Friday, August 30, 2013

Book Review : A Man in the Making

Do you know who Rick Johnson is?  Have you read any of his books?  If not, read my review of  That’s My Girl to hear some advice for fathers and daughters.  I have enjoyed getting to know Mr. Johnson through that book and this new one that I get to share with you!

A Man in the Making: Strategies to Help Your Son Succeed in Life  -     
        By: Rick Johnson

A Man in the Making – Strategies to help your son succeed in life – is a book for boys, really for Dads to read about his boy, but even for a mom would gain some great insight and wisdom in this book.

I love the way Mr. Johnson laid out every chapter, first there is a different character in each chapter which represents a certain character trait.  First is person featured is Martin Luther, followed by other favorites such as Robert E. Lee, George Washington, and even Leonardo da Vinci.  The theme of each chapter is a character trait that we all seem to want to teach to our boys : courage, duty, self-discipline, and even common sense.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading through these chapters and I am looking forward to having my oldest even read a few.  My husband even read a few chapters and enjoyed it.  He is expecting to read more of it.  I think this is a great book for parents of adolescent boys – there is so much good stuff in each chapter!

The chapter begins with a brief intro for each person, then there is a biographical section.  After you get to know each person you are able to see how they embody the specific character trait for that chapter; but my favorite part is the practical application with how to teach that particular trait to our children.


rick johnsonRick founded Better Dads, a fathering skills program, based on the urgent need to empower men to lead and serve in their families and communities. Rick's books have expanded his work to include influencing the whole family, with life-changing insights for men and women on parenting, marriage, and personal growth. Inspiring and equipping through innovative multimedia presentations and seminars, Rick's resources, methods and personal approach have been transforming the lives of men, women, and their families for over ten years.
Rick speaks at many large conferences across the US and Canada including MOPS International conventions, Promise Keepers Canada events, Design 4 Living women's conferences, and Iron Sharpens Iron men's conferences. He is a popular keynote speaker at men's and women's retreats and conferences on parenting and marriage.

NOTE : I was offered a copy of A Man in the Making at no cost, in exchange for an honest review, by Revell Publishers.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hungry Boys

I suspect this may be a title I go back to over and over – since I have pre-teen boys –THREE of ‘EM- and they are only getting bigger and hungrier!!

So, after breakfast today I posted a plea on facebook :

Okay, mommas of teenage boys : two eggs, two pieces whole wheat toast & almond milk - not filling up my nearly-teen boys!! What is a cheap filling item I can add to breakfast? (Most morning we have a fruit smoothie instead if milk. ) Shower me with ideas please!!!

Now first, let me explain.  I do not mind making breakfast, I normally do every day.  We no longer get boxes of cereal (TOO expensive and they are hungry an hour later).  We have farm fresh eggs (get about 10 a day) at our disposal.  And we eat as a family after chores before school.  So, I do not mind the prep.  But how much food do these people require????  It is no fun when I feed them, and they are still begging for food!!

And, I do not want to be mixing up muffins, toasting granola, frying eggs and whipping up a smoothie each morning. 

So the answer is : let’s start using my freezer!! 

I had many suggestions :

Peanut butter





more peanut butter, more oatmeal

add veggies to eggs

add eggs


This all got me thinking about things I have done in the past.  I have made a gallon of yogurt.  That lasts about a week and a half.  I made and froze lots of muffins before friends came to stay and pulled different ones out each night.  I need to get ahead of my problem….

I saw a muffin recipe on pinterest that said you can freeze the batter.  Perfect!!  Then, I knew I need to whip up some granola to have on hand too.  And I think I need to start making either yogurt or Kefir every other week.  This is a great item to use to fill up those HUGE stomachs. 

So, Here is my plan and a few links to share with you:

Banana Crumb Muffins (I’m going to cook and freeze)

Potatoes O’Brien

Cinnamon Zucchini Freezer Muffins

Morning Ham and Cheese Muffins (make and freezer before cooking)

* Note with some of these recipes I will modify the sugar.  I do not use white sugar or brown – we use less every time, honey when we can or an organic unrefined sugar if we have to. 

After I get all these items mixed up, cooked up, or fixed and frozen, I feel like I will be able to throw a few more items on our breakfast table.  Or I will have more options for a mid-morning snack.

Some other suggestions from my Facebook Friends were oatmeal, peanut butter, potatoes, more eggs, steak (not going to happen here), and granola.

homemade granola

Coconut Cranberry Granola with cashews and pecans

So, my granola is cooling right now (nothing like motivation kicking in!), my 12 muffins are cooking, 24 more are freezing, and I am about to whip up those egg muffin things to bake and freeze.

Whew.  I think I will have a bit of help with breakfast for the next week or two….I hope!!

Meanwhile, if anyone knows where I can sign my boys up for sponsorship through the teen years – for feeding purposes only-  please tell me!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

History/Geography/Biography & Nature

I am so excited to see all the pieces falling into place in one area of our school. 

My 2 big boys are reading David Livingstone this year. 

golding_livingstoneSince we usually try to do map drills of one continent through the year,  this year, since we are already in Africa with Mr. Livingstone, (and we have friends living there this year) I decided we need to learn the continent of Africa!!  So we are doing map drills and learning where all the countries are.  AG and I do it verbally – so I talk with her and we are learning a few at a time.  The boys write them in on their laminated blank map.

livingstone ywam

Next, E had read a biography of Mr. Livingstone, but he will read the YWAM book this year so we can all talk about his adventures as a missionary in China. 

africa small square

The last piece is nature, and I have a copy of One Small Square African Savannah book that we will read through as well.  So we will learn about the plants that grown there, animals that live there, and all the other good stuff!!  I think I will pull out our Draw Write Now copy of the Savannah too – so they can draw some pictures of the animals we learn about!

Oh my goodness, school is so stinking fun!!  I know I am learning far more than I have forgotten!!  My favorite part of homeschooling is certainly learning it all (again) in a way that I understand and am bound to remember!!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Why Homeschool

So, school started here “officially” today.  All our friends headed back, with all their supplies, anxious to see friends, and dreading the year.  Not all in that order, and this was an unofficial poll of the kids I know.

Here?  Well, we started school last week.  We schooled Monday and  Tuesday – headed to Arlington with Dad all day Wednesday, volunteered Thursday at the food pantry while I met with our co-op to plan, and then relaxed Friday.  Hmmmm

{oh yeah, we did do math Saturday}

That is why I love homeschool. 

Here are a few of my reasons  :

1.  We generally finish school by noon.

2.  We eat lunch together in our kitchen, listening to music, talking and doing life

3.  We get to spend days serving, because quite honestly I want them to learn to live out service now, here – not “later”

4.  We can do school in the house, the school building, our bed, or in the shade of a tree

5.  We can wear pj’s

6.  We learn to get along with each other – harder than getting along with strangers – I mean really, it is!

7.  We get to chase down topics or ideas we want to learn – we still have clear thinking kids when school is done and they can choose how to spend their afternoons.

8.  We can finish a week of school in one LONG day, if we need/want to.

9.  We can do math while driving to DFW, waiting at the dentist, or after dinner.

10.  I get to watch my kids love each other (and fight too)

So we are into our second week, and so far I think we have a pretty solid routine for school days – it is flowing well.  And most of all we are having fun learning lots of new stuff!!

Like, do you know where Mali, Chad and Niger are in Africa?  I do – as of last week!! Fun stuff!!

{For the record, J thinks he knows where East Africa is, also known as South Africa – made me laugh!!}

Friday, August 23, 2013

Co-Op Planning

Oh my goodness, we are in the midst of some fun happenings around here!!  Two years ago we had a co-op of sorts.  It was a bit structured and a bit fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants.  Last year we attempted a co-op on steroids – and it fizzled before the year kicked off. (Too many things going on, and at least one momma needed to step back)

This year, we are merging the two.  We are having a Charlotte Mason style co-op, following lots of planning.  We are very organized and all planned out for the year, but we are keeping it LIGHT.  This means no science, no presidents, no geography, no linking it all to history …. oh my I think I am getting tired again!! 

This year it will be as follows:

Hymn Study as a group (using

Next we will break into 3 groups – older (6th & up) middle (K-5th) and Pre-school – and we will do

Artist Study

Art Project (inspired by the artist)

Composer Study

Nature Study

I will admit that Pinterest has made planning all this so much easier!!  We have our year mapped out as far as which hymn, artist and so on.





What a Friend we have in Jesus





Blessed Assurance





Amazing Grace




Van Gogh

O Holy Night





Take my Life





Come Thou Fount





Rock of Ages




Da Vinci

Old Rugged Cross





It is Well with my Soul



We are going to meet twice a month – which we all think will be perfect with our already busy schedules!! 

So stay tuned, maybe I will share some of our art projects and nature study as we go along.  We are excited!! 

I plan to incorporate notebooking pages for my family for each topic.  We may only have 1 notebooking page for each hymn that they jot notes on for two weeks, but anything will help them retain a bit more of that info!

It is going to be a great school year!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Back to School Review

There are so many things I want to get posted up here, so many ideas of what I want this year to look like, things we are doing, and what is going on at the Farm!  Ugh!  I cannot seem to find the time to do it all!!

But I have to share an amazing book with you that I cannot wait to hold in my hands – that is going to be such a blessing to our historical schooling this year!!

I was so excited to be able to review a digital copy of Knowledge Quest’s A Child’s Geography Volume 3 : Explore the Classical World!  I loved this book.  As I read through it I got more and more excited about how this would really help our historical lessons of history when we re-do the Classics. 

We are doing Ambleside Yr 6 this year, so the first part of the year we will be in the 20th century, but by Christmas we are going to be starting the whole timeline over!  One thing we are doing different too is I am going to start all 4 kids over.  We are going to start at the beginning together and use different books for different ages to help them get it.


This book : Exploring the Classical World will be for all 4 of my kids – and for me too!!  I loved it.  It is told in a story like manner by a narrator. 

Here is a brief description:

Imagine walking in the footsteps of Socrates, Alexander the Great, the Apostle Paul... See and understand ancient civilizations and great empires from what has been left behind and carefully preserved. Hear the stories passed down from generation to generation, before the advent of paper and printing presses. As we explore the Classical World, you and your family will delight in incredible, mysterious landscapes, hidden wonders and beautiful peoples - all created in God's image.


Download the first 3 chapters to read
and try for yourself!

Why did I love it so much?  Because of the way the book is written you will really imagine all that is going on as you “walk” through the places.  You will hear sounds and smell scents (at least in your mind).  I am excited about trying some recipes of local places and simply feeling like we are really there and not just reading a boring book.

I read this book rather quickly to review it, but I am so looking forward to savoring each and every chapter this year as we walk through it together.  I love how Knowledge Quest makes maps a part of every day learning too.  I love that you do not have to look anywhere else than this book and you will have the history and geography in ONE place!!

I loved this book, and I hope you do too!!

NOTE : I received a digital copy in exchange for editing the book before print, and a soft copy in exchange for an honest review, by Knowledge Quest.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Book Review : Domination

I love when authors dedicate their time to writing books that will encourage young adults and make them think about their God given purpose in life!

Domination is #3 in the C.H.A.O.S trilogy.  My oldest was able to review book #2 before this one and was pretty excited to jump back into the story and review this one!

{Check out his review for book #2 HERE}



In my son’s words :

This book is a lot like the second book, there is a lot of action and fighting, the characters are the same, and the same threat exists.

The Thule are a race of aliens that have destroyed all the planets surrounding their home planet and they come here to take over Earth to have control of our resources.  Colt and his friends are involved with a Special Operations Team known as CHAOS.

Latest new from here

What a whirlwind it has been since we got home!!

prject time

The after arriving home I went to the doctor, only to find out my cholesterol skyrocketed 60 points!!  Oh my!!  So, I am in a detox state trying to get it down from my crazy vacation!!

Then we picked up the newest member of the farm : Axle. 



He is as sweet as he is stinky and that is a bit of a problem!  I think he wants some scratches and to be friendly, but that smell!! 

So this leads me to our latest project, a goat pen.  Yay!  This way they can all live together in harmony over “there.” 

getting sweet

We still have a calf in the other pasture, hope she comes home kind-of soon, but we need to redo the fence that divides our pasture and the neighbor one before she comes how – another project!!  And Cleo is getting bigger in our back yard.  I hope she and Chloe will get along in the big pasture if they ever get out there together.


Meanwhile, the garden turned into a jungle.  It was terrible when we got home.  We have been pulling, cutting and working hard in the garden to no avail!!  Ugh!  But we are still harvesting tomatoes and tomatillos every day.   So there is a bit of a reward!

We are about to attempt a new type of  garden.  We watched much of “Back to Eden” and are going to try out his approach.  It promises no weeds and happy garden with little to no water.  I will take it!!  We will see how it goes!!  Thanks to a friend who told us about this and showed us her garden.

Finally, the school building is transforming.  This seems to be an annual thing, I get motivated to clean up, to get ready for the new year and then over the following 12 months is turns into chaos.  I hope not this year.  I am trying to be more organized and make the space work for me.  We will see.  So far, I am loving it.  It is so much neater and we love our new sitting area!!

sitting area

Sewing area

Nature study

Well, that sums up the Cole Farm for now.  Things are in a steady state of change around here, but we love it. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Book Review : Misery Loves Company

Every now and then I get to review a book that surprises me.  Normally I know I expect with most books I read, however with Misery Loves Company, I had no idea what to expect.  I finished this particular book in a day and was hard pressed to put it down!


I do not want to give away the surprises from this book, but I will tell you what I enjoyed. 

The characters Rene Gutteridge introduces us to were some of the most real I have read.  I could immediately relate with Jules (Juliet), she is the main character who is still suffering from the pain of losing her husband.  Chris is another major character in the book, and he was Jules’ husband’s best friend, and was charged with watching out for her.  I also felt connected to Chris – his regrets, his concerns, his purpose.

I could also relate with Jules daily activities since she is a blogger and book reviewer.  Her most recent review was of her favorite author, however she wrote a less than favorable review.  When she wakes up, and can only remember being in the grocery store after running in to her favorite author, she realizes things may not be as they have seemed.

Patrick Reagan is the author who has been lacking in his most recent books.  He has a mission though, a mission to show Jules truth.

I enjoyed this book a great deal, I enjoyed the suspense of figuring out where Jules is and why.  I liked the perspective Renee Gutteridge gives us about the author Patrick Reagan, and what makes an author “tick.”  There are two plot lines going on in the story but it is not until the end when you figure out how they intersect.

This story had many twists and turns, a good deal of suspense and even some deeper introspective thinking.  Both Jules and Patrick are wrestling with just who they think God is.  I appreciated their search for some clear understanding about the Creator.

I enjoyed my first book by Renee Gutteridge and I hope to get my hands on some of her other books!  I enjoyed this book and recommend it highly!

NOTE : I received a complimentary copy of  Misery Loves Company in exchange for an honest review compliments of Tyndale House.

Book Review : The Letters

I am excited to introduce you to a new series by Suzanne Woods Fisher.  She is taking us back to Stoney Ridge where we fell in love with the Lapp family in (The Keeper, The Haven, and The Lessons).  This series is titled The Inn at Eagle Hill and the first book is The Letters.


I loved that this is a new series with new characters, there is an occasional sighting of a favorite from the Stoney Ridge Series, and in this book, one plays a pretty big role! 

Ms. Fisher is an expert at transporting us to a different culture, a place where family is the first priority after God.  She immerses us into the Amish world and allows us to become not only a fan of these families, but a part of them!  You cannot help but fall in love with her characters as you wonder what choices they will make or how they will deal with their struggles.

In this particular book, The Letters, we are introduced to Rose who is a widow living with her mother-in-law and her daughter and two sons, and step-daughter.  The bond they all feel for each other is comforting, especially in an age where family takes a back seat in our culture.


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