Category Archives: Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

Ultimate Blog Challenge, Day 20 . . .

I decided to do this now, because tomorrow, Sunday, is generally very busy for me, and really, it IS the 20th of October in the eastern time zone, right? πŸ™‚

So, tomorrow, I have to get up very early, because I’m in the choir, and the choir is singing special music tomorrow, so we need to be at church no later than 8:30 a.m. for our practice and sound check. We live a good distance from church, so we will need to be pulling out of our driveway absolutely no later than 7:45 a.m., though even earlier would be good, lol!

My husband Mike will drop me at church, then go off to get a coffee at McDonald’s, before coming back with the boys.

We love our church, and we’re so glad to be part of it! I am in the choir, I also sing special music occasionally on my own, and I serve in the nursery and the Care Bear ministry (taking meals to people when there’s a need). My older boys are in teen choir, and they also have ministered by being part of the teen group which runs the summer program for the littles, it’s called UTX (Under The Cross). My younger boys are in the Sunshine Kids Choir, and my husband serves in the sound booth.

We love it here, and we know we are meant by God to be here! πŸ™‚

If you live in the Albuquerque, NM area, or you will be visiting the area, I encourage you to come and visit, I know you won’t regret it! For more information, including how to find us, please go here.

As always, I would love it if you join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Just enter your email information in the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog, and never miss an update again! Oh, and please, go and “like” our Facebook page, here. I sure would appreciate it! πŸ™‚

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Filed under Albuquerque, Christian faith, Church, family, Kids, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

A Very Cool Discovery . . .

Yesterday, I needed to go to a different area of Albuquerque to pick up a long-desired Kitchen-Aid Pouring Shield for my Kitchen-Aid Mixer from another freecycler. If you don’t yet know about, or participate in, freecycling, I strongly encourage you to check it out! πŸ™‚ Anyway, here is a picture of my new pouring shield, which was in like new condition, the other freecycler had used it four times, and never used it again!


Now, when I make my home-made cakes and frostings, I won’t be making such a mess anymore. Great, huh?

As the kids and I got closer and closer to where we were going, we could see the mountains, so much closer, and I was wishing I had brought my camera. Then I remembered the camera on my phone, but really couldn’t find a good place to stop and get any good shots. I happened to mention to the other freecycler how beautiful the area was, and how fortunate she was to be so close to that view, and she pointed me toward a trail head entrance just a couple of streets away. So, we decided to go check it out, and here are the pictures we took!

First, the obligatory warning sign (if you click on the actual picture, it will get bigger and you can read all of the warnings, lol!) . . .


Up next, here are some quick shots I took of the actual beginning area of the trail . . .




This particular shot, I didn’t realize how pretty it was until I looked later. I think the way the sun is shining at that angle almost makes a little rainbow over the plant life!


Here are the boys …


And finally, me, too!


The more we see here, the more there is to enjoy! I told the boys that one day, when we have extra time (and money for gas, lol) we would just do a little field trip of our own, deliberately get a little lost (hey, I can use the gps on my phone to get us back home, after all), and just see what beautiful sights we can find.

As always, I would love it if you would join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”. Please enter your email information into the “sign me up” button at the top of the page, and “like” our facebook page by going here. Never miss another update! πŸ™‚

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Filed under Albuquerque, family, freecycling, Kids, Mountain trailhead, NM, Transitions, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

Diary Of A Real Payne . . . A T.O.S. Review

OK, full disclosure here . . . when I saw the description of this novel from Barbour Publishing, I applied for the review because *I* wanted to read it! I did not CARE if my boys wanted it or not, I thought it looked like a fun read-aloud! So I was very pleased to be chosen for this one. πŸ™‚

The book Diary Of A Real Payne Book 1: True Story written by Annie Tipton, is VERY entertaining!

Diary Of A Real Pain is written from the viewpoint of Emma Jean Payne (E.J. for short), a ten-year-old girl who dreams of leaving her small town Spooner, Wisconsin, so she can do BIG things when she grows up. She just KNOWS that small towns like Spooner are not where big things will ever happen, and that it is the “boringest” place there is.

The book goes back and forth between an entry in E.J.’s diary (which her mother thought would be a “good outlet” for her), and the story narration in the rest of each chapter. E.J. has big dreams, and they are regularly changing, as you’ll find out in both her diary entries and the continuation of the story within each chapter.

E.J.’s father is the pastor of the local church, and this novel has the Christian world view I prefer for my children to read whenever possible. Add to that the absolute hilarious-ness of E.J’s life, and all the trouble she finds herself getting into as a result of her extremely vivid imagination, and we had a winner for this particular read-aloud.

This story is about a girl, and I have, as you know, all boys, but they LOVED it! So many times, as I read from this book, one or another of my boys would suddenly exclaim “uh oh, I can see where THIS is going”, or “Oooh, she’s about to get herself into trouble again, isn’t she?”

E.J. zooms from career idea to career idea, and we get to have a front row seat as her imagination takes flight each time. Even when she, her little brother Isaac (or “the space invader”, according to E.J.”, and her friend Macie go door to door collecting for the school food drive, they decide to perform a mini circus at each home, complete with costumes. Of course, before long, we are reading E.J.’s account of their performance as if they are in a REAL circus!

As we read each chapter, the narrative goes immediately from what is actually happening right into E.J.’s imaginative account of what is happening in HER view, at least until something happens to bring her back to reality. And something ALWAYS does, too, like almost knocking down an entire store display while being a “famous female race-car driver”, for example.

Sometimes, E.J.’s imaginary interactions involve her nemesis, Coralee McCallister, the girl who is generally not very nice to her, and occasionally pulls a fast one to beat out E.J. at something (like deliberately making her nervous during the spelling bee, for instance)

We discover pretty quickly, as I said above, that E.J. believes nothing big ever can happen in Spooner, that she can never do the “big things” she is surely destined for. So, she imagines them, while waiting to grow up, move away, and then DO them.

When we got to chapter 14, though, something happened in the story that began to make E.J. realize this wasn’t necessarily true, that people can be part of doing “big things” anywhere, even in a boring little town like Spooner, Wisconsin. I’m not going to reveal to you what it is that causes her to realize this, but know one thing, although this book is juvenile fiction, when we got to chapter 14, it brought ME to tears.

Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story by Annie Tipton is an EXCELLENT read-aloud. It is actually recommended for ages 8 – 12, but as we discovered, it was a fun experience for all of us. My boys were rolling with laughter, and even managed to learn a few things about how good their own life is, and how we never really know what others may be going through.

The novel Diary Of A Real Payne Book 1: True Story is 192 pages long, and is currently on sale for $4.49, with a regular price of $5.99. You may order it here.

We made the pleasant discovery at the end of the book that there is a second volume in the works, “Diary Of A Real Payne: Church Camp Chaos” which will be coming out in March of 2014. My kids and I are excited about that, as we really, really enjoyed this one!

In the mean-while, E.J. has her own Facebook page, where you can keep up with her “latest antics, diary entries, contests and more!”

To read what other Schoolhouse Review Crew Members thought of this book, please click below!
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As always, I would love it if you join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Just enter your email information at the “sign me up” button at the top of the page, and never miss an update again!


Filed under Annie Tipton, Christian faith, Diary of a Real Payne, education, family, home education, homeschool products, Kids, read-alouds, Reading, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, TOS Review, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

We’re FINALLY Back to Park Days Again!

Since I had surgery on BOTH of my feet in May of this year, the boys and I have not been able to attend the weekly home-school park days all summer. 😦 First, I couldn’t walk, or drive, then, I could walk only using a walker, then eventually a cane.

In the meanwhile, there had been a change in where the weekly park day would be held, so we’re at a new to us park. We like this park, and it’s a little easier and quicker for us to get to! πŸ™‚

Happily, two weeks ago, the boys and I were finally able to go again, which we did for the very first time since before I had surgery back on May 15. I took my camera with me. And then, I forgot to take it out and actually USE it!

Last week, we didn’t attend. As you know, last Thursday we had company, friends who came in from Oklahoma to go to the International Balloon Fiesta.

So, yesterday, we were able to go to our home-school park day again, after another week off. It turns out though, that last Thursday, with the wind and rain in the area of the park, it pretty much didn’t happen anyway. THIS week, I remembered that I had my camera!

Here is the “The Batman”, waiting for a ball to be sent his way . . .

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“The Puzzler”, on his way to join the game (and unfortunately, it’s the only shot I got of him, which is why it’s somewhat blurry) . . .

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“Mr. Loquacious” was walking around, looking for “things to build stuff with” . . .

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And “The Artist” was just walking back to where we were to get some water and a snack . . .

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Meanwhile, *I* was sitting with a bunch of other moms . . .

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. . . truly enjoying the time I get each week to interact with other homeschooling moms, while my kids spend time with other home-school kids, and the added bonus that they are out in the fresh air, playing, running around. We do not have a good yard to play in, or a park right by our house, so they don’t get this all that often, unless we can get to a park day.

It’s also great for me to be with other moms on a regular basis who “get it” when it comes to my special needs kids, who have varying disabilities, including developmental delays and mental retardation. πŸ™‚

If you are achomeschooling family, I strongly encourage you to become involved in a local park day group. This group is a pretty good bunch, and my boys and I are quite happy to be part of it!

As always, I would love it if you join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Just enter your email information at the “sign me up” button at the top of the page, and never miss an update again!

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Filed under 2013,, Albuquerque, education, exercise, family, health, home education, Home-school Group, Homeschool Park Day, homeschooling, Kids, moving, special needs education, Transitions, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

God’s World News . . . A T.O.S. Review

For several years now, I have planned to subscribe to the magazine God’s World News, and then for one reason or another, just never did. So, when I found out it would be up for review by the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I of course requested the opportunity to review it with my four boys.

God’s World News Magazine, as it turns out, is a very good value for the cost. For a full year (10 months) subscription to the age range of your choice, you pay only $28.00. There is also no charge for regular shipping and handling.
With our subscription to the News Flash

we also received a 20″ x 30″ world map, which coordinates with the Map It! Locator maps in many of the magazine articles, allowing my kids to then look up where in the world the story is taking place. At my husband’s suggestion, I purchased a poster frame to put the map in, along with dry erase pens. That way, the paper map stays nice (I DO have all boys, you know!), plus, if they want to, they can now mark it up as we are learning, and the dry erase marker will wipe right off!

You can see the boys checking out the map below . . .

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God’s World News is available at several grade levels, all the way through high school.

I chose the News Flash edition because I thought it would be a good mid-range that all four of my boys would enjoy, and I was right. News Flash is actually written for kids in the 3rd – 4th grade range, and I have kids who range in ability from about kindergarten – 2nd grade all the way up to early high school level.

The various God’s World magazines are written to help your children build a biblical world view, when looking at stories in the news, at current events, and also at things in our history.

From the website:
News Flash emphasizes News, Knowledge and Wisdom while focusing on specific skills for students in this age range.

β€’Age appropriate stories illustrate for young students the truth that our merciful and sovereign God is active in the world.
β€’Lessons in the magazine and online use news stories as a springboard to teach concepts from Civics, Geography, Economics, Worldview and more.
β€’MAP-IT! Locator maps correspond with a full-sized (20″ x 30″) world map sent in September to each class, homeschool teacher, and homeschool group coordinator (five maps sent to homeschool groups).
β€’Creative puzzles build alphabet, number, sequence, and other skills.
β€’Grade-level website expands the God’s World News experience with ever-changing stories, editorial cartoons, and lots of downloadable activity sheets .

Our full year subscription included:

Ten, full color monthly issues (no issue in December or May), the afore-mentioned children’s website access, a weekly email newsletter for parents and teachers, which includes answer keys to the magazine quizzes and puzzles, and biographies and topical lessons to download and print, with quizzes and answer keys.

We have so far received the August, September and October issues of God’s World News Flash, and the boys are very much enjoying it! We have been reading stories about why people move (which discusses people who are illegally going into other countries to live, and the dangers when they do so), stories that teach some geography, stories about various animals and what they can do (for example, I did not know that dolphins use echolocation!).

There is often a “Bible2Life” section at the end of an article, like the one at the end of one of my boys’ favorite stories, “Hank Aaron: Natural Born Ball Player”. The article gave us two pages filled with his story and history, and then in the Bible2Life section at the end, talked about how God has plans for all of us. It used the verse Jeremiah 1:5, which tells us that the Lord knew us before we were even formed in the womb. The Bible2Life section of this story talks about how God “consecrates” us (and explains that to consecrate means to set apart for a special purpose), and asks the reader to think about what his or her special gifts might be, and how God wants him or her to use those gifts. Many stories in the magazine have a Bible2Life section, which helps the reader in developing a biblical world view, even when they move on to reading or viewing news stories from other sources.

You can download a sample issue of News Flash, a sample answer key, a sample lesson, and a sample of one of the biographies that are archived on the website

As you can see below, “The Batman”, “The Artist”, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” are all enjoying both the News Flash Magazine AND the large world map!

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I also received a copy of “World Magazine“, which is the adult version of God’s World News. There are articles dealing with things such as the government shutdown, the death penalty, common core in education, marriage longevity, etc . . ., and my husband and I are enjoying it very much!

To sum it up, I believe that at $28.00, God’s World Magazine is an excellent value, especially when you add in the online extras that come with the subscription. I also feel that the News Flash edition is a very good fit for my kids. They are all interested in things that are being talked about in the news, but we really try to be careful of what they watch and read. There are often stories in the newspaper and on the news which we don’t want them to see, feeling that either the stories themselves, or the way they are treated in the news, are not appropriate for our children (or any children, often-times!).

Reading God’s World News gives them an opportunity to learn about, and discuss, world events, current events, etc . . . within a safer environment, and from a biblical world view.

The only thing I would change (and I bet my regular readers know exactly what I’m about to say, lol!) would be that I wish the Bible references would be from the Authorized King James Bible, which is the only version our family uses. While I realize other versions have become very popular, it does seem to me that if nothing else, it would be more cost-effective for publishers to use the KJV, as it is my understanding that there is much less of a copy-write issue when using the King James Version of the Holy Bible than when using other versions.


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I would love it if you would join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Just go to the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog and enter your email, then you will never miss another update! And please also go and “like” our Facebook page as well! πŸ™‚

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Filed under Bible Study for kids, Christian faith, current affairs, education, family, God's World News, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Kids, News Flash Magazine, Politics, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, special needs education, TOS Review, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

A New Book is coming . . .

I am part of a launch team for the new book “The Force“, by home-school mother and daughter authors Joyce and Alexandra Swann.


I am excited to see more Christian, home-schooling moms writing books for us to read, especially when they are novels!

Before “The Force” is officially launched, you can read the prequel, titled “The Fourth Kingdom“, which is FREE this week on amazon.


Just click here to download your free copy for Kindle, this week only, and get up to speed on the story before the sequel is released later this month!

I will be posting more as the launch date approaches, along with reviews of both books, so stay tuned! πŸ™‚


As always, I would love it if you join me on all of “My Journeys Through Life”! Just enter your email information into the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog and never miss another update!

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Filed under Book Launch, Christian faith, Joyce and Alexandra Swann, The Force, The Fourth Kingdom, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013, Uncategorized

All Along . . .

Occasionally, I am scheduled to sing special music at church. This is a song I sang in the Sunday evening service on October 13, 2013. I chose it because I thought it might be an encouragement to those who feel a need to be encouraged . . . I know this song helps me when I hear it!

Here is the video of “All Along” . . .

I hope it is an encouragement to you, as well!

As always, I would love it if you would like to join me on all of “My Journeys” . . . just go to the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog and put in your information. Never miss another update! πŸ™‚

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Filed under All Along, Christian faith, Church, encouragement, just me, Mesa Baptist Church, singing, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

Balloon Sunday 2013 at Mesa Baptist Church

Today was the final day of this year’s International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta here in Albuquerque, and also the annual balloon Sunday at our church.

On our way to church this morning, we saw TONS of balloons from the last mass ascension of the 2013 Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, and when we arrived, I took these pictures from the church parking lot . . .

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After morning service, everyone received a helium balloon with our church name and address on it, and a Gospel tract. We all wrote our names on ours, then went out to release them.

Here are the boys getting ready . . .

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And here we are outside, getting ready to release . . .

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And here they go, off to who knows where!

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I was told that last year, one made it to Windsor, Ontario by the very next day!

As always, I’d love it if you would join me on all of “My Journeys”! Just use the “sign me up” button at the top of the blog, and never miss an update again! πŸ™‚

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Filed under Albuquerque, Balloon Sunday Mesa Baptist 2013, Hot Air Balloons, Mesa Baptist Church, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013

Balloon Fiesta 2013

So, I promised I would write a post after I got my pictures out of my camera, here it is! As you all know, last night we met up with our friends Chip and Sheila (who live in Oklahoma) at the 2013 International Balloon Fiesta here in Albuquerque. Last night was the “Special Shapes Glowdeo”, and it was spectacular! Here are some of the fun balloons that were out last night . . .

First up, watching as the balloon pilots were testing the flames . . .

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Hopefully, this will give you an idea of how BIG the balloons are, when they are laid out on the ground waiting to be inflated . . .

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And now, here are just SOME of the fun shaped balloons that glowed for us last night!

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Here is a video of one of the special shapes glowdeos that have been held . . .

Then today, before our friends had to head back to Oklahoma, they took us out to lunch at one of our favorite spots, Dion’s Pizza, after which one of the very nice employees came outside with us to take a picture of us all together . . .

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Thanks for lunch, Chip and Sheila, and it was a fun few days together! πŸ™‚

As always, I would love to have you join me on all of “My Journeys” . . . just use the “sign me up” button at the top of this blog and never miss another update! πŸ™‚

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Filed under Albuquerque, family, Hot Air Balloons, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013


I’m a day late in posting this, but it’s been a busy few days. Thursday, some dear friends from Oklahoma came into town for the International Balloon Fiesta, which is held annually here in Albuquerque.

Here’s a little video of some of what you will see if you ever come for the fiesta . . .

So, Thursday evening, our friends came to our house for supper, and then last night, Friday, we all went to the Fiesta for the special shapes Glowdio. We did take lots of pictures, but my camera is currently charging back up, so I’ll do another post later (to catch up on the Ultimate Blog Challenge), so you can see some of what we saw last night. Until then, we’re heading out to lunch with our friends at Dion’s, which is one of our family’s favorites. Can’t wait to introduce it to our friends! πŸ™‚

As always, I would love to have you join me on all of “My Journeys” . . . just use the “sign me up” button at the top of this blog and never miss another update! πŸ™‚

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Filed under Albuquerque, Hot Air Balloons, Ultimate Blog Challenge 2013