Ah, The Christmas Memories!

Ornaments Copyright by Holly Hedman

Ornaments
Copyright by Holly Hedman

Two days before Christmas and this is the first time (I believe) that I felt so relaxed!  Living so far away from family has its benefits… sometimes!  This year we have no visitors, no travel plans and no one coming over on Christmas day.  It is the first, time in a very long time, that we are celebrating Christmas just our little family of five!

Are these our kids?

We have been having a lot of fun and the past few days (well, maybe even longer) the kids have been really, really, really good!  I almost wonder if someone flipped a switch in them from “okay kids” to “REALLY good kids”.  Maybe it is because there are all sorts of presents wrapped under the tree.  Maybe it is the fact that Santa is coming soon (Yes, we believe!).  Maybe because it is almost Jesus’ birthday.  What ever it is, our kids have been really good! They have been so good that even they notice!  That is funny to me! Today, one of the girls even commented saying, “have you noticed that we have been really good lately and that you guys haven’t needed to yell at all?”  My husband and I just stopped and looked at each other, kind of surprised by that comment seeing we just talked about that before she came into the room!

Usually on days when we don’t have anything to do or places to be, the kids like to play with friends.  It is almost strange for them to just stay home when they don’t have to!  But, I have to say that I have been enjoying these past few days and I am savoring them because I know it won’t last!

Paper Stars Copyright by Holly Hedman

Paper Stars
Copyright by Holly Hedman

Movie Day!

Today, we got up and it was Christmas movie morning!  All of us in our pajamas (Yes, the girls had on their “Christmas Jammies”… have you seen the video? Oh my word it is funny! Here is a link to it, click here.) sat around watching Christmas movies.  We watched Nester the Long Eared Donkey, Year Without A Santa Claus, Little House On The Praire (the one where it was their first year as Plum Creek) and then some old old old Christmas movies from the 50’s.  It never fails, I always cry mulitiple times when we watch Nester The Long Eared Donkey and so did both the girls!  Such a good video.  I wish they still made good family friendly movies.

Wolf Painting Copyright by Holly Hedman

Wolf Painting
Copyright by Holly Hedman

After we were done watching movies, the kids still hung out!  I decided to make a paper ornament, our oldest decided she would make different things out of the Rainbow loom bands and our blondie decided to start her wolf painting (it is a paint by number type of painting and it is not easy).  My husband was finishing up the shelves he made for our oldest’s closet and our little man was having a great time playing in his room!

Loom Wreath Copyright by Holly Hedman

Loom Wreath
Copyright by Holly Hedman

I made dinner early and then we had a dance party in the living room.  We used to do this when our little man was a baby and the girls would dress up in their flower girl dresses and we would dance together, laugh, let them do solo dances and hug!  It has been about 3-4 years since we did that and it was great to see how much the girls have grown and matured in their dancing (I guess the dance classes have paid off).  Once the dance party was over, we introduced the kids to the movie The Christmas Story!  Yes, it is the one where Ralphie wanted a Red Rider BB gun!  Boy, funny how movies in the 80’s are not like movies now… It is good to know my kids know what not to say and what words should not be repeated.  But, it was a funny way to end such a good day!

Family Tree Copyright by Holly Hedman

Family Tree
Copyright by Holly Hedman

For the love of family!

After we got all the kids in bed, I sat down on the couch and just looked at our Family Christmas tree as it glowed in our lowly lit living room.  Looking at all the ornaments on the tree brought back all sorts of memories from when I was a kid.  I call our tree the Family Christmas tree because that is what it is.  My parents are now retired and are snow birds, so they don’t have room for all the ornaments and a big tree.  Not only do we have our own ornaments on the tree, we also have my parents ornaments and ones from when I was a kid!  The glow of the Family Tree always fills my heart with love.  Love for my parents, who struggled to give my sister, brother and me what we needed (maybe not what we wanted but always what we needed).  Love for my own family and the joy they bring.  Love for our Savior, who came into this world as a baby to save  us from our sins.  Love for God, who loves us unconditionally!  Funny how a silly tree can bring all those feelings and memories!

Today has made me realize that you don’t need to do all sorts of crazy things during Christmas to make it memorable.  Life is crazy and active enough, why make Christmas so non-stop with activities?  Love on your kids, make time to just be!  Remember the true meaning of Christmas is the birth of our Savior and just relax and enjoy this season!  Time goes by way to fast to not slow down!

My God Bless you and yours!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

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Thanks for taking time to read about our journey into homeschooling.  Please feel free to share my blog with your friends and family!  Also, I would love to learn from you and how you homeschool.  Please leave a comment below.  Have a Blessed Christmas season!

Advent Calender Time is Here!

The other day, my daughter (the blondie) and I were talking about homeschooling.  She asked why she had to be homeschooled and I told her we were not happy with the school system here!  Then she said that she was happy that we homeschool and really did love it.  This came as a surprise to me because there are days (bad days) when she says she doesn’t want to homeschool or that she wants to go back to public school.  So, when she said that she loved it, I was shocked!  As we sat and talked, she rattled off some of the reasons why we are blessed to be able to homeschool:  they got to play volleyball, they had their STEM class, they get to sleep in (meaning, they are up around 7:45 and we start schooling around 9:30-10), we get to go on more then 2 field trips in a year, special activities, park day… The list could go on.  But one of the things that she didn’t realize is that since we do homeschool and don’t have to be up at 6:30 am, we can do more together as a family at night!  So, bring on the fun Advent activities!

Fun Advent Calender Activities!

Advent Calender Copyright by Holly Hedman

Advent Calender
Copyright by Holly Hedman

This year, seeing as the kids don’t have to be in bed by 7:30 pm, we are doing a couple of fun Advent activities.  The kids have been enjoying the homemade advent calender from Only Passionate Curiosity.  This Advent calender is different then the ones you buy in the store because you (the parent) can pick what goes inside of it.  Plus, it is homemade… Who doesn’t like homemade things?  Only Passionate Curiosity even gives you predetermined activities or you can write an activity a blank activity sheet that they designed for you!

Girls enjoyed stringing popcorn Copyright by Holly Hedman

Girls enjoyed stringing popcorn
Copyright by Holly Hedman

What I picked for our family: some predetermined activities and some activities I wrote.  The activities I wrote were events that we already planned, so that works out perfectly! One of the predetermined activity was to watch a Christmas movie.  I put that together with string popcorn for garland.  Made for a great memory maker type of night!

Truth In The Tinsel

Our Family Working On Our Project Copyright by Holly Hedman

Our Family Working On Our Project
Copyright by Holly Hedman

Crown Copyright by Holly Hedman

Crown
Copyright by Holly Hedman

On top of doing our Advent calender activities we are doing a 25 day Bible study that has a craft for every day!  It is called Truth In The Tinsel.  I am going to quote their website because they said it perfectly!  “Each day Truth In The Tinsel will lead you through a passage of scripture, a corresponding ornament craft and talking points for you and your kids.  It is more then a devotion– it’s meditation and hands-on learning for kids.  It is more then a craft book– it is a memory builder for your family.  It is more then an ebook– it is an experience and adventure in God’s word!”  I truly don’t think I could have explained it any better!  You could just do this as your Advent calender but I decided to do both!

Slow down this Christmas season!

Seeing as homeschool has given us the freedom, that I didn’t know I craved, we are taking the time to spend together throughout the week as a family doing special memory making Advent activities!  I hope you do too!

Wishing you a very Happy and Merry Christmas!  I hope you take time to study the Word with your family and slow down to enjoy this wonderful season!  Your kids are young only once, so go and make those special moments with them that they will cherish for a lifetime!

Merry Christmas!

Here are the links to the great activities I talked about!

Truth In Tinsel an Advent Experience For Little Hands

Truth In Tinsel an Advent Experience For Little Hands

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Thanks for taking time to read about our journey into homeschooling.  Please feel free to share my blog with your friends and family!  Also, I would love to learn from you and how you homeschool.  Please leave a comment below.  Have a Blessed Christmas season!

Making new, celebrating old.

This is such a nice article about starting off as newlyweds and making their own Christmas traditions! Slow down and enjoy the reason for Christmas! Life is good! God is GREAT! Enjoy this article from The Art In Life!

The Art in Life

“You know, humans are weird. I’m here, in a city, carrying a tree from outside, so I can take it inside. All because 2000 years ago, God was born. And the weirdest part of that is totally not me or the tree.”  – James

December-1December-7December-9December-4December-13December-12December-10December-14December-16December-17 This week James and I went to pick up a little tree for our apartment. Despite the little size of our place, and of our tree stand, James kept trying to bring back a huge tree. Finally we settled for this one, a fat little tree that is just a little too big for our single strand of lights and meager collection of ornaments. The tree sellers in Eastern Market also let me collect a big bag of scraps that now cover the tops of all our shelves, intertwined with some festive red berries. It’s not exactly a Martha Stewart Christmas, but it’s cozy and we…

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Homeschool Informational Meeting

For those who are in North Carolina!

North Carolina "Homeschool-ology"

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Homeschool Information You Need

Are you new to homeschooling or have a friend who is considering homeschooling? This is your opportunity to ask questions and gather information. Greensboro Home Educators (GHE) in conjunction with the Greensboro Public Library sponsors these meetings to share information concerning requirements within North Carolina and suggest program resources.

When: 7-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 3
Where: Hemphill Branch Library,  2301 W. Vandalia Rd. Greensboro, NC 27407

If you have further questions, please contact Patrice at  bryantmom4@gmail.com .

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Help! We’re About to Start Homeschooling!

How do we even know where to start homeschooling? I am about to panic! 

Back in February of 2013, my husband, Dan and I were at the cusp of making the decision that would change our lives… The decision to homeschool.  After lots of prayers for guidance and meeting so many people who homeschool, it had become the topic of our conversations.  Once we made the decision more questions came!  Where do we begin?  What do we need to do to let the state know we are homeschooling?  Are there any support groups?  What about standardized tests?  What are Co-Op groups?  How will my parents take this?  Am I able to handle teaching my own kids?  I am sure most of the homeschooling parents have asked themselves these questions.  It is a big decision and should not be taken lightly!

At this time of finalizing our decision, I heard about a local homeschool group who was having a Homeschooling 101 meeting with Q & A afterwards.  Dan and I lined up a babysitter and went to it and we were so glad we did!  All the questions we had, and then some, were answered.  It made the transition to homeschool a much easier journey then we expected!

We ended up joining the homeschool group!

Tampa Bay HEAT

As I have mentioned in other blogs, we ended up pulling our girls out of public school in March of 2013.  The Friday before spring break was their last day of school.  We thought it was a good time to pull them out seeing as they were about to go through the pain which is called FCATs.  The FCATs are the standardized tests that Florida puts there students through every spring.  Throughout the year, the schools teach what is going to be on the test and makes it very stressful for the students.  Seeing as we had enough of the Florida school system, we were not going to give the state the pleasure of putting our kids through it!

First day of Homeschool Copy right by Holly Hedman

First day of Homeschool
Copy right by Holly Hedman

First day of Homeschool Copy right by Holly Hedman

First day of Homeschool
Copy right by Holly Hedman

The Monday after spring break was our first day of homeschool.  We celebrated our first day of homeschooling by taking a cake decoration class through our new homeschool group, the Tampa Bay HEAT!  We decided to join this group because of all that they offer and because they were the ones who really helped us become homeschoolers.   Some of you are saying, well that is not schooling. Yes, you are right in that it is not reading, writing, or arithmetic, but it is art, something public schools continue to cut.  I wanted to start our homeschool journey with something that our kids love, art!

Breath, it’s okay!

Girls Hard At Work Copyright by Holly Hedman

Girls Hard At Work
Copyright by Holly Hedman

We are now in the middle of fall semester and I am starting to be able to breath again!  I will tell you, I have changed my curriculum already and am not really doing the curriculum that I started off doing.  But, that is okay!  Before we began I was told that I would change my curriculum a few times during the first year… no joke!  You have to find a path that fits you, the teacher, and your kids, the students.  Now that I have changed my curriculum, I feel more relaxed because I can understand what I am suppose to be teaching better!  Ahhhhhhh (a sigh of relief )!

Love Our Homeschool Group!

2nd Place In Our Conference Copyright by Holly Hedman

2nd Place In Our Conference
Copyright by Holly Hedman

Since March, we have done all sorts of classes, activities and sports with the Tampa Bay HEAT!  We have gone on field trips, done classes and I coached volleyball for the 4-6 graders (so our girls got to play too), play flag football and more!  If you are about to begin homeschooling; first look at your state’s regulations for homeschooling and know what is required to run your homeschool!  Then, I would suggest talking with people you know who homeschool.  Once you have decided to homeschool, look for a homeschooling group that is close by!  Homeschool groups are not essential but it makes you feel connected with other families that homeschool!  If there is not a homeschool group by you, maybe start one up.  Start with playdates or mom’s nights outs.  From there the possibilities are endless!

Wishing you the best in your homeschooling journey!

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Thanks for taking time to read about our journey into homeschooling.  Please feel free to share my blog with your friends and family!  Also, I would love to learn from you and how you homeschool.  Please leave a comment below.  Have a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!

Healthy Home Book

Have you ever read a book that you just couldn’t put down, a book that was intriguing, grabbed your attention from the get go, easy to read and you just wanted to share it with everyone?   I have, and I want to share the book with you.  It doesn’t have teenage vampires, Harlequin romances or violence that may intrigue you.   What this book is full of is practical accessible health advice that will help you; get a good night’s sleep, choose the right household cleaners, and figure out what products to avoid.  This book is on the New York Times best seller list.  The book I am talking about is The Healthy Home by Dr. Myron Wentz and his son Dave Wentz.

This book is just amazing and shocking.  I love how the book is set up.  It is broken down by sections of a house and starts in the bedroom and continues throughout the rest of the house… even into the garage and backyard.  At the beginning of each chapter is the interview part between Donna Wallace (the interviewer) and Dr. Wentz and Dave Wentz.  Then there is a little “How Toxic Is Your Home?” quiz.  You can actually write your answers in the book. You write down the number associated with your answers.  Then you add up your number and the total will give you your “Danger Score”.  I was absolutely floored by some of the things I read in the book.  Some things I never thought twice about.  Here are some of the topics the book covers:

  • Clothing, Detergents and Fabric Softeners
  • Dry Cleaners
  • Mattresses
  • Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs)
  • How you sleep
  • Fresh air and opening up your windows
  • Chemicals put on your skin and hair, antiperspirants and tooth paste
  • Drugs in your cabinets
  • Foods in the kitchen, Diets and How you cook food
  • Food and Plastics
  • Garage toxins and chemicals on the lawn

The book has suggestions on how you can change these parts of your house and life.  You don’t have to do it all at one time.  But if you take baby steps towards having a Clean Green House, it won’t seem so overwhelming.

healthy home book

Healthy Home book

The really cool part about this book is that 100% of the proceeds from book sales are donated to a notable charitable organization called Children’s Hunger Fund (CHF). You can go to www.myhealthyhome.com/charity for more information.

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Thank you so much for taking time to read my blog!  Please feel free to share my blog with your friends and family!  Please leave a comment below.  Have a Blessed Day!

Homemade Fruit Pastries

pop tart nutrition Hungry for something…

Seeing that I have cut out a lot of prepackaged and processed foods, sometimes I crave Pop Tarts. Of all the things that I want, why in the world Pop Tarts?  They are one of the worst foods you could eat.  They are totally unhealthy and extremely processed.   They are high in sugar… actually High Fructose Corn Syrup.  I have never understood why manufacturers have to use both sugar and HFCS?  This boggles my mind.  After doing a ton of research on HFCS, I don’t understand why the FDA still allows manufacturers use it!  I could go on and on about HFCS, but I will spare you this time! But please do your own research on it.   Don’t believe everything you see on TV either… specially the commercial where they are talking about how it is the same as sugar… NO IT IS NOT!   OK, off my soap box and back on track!  🙂

Substitution for Kellogg’s Pop Tarts!!!!!

About 3 years ago my husband and I joined forces with Usana Health Sciences to help teach people how to live a healthy lifestyle.  We are so happy we did!  Both Dan and I love helping people lose weight, gain energy and learn how to change their lifestyle in order to have better health!  That is where we met Kathy Kaehler (fellow Usana lover)!   Kathy is a personal trainer for the Superstars, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lopez, and more… But she also has started a program call Sunday Set-Up.  This program she give you a meal plan, recipes, workouts and more!  The best things about her recipes is that they are typically Low Glycemic and very healthy.

Dan, Me and Kathy Kaehler

Dan, Kathy Kaehler and Me
Copyright by Holly Hedman

Eating a low glycemic diet will typically reduce the amount of processed foods and increase the amount of fiber you eat.  As you see in the photo below is what happens to your blood sugar levels when you eat high glycemic foods and low glycemic foods.  When you eat high glycemic foods, your blood sugar levels will skyrocket and drop drastically.  But when you eat low glycemic foods, it takes your body longer to process it and your blood sugar levels stay in the optimal range (shown in the photo the optimal range is in the teal color.)Glycemic-Rollercoster-sm-600x464 There will be more information on the importance of eating low glycemic in up coming articles, so be on the look out for them. The Sunday Set-up program has great recipes and that is where I got the idea to make homemade fruit pastries (i.e. Pop Tarts) from.  I only used 5 ingredients which is a little different then how the recipe from Sunday Set-up is.  I am always changing recipes because it is fun to take a recipe and tweek it.  With all of that being said, here is how I made my homemade fruit pastries that is loved by the whole family!

Homemade Fruit Pastries

Homemade Fruit Pastries

Basically, what I did was take a block of cream cheese and mash it up.  Then I added a container of washed raspberries (but leaving some out for the frosting) and mixed it with the cream cheese.  To sweeten it up a little more, I added 2 tablespoons of Agave nectar.  Mixed it all together and got my crust ready.  This time I just used pre-made crust but sometimes I make the crust too.  I unrolled the crust and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter.  It can be any shape, but one that is big enough for the filling.

Filling the pastries

Filling the pastries

Once all the pastries are filled then they are ready to be baked at 375 degrees till dark golden brown as seen in the photo.

bakes fruit pastries

bakes fruit pastries

While the pastries are cooling, take the leftover raspberries and mash them up with a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.  Then add about a cup or so of powdered sugar to get the consistency of frosting.  Once the pastries are cooled, spread the frosting on.

Finished Product!

Finished Product!

These are so good and is so hard not to eat all of them in one sitting.  Try to keep it at two pastries.  Two of these a long with some more fruit or yogurt will make for a nice breakfast.  Enjoy!

Disclaimer: This recipe is not mine but Sunday Set-up‘s. I am sharing it with you because it is kid friendly food and easy to make.  The photos are all my photos but I do not claim the recipe as mine! 🙂

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Thanks for taking time to read about our journey into homeschooling.  Please feel free to share my blog with your friends and family!  Also, I would love to learn from you and how you homeschool.  Please leave a comment below.  Have a Blessed Day!