When It Hurts To Breathe

I don’t get knocked down by sickness very easily; but when the doctor calls and says the X-ray showed Pneumonia, it’s time to stop trying to be so strong. I’m now on the 7th day of antibiotic, and I’ve done pretty well with working on stuff for a while, resting for a while. It has hurt to breathe. Each breath, each cough, seemingly bruising my fluid-swollen lung… more.

The parallel is amazing. Life has sucked the breath out of me lately. It’s been hard to breathe figuratively, and then it became hard to breathe literally. Some days I so want to quit. Stop trying. Just cry. Then I feel like a failure. And cry some more. Just worn down.

Life is hard. Harder than I ever imagined it would be.

So this morning as I was driving, God took my mind to the crucifixion. Asphyxiation. The fact that Jesus endured the most awful hard-to-breath experience. With each breath, He must have felt that He was dying… even though it wasn’t time to let go. He went through the unimaginable for me… for you. He died, but then He came back to life! Who am I to be beaten down by a little pneumonia? Who am I to be beaten down by the cares in MY life?

So here it is. I have hope today. Not because of me or anything that I have done. I can get through this because HE is in me. He is WITH me. He is my STRENGTH.

Does it hurt for you to breathe? Is life so overwhelming that you want to quit? Don’t. Just go to the Savior. He loves you and wants to be your strength! Let Him breathe for you.

Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said, “Look, He is calling for Elijah!” Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered itto Him to drink, saying, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down.”

And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.

Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said,

“Truly this Man was the Son of God!”

Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.

But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.

He is risen! He is not here.

See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”

Mark 15:33-39 & 16:1-6

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 

Psalm 18:2


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RE:FOCUS – The Armored Home


>RE:FOCUS - Clear the Mechanism

I wrote this a few years ago and realized this morning that it is an extension of last Monday’s post, so it’s time to share again. This is an area in which I (and I’m sure we all) need to revisit often. Satan is attacking our marriages and families HARD! Let’s keep each other accountable to protect the very gift that God has given each one of us.


Armored cars amaze me. How they make those vehicles to withstand bullets, explosions, accidents, etc. is beyond my realm of understanding. These specialized cars serve a purpose… to protect what’s inside.

Our homes need to be built with specialized armor, as well, to protect the marriages inside. We live in a fallen, stressful world. Kids, money struggles, out-of-whack priorities, stress, and so many other day-to-day things distract us from ensuring that our Ephesians 6 armor is in place in our homes. But when we put that armor in place, it will change us. It will change our marriages. It will change our children. It will change our lives.

So how can we establish this armor in our homes? Here are some practical tools for protection:

  • Pray “without ceasing” for your marriage.
  • Choose your words to each other carefully. Words hurt and can cause permanent damage.
  • Date nights are a must, but so is “couch time” everyday. Carving out some time for each other everyday, just to talk, is imperative for a protected marriage… an armored home.
  • Ask each other regularly, “What can I do to be a better wife/husband?” This opens up communication and gives more opportunities to meet each other’s needs.
  • Keep your private thought life pure and positive. Don’t let impure, negative thoughts stay in your mind. Have scriptures ready to fight attacks on your mind… and cut out ANYTHING that is affecting you in a destructive way.
  • Avoid close male-female friendships. They are dangerous. When you have a close friendship with someone of the opposite sex, you are allowing someone else to fill a role that only your husband should fill.
  • Most importantly, remind yourself that it’s not about you. Marriage is about self-sacrifice and give-and-take.

Marriage is hard. But when we do it God’s way, we realize that it is a gift like no other. The fact that God chose a life companion for each of us is such a blessing. And by taking measures everyday to protect our homes with armor, we can experience marriages full of joy… God’s deep kind of joy.

Challenge for this week: Start putting your armor in place. Communicate with your husband. Honor him. Protect him. Be selfless. Pray for him and memorize scripture about being a Godly wife. Be careful with your thought life and your words. I believe you will see a big difference in your most important earthly relationship.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” – Ephesians 6:12-13

Prayer: Dear Jesus, please make me the woman, wife, and mother you want me to be. I ask You to guide me to establish permanent armor in our home, so that nothing can destroy it. Your word gives us all the tools we need. Thank you for that. Father, I pray that my marriage will become the companionship that you created it to be… that we will keep You first in everything and that we will love each other the way you have called us to.


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Fun-Time Phonics! – A Review


For my last project for the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew, our family was given the opportunity to review Fun-Time Phonics!, a systematic phonics and comprehension reading program by The Critical Thinking Co. It is a 320-page book for grades K-2, full of colorful pages that help children learn to read in a fun way.


This program ensures complete phonemic awareness mastery because it focuses on vowel isolation – their individual sounds. Before a student can become a proficient reader, this very basic and important piece must be mastered. Because my daughter has recently been diagnosed with Dyslexia, I was excited about trying this fun curriculum with her. She specifically struggles with phonemic awareness/vowel isolation, so this was the perfect type of stimulating program to try with her. The emphasis of Fun-Time Phonics! is on patterns, not rule memorization.

Here is a listing of the components and strategies that are extremely effective with all levels of readers:

  • Builds from students’ natural speaking abilities, developing their auditory awareness of vowel sounds;
  • Incorporates multisensory instruction for introducing the alphabet and short vowels;
  • Provides cognitively-engaging connected text for practice;
  • Utilizes co-articulation to introduce consonant sounds, eliminating traditional stumbling blocks and ensuring a successful reading start;
  • Involves multiple regions of the brain – analytical as well as artistic and language-providing various pathways to long-term memory and automatic word recall.

Fun-Time Phonics! is literally an open-and-go program. You sit down with your student, open the book, and easily teach the concepts without any prep work at all. Since we are no longer homeschooling, it is helpful to have a curriculum like this that we can add to our homework routine in the afternoons. It’s not just a supplement, however. Despite its simple, easy-to-use design, it is still a very comprehensive program.

Here is the Table of Contents:

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 11.00.25 AM

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Here are a couple of sample pages:

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So what do we think of Fun-Time Phonics!?

We love Fun-Time Phonics! Katherine evens smiles at the cute pictures and enjoys the format, which changes things up and doesn’t give her the same routine-based learning everyday. If you have a struggling reader, or an early reader that you want to get started on the right foot, I highly recommend this wonderful, reasonably priced curriculum. The 320-page paperback book is only $39.99 and they are getting ready to introduce a Windows-based program that will only be $19.99.

Social Media:

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Reading Kingdom – A Review


As part of the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew, our family was given the opportunity to review Reading Kingdom Online, a complete computer-based reading curriculum for ages 4-10 by Reading Kingdom. This program is fun and colorful, and teaches children to read and write up to a 3rd grade level.

According to the Department of Education, 2 out of 3 children fail to become proficient readers. Reading Kingdom has taken a step to help children enjoy learning to read through their beautifully-designed interface. 

This program is also specially designed to work well for children who have been diagnosed with various learning disabilities. Children with Dyslexia, ADD, and Autism thrive in this learning environment. The visual stimulation improves their ability to retain information as they learn it.

Reading Kingdom Online is broken up into these segments:

  • Sequencing – the process that allows us to read the same letter combinations as different words by changing their order;
  • Writing – using the keyboard to physically type in the spelling of words;
  • Sounds – phonics, creating words from sounds/sets of letters;
  • Meaning – developing an understanding what words mean in their contexts;
  • Grammar – how words and phrases go together in the English language;
  • Comprehension – developing a complete understanding of what the kids read.

Benefits of using this program are:

  • Research based and incredibly effective.
  • The program adapts to every child and provides individualized instruction.
  • Kids can use the program on their own.
  • It’s fun so children think they’re playing a game and want to use it.
  • It was created by Dr. Marion Blank, one of the world’s top experts in reading.
  • It works as a standalone curriculum or a supple-ment.
  • Works on any device with an internet connection (including Windows, Mac, iPad, Android, Chromebooks, etc.)

Here are a few screen shots of how the program works:

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You can watch a video explaining the entire program here: Six Skill Integrated Method. You can also download sample lessons here: Reading Kingdom Sample Lessons. You can get a 30-day trial here: Reading Kingdom Online Trial.

After your 30-day trial, the pricing is very reasonable. It’s only $19.99 per month per student, BUT if you go ahead and purchase without doing the trial the price is only $14.99 per month per student. Each additional student is $9.99 per month (or $7.49 if you skip the trial).

So what do we think of Reading Kingdom Online?

This is a very comprehensive online program for young and struggling readers. All children ages 4-10 will probably enjoy this format, but it is specifically helpful if you have children who have been diagnosed with Dyslexia, ADD, or Autism. It’s so hard to keep kids focused at this age; but this visually stimulating, highly interactive program will keep them entertained and learning. Make sure to check out the resources, testimonials, and tons of other information on Reading Kingdom’s website.

Social Media:

  • Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/readingkingdom
  • Twitter – https://twitter.com/readingkingdom
  • Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/readingkingdom

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Review of Middlebury Interactive Languages

As part of the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew, our family was given the opportunity to review a semester of Elementary Spanish 1: Grades K-2, a completely online curriculum by Middlebury Interactive Languages. This program is very fun and interactive, and geared to younger students. Each unit takes a story from Spanish culture and uses various types of games and activities to help students learn the language AND the culture at the same time.

Each unit is broken into several lessons, and there is a lot of review of the small pieces of information that are given. It is definitely not overwhelming for young students, but instead helps them to really grasp phrases before moving on. The curriculum also includes quizzes and tests that help them see how much they are learning along the way.

As someone who learned sign language while immersed in Deaf culture, I know the value of being “thrown in” to the culture in order to learn. In the old days, we learned Spanish by copying words, repeating after the teacher, and we never used many visually stimulating and immersive techniques. Needless to say, I don’t remember a lot about Spanish. However, while in college, I became fluent in sign language by being thrown in and having to learn the language to survive. This curriculum reminds me of that (in as much as an online program can do that). The students watch and listen to stories in Spanish. While focusing on certain phrases, they pick up other words/phrases through context clues and pictures. It is awesome!

Here are a few screen shots of how the program works:

Here the students listen to the numbers 1-10 in Spanish as they click on fishbowls: 
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Here the students click on each family member, which changes them from black and white to color. As they click, they hear the family members’ titles in Spanish (mother, father, sister, brother, etc.):
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Here the students drag and drop the number words into the pictures that match:Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 10.27.07 AM

This is the Speaking Lab. Here the students record themselves saying the phrases, then listens back to see how closely they pronounced the words to the examples:Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 10.29.38 AM

Here is a shot of the welcome screen, along with the table of contents:Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 10.55.48 AM

As you can see, the students learn Spanish vocabulary for greetings, numbers, family, colors, school, the body, animals, calendar, food, and descriptions. It is a very comprehensive (yet again… not overwhelming) program for young learners. Even an older preschooler can follow along and pick up some vocabulary and culture.

So what do we think of Middlebury Interactive Language’s Elementary Spanish: K-2?

It is awesome! If you have children ages 4-8 and are looking for a Spanish curriculum that will hold their interest, I highly recommend this curriculum. It’s so hard to keep kids at this age interested in learning things that do not come naturally, but this visually stimulating, highly interactive program will keep them entertained and learning. As the kids get older, there are other more advanced programs, so they can continue on with the same program.

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Alpha Omega Publishing – Horizons Preschool – A Review


For Joshua’s 3-year-old preschool year, we mostly used play for math, along with listening in on reading, social studies, science, and health with Katherine. We were SO excited to get to try out the Horizons Preschool Curriculum from Alpha Omega Publishing! We received the complete Preschool package for this review. This Christian curriculum teaches math, phonics, language arts, and other subjects with fun activities and games. The set includes two student workbooks (with 180 lessons), two teacher’s guides, a music CD, and a resource packet with tons of manipulatives.

Horizons Preschool is the most incredible curriculum your youngest kiddos! It’s not just workbooks… there are so many things taught through this multi-sensory program. It is a great way to introduce preschoolers to “formal” learning. There are Bible stories, science projects, arts and crafts, music, health and safety, social studies, phonics, math, and a lot of other stuff. So well-rounded, yet geared specifically for this young age!

Here are just a few things kids learn in this fun-packed year:

  • Days 1-7 of Creation and the Flood (God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, light, dark, air, clouds, rocks, soil, grass, seeds, trees, fruits, vegetables, sun, weather, day, night, hour, seasons, Earth’s rotation and tilt, moon, stars, constellations, astronomy, planets, comets, meteors, fish, climate, ocean creatures, amphibians, eggs, birds, mammals, blood, circulation, brain, body parts, occupations, health, safety, music, work, rules, helpers, friends, family, reptiles, insects, man, cells, senses, bones, digestion, breathing, muscles, obedience, flood, and promises;
  • Letter recognition and sounds Aa-Zz, and alphabetical order
  • Colors and shapes
  • Fine motor skills, such as cutting, gluing, stamping, drawing, coloring, folding, tracing, painting, etc.
  • Physical activities, such as running, skipping, hopscotch, crawling, bowling, ring toss, swinging, dribbling, kicking, etc.
  • Writing name, home address, and phone number
  • Counting & simple addition

The lessons are easy-to-follow for Mom or Dad, yet filled with fun for the kids. Here are a few pictures of Joshua having fun learning his letter and numbers:

Kinesthetic learning by tracing the letters with his fingers….

IMG_4033 Working on making straight lines and matching…


More working on straight lines and counting to 3…


So what do we think of the Horizons Preschool Curriculum?

We absolutely love it! If you have a preschooler, I HIGHLY recommend that you give this program a try. It is so much fun and it’s flexible too! You can use the pieces you want to use and skip any that you don’t think will work for you guys (but there probably won’t be too many activities that you don’t want to use). The workbooks are beautifully illustrated in full-color, which helps to hold the attention of my always-moving boy. You can be sure that your preschooler will be ready for kindergarten because of the complete and well-rounded education they will receive from this curriculum. Want to see more? You can check out their scope and sequence, plus download samples on the website: Horizons Preschool. 🙂

Want to find Alpha Omega Publishing on social media?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aophomeschooling
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/+Aophomeschooling/posts
Twitter: https://twitter.com/homeschoolers/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/aophomeschool/
Instagram: https://instagram.com/aophomeschooling/

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Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers – A Review

Funtastic%20Unit%20Studies_zpsljdy1cy8Susan Kilbride’s Fantastic Unit Studies is a website offering Science & History unit studies, along with recommendations for books and resources for homeschoolers. For this review, I was given a copy of Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers, a 201-page softcover book that is full of a variety of hands-on science activities for children ages 4-13. The topics are split into two age groups, with half of the units for ages 4-7 and half of the units for ages 8-13.

The following units are geared to ages 4-7:

  • Our Senses
  • The Human Body
  • Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life
  • Animals
  • Insects and Their Kin
  • Fun with Magnets
  • Stars and Planets
  • Health
  • Beginning Plants
  • Animal Ecology

These units are for ages 8-13, and include more in-depth activities as well as tests:

  • Insects
  • Microscopes and Invisible Creatures
  • Atoms and Molecules
  • Matter
  • Chemistry Fun
  • Weather
  • Force and Motion
  • Simple Machines
  • Light and Color
  • Plants II

The units all start with a list of materials you will need to complete the study. At first, I was overwhelmed by these lists, but as I read through them, I realized that MOST of the items should be readily on-hand in most homes. Some things you’ll need to buy, but it just depends on how extensive your arts/crafts and kitchen supplies are. 🙂

After the needed materials list in each unit, you go into an introduction (sometimes), and then you are presented with several different sub-topics and activities to work through. Every unit is different. Some include more kinesthetic-type activities than others. For example, in the “Our Senses” unit, students build a Mr. Potato Head type craft, using an actual potato, toothpicks, and vegetables. This gives a good visual to help them remember where their eyes, ears, nose, and mouth are. Another activity in that particular unit is to read Goldilocks and the Three Bears, asking students to call out when each of the five senses are used. The activities for the younger kids are more activity-based, lighter on the academics. The older kids explore more of the details about the WHY and the HOW of the activities.

The program is VERY self-explanatory. Other than collecting materials, there is not a lot of prep work, which can be the case in some unit study curricula.

This book is great for homeschoolers. It allows the teacher freedom to explore the topics in whatever way works best for the kids. In my opinion, it’s best suited for families who are just getting an overview of various science topics before diving into whatever areas interest is found. The activities are fun, varied, and get the kids excited about science!

If you are interested in trying out Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers, check out the free Science units that Susan offers. You can download a PDF of Atoms & Molecules and/or Plants. The Table of Contents is also included in each PDF so you can get an overall picture of the studies included. Along with these free Science units, Susan also offers unit studies for History. You can look at all of her free lessons here: Free Units. On her site, you’ll also find a lot of reading resources for younger children and other resources that she recommends.

About Susan Kilbride:

Susan Kilbride is a homeschooling mother with a degree in biology.  A few years ago she noticed that many homeschooling parents are either uncomfortable teaching their children science, or just don’t have the time to do the necessary research to teach their children science.  Susan wrote Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers with these parents in mind, using the same methods that she used when teaching her own son. Since then, Susan has started the “Our America” history series–chapter books designed to teach American history by telling the stories of the people who lived it. She has also written a Kindle eBook titled “How to Teach About Electricity for Ages 8-13.”

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Mommy Peace

It’s been a rebuilding year in our household. The year of going back to the foundation of our home and family, and to make sure we were all on the right track… together.

After working outside of the home and pouring my life into other people more than I poured into my family, I came home and we decided to homeschool. With children ages 9, 6, and 3, this was quite the undertaking for someone who has always spent most of her daytime hours AWAY from the house.

I could write an entire book about what all we learned throughout the year, but one lesson stands out more than the others. It’s more of an observation made, really. My observation is that the massive army of us who are called “Mom” seem to be at war with each other. Seriously. It gets ugly sometimes….

Read the full article by clicking here to be redirected to VoiceBoks, where I am guest posting today: Mommy Peace. Then come back here and let me know your thoughts. 🙂

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