Sunday, February 26, 2012

We Need Winter at the Beach

This past week I got to meet Suzanne in person and hear her Momma's heart for her daughter. Suzanne is a writer for Homeschool Enrichment magazine and writes the homeschool humor column. Her daughter has a need though, that is no laughing matter. I asked her to share her story on my blog with the hopes that maybe one of my readers would have the first piece of information/lead needed to help Suzanne and her daughter. I call it "Operation Winter on the Beach." :) ~Maureen

The summer heat will be creeping into Florida over the next few months - or just showing up on the doorstep in April saying

"I'm here, ready or not!"

For many, summer means BBQ's and fun outdoor days; lazy rivers and flower gardens. For our 17-year old daughter, Winter Marie, summer heat has typically meant pain, itch, rash, multiplied medications, increased infection risk as well as an amplified potential for life-threatening reactions.

Since Winter turned one, she has had severe eczema and immune challenges. Rounds and rounds of medication, food and chemical testing, alternative meds and contemporary medicine have brought her to a baseline that we call "normal."

When the temperature rises, inflammation which continually burns under her top layers of skin - unseen to the outsider, but felt by her - rises to the surface.

The pain and itch intensify, the need to scratch begs in earnest.

Mediation by medication isn't enough. And the itchy pain becomes a scratched arm, face, legs. The scratches rise. The wound weeps. Infection waits its opportunity.

The past two summers Winter and her mother have spent the hottest three months staying at a Ronald McDonald House in Colorado, under doctors' recommendation. Living life housebound for nearly half the years of her life is no longer a healthy option, when there are others.

This summer, Winter's team of doctors, from Duke University Medical Center (Durham, NC), National Jewish Health (Denver, CO) and locally in (Jacksonville, FL) recommend, due to new-to-her treatments we are testing, that we find a summer location on the beach so she can try being outside in the heat, along with the health benefits of sun and salt water.

In conjunction with her new medical routines, they are hoping this environment will give her a good testing ground before subjecting her to inland summer heat and humidity.

Some things we must consider, for medical purposes:

  • fire station/ambulance available in 20 min or less
  • within 20 minutes ambulance drive to hospital
  • on the beach or walking distance to the beach (Mom’s health prevents her from driving)
  • pet-free room
  • room with a tub
  • air-conditioning
  • grocery store (and a pharmacy) w/i walking distance, or transportation available (public or otherwise)
  • access to cooking facilities (simple is fine)
  • internet access (WiFi preferred) for family/church/friend support


Do you know of a place we can stay? Or have friends, family, business associates who might be able to help? Here are some possible locations:

North Carolina
Bodie Island
Hatteras Island
Roanoke Island

South Carolina
Myrtle Beach
Hilton Head
Kiawah Island
Surfside Beach
Pawleys Island

Jekyl Island
St Simons Island
Tybee Island

Jacksonville Beach
Amelia Island
St Augustine
Ponte Vedra
Neptune Beach
Fernandina Beach

If you have leads we can follow, please email Suzanne, the mama, suzmom at msn dot com or contact Suzanne on Facebook.

I don't know how it will work out, but God does ...

will you pray with us? for us? 

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Educational Games: Ancient Egypt and Military Jets Card Games

We have been studying ancient history this year and have just finished learning about Ancient Egypt via living books, Mystery of History, and crafts. I'm always on the look-out for good supplemental materials for our studies--especially fun, hands-on type things. When I saw the Ancient Egypt Card Game from BirdCage Press, I was very interested in checking it out.

The deck of Ancient Egypt cards can be used both as a review tool and a game. The set of cards comes with a little booklet that goes over all the information on the cards. The information is divided into 6 groups: gods, goddesses, symbols, pharaohs, mummies, and afterlife.

I appreciated that the images on the cards were photographic images of real Ancient Egyptian artifacts and artwork. On each card there was a short description of the photograph. I learned quite a bit just by reading the cards.

Of course we had to play the game. The rules were the same as Go Fish. Thankfully each card had a category number on it so we could easily tell what card our opponent was asking for. I will admit that saying, "Do you have an afterlife card?" did sound weird--lol. My kids enjoyed playing this game and it was a great way to review many of the pharohs and artifacts we had learned in our history lessons.

I also picked up Battle cards: Military Jets. I knew this would be perfect for my son and husband.

The cards are wonderful! They contain a photograph of the airplane, the name, and information about the airplane.

There are several ways to play this game (listed in the information booklet.) We choose to play the Old Maid version. You can see from the picture that my son was enjoying this! Across the table sat his sisters who loved the game just as much as he did. I was glad I played because I started  learning the names of some of the planes my son and husband talk about. Now I feel like I have a reference point when the conversation turns to planes.

So what do I think?
I think Birdcage Press has produced quality, educational games that can easily be added to various unit studies and curriculum. Birdcage Press has card games available in the following categories: Art, Wildlife and Nature, Air and Space, and History. The cards are durable and very informative. I'm impressed with the quality of the booklet and the cards. It's a great way to sneak a little learning while having fun.

If you can't wait and want to order now, Birdcage Press has a free shipping code good through 3/31/12
Use IN12

I'm giving away one set of cards from Birdcage Press. The winner will get to choose either the Ancient Egypt set of cards or Battle Cards: Military Jets (be sure to check below for giveaways for other card sets from my blogging friends.) I am using Rafflecopter to run this giveaway. You can enter either with Facebook or by using your email address. This is just in order to have a way to contact the winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out these blogs for more giveaway options!
Spell Outloud -- Choice of Egyptian Art Cards or Battle Cards-Military Jets
Finding Joy -- Choice of Wild Cards – North American Birds or Art Ditto Game.
Jimmie's Collage --Choice of Impressionist or Renaissance Art Game
Mama's Learning Corner -- Renaissance Art Game
Handbook of Nature Study -- Wild Cards-Backyard Birds
Harmony Art Mom -- Choice of Go Fish for Art or Art Close-Up Cards
The Curriculum Choice -- Art Ditto Memory Game
Hodgepodge -- Go Fish for Wildlife – Sea Creatures
The Traveling Praters -- Choice of Go Fish for Van Gogh and Friends or 52 Amazing Places-National Parks
Get Along Home -- Choice of Wild Cards, Backyard Birds or Renaissance Art Game

Disclosure: I received the games for review purposes only. I was not compensated for my time. The opinions stated are mine.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Blogging Conference for Homeschoolers: BEECH recap

Blogging, Blabbering, and Bonding: The BEECH Convention

You might have noticed that I was not blogging from the Midwest last week. I was in sunny (well on some days) Florida with a group of Christian homeschool bloggers. This was the first ever BEECH event. We met in a living room and shared various blog topics and tips. We ate together. We got to hang with each other. At times we shared our hearts. I don't even know if I can put into words what this week meant to me. So instead I'll show some pictures.

Jimmie, me, and Jolanthe
Tricia, Donna, Suzanne, Me, Jamerrill
#BEECHcon on Instagram
What did BEECH mean to me?

This event provided an opportunity to meet in person many bloggers I already knew online but not in real life. I was able to meet homeschoolers on various parts of the homeschool path---some with young children to those who have graduated several children from high school and college. I laughed--- a lot. I shared and learned about the art of blogging. I slept very little. I might have even almost cried a couple times or two. My heart is now connected to these fabulous women. BEECH was a gift.

We are working on bringing this to you. BEECH will be a place where homeschool moms can retreat and build real relationships while learning the ins-and-outs of blogging. Subscribe to the BEECH newsletter to stay up-to-date with all the news.

If you want to hear other tales from #BEECHcon see:

Daze of Adventure
Homeschool Creations
Jimmie's Collage
Holy Spirit-led Homeschooling
Domestic Serenity
Donna Spann
Finding Joy
Layered Soul
Mommy Matters


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Virtual Friends Become IRL

I love my new Hobo Bag from BorsaBella!

Yes, I'm in sunny FL this week with a group of ladies for the first-ever BEECH conference. This is going to be a couple of days of brainstorming, laughing, and learning.

photo by Jimmie

Jolanthe (Homeschool Creations) and Jamerrill (Holy-Spirit-led Homeschooling) swapping blogging stories.

I have known Jimmie for years online and I am so blessed to get to talk with her in person! She has helped me tremendously over the years both in my blogging and my homeschooling. I am thrilled that she is now a In Real Life friend!

These are just some of the ladies who encourage me in my homeschool journey! Who/what encourages you in your homeschool? Don't forget to share your photo with the BEECH team:

We’d like to see what encourages you in your homeschool adventure. Your encouragement might come from a person, an object, or a special place. Whatever it is, submit a picture of your source of encouragement on the #BEECHCon Facebook page for a pre-Twitter party prize entry to win a $50 gift certificate to Hearts at Home  curriculum store.

Join us tonight,Thursday, February 16 on Twitter at 9pm EST! Follow the hashtag #BEECHcon and follow both Jenn @dazeofadventure for the questions and @spelloutloud for the winner. We've got a great line-up of sponsors:


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

You are Loved

Here's some virtual Valentine's chocolate just for you! May you all know how special you are--you are loved!

There's a special Valentine's Treat from What's in the Bible? too! Use coupon code Love2 to get Vol. 1 DVD for just $5.00

Disclosure: Why yes, that DVD promotion is an affiliate link! I will receive a small commission if it is used--which I thank you in advance! :)

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Monday, February 13, 2012

BEECH Party for Homeschoolers

I can't believe in a couple of days I will be heading to the beach for the first ever BEECH meet-up! BEECH stands for “Blogging to Encourage and Equip Christian Homeschoolers,” and I am looking forward to meeting some bloggers in person who have encouraged me greatly already.

We thought it would be fun if you all joined us, so we are going to party together on Twitter! Join us Thursday, February 16 on Twitter at 9pm EST! Follow the hashtag #BEECHcon and follow both Jenn @dazeofadventure for the questions and @spelloutloud for the winner announcements.

But you don’t have to wait until Thursday night to start enjoying #BEECHcon. There will be a special pre-party prize that you can enter right now.

Pre-party Prize

You all know that homeschooling is a journey with plenty of ups and downs. Some days you feel confident, and other days you feel like you have no clue what you are doing or why you started this homeschool journey in the first place. That’s when you need encouragement!
We’d like to see what encourages you in your homeschool adventure. Your encouragement might come from a person, an object, or a special place. Whatever it is, submit a picture of your source of encouragement on the #BEECHCon Facebook page for a pre-Twitter party prize entry to win a $50 gift certificate to Hearts at Home  curriculum store.

All pre-party entries must be submitted by 8:30p.m. EST on Thursday, Feb. 16th. The winner will be selected at the start of the party, and you need to be there to claim your prize.

Twitter Party Sponsors

So plan to join us on Thursday, Feb. 16th at 9:00 PM EST for the #BEECHcon party, sponsored by these great folks:
and more!

Until then, find BEECH on Facebook and subscribe to the newsletter to be the first to receive information about what BEECH has in store for 2013. It is going to be big.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Birds Writing Center

This week is the Great Backyard Bird Count! Thanks to my Facebook subscribers for reminding me a couple weeks ago. I thought that since there is a big focus on birds this month, that I would love to incorporate the theme into our homeschool somehow. After reading a series about writing centers on the WriteShop blog, I knew that I was going to create our first-ever writing center. Using mostly printer-ink and supplies I had on hand, I set up a simple bird-theme writing station at home.

I tried to provide materials for all age-levels in my home--- 1yr to 13yrs. old. I have the station set up by a window so that they will hopefully be inspired by any winged creatures they see outside too.

-- various bird-theme lined paper for writing (see below for details)
-- bird fact cards (see below for details)
-- bird booklet for my little girls
-- letter B plus Birds writing paper for my little girls
(You can follow my bird Pinterest board for even more ideas)

I have a whole set of bird photo cards that I picked up a couple years ago from the Dollar Tree. There are writing prompts listed on the back. I figure my younger children can look at the photos and then tell me about what they see. My older children will have the option of using the prompts on the back or not.

In the green bins are writing prompt cards from WriteShop. I printed out StoryBuilders: World of Animal cards for some creative writing inspiration. Each card is color-coded and students pick 1 of each color and use them to write their story:

Character Cards - Blue
Character Trait Cards - Yellow
Setting Cards - Green
Plot Cards - Lavender

The download contains printable cards plus instructions for different ways to play this writing game. I am excited to see how my kids use this component this week. I think this will help with the "Mom, I don't know what to write," reply I hear when they are asked to write.

I also printed out bird cards and placed them in our table-top pocket chart. My 5yr. old daughter has been the first to explore this activity. She helped me place the names of the birds we already knew on the bird photos.

You can download these bird-themed papers for free! I appreciate all who read and subscribe to my site, so I'm planning on periodically creating some special downloads just for you. If you are a subscriber, you will find the download link at the bottom of the post in either your inbox or RSS feed:

You can easily keep up with all the happenings at Spell Outloud by subscribing two ways:

or by email
Enter your email address:

If you follow SpellOutloud on Facebook, you can also access this download on my page. Just look to the left for the Only Likers box and click.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hey Diddle, Diddle Nursery Rhyme Craft

Every Thursday for the next couple of months I will be sharing what we did with nursery rhymes at my home. This week I'm sharing nursery rhyme ideas here and over at Totally Tots. Be sure to check out what we did for Jack and Jill.

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Hey, Diddle, Diddle has become one of my 3yr. old's favorite nursery rhymes. I think it is because the poem is so silly! A cat playing a fiddle? A cow jumping over the moon? She thinks it is hilarious--especially when we use our nursery rhyme props to act the rhyme out. This week we made a craft that we used when retelling the rhyme.

Hey Diddle, Diddle Craft Instructions

Large google eyes
Medium google eyes
2- regular paper plate
Hey Diddle Diddle Rhyme Print-out
Spoon Pattern
Black construction paper
white glue
glue stick

Print out the spoon, the rhyme, and the feet for the dish. Color and then glue medium google eyes on the spoon.

Glue large google eyes on the plate, staple or glue the feet to the bottom of the plate. Next glue the spoon onto the plate. Once that is dry, staple another paper plate to the back so that this project opens like a book.

Glue the nursery rhyme on the inside. Now you have your own Hey Diddle, Diddle book!

I would find my daughter "reading" her Hey, Diddle, Diddle book to anyone who would stop and listen. She loved it!

Here she is "reading" the poem to Grandma (it was laundry day--please excuse all the clothes in the background--lol!)

For a twist on this poem we read the book, Hey Diddle, Diddle by Eve Bunting. We really enjoyed the ending plus it was a great book to point out rhyming words and talk about music.

 We also colored another Hey Diddle, Diddle coloring page to slip into our nursery rhyme notebook.

You can keep up with all our Nursery Rhyme activities on my Nursery Rhyme page.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ancient History: Eygpt and the Minoans

We have now completed one month of Illuminations by Bright Ideas Press (I'll have a detailed review up next month). Using Mystery of History Vol.1, we learned about Early Egypt, Stonehenge, and the Minoan Civilization this past week.

Our read-aloud book for the past couple of weeks has been The Golden Goblet. I am a big fan of good, historical fiction books. I learned more about history reading historical fiction books as a kid than I did in my history classes. I pre-read this just so that I could be enthusiastic and pronounce things correctly when reading aloud to my kids. I enjoyed it and my kids are starting too as well. It definitely is for older elementary children as there are some sensitive topics (Ranofer is often beaten and starved by his half-brother.)

After reading a couple chapters in the book, my son illustrated one of the scenes with his Legos.

A good part of the book takes place in a goldsmith shop, so this shows Ranofer working--well if I explained the whole thing I would give too much of the story away! :)

My 9yr. old daughter on the other hand, was very interested in what we learned about the Minoans and on her own, created her version of a fresco (well without plaster--she made do with what was on-hand.) I love that my kids are interested enough to do projects that are not assigned! She also made a salt-dough amulet, but I failed to photograph that project.

I was excited to get a box of books in the mail! These books will be used later in the year for our history studies. Just a few more left and then I will have all I need for the year. If you are wondering what the book list looks like, you can check out the Illuminations Year 1 Grade 3-8 list on Amazon. I've also been pinning ideas on my MOH1 Pinterest board.

What's been your favorite time-period to study in history?

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