our best".  It's a principle I like to call Excellence.

It reminds me of the saying, "If a thing is worth doing, it's worth doing well."

But can we do things "excellently" apart from competition?  Sure, it's may be possible. B,ut I have to tell you, if I know I'm bringing my Apple Pie to the fair for judging I am more careful that my crust looks perfect than if I'm serving it for Sunday dinner.  Maybe it's just me, but I seriously doubt it! 

I've seen it in teaching speech to students.  When it's just for a class the students are not as motivated to turn out an "excellent" speeches, but when they are required to give it at a competition their level of time and effort to do well goes up significantly.  

So PLEASE don't pretend you are not competing when you are, don't pretend you don't care, and certainly don't act like you are all spiritual for having these attitudes.  Most certainly please don't criticize others who are striving to win.  God does want us to run in such a way as to win, so go for it!

Iron does sharpen iron, so don't let yourself get rusty!  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Freezer cooking with a bundled meat pack

One of the things that brings me great joy is having meals ready in the freezer to make my life easier.  Check out the category at the right for lots of other blogs on how to do this in general.  Today I'm focusing on something new I tried to bring a new twist to my freezer cooking.
"Grandpas" meat bundle from Sheltons

Locally we have a store called Sheltons.  They offer "meat bundles" which I thought I'd try with my next freezer cooking.  The prices come out pretty well and in this case I got a variety of meats instead of say buying 40lbs of boneless chicken breast at a time when it's on sale and stocking my freezer with all chicken dishes.

For those of you not living near Niles MI, I'm sure if you check many of your local stores with butchers probably offer similar bulk buying options.

The one I tried contained 3lbs of boneless skinless chicken breast, 3lbs of ground round, 3lbs of sliced bacon, 3lbs of pork cutlets, 3lbs of boneless pork chops, 3lbs of ground sausage and 3lbs of chicken drumsticks.  With this I made 3 Chicken Chili's, 3 Bacon/Tomato pasta, 3 pans of Lasagna, 3 batches of Ziti, 1 batch of parsley Parmesan Chicken and I have the pork cutlets and pork chops to grill or bake as one meal each.  So that's 14 main meal dishes for $39 in meat cost.  And, the beauty of it is that we have a nice variety instead of chicken, chicken, chicken or pork, pork, pork etc...  It worked out so well that I think next time I'll buy two bundles.

Now, I know, some of you want to have the recipes.  Really, I recommend you take your favorites that use bacon, chicken, ground round etc... but if you'd like to try mine.  Here' you go:
Finished Meals, ready for the freezer
es (don't overcook, just have them slightly al dente) but this time I didn't have the freezer space so I just froze sauces.

Chicken Chili-This one I've blooged on before so you'll find it here.

Parsley Parmesan Chicken- This is one from 30 day Gourmet but it is a password protected one so I'll give you my version.  Just bag up your chicken pieces (in this case the 3lbs of drumsticks would make one meal for our family of 5 who eat meat) and pour bottled Italian dressing right into the bag.  I probably use about 3/4 to 1 cup of dressing.  Now in a sandwich bag put a teaspoon or two of paprika, a little salt and pepper, 1 cup of dry bread crumbs (I use Italian seasoned) and 1/2 to 2/3 cup of Parmesan cheese.  Seal the sandwich bag and put it inside the larger freezer bag with the chicken.  Now seal the large bag and freeze.  When you are ready to cook it just thaw and coat the chicken pieces with the crumb mix and bake at 350 until the chicken is done (time will depend on size of chicken pieces you are using.)

Lasagna-This one is not really a recipe either.  Just make your lasagna however you usually do, only don't precook the noodles.  Layer with the noodles uncooked.  Before you put your pans in the freezer just add water down the side of the pan (so it doesn't "wash" all your sauce off the top) until you can see the water about 1/2 to 2/3 up.  The only trick is it needs to thaw at least 24 hours so that the noodles will "cook".   I layered mine with jarred sauce, cottage cheese, crumbled cooked ground round, basil, and mozzarella cheese.  Feel free to add what you like.