Beds for Orphans in Ukraine

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As of 10/7/14, we have raised $3,524.96!!!  Only $1,675.04 left to go until we hit our goal!!!  

36 children will have beds this winter!  19 to go!

Thank you so much to the Hollers, Schwartzs, Bentleys, and Tuckers!!! 

Head to Living Change Fitness and Nutrition on Facebook, to find out an awesome, fun new way you can help these kids!  Let’s wrap this up!!


OK, ladies and gentlemen.  Here’s a post straight from the bottom of my heart.  Y’all have been seeing what’s going on in Ukraine right now.  It’s a nightmare.  Two of the orphanages that one of my favorite charities, Life 2 Orphans, works with, are in Donetsk.  If you don’t know where that is, that’s in Eastern Ukraine.  That’s where the airliner was shot down.  That’s some of the nastiest of the nasty right there.  One of the orphanages was even bombed.  (Blessedly, none of the special-needs adults or children were hurt.   Unfortunately, some of the caretakers were, but not too badly, it seems.)

The two orphanages were able to get out of Donetsk to a safe place, another orphanage called Druzhkovka.  Megan at Life 2 Orphans shares it better than I could.


We all know what is going on in Ukraine. It’s a scary, scary situation. People are terrified and panicked, running from their homes.

Now, can you imagine trying to move 145 children out of their home?  Many of whom are special needs? Some of whom are Bedridden?  Along with caregivers? Me either, but that’s exactly what’s happened in Donetsk.

The kids from the Shakhtyorskiy orphanage had to evacuate. They had to leave because the fighting in Donetsk was too dangerous.

Many of these Bedridden orphans came from the Torez orphanage. A few weeks ago the Torez orphanage was bombed.  Blessedly, none of the children and adult orphans with special needs who live there were hurt (although, a few of the caregivers were). They did survive, though, Thank God!

But war does nott know boundaries, and there are a lot of people in a lot of trouble. I received this e-mail from Life2Orphans: STATE OF EMERGENCY AT THE DRUZHKOVKA ORPHANAGE, DONETSK, UKRAINE, Druzhkovka orphanage is now overwhelmed with 375 orphans in an orphanage that did house ONLY 230.  The Shakhtyorskiy orphanage had to leave the area of fighting and evacuate their 145 orphans and caregivers to the Druzhkovka orphanage. They are now bursting at the seams and need our help immediately!!

After transferring the orphans from Shakhtyorskiy the children are now sleeping on the floors on mattresses side by side.  They had no additional beds, but they have found enough mattresses for all the orphans. The caregivers are sleeping wherever they can in the orphanage.

Please note these are the former Bedridden boys and girls from Torez, and they are now together at Druzhkovka.  So happy to say, The Individual Orphan Caregivers are still with their children

This is a SEVERE need. This is serious.  These are orphans with mild to very severe special needs.  Some of them are bedridden.  With no beds.  Seriously.  So, the first fundraiser we’re going to work on is to get cots and mattresses to these kids.  Winter is coming.  Can you imagine sleeping on the floor, no cot, no mattress, no nothing, full time, all winter long?  In Ukraine?  Seriously?  Let’s get this done.

Christmas Cheer

Megan tells me we need 55 cots with mattresses.  The set costs $93.50 ($34.25/cot, $59.25/mattress).  That equals out to just under $5,200 (considering wire transfer fees and the like).  I say we set that as our goal.  These kids deserve better than a winter sleeping on the floor, because of a war that is completely beyond their control.

To donate to this fundraiser, please go to the Life2Orphans Make a Monetary Donation page.  You’ll see chat box, and in there, please put DRUZHKOVA FUND.  That’s where the money is going to buy the cots and mattresses.

How fast can we do this?  The need is so great, this is the first fundraiser we’ll be having, but not the last.  These kids deserve so much better than this.

Here are some new pictures I’ve gotten of the kids!!  These are the very kids that we are helping sleep well this winter.  The very kids who are sleeping on floors now.  We can do this!!

DFAB~1 DSCN9865 _18A4D~1

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

~Matthew 25:40

TOS Review Crew: Fascinating Education

Fascinating Chemistry


In the Waldorf sequence, Kaitlyn (13)  is due for Chemistry this year.  Although we have an awesome guide for her, chemistry is not my strong point, and I wanted to make sure that she was really getting everything she needed to.  When the chance to review Fascinating Education‘s Fascinating Chemistry came up, I was really excited to see what it was all about!


Fascinating Education Review
Fascinating Education is a program designed to teach science in a clear, easy-to-understand way for middle-to-high-schoolers (depending on the class).  It’s an audio-visual technique that uses the right-hemisphere of the brain to teach science, designed by a neurologist, Dr. Sheldon Margulies.  In each lesson (there are 18 lessons in the Fascinating Chemistry class), there is a video, script, and then quiz.  The student must get 80% on the multiple-choice quiz to pass that lesson.  The program does not track for the parent.  That’s something you’ll have to do on your own.  The tests are in PDF format, and password protected, so that only the parent can see them, if you’d rather administer the test yourself, instead of having the program do it for you.  We decided not to use this option, and let Kaitlyn take the quizzes online.  I was sitting with her as she did this, however, so I knew how she did.  Labs are included, password protected so the student can’t access them themselves, for safety.  Really, this is a fairly simple program to use, and simple is good for us. ;)  It’s also able to be fully accessed on a tablet (we used it on both an iPad and an Android tablet), which is also a huge plus.  The only thing, really, I would change about this program is having it track their quiz scores for me.  That would be helpful, but as long as I’m watching to make sure they’re being honest about their quiz scores, it works fine as-is.

Fascinating Education Review
So, how did we like the program?  Well, Kaitlyn had a hard time with it.  For some reason, she just wasn’t retaining the information well, and it took her a really long time, much longer than I would have thought, to pass the first quiz.  I don’t think this is an issue with the program (although it is rigorous enough to count for high school credit), but rather, it’s a Kaitlyn-isn’t-a-huge-fan-of-science problem, and it shows in pretty much all of her science classes.  The videos are fairly long, roughly 20 minutes or so, and she had a hard time paying attention to the entire thing.  We have it down to where we do the video on Monday, along with the lab if there is one and we’re able to do it, and an initial quiz, review the notes on Tuesday, quiz on Thursday, and if she passes, she has Friday off.  If not, we rewatch, review, and go over it again to quiz on Friday.  I’m having Danny (11) try the courses out as well, to see how he’ll like them.  He’s more science-minded than Kaitlyn is, so he might do better.  We’ll see.

Overall, I like this program a lot.  The videos, in my opinion, explain things very well, but are simple enough for middle school students to understand.  There are three classes in the Fascinating Education program:  Fascinating Chemistry (what we used), Fascinating Biology, and Fascinating Physics.  It is recommended that you do them in that order (Chemistry, Biology, then Physics), as Biology builds upon Chemistry, and Physics requires quite a bit of mathematics.  Make sure you click the banner below to see what the rest of the Crew thought about Biology and Physics, as I didn’t review those.


Fascinating Education Review
Fascinating Education‘s Fascinating Chemistry is available for $79 for a year’s access (Biology and Physics are the same price).  You can also combine any two courses for $125/year, or get all three courses for $175 for two years worth of access.  Make SURE you click the banner below, particularly if you are interested in Fascinating Biology or Fascinating Physics.  You can also see the course outline and get a free sample lesson of each course, so make sure you check that out, as well!

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Blogging Through the Alphabet: A is for ADHD

A is for ADHD


Welcome to the first of this round of Blogging Through the Alphabet.  I’m hosting this weekly link up for the first time, and I’m SO glad you’re here!  Thank you and many props to Marcy at Ben and Me, for starting this link up and running it for so long, and handing it over to me now.  She’s done an amazing job.  Make sure you check out our Blogging Through the Alphabet Page, for all the rules and to grab the button to join us!!

OK, on to the fun stuff!  We’re at the beginning of the Round, so, of course, we start at A!  This week, for us, A is for ADHD.  There are SO many questions, difficulties, and myths that surround ADHD.  First, I’d like to direct you if you don’t understand what ADHD truly is, to Marcy’s series over at Ben and Me “5 Days of ADHD Awareness“.  She did a GREAT job there, and I highly recommend reading it!
The clinical topic of ADHD is not what I want to focus on today, though.  As a parent of a child with ADHD, I want to clear up some misconceptions.  I might take some flack for this.  I get that.  I still feel like some things need cleared up.


1)  ADHD is real.  I really don’t care what the parenting-guru-of-the-moment says.  I had a good friend tell me once that she didn’t “believe” in ADHD.  (Ironically, she has a child who is not neuro-typical, either.)  Your personal belief doesn’t change my reality.  Please, please please, homeschool community, let’s not insult and isolate others like that.  We’re not “educating” when we say things like that.  We’re kicking a good Mama while she’s already down.  If you do this to a Mama you don’t even know, via a social media post on a public page, that’s just cruel.

2)  ADHD is overdiagnosed.  I don’t think you’ll find a parent of a child with ADHD who says differently.  It’s incredibly frustrating to us.  For every child who does not have ADHD, and is diagnosed and put on ritalin, it increases the stigma, and makes it that much harder to get other parents (and teachers, and therapists, and medical professionals…) to understand.  But, overdiagnosis does not mean that it doesn’t exist.

Danny pizza

3)  ADHD is not cured by diet.  THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT DIET CANNOT AND WILL NOT HELP SYMPTOMS.  It can, it does.  BUT, if your child/niece/nephew/grandchild was cured of their ADHD by removing gluten/sugar/dyes/corn/apples/whatever, that is a food allergy and/or sensitivity.  That is not ADHD.  ADHD is a brain chemistry problem.  Does that make their symptoms any less legitimate?  NO.  But it’s not ADHD.  Kids with ADHD do not get less hyper when they go off of sugar (in fact, in many kids with ADHD, sugar does not effect them at all, the way it does neurotypical kids).  They tend to calm when you give them caffeine.  Many kids with ADHD can NOT go to school without having a cup of coffee first.   They can’t slow down without it.  Diet in ADHD kids is not the same as diet in neuro-typical kids.  Most parents with kids with ADHD have tried every diet in the book, with varying degrees of success.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it lessens symptoms, sometimes it does nothing.  It can help, and I STRONGLY recommend clean, whole foods diets for EVERY family.  But it’s not a cure.  It would be great if physicians would start testing for sensitivities and allergies BEFORE making a diagnosis of ADHD or any neurological disorder.  That would be awesome.  I’d totally get behind that.

Danny Thermal

This is what happens when you give a boy an iPad on a road trip… I think I have 100 of these…

4)  ADHD isn’t caused by “bad parenting”.  Seriously, this one gets under my skin, and goes right along with #1.  We do discipline our children.  Our children WANT to behave.  There is a disconnect in their brain.  It’s not our fault.  It’s not their fault.  It simply is.  Our kids don’t respond the same way neuro-typical kids to.  If they did, my kids would be the best behaved kids in the world, lemme tell ya.  Just because you don’t see us doing what YOU would do when our kids act up, doesn’t mean we’re not parenting our children well.  We’re doing what works for our kids, in our family.
And to parents of kids with ADHD, let me just reiterate this… IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.  A wonderful mentor of mine says, “Save guilt for sin.”  You’re doing the best you can, whether you medicate, use diets, use oil, need respite… WHATEVER.  You keep on keeping on.  Haters are going to hate.  Let them.  You and God know better.



5)  Our kids are incredibly smart.  They’re hilarious, too, although many don’t get their humor.  They’re awesome kids.

They also know they’re different.  They know something’s “off”.  They have a hard time making friends.  They say inappropriate things.  They’re the kids the Sunday School teacher inwardly winces at when she sees them, because they make class so… “interesting”.

They’re also the ones that ask awesome questions.  They think differently, and that can be challenging for adults.  But they’re awesome kids.  Period.

Do you have a child who isn’t “neurotypical”?  What would you add to this list?  I’d love to hear in the comments!


Blogging Through the Alphabet

Be Thankful Journals

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Be Thankful Journal Pin



Last fall, I showed you this wonderful thankfulness journal that we’re using with our kids, the Be Thankful: Cultivating-Year Round Thankfulness Journal by Amanda Pelser at Kids in the Word.  You can see that review here.  We’ve decided to start heading through the Be Thankful Journal again this fall.  It’s the perfect time for it, and I’m so excited to use it again!

Be Thankful Cover


Be Thankful has grown just a bit since last year.  The Journal is a 500-page ebook, with the majority of those pages being printables for you and your family.  The printables are available in both KJV and ESV, whichever you prefer (both are included).  The 9 chapters are short enough for even smaller members of the family to work through with you, without losing interest.  We’re going to use this during our Morning Meeting time, as a reminder and lesson in being thankful.  I’m hoping that using it first thing in the morning, it sets our hearts and minds on the right path for the rest of the day.

There are two parts to Be Thankful.  The first part, What?  Why?  How? teaches kids what thankfulness is, why we should give thanks to God, and how to give thanks to God.  The second part, For What Things Should We Give Thanks To God? takes kids through some of the (many) things we should be thankful about, such as salvation, love, prayer, ect.  I think we might be adding to that a little bit, we’ll see.  We have plenty of time to get through it.  Finally, the last chapter is titled, An Attitude of Thankfulness.  

I’m really excited to take my kids back through this journal, and I sincerely hope you’ll join us!  You can order Be Thankful:  Cultivating Year-Round Thankfulness for $9.99 at Kids in the Word.

My Wonder Oven and Maxpedition Vulture II Backpack Giveaway!

I am really, REALLY excited to bring y’all another great giveaway!  This time for two really cool products to use when you’re out and about.  These would be OUTSTANDING gifts for Christmas, too.  Let’s tell you a bit about them, then we’ll show you how to enter and win your own!!

Top Ten Features of My Wonder Oven

My Wonder Oven Slow Cooker Giveaway-Oct.24th-29th, 2014 by
The picture of our yummy, deliciously Autumn giveaway was taken by Joyce at
My Wonder A group of bloggers decided to let you know about these awesome energy-saving, non-electric slow cookers. In order to slow cook food, all you do is use a pan with a lid and bring the food to a rolling boil for about 10-15 minutes. Quickly place the lid on your pan and place it in the Wonder Oven. By entering the giveaway below, you will have a chance to win one of these awesome My Wonder Ovens! Good luck!

My Wonder Oven Top Ten Features:

1. 100% Cotton

We promise the fabric won’t melt!

2. Double Stitched

We want to make sure those beads stay right where we put them!

3. Filled with 3 mm polystyrene beads

Smaller beads conduct the heat better because there is less air space around them. Bigger is NOT always better.

4. VIRGIN beads

My Wonder Oven beads have not not been recycled from someone else’s bean bag.

5. Floppy rather than overstuffed

My Wonder Oven Slow Cooker Giveaway-Oct.24th-29th, 2014 by
This feature makes it easier to store, and allows you to fit it into a container (which is great when you’re cooking on the go) or wrap it around your food. Go freestyle, baby.

6. Washable

If My Wonder Oven gets soiled, simply wash that area with soap and water and allow to air dry. It’s a good idea to wrap your pot with a towel to avoid spills. A solar blanket also works great to catch spills and reduce condensation.

7. Cook on the road!

Think of it as a non-electric slow cooker.

My Wonder Oven Slow Cooker Giveaway-Oct.24th-29th, 2014 by

8. Refrigerate on the road

Great for keeping groceries cool, or even frozen, on the ride home.

9. Made is the USA

Even better, made in TEXAS.

10. Affordable pricing

Because I can purchase the fabric and those 3 mm VIRGIN beads here locally, I can keep the costs down.

Terms & Conditions:

This My Wonder Oven Giveaway is open to any resident who is 18 years of age or older who lives in one of the 48 US Contiguous States. This giveaway starts on Friday, Oct. 24th at 5:00 am (MDT) and ends on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014 at 5:00 pm (MDT). The winner will be notified by email and will have 24 hours to respond. If we do not hear back from said winner in the designated time period of 24 hours we will choose another winner and they will have 24 hours to respond from the time the notification email is sent. Please check your SPAM email folders. Good luck to everyone! Let’s be prepared for the unexpected!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Maxpedition Vulture II Backpack Giveaway! Whether you use this backpack for camping, hiking, cross-country skiing, or as an emergency pack, you are sure to love it. On the off-chance that you already have too many quality backpacks, this would make a fabulous Christmas or Hanukkah present for someone special!

Meet the Participating Bloggers

The bloggers listed in the Rafflecopter form below have come together to purchase this prize for one lucky contestant. As you click “Like” on the form, visit their pages and get to know them. Every time you like, comment on or share one of their posts, you are supporting their page. We all appreciate you so much.

Enter to Win

This giveaway is open to residents of the United States only. Entrants must be age 18 or older to enter. Giveaway runs from 12:00 am MST October 25th (that’s 2 am EST)  to 12:00 am MST (2 am EST) November 2nd. Winner will be drawn November 2nd and emailed. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the email before another entrant is chosen, so check your spam folders too! Good luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jesus: Light of the World Launch!

***Affiliate Links are used in this post.***Jesus Light of the World


Advent Season is quickly approaching, and I have a beautiful new resource for you, written by the very fabulous Candace Crabtree!  Candace is the owner of Mercy is New, and this is her first ebook.  I have to say, she’s done an outstanding job.  Jesus:  Light of the World ~Praying the Scriptures Through Advent is a beautiful little ebook (105 pages) that takes you through 31 days of devotions and prayer, each day corresponding to a Scripture passage about light.  The devotions aren’t too long, a paragraph or two average, and there is a small prayer, as well.  Also for each day, there is a My Prayer page to journal your own prayers.  In addition, there are two beautiful printables that you can use to decorate your home in the Christmas Season.  It really is a lovely book!  I would also suggest that this book would be wonderful to use through the winter season, perhaps for Candlemas, or other holidays where we work to celebrate the light in the midst of a dark time?

The book is very simple, and can be used in a variety of ways.  Candace suggests a few… as a private devotional for mom, as a word study for the family, evening devotions, dinnertime conversation starters… Really, the simplicity of this study makes the possible uses grow and grow!  Candace also has two Pinterest boards available for those using Jesus:  Light of the World, one for Arts, Crafts, and Home Decor, and one for Educational Resources.

Jesus:  Light of the World is available in PDF format for $6.99.  I read it on my Kindle app, and it was formatted very well.  Prayer is such an important part of the Advent season, I would never hesitate to highly recommend this beautiful new resource to my readers!  I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.

OH, one more thing…  Candace is lovingly hosting a giveaway this weekend for the launch of Jesus:  Light of the World!!  It’s a great one, no widgets to fill out, nothing to share on your feed… just order the book!  Everyone who orders between today (Friday, 10/24/14) and Monday night (10/27/14) will have their email address entered, and the winner will be chosen randomly.  You can find out more details at the Mercy is New Blog.  So, definitely make sure you grab this, and enter the giveaway!!

TOS Review Crew: New Liberty Videos

Teaching Origins Objectively


The teaching of origins in science curriculum has a place near to my heart.  In fact, that is what one of my college level speeches is about in my public speaking course.  I believe that it is imperative to give an honest, objective assessment of multiple theories of origin to all science students, particularly those at the high school level.  With that in mind, I was incredibly excited to review Teaching Origins Objectively put out by New Liberty Videos.


New Liberty Videos Review
New Liberty Videos has a variety of videos on a range of subjects, including history, politics, the origin debate, abortion, cults, UFOs, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Each video has a Christian basis.  Brian and Marilyn Barkley of Overland Park, KS produce New Liberty Videos together.  The videos are $19.95 each, and are intended for general audiences (all ages).


Teaching Origins Objectively, as I said, is of huge interest to me right now.  This video took the viewer through the May 2005 Kansas State Board of Education’s hearings on science standards.  The question posed was whether or not it was responsible for a public school to teach alternatives to Darwinism and Ne-Darwinism, such as Intelligent Design, or would this be unfairly introducing a religious theory into the scientific curriculum.  Teaching Origins Objectively noted that no evolutionists attended the hearings (by their own choice, many were invited), and then took the viewer through the highlights of over 20 hours of testimony from 23 experts.  The video pieces together clips of the experts’ testimony, and allows the experts to speak for the validity of intelligent design as a scientific theory itself.  There is not a narrator piecing things together for you, it’s simply the scientific experts testimony.

Teaching Origins Objectively is roughly two hours long.  Although it is rated for all ages, I would definitely put this in the middle school-to-adult range.  Little ones are not going to pay attention.  My big kids, even though they’re both in middle school, had a hard time paying attention.  If the student was very interested in the topic, they might watch it all the way through.  Adults, however, I think will find this fascinating.  I did, anyway.

New Liberty Videos Review
Teaching Origins Objectively, I feel, is a huge help in understanding the science behind this incredibly important topic–how we teach science in our public schools, and is that method effective.  In 2005 (the same year these hearing were held), the US Supreme Court ruled in Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area Public Schools that Intelligent Design is not a legitimate scientific theory, and ““It is unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause to teach intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.”  This documentary proves that this is wholly and completely untrue.  Intelligent design as a legitimate theory of origins is gaining ground daily among the best scientific minds, because neo-Darwinian evolution is so lacking.  This isn’t about Creationism (not all who believe in intelligent design believe in Judeo-Christian Creationism) versus Darwin.  This debate is simply about how we teach science, and is it most effective to only teach one (not that great) theory as scientific “doctrine”, or to expose high schooled students to multiple theories, and allow them to decide for themselves?  Teaching Origins Objectively is a wonderful tool to help you decide that question for yourself.

Teaching Origins Objectively is available at New Liberty Videos for $19.95.  As I mentioned above, there are a number of wonderful looking videos available, and I highly recommend checking many of them out.

What did the rest of the Crew think about their New Liberty Videos?  Click the banner below to find out!

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Whovian Wednesdays: Week 3: Dickens

***Affiliate Links are used in this post.***Whovian Wednesdays


Hi Whovians everywhere!  I am so sorry that it’s been a couple of weeks.  We had broken bones and travel for business and pilgrimages…. yeah, it’s been real.  Blessedly, Traveling Through History with Doctor Who is fairly self-paced (contrary to what Danny would have you believe), so it’s all good, we’re not behind, just… here. :)

So, this week we did Week 3 which was a study in Charles Dickens.  Really timely, since Kaitlyn is reading A Tale of Two Cities for her Lit and Comp class.  We watched The Unquiet Dead (one of the creepier episodes, so make sure you preview for Little Whovians), and a lot of documentaries on Charles Dickens.  There are quite a few available on YouTube, and I pinned some of them to the Traveling Through History with Doctor Who Pinterest Board, so make sure you’re following that.  I also put lots of books and biographies about Dickens on the board.

Danny also did some mapwork of Wales, and found Minecraft, which is really cool! There are Minecraft activities in the curriculum, we just haven’t been doing them. Unfortunately, I didn’t get pictures of that this week… Have I mentioned it’s been a very. long. week?  ;)

Wales Map

We also did essays on Dickens and his fascination with the paranormal and the Wigs and Tories, and studied a bit about Monet.  Overall, it was a really good week!

I promise to have more pictures next week when we study Shakespeare!  That’s one of my favorite episodes… ((le sigh))

In the meantime, here are some free Kindle books by Dickens that we found.  Hope you enjoy!!

Great Expectations
A Tale of Two Cities
A Christmas Carol (Enriched Classics)
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
The Battle of Life A Love Story
Charles Dickens’ Children Stories
The Cricket on the Hearth
Doctor Marigold
Hunted Down: the detective stories of Charles Dickens
Dombey and Son
Nicholas Nickleby
The Old Curiosity Shop
Our Mutual Friend
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
The Poems and Verses of Charles Dickens
A Budget of Christmas Tales by Charles Dickens and Others
Little Dorrit
A House to Let
The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain

Make sure you link up for Whovian Wednesdays!! Check the tab at the top of the page to see how!

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Holy Protection Greek Orthodox Monastery Visit

Holy Protection Trip gates


This weekend I was incredibly blessed to take a trip with the ladies of my parish, Protection of the Holy Virgin Mary Church in Clarksville, TN, to the Holy Protection Greek Orthodox Monastery in White Haven, PA.  We’re very new on our journey into Orthodoxy, and this is the first time I’ve ever been to a monastery.  I can honestly say I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend!!  The Abbess granted us permission to take some pictures, and I thought I’d share my blessed weekend with you!

The first thing we did was attend Saturday Liturgy, which we arrived a bit late for, but were nonetheless incredibly blessed by.  Our church is a small mission church, and we’ve just finished our chapel.  It’s beautiful!  And I love it!  (You can see pictures on the website.)  But I had never really seen the inside of a larger, more established Orthodox church.  It. was. breathtaking.  I wasn’t able to get pictures of the chapel at Holy Protection, but… oh, just breathtaking.  The services were entirely in Greek (with the exception of an English Gospel reading on Sunday), which I was initially worried about.  And I wasn’t able to follow along as well as I’d liked (break out that Greek curriculum I bought y’all, kids, we’re getting that done!), but, the order of the Liturgy was still the same, and so I wasn’t too lost.

HP 1

After Liturgy we took a nap.  Driving all night is exhausting!!  Then, a friend and I ran into town, and we missed dinner at the monastery, but I hear it was delicious.  We got back just in time for Vespers.  They did Hours, then Vespers, then Compline… we didn’t stay for Compline.  We were still rather sore from our drive.  We were able to eat dinner in the lovely guesthouse.  Then, R., my priest’s sweet daughter took me for a walk around the monastery.

HP 2

The monastery has about 26 nuns right now, and is self-sustaining.  They have the most beautiful gardens, goats, chickens, and bees.  (Based off of the baklava we were gifted with on the way home, the bees make AWESOME honey!!)  They also have a bookstore, a workshop, an icon-writer’s shop, and make candles.  You can read about the history of the monastery at the Holy Protection Website.  It’s really fascinating!


HP 5HP 4HP 3

R. helps with the animals.  From what I understand, she’s wonderful with them!

We also looked at some of the other lovely things on the monastery grounds.  This (below) is a beautiful chapel in front of a little graveyard.  The chapel is dedicated to St. Seraphim, and R. tells me it holds relics.  We looked inside and venerated, but it was too dark for pictures.  St. Seraphim

Don’t worry, we’ll definitely be heading back. ;)  There’s also this beautiful little house, that was used as a house for the ill many, many years ago.  It is dedicated to Saint Paraskevi.  There’s a little shrine across from it dedicated to Saint Oerozele.  Absolutely beautiful.



The grounds of the monastery were absolutely gorgeous.  I’d love to go back in Spring to see them again.  Sunday morning, we went to Liturgy.  Again, an awesome, ethereal experience.  The combination of the nuns chanting and singing (those in attendance didn’t sing, in our church we do, so I had to ask Matuska about this… things you learn when you travel!), so you could hear the choir beautifully.  And it was just… ((sigh))  It was like angels.  I can’t explain it.  It did my soul good.

After Liturgy, we went to coffee hour, and Matuska realized that the Icon streaming myrrh that we though was going to be out of town was actually back in Pennsylvania!!  We had hoped to see it, then thought it would be gone, and we would miss it.  What a HUGE blessing this was!!  So, we headed out to Taylor to St. George’s Orthodox Greek Catholic Church, and saw the Icon.  SUCH an INCREDIBLE and MIRACULOUS blessing!!  The story is incredible.  I highly encourage anyone to head up to see it.  We were able to get pieces of cotton with the myrrh on it (by the way, if you’ve never smelled this… oh. my. Heavenly.  Literally), and an icon card with myrrh.  We were also able to place our crosses and prayer ropes on the box holding the Icon (which is also covered in myrrh, amazing!).  I was so happy.  We haven’t had crosses, but I had bought Prince Charming and I each one the night before just before Vespers, and me a prayer rope, at the monastery bookstore!  I’ll be giving them to our priest to bless tonight.  So so so happy for this!

St. Georges

After we left St. George’s, we ate lunch back in White Haven at this AWESOME little Greek family restaurant called Fork’s.  Awesome, awesome food, and really friendly service, and right near the monastery.  Believe me, we’ll be going back there.  Then, up to gather our bags and off we went, back to Tennessee!!

It was a whirlwind weekend, but I was so incredibly blessed.  I just can’t tell you how blessed I was.  I reflected a lot on my own spiritual life, and monastic life, and… a lot of things.  I can see the attraction of the monastic life.  It’s so peaceful, and beautiful.  Not easy, never easy, but worth it.  When I saw the kids this morning, Kaitlyn asked right away to go next time.  She wants to go to Holy Protection for her birthday.  I can’t think of a better birthday trip!!

Thank you so much to R. and the beautiful nuns at Holy Protection Greek Orthodox Monastery for hosting us this weekend.  I could not have asked for a better first-time-ever pilgrimage!

Thanksgiving Bundle Giveaway!!

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I am so excited to bring my awesome readers a wonderful giveaway just in time for the holiday baking season!  As the holiday season approaches, it is the perfect time to sit back, relax, and reflect on the blessings that we’ve been given this year.  Inspired Bloggers Network is bringing you these two giveaways, just to help you do that.

Inspired Thanksgiving Giveaway

During this season of Thanksgiving, the Inspired Bloggers Network is full of gratitude for our readers. Without the faithful support of those who follow us on our blogs and social media, we would be unable to do what we love. So, thank you!

Inspired Thanksgiving Giveaway 2

Inspired Thanksgiving Giveaway Bundle #1

1 – Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French (Dutch) Oven, Cherry

1 – $100 Walmart Gift Card

To enter both giveaways, please complete the Rafflecopter information below and then click on over to enter for a chance to win Bundle #2: KitchenAid Stand Mixer and $100 Walmart Gift Card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Must be 18 or older to enter. US only. Giveaway is open from October 19, 2014 through November 2, 2014 11:59 PM PST. Winner will be notified by email and have 48 hours to respond or forfeit the prize to another winner. Prizes will be shipped directly from the vendor to the winner no later than one week after the winner’s verification.

Compass Classroom’s Word Up! Review

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There are a few organizations that if they ask me to do a review for them, I literally jump at the prospect.  Compass Classroom is definitely one of them!  Right now, we have their Everyday Economics program, Dave Raymond’s American History Curriculum, and recently I was asked to review their brand new Word Up! The Vocab Show program.  Yep, I jumped, and I’m SO glad I did!
Word Up! The Vocab Show from Compass Classroom
Word Up! The Vocab Show is simple and easy to use.  Watch the video, and quiz the words with online vocabulary cards.  Compass Classroom even has online vocabulary cards sets already done for you.  That’s easy.  (The link is included in the program.)  The program consists of 10 videos (downloaded to your computer, so you’re not streaming, although they will take up memory.  You can also opt for a DVD) and a PDF file on how to use the program, which is 1 page long.  Because this program is SO easy to use.  Watch. Quiz. Review as needed.

Dwane Thomas, the host of Word Up! (and Visual Latin) is funny and engaging with the kids.  Right now, I have Kaitlyn (13), Danny (11) and Sean (7) watching it.  Sean really probably doesn’t need a vocab study now, but the big kids loved it so much, I just let him watch along, and he really, really likes it.  Word Up! covers Latin and Greek roots, so the students are getting a full vocab program with this.  The program covers 20 Greek and Latin roots, which translates into over 200 English words.

For our family, we let our kids watch the program together (each lesson is more or less 15 minutes long), and then review on their own.  Since the review cards are online, it’s really easy to do in their down time, in the car, wherever.   We’re able to simply access the cards on our tablets, the kids know how, and it’s really easy, and go!  This is a great compliment to the Latin and Greek they’re already studying, and can be a fun, welcome break if we need to take a bit off.  It’s also something that we’ve already discovered they’ll watch over and over, without getting bored.  Dwane Thomas is really funny, and the kids love watching him. You can see a trailer for the Word Up! The Vocab Show below:

Word Up! The Vocab Show – Official Trailer from Compass Cinema on Vimeo.

Word Up! The Vocab Show is available for $9.99 (DVD or download) AT THE TIME OF THIS POST (10/14) from Compass Classroom.  This is a $5.01 savings, for a special PRE-ORDER price!  Compass Classroom will begin shipping on 10/25.  I would highly recommend jumping on this.  Your kids will really enjoy it.  This is only the first set of Word Up! The Vocab Show.  Multiple sets are planned, and my kids will be so excited to get them all.  I hope you enjoy this series as much as we have!  And be sure to check out everything that Compass Classroom has to offer.  We’ve found every product we’ve used of theirs engaging, fun, and really easy to use!