"E" is for "Eggplant" (honey garlic grilled!)

One of the many veggies I have planted in my garden is eggplant. I've made eggplant parmigiana, fried it, grilled it just tossed with some seasonings, even put it in my homemade spaghetti sauce but I wanted to kick it up a notch. And let me tell ya, I have found my favorite way to make eggplant, hands down! In fact, I only made one and the kids scarfed it up so fast I wish I had made more that night for dinner. Next year I am planting more eggplant all because of this recipe. 

Grilled Eggplant

Honey Garlic Grilled Egglant

1 eggplant (2 if using small italian ones)
1 Tbsp of honey
2 Tbsp of olive oil
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp aleppo chili *(optional)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper
*aleppo chili is a middle eastern seasoning that isn't spicy but sweet & musky. You can substitute this with smoky paprika or regular or just omit it altogether. I only had regular paprika on hand that I used. But I'd like to try the smoky kind as I think it would go well.

Slice eggplant in 1/2" slices. I left the skin on as it contains a powerful antioxidant nasunin that is good for you. Because of the way it's cooked, I didn't find it to be tough or chewy at all. Lay out paper towels and place your eggplant slices on it and generously sprinkle both sides with salt. This will help the eggplant release a lot of it's moisture so it's not soggy after being cooked as well as removing any bitterness if there is any.

In the meantime, mix all the ingredients above in a bowl. After letting the eggplant sit about 15 min, dry it off. Then dip the eggplant fully in the marinade (or brush both sides with it).

On a preheated grill, take a piece of paper towel with some oil on it and using your tongs brush the grill grates with the oiled paper towel to prevent the eggplant from sticking. (never ever use a spray can of Pam to do this, highly combustible, just saying in case you wondered why I say to use an oiled paper towel.)

Grill over medium heat about 6 minutes or until browned a bit then flip. If you have any leftover marinade, use this to baste the slices. Grill until the other side is browned, watching your heat so you don't burn it.

"When everything seems to be going against you , remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it."

"D" is for Disney World: Tips and Tricks

When planning a trip to Disney World, it pays to do your research ahead of time. From finding the best time to go there to learning about the little hidden things around Disney that most people might not know about that can save you time AND money!

Disney World Tips and Tricks for Inexpensive Trip

We have taken our children to Walt Disney World (WDW) 4 times over the last 12 years. We've flown, we've drove, taken babies & older kids, I've been pregnant, we traveled with others, etc. In fact, our last trip to WDW, we didn't tell the kids we were going to Disney until we were at the airport! They first thought we were driving to the Outer Banks, then when we pulled into the airport they thought we were flying there until I had to put the Disney luggage tags on and the secret was out!

So I thought I'd share a few things I've learned over the years:

-September is the best time to go to WDW as it is the slowest time of the year so often Disney offers great deals (like FREE dining which we've gotten on our last 2 trips), hardly any lines as crowd level is at the all-time lowest since everyone is back in school (another perk to homeschooling, we can vacation whenever) and the weather is still warm enough to enjoy the water parks.

-You can request FREE customized maps of the park that you can highlight certain attractions you want to hit.

-Cast members will use your own camera to take photos with the characters or anywhere at Disney you want a group shot (so you can avoid buying the expensive photos they take). Just ask them as they are more than willing.

-You can take food & drink into the parks with you, just no glass containers. You can also ask for a cup of ice water at any of the counter service restaurants (for free!)

-In Animal Kingdom, watch for the walking tree DiVine & the talking bushes Herb & Flora on the way to camp Minnie Mickey as well as Push the walking/talking trash can in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom who will all interact with you. 

-Pick up some cheap ponchos to take with you. A short-lived rain shower almost inevitably pops up during your time there. Many people up and leave the parks but with a poncho you are good to go (plus you can avoid buying their overpriced poncho's).

-Stop at Club Cool while in Epcot for FREE samples of 8 different Coke products from around the world. Make sure you try the Beverly flavor!

-When in Epcot, there are some old school phones located outside the UK & Canada in the world showcase. They are actually working phones you can call. We stood a little bit away from them when we were there and called them to see who would pick up the phone. We had a lot of fun with this!! (you can even call the phones if you aren't at Disney).
U.K. Phone Booths
Right Booth:407-827-9861
Left Booth- 407-827-9862
Center Booth-407-827-9863

Canada Phone Booth

-While going around Epcot, check out the Kidcot Stations for free crafts & stamps for the kids.

-If you take a stroller, make sure you have something on it that stands out so you can pick it out of a sea of strollers (could be something you tie to a handle, hang a bright sign off of it, etc). Many times the cast members move or rearrange strollers while you are on a ride so having something easy to identify your stroller comes in handy.

-If you arrive at Magic Kingdom when it opens for the day, hop the train and get off at Frontierland. You'll beat the masses that start out at the front (plus the mountain rides can end up with longer wait times depending when you go.)

-If you arrive at Hollywood Studios when it opens, head to the Buzz Lightyear ride first. You could even snag a fastpass before getting on if you want to ride a second time as fastpasses are known to be taken pretty quickly.

-Use Child Swap on rides some of the littlest ones can't go on.

-If you are staying at one of the Disney resorts, when you book your reservation, you can make note of any special requests (like a certain building or staying on the 1st floor especially if you have a stroller). They do their best to accommodate your requests. Also make note of any special days you are celebrating (birthdays, anniversary, etc). Sometime they are known to pull some special surprises (not always, but you never know!)

These are obviously just a few of my tips as I have quite a few I could share. One way I kept our trips organized is I used a notebook and at the top of the page I would write the date (used one page per day we were at Disney). About 3 months prior to your trip, you can find out what shows & fireworks are on what days (they don't do them every day) as well as the hours the parks are open & when they close. You can also see crowd level predictions for certains days as well. From there, I roughly plan what park (or parks if we are hopping) we will go to on each day. I would write that in my notebook along with anything else I needed to keep track of each day such as certain shows & their times we wanted to see, restaurant reservations (which should be made 180 days prior for best time selection). This helped me keep things organized and even though we planned ahead of time what parks we were hitting when, it still was very much a laid back trip.

If you've been to Disney World, what are some of your favorite tips? If you have any questions about Disney, leave them in the comments below and I'll be sure to answer!

Here's a video I put together of our  Disney trip in 2009

Trident Kindle Fire Case Review

Being able to use technology in our homeschool is great. But as you can imagine, all those "smart" devices can take a beating. I recently had the chance to review a Kraken A.M.S. Case for the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 from Trident Case. I had just gotten a Kindle Fire a few months ago and rarely let my children use it as I didn't want something happening to it.

Trident Case makes cases for iPads, iPhones, Samsung Galaxy phones and Kindle Fire. These cases are made in the USA and are stated to be military grade and able to withstand quite a beating. They armade from bio-enhanced plastic that is recyclable, degradable and compostable. The cases come in a variety of colors you can pick from. I typically stick with black but decided to try something different and went with pink so it would be easy to find when it was inside my purse or diaper bag.

The case came in a see through packaging with a little direction book inside the case (probably would've been better outside the case as I didn't know how to open the case and was afraid I would break it trying to pry it open to get to the directions). I took the case apart and noted it was made up of 3 pieces; an inner-silicone shock absorbing layer that was flexible and the 2 hardened polycarbonate pieces, one for the back and one for the front which also had a built in screen protector.

Trident Case; Kraken A.M.S.

When I opened the direction book to see how to assemble the case around my kindle, I saw there wasn't any directions for how to put the case together but rather how to use the various attachments you can purchase to use along with the case. I tried several ways and finally after becoming quite frustrated, I researched online and found Youtube videos on how to assemble it. First you take the inner silicone and wrap it around your device. Then you snap the front of the cover on and finally snap the back piece in place. It was easy to do but sure would've been nice to see that specifically on the directions with the case. Also just to note, there is a place on the back where you can attach a stand for the kindle but it does not come with that part. It has to be bought separately.

Once my kindle was in the case, you could tell the kindle was secure and not sliding around in any way. All the external ports (such as the earphone jack and charging port) had rubber pieces that covered the holes when not in use. The screen protector covered the entire front of the screen except for where the camera was. The thickness of the case provided extra grip and making it less likely to slip from your hands.

Not that it was intentional but my kindle did get dropped off my night stand during the review and it was fine. I have no doubt any device in a Kraken A.M.S. case would be well protected from a drop. I admit I wondered about their claim that it can withstand 7.9"/hour of rain with 40 mph winds for 1 hour because it wasn't a fully enclosed case with a hole around the camera, the speaker holes as well as the piece of plastic in the center back wasn't tightly sealed. I certainly didn't set out to try and test this claim but unfortunately it happened. My kindle was in a tote bag with some other odds-n-ends, one of them being a capped water bottle. In the 10 minutes it was in there together, my water bottle leaked getting some water on the case. As I started wiping it off, I noticed there was water that somehow got inside the case. I immediately took off the case to wipe the kindle and noticed it wasn't working right. All I can figure out is that with as tight of a seal the case made around the kindle, it drew the water into the device rather than it just pooling on the outside. Sadly, after sitting in rice for several days, my kindle no longer works. 

Overall, this is a sturdy case that can be used by anyone of any age and I had no problems letting my children use my kindle while in it. The Kraken A.M.S. Case for Kindle Fire HDX 7 can be purchased in a variety of colors for $59.95

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"C" is for "Creating Awareness"

If you've been a follower of Treasuring Life's Blessings for awhile, you know that my blog started 4 years ago when we received the fatal diagnosis of my son Noah. (This month actually is the anniversary date).

Since the death of my son, I have realized the taboo that surrounds infant death and just how isolating it can be. The people that you expected would remain by your side aren't there or up & left. Meanwhile you are struggling to find the new normal while others critique you for being honest in sharing where you are at. (which is why so many women keep quiet about their thoughts & feelings to avoid being judged). People assume that once our baby dies, we should no longer include them in our family life such as birthdays. Would you forget & not celebrate one of your living children? It's no different for a baby who died. Just because they aren't here doesn't mean their brief life shouldn't be celebrated. We aren't celebrating the fact that they died, we are celebrating the joy their life brought us. It's so hurtful to see how many people ignore the birthdays of babies who aren't here. I can tell you sending a card for that child's birthday is one of the best gifts you can give a family on such a bittersweet day!!

It's also assumed that those who have had babies die should be quicker to "get over" our grief than someone who has lost an older child. Somehow it's assumed that the length of life one lives equals the depth of grief experienced which is so not the case! You don't love one of your older children more than a baby you might have just had. You love them all with the same fierce love and so it is with grief. In fact a friend of mine who lost an older son after Noah had died shared with me that she felt in some ways I might have it a little harder as she at least had memories with her child. She knew her child's laughter, personality and knew the type of person her child was turning into. All of which I never got to experience with Noah.

Because of the stigma surrounding infant death, I have wanted to help break the silence in helping other bereaved moms know that they aren't alone as well as help educate other who haven't gone through this in knowing how to help. So many women feel alone in what they are going through which is why I continue to try and share my grief journey here. I have gained some of the deepest & dearest friendships because of Noah and what all we've gone through. Did you know 1 in 4 women experience miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death? That is a lot of hurting mommas out there yet you rarely hear much about it.

But the silence is about to be shattered in a HUGE way!!

Hollywood puts out all sorts of movies about anything and everything yet they have never made a movie about infant death. Why? Because no one wants to talk about or face the difficult things that goes along with it.

That has finally changed!

A movie I have help support & promote, Return to Zero, is being aired May 17th 8pm EST on Lifetime. It's based on a true story of the producer Sean & his wife whose son Norbert was stillborn. (no, I have not seen it yet but have read many great things about the movie). Minnie Driver and Paul Adelstein star in it and have both shared their thoughts  about the movie

So I urge you to please take the time this Saturday evening to watch this movie! Sean's movie is the voice so many of us have longed for. It's our hope & prayer that many eyes will be opened to what all we face after the death of a baby as well as bringing comfort to those who walk this path to know that they aren't alone. Check out the preview here! And remember to watch the ending credit as you will see my son Noah's name listed in a special section!!!

Noah & I

Ben and Me

My previous #abcblogging posts:
"A" is for "About Me"
"B" is for "Being a Mom"

Golden Prairie Press- Heros and Heroines of the Past

We've been studying American history this year so when we had the opportunity to review Digital Heros & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum from Golden Prairie Press, we jumped at the chance. I thought it would be a nice change to dive deeper into the people who have helped shape America.

What's included:
  • Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Part 1
  • Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Part 2
  • Additional Materials Download
  • Historical Skits ebook
  • Sing Some History CD
  • Listen to Some U.S. History MP3 CD
American History Curriculum

What it is:

Heroes and Heroines of the Past is an American history curriculum that makes history come alive through many creative activities & resources. This curriculum is intended for grades 1st-6th grade though older students can use it as well. We received PDF's and downloads of this curriculum though the ebooks can be purchased already printed out (the photos will be in black and white whereas the PDF has many beautiful colored photos).

American History Part 1 has 380 pages and American History Part 2 has about 400 pages. Between both books, there are a total of 30 units with 5 lessons in each unit. While the books list the history chronologically, you could pick and choose what unit to work on if you wanted to study a certain time period. The first part of each lesson is geared for the 1st-2nd grader with larger font and a simple, shorter version of the lesson that comes after that which is for the 3rd-6th grader. The second "edition" of the lesson is longer and uses larger vocabulary. Each unit also has a Bible verse you could use for memorization if you wish.

At the end of each lesson, there are other suggested activities to accompany what was just read. They vary by lesson but some of the extras are things such as:
  • games to play
  • recipes to make
  • questions to answer
  • crafts
  • experiments
  • writing topics
  • maps
  • timelines
  • examining historical art
  • suggested additional literature books
  • act out historical skits
  • sing some history (songs)
  • listen to some history 

How we used this:

We did a lesson each day for about 4-5 days a week. Even though it's for 1st thru 6th grade, my 7th & 8th graders also participated. We each took turns reading aloud the text from the computer and then passing it around to view the varying pictures that was in the lesson. They took turns answering the questions orally that were at the end of the lesson. For the older ones, sometimes they would do the writing topic that was suggested. I had also printed out the blank timeline that was in the "Additional Materials Download" for each of them to fill in when indicated.

They enjoyed listening to the "Listen to Some History" audio files such as The Declaration of Independence and the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. We also listened to some of the songs from the "Sing Some Songs" section and followed along with the music that was in the lesson. Occasionally one of my children would even use the music to play it on the piano.

We used our own map to locate the different places when it suggested to in the lesson because scanning back in the PDF to go to the map that was in a different lesson took too much time. (This is where a printed version would be handy as all you would have to do is page back). I wonder if including the PDF page number would've made it easier since you can just type the page number in at the top?

We loved looking at the historical art that was included and finding what they were asking us to locate. We didn't do many of the crafts as my children thought they were geared toward younger kids using this curriculum. I did scan through the lessons we haven't yet covered and saw a neat experiment making invisible ink we plan to try!

My children had fun acting out the skits that went along with some of the lessons. I would print a copy for each child then highlight the characters line they were going to read. Sometimes we just read the skit, other times they got into really acting by following the prompts listed and changing their voices! We thought that including the skits was a great idea to help make history relatable! There were also some games scattered throughout the lessons and 2 of them that my kids thought were fun was the "Thimble" game & "Stir the Pot".

Overall, we really enjoyed this curriculum and the many ways it brought history to life. I personally would've liked to have had this printed out, and I still may do that and take it somewhere to bind but you can purchase it already printed out for the same price as the PDF version. I loved all the extras that came with this curriculum but would possibly have liked to have seen the lesson number listed with the file to make finding them a bit easier.

Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum is available for $98.99.

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Logic of English: Essentials

I have explored different reading and english programs over the years we've homeschooled though I admit I hadn't heard of Logic of English before. We recently had the chance to review one of their programs, Essentials: Logic of English Complete Set for Manuscript. We also reviewed Phonics with Phonograms App on our iPad.

Logic of English

What it is:
The Logic of English Essentials program as stated on their website is "A systematic approach to reading, spelling, writing and grammar." It uses a multi-sensory approach in breaking down words and teaches the "how and why" words are spelled certain ways eliminating rote memorization or guesswork for the student. For example, did you know you can  sing vowels but you can't sing a consonant? (Because your mouth is either partially closed or lips & tongue are in the way, go ahead and try it!) For an emerging reader, this helps them learn to decode the difference between vowels & consonants.

The complete set contains everything you need to fully use this program which is for ages 7 to adult. This means it could be used for emerging readers, those who need some remediation or anyone else in between. This program can also be used for ESL students.

The complete set contains:
  • Essentials Teachers Manual
  • Essentials Student Workbook (in cursive or manuscript, your choice)
  • Spelling Journal
  • Basic Phonogram Flash Cards
  • Spelling Rule Flash Cards
  • Grammar Rule Flash Cards
  • Advanced Phonogram Flash Cards
  • Game Book
  • Game Card Decks
  • Phonogram and Spelling Rule Quick Reference Chart
I admit when I started looking the books over, I was a bit overwhelmed. The teachers manual is a hardback book with over 500 pages. The beginning of the book lists the scope and sequence as well as each lesson broke down and an overview of what each lessons covers. There is a also a section that explains how to use the program with different ages and abilities. You do need to spend time reading a section of the teachers manual to fully understand how to use this program. Once you read over how to teach the lessons, you can start with the first lesson. Each less is broke down and scripted to what you should say & do with your student as well as what they should be answering you back. It also instructs when to use the different flashcards or which page in the game book to go to.

The student workbook is a softcover book with 480 pages. Logic of English recommends starting with cursive though we chose the manual workbook (after reading their explanation of the why behind cursive, I did understand this aspect better and may do things differently with my younger ones). The workbook has everything the student needs to participate in the writing lessons and each section is well marked. The pages are perforated which makes it nice to be able to pull out and hole punch to put into our portfolios.

Each lesson is broken down into 3 parts. Part 1 covers phonograms, exploring sounds and spelling rules. Part 2 of the lesson introduces words through spelling dictation and analysis. Part 3 of the lesson covers grammar, dictation, composition and vocabulary development. All 3 parts of the lesson tie in together working on the same phonograms and vocabulary.

How we used it:

I decided to use this program with my 10 year old son as english in general is not his favorite subject so I was hoping this all-in-one curriculum would help spark some renewed interest (and hey, he loves being able to play games for school!) Looking at the recommended schedule of 1 lesson every 1 to 2 days, I knew we would most likely end up taking it at a slower pace so as not to lose his interest. Plus I wanted to make sure he was truly getting everything as there is a lot to soak in.

Before we started our lesson, I would glance at the teachers manual to see what materials I needed to gather from our flashcard sets. I liked this aspect of having everything laid out for me daily in one place! We took an average of a week and a half to fully complete each lesson, working about 20 minutes a day. This curriculum needs a parent to be heavily involved and the recommendation was to spend up to an hour a day with the student working on the lesson. I honestly don't have that amount of time to devote to one subject for one student when I have several other children to help, little ones to attend to, etc.

Each day we introduced and/or reviewed phonograms, went over the spelling rule we were currently using for that lesson then complete the corresponding workbook pages or filled in the spelling journal. Of course, Eriks' first question each day was do we get to play a game today?! We would either play the game corresponding with the current lesson we were on or we'd go back & play one from a previous lesson. We also completed some of the optional activities that the book suggested.

I really liked the all inclusiveness of this program. I found that using the same words for vocabulary, grammar, spelling, phonetic practice, etc really helped  my son understand spelling and parts of speech much better. An example of how the different subjects are tied together, for his spelling list he writes the words as I dictate them to him. Then next to them he has to list the part of speech then the plural past tense of the word.

Another thing I did was whatever flash cards we were currently introducing as new, I would put them on the fridge and kept them there during the duration we were on that lesson. I figured it was a good way to easily glance at them throughout the day. Not to mention it was a good review for my older children as well!

I think my sons favorite part of the program was the Phonogram and Spelling Game Book. He was able to play games with his siblings which I thought was great as it provided them a review and even taught them a few things as well.

We were also given Phonics with Phonograms App to review as well on the iPad (it's available for the iPhone as well). We found this program an added bonus and another way to reinforce what he was learning in the Essentials program though this app could be used independently of the program. We set up multiple profiles for all my children so they could all take turns reviewing the phonograms. It was easy to set up the profiles then set the levels you wanted each of them to work on. I tied Eriks level onto what he was currently covering in the book. It is a straightforward app where the student simply hears the phonogram pronounced then had to chose the correct phonogram to match the sound they heard. Sometimes less is more! It also tracks the students progress and answers. I think this app is a great way to learn & review the phonograms. In fact my almost 3 year old was wanting a turn to play and I do believe with working with her, she may learn her sounds earlier than any of my other children.

Essentials: Logic of English Complete Set is available for $243 though you can buy individual parts of the set as well.

Phonics with Phonograms App is available for $2.99.

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"B" is for "Being a Mom"

I really contemplated this weeks letter. My kids gave me some fun ideas which I really thought over . But what the heck, it's almost Mother's Day so it only felt right to dive into "being a mom".

Wow, talk about the weight of the world being on your shoulders some days. I admit when I first became a mom almost 15 years ago, I didn't give it the thought or reverence I do now. I realize how my oldest (twins) are just a few years from adulthood, which makes me re-evaluate if I have been doing all I can for them in teaching them what I need to in the mere 18 years I am given them. (seriously, if you have young kids, please know 18 years FLYS BY!!!)

So many days I feel like I fail as a mom. I get upset, I scold, I do something where I need to ask for forgiveness. It's easy to think being a mom lets you off the hook. That you are teaching your children, when in fact, many times YOU are the one who is learning and being molded. I admit, being a mom has probably shaped me in ways more than my ability to shape my children. My husband & I have had to learn to parent in new ways to break the cycle of dysfunction that we both grew up with. Praise God for new beginnings & redemption!!! We can thankfully already see the changes!

We will never be jealous of our childrens success in life & can only hope and pray they reach & fulfill the goals in life God calls them for. We WANT our children to do better than we have and we will be their first cheerleader in life no matter where they go! We know what it's like to experience the opposite (not having family support) and we desire better for our children for sure!

I admit I am so thankful for the privilege of homeschooling as it has given me the ability to get to know my children on a deeper level. Yes, at times I find myself frustrated (who doesn't no matter the schooling choice!),  but yet those days where I get to deeply connect with my children more than make up for the tough moments in teaching them!

The other day, my kiddos & I were prepping for our annual development yard sale. Out of the blue, they said we need to go out for lunch NOW. We are a frugal family and rarely eat out (unless we have gift cards). Especially on a day where we had TONS of work that needed done. But you know what, I took their lead and dropped it all. Within 10 minutes, we were packed & I took my children out for an impromptu late lunch date. You know why?? Noah's legacy reminds me of the brevity of life (God forbid something happens to one of them, I would've regretted not doing this). Sometimes you just need to embrace the craziness of life and live in the moment. So yes, while we had loads of work that needed done, we dropped it all and went and enjoyed a lunch together, creating lasting memories! Oh what a fun afternoon we had!!!!!

I asked my children tonight, when you look back on the life you have experienced so far, what stands out?? You know the answers I was given?? I was told of vacations, picnics, surprises, silly memories,  ways we've announced new siblings, etc. Not ONCE was I told "oh I remember the clean house, the perfectly prepped meal, the weeded flower beds, etc". Nope, they only remember memories we TOOK THE TIME to make!!!

THIS is what I long for & pray to make the lasting impact on our children!!! It was SO fun to reminisce and hear the things they enjoyed in their short life thus far. It's my hope & prayer to continue that tradition! Being a mom is more than giving birth to a person. Being a mom means being involved in someone elses life and putting them them first and always being there for them no matter what! It means laying down my own selfish desires and sometimes sacrificing for my children despite what I might want. I know there are many women out there who may not have given birth physically but who have mothered many. They are also to be remembered & celebrated.

 I am so grateful for the many women who have mothered me throughout my life. And I am especially grateful for my grandma (Gehman) & stepmom (Deb) who have remained by my side through the tough times and continued to show me what it means to be loved unconditionally! I don't know where I'd be today if it wasn't for their example & love!

I want to especially remember the many of you who are missing a child this Mother's Day. I admit the day is very bittersweet for me. I love & embrace my earthly children but yet my heart bleeds for the hole left behind when my sweet Noah died. There are just no words to explain it other than the fact Mother's Day is hard for  many of us.

Praise God for the hope of Heaven knowing I will see my precious Noah again and someday be able to hold ALL my children together! Otherwise I don't know how I would get through Mother's day or any holiday.

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
 Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court.
Psalm 127: 3-5

You can check out my "A" post here.

Ben and Me

International Bereaved Mothers Day

Today is a day set aside to remember all the mom's who are missing their children who live in their hearts instead of their arms. Mothers day can be a very bittersweet day for many unfortunately. It's such a hard balance having children in your arms yet longing for the ones who are in Heaven.

You can read more about International Bereaved Mothers Day.

I am missing my precious Noah and am remembering so many of you as you miss your precious children as well! Feel free to leave their names in the comments below for us all to remember them with you!
Gentle (((hugs))) to each of you!

"A" is for About Me!

A fellow blogger friend has been doing a series called "Blogging Through the Alphabet" for the last few years. Each week, bloggers pick a topic that starts with the letter of the week. I figured I would jump on board and see if I can make this happen! (feel free to message me ideas if you'd like to see anything specific here!)

 As I was pondering "A" for this week, "All About the Author" jumped into my head!I thought I would share some little known facts about me, the writer behind Treasuring Life's Blessings.

Me. Waaaay back!

-I did not know I was having twins until I was 36 wks pregnant! (they were my first so how would I know any different!)  In fact, I was supposed to have a homebirth. Ironically I was barely 100lbs when I got pregnant & only gained 25lbs with them (they hid until the end). I was induced at 40wks and they were 5lbs 6oz & 6lbs 2oz, both 19". I left the hospital in my normal clothes.

-I have had a total of 17 teeth removed! (some permanent, many baby teeth due to a small mouth & overcrowding). No wonder I hate the dentist. I was majorly traumatized due to how it was handled. :(

-My husband & I have the same birthday so we got married on our birthdays! I turned 19 the day we married, he turned 24. It'll be 16 yrs this year! (September 24th)

-When I was 17, I flew to Lima, Peru alone to live there for half a year teaching Kindergarten & 1st grade as an educational missionary. I had to teach english to these kiddos who only spoke spanish. I experienced such a great growth in my life during this time and it was such an amazing opportunity! I still wish I had stayed like they asked me to.

I wish I knew where these kiddos were at today. They would be in their early 20's!!!!! (man I feel old!)

-I used to be fluent in spanish due to the above living situation. While I can still understand most of a spanish conversation, my fluency in speaking is more like "spanglish" since I didn't have anyone to talk to in spanish when I came home.

-I have a love of biking and my longest bike race was 81 miles just 2 months after I gave birth to Noah.

I'm in the red shirt.

-I have a super hyper sense of smell.

-Due to said hyper sense of smell, my weak point is that I have a hard time when anyone pukes.

-Thankfully, as an EMT, I have no problems with handling anything medically (blood, broken bones, CPR, etc). Except vomit. HATE vomit. If you are my patient and mention feeling a tad nauseous, you will find a emesis bag in your face faster than you can say puke.

-I've been a volunteer EMT almost 13 years, a doula almost 10 years and a CPR/First Aid instructor 6 years. Next up is getting my RN. My heart is with labor & delivery as well as a lactation consultant (I've nursed all my kids including my twins). Since my son died, I also have a heart to minister to other families who have lost a child and provide the clinical support I was sadly not given.

-I LOVE sushi!!! With lots of wasabi!

-I play piano, saxaphone & flute. I own a piano & saxaphone and hope to someday get a flute again. Music has always been soothing to my soul and as a teen I was known to sit & play for hours on any of the instruments.

Me in 2008

-I love to travel and have been to over 15 countries, some several times. I would even be willing to live abroad if called!

-I secretly love "Anne of Green Gables" books/movie!

-I am a bookworm and will devour books if I have time (which I do typically when I can't sleep).

-In high school, I competed as a clown in a national competition. And placed. I later worked as a clown and got my kids involved. And worked as a chicken with them. Hey, it paid money!!! lol

After this above competition, we were asked to be in the Mummer's Day Parade in Philly which we did & placed, winning $100 and a trophy!

So to sum up myself, I am a daughter of the King and my awesome parents Doug & Deb. I am blessed to be a mom to my 7 precious children. I love & treasure those friends who have continued to be by my side since my son's death. I enjoy being able to be used by God in trying to bless others in any way possible. I love to garden to provide fresh food for my family. I have a love of cooking and can always be found trying new things in the kitchen. I am thankful to be able to homeschool my children & am grateful to be able to spend my days with them! Thank you for taking the time to check in & read here at Treasuring Life's Blessings!

Ben and Me

ARTistic Pursuits- Sculpture Technique: Model

Art is one of my children's favorite subjects. When they were young, it was easy for me to come up with projects for them to complete. They also were quite creative on their own by just giving them some supplies and letting them go at it. As they got older though, I knew we needed some more direction with an art curriculum to expand their horizons with projects that were more complex than I could come up with. We were recently asked to review an art curriculum from ARTistic Pursuits called Sculpture Technique: Model which was just published this past January!

What is it?
ARTistic Pursuits is a full art curriculum for preschoolers thru 12th grade. The specific book we reviewed, Sculpture Technique: Model is an 83 page book containing both colored pictures as well as sketched pictures in black and white. It is comb-bound which makes it great for laying flat, especially while working on an art project so you can easily reference the pictures. This book is geared for ages 11-18 and covers 3 units about:

-Creating Mass with Putty
-Creating Scale with Clay
-Creating Surface with Fiber

The beginning of the book lists the contents as well as the supplies you need for each unit:

In the back of the book, it breaks down each unit into weekly lessons stretching out over 36 weeks. I love this aspect as I don't need to plan anything out! If you complete this whole book, it would easily make 1 full credit for high school art.

At the end of each unit, there is an evaluation for the student to complete on a separate sheet of paper (the answers are listed in the back of the book). The great thing about the ARTistic Pursuits books is that they are non-consumable so once you buy the book, you can use it for all your children over the years! This is one of the reasons this art curriculum is affordable. Another aspect that saves time with this art curriculum is that on the ARTistic Pursuits website, they have are supply packs that you can purchase that provides all the supplies needed for each book. They also list a website that you can click on the book you want and it has a shopping cart ready to order of the needed supplies.

How we used it:
I asked my older children which unit they wanted to work on for this review as you can do the units in any order. They chose the unit on creating scale in clay. I used the website that had the supplies ready to purchase and ordered online quite effortlessly. The unit starts off talking about the elements of sculpture and how it relates to scale. It also discusses materials that can be used in sculptures as well as an in-depth description of the tools & techniques used to create different pieces of art. Safety is also covered (who knew that dust from dried clay can be harmful!)

After the above is discussed in the book, it then goes on to share the different methods of creating works of clay and shows ideas of projects you can make using:

-Pinch Method
-Slab Method
-Paper Armature
-Coil Method

How to paint a finished project is also explained as well. At the beginning of each project, it lists in detail which tools are needed as well as how much clay & other materials needed. It also reminds the students to keep unused clay covered as this type of clay dries out and isn't the kind that needs baked to harden.

My children really gave thought to what projects they wanted to do and spent time gathering all needed materials before we got the clay out. We also went over how the book said to join pieces by scoring each side that was to be connected.

The above piece was being turned into a coil project which was the beginning stages of a hollow bear.

The containers seen in the above photos were used to help form the different size pots she was making as was instructed in the book. She had made 3 different size pots and when she turned her back, her little sister decided to "reshape" one of her pots (she woke up from her nap before they were done sculpting!) Needless to say, the finished project only had 2 pots. 

Finished coil method project with texturing in the clay.

Painting the finished pots. She had a clay flower on one of them but it fell and broke off.

A rolled out piece of clay using the slab method with etching done & painted.

These projects in total took several days to complete as they needed to slowly dry out while being covered loosely in plastic. Once they were fully dried, they were then painted. We still have clay left and are working on completing a paper armature (I say "we" but it's more momma that is itching to do that project!)

My children enjoyed the lessons & projects they completed from this book and we plan to work on some more clay projects as well as purchase the Durham's rock hard water putty to work on the 1st unit in the book, Creating Mass with Putty.

While there are numerous pictures throughout the book that helped give my children ideas, I think they also would've loved seeing some videos online to see ideas or projects in action. Overall though, we enjoy ARTistic Pursuits art curriculum!

Sculpture Technique: Model can be purchased for $47.95. They also have a full range of other books for preschool thru 12th grade.

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