I was sent an email by a wonderful friend that included a link to the following video. This video is scientific in nature, with language and images. It offers a video clip that is was compiled through a special scanning process to allow visualization of the growth of a baby from conception to birth.

Alexander Tsiaras is the speaker and narrator of the video. IT IS INCREDIBLE! As he said "so perfectly organized a structure, it was hard not to attribute divinity to it" and "The marvel of this information; how do we actually have this biological mechanism inside our body to actually see this information?".

The answer is written throughout The Bible, and can be seen in all of creation. Genesis 1 tells the history of creation. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..." In Job, God questions Job "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth", "Do you know the time when the wild mountain goats bear young?". Job knew the strength of the Lord and his own ignorance, and he repented, "I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know...I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." (scripture from Job 38-42).

In Romans 1: 20, it is written, "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse." This scripture, of course, tells us that He is "clearly seen" in everything but those that are unwilling to see "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things." (Romans 1:18-23)

The following video is real, and if we would allow our eyes to be open we will clearly see the Glory of God in our unique design
So what are your thoughts? I believe The Lord has created each and every one of us, in His infinite wisdom. Though this video can't possibly reveal all there is about the human body (because only He knows all of the answers), it is incredible to see the growth of the baby and realize, it is He that created everything.

Thanks for reading : ^ ) Have a blessed day!
I wanted to share with all of you this terrific giveaway from Homeschool Astronomy. I am not familiar with their curriculum, but I like that there are no references to evolution, age, or origins and will be exploring it over the next few days.

You do not have to use their curriculum, though, to enter the contest : ^ ) 
Quick Disclaimer: I am in no way connected to Homeschool Astronomy and am not involved in this giveaway other than entering the contest. I am simply sharing this contest so that you have a chance to enter, too.
Preparing our children for their future is one of the first thoughts we have for them, often long before they are even born. Unfortunately, doing something about it is another thing. We have good intentions, thinking about colleges, careers, marriage, . . . laundry. Then the long list of chores, finances, dinner, commitments all seem to get in the way. If you're anything like me, you'll find your oldest child in her Senior year and realize. . .she, nor you, are prepared for beyond graduation.

Jean & Judah Burk have created a wonderful little book (just 440 pages, lol) that can help your student, and you, prepare throughout high school for that inevitable step she or he will be taking sooner than we expect. College Prep Genius offers High School Prep Genius: An Academic Guide To Excellence to give your student practical steps that will help navigate through the many facets of life beyond high school. 
Back in 2011, I had the opportunity to review Jean's revolutionary curriculum, College Prep Genius, an SAT/PSAT prep course. I have now had the privilege of reviewing the book she and her daughter wrote, High School Prep Genius (HSPG). Jean and Judah worked together to create a guide that can be "a student roadmap for high school success" (HSPG, pg. 5). It's not just a simple "how to" book, but rather a comprehensive guide to various aspects of your student's life inside, outside, and beyond, high school. Areas like: subjects to take, likes and dislikes, healthy eating, timelines, friends & relationships, investments, lifestyle skills, attitudes (emotional and mental), career choices, surveying colleges, and much more.

HSPG is designed for students in 9-12 grade, but can be used with 7th and 8th graders that are focused and determined. Many of the steps and strategies are common sense, like eliminating test anxiety by focusing on something else instead of a test. But just because they may be common sense, doesn't mean we think about them in a common sense way. Sometimes we may not even think about the topic until we are faced with a problem, and by then we haven't created a strategy to manage the situation. 
The premise of the book is to have the students work through each chapter, with a "parent's homework" section near the end (of the chapter).

High School Prep Genius offers 4 units: Introduction, Foundation For Personal Success, Foundation For Academic Success, and Foundation For Future Success. 

Each unit has several chapters and there are 5 appendixes with great extras. Throughout the book there are worksheets that the students can use and guides for writing a high school transcript, high school plans, college money chart, and more. 

High School Prep Genius has 18 chapters and is loaded with information. (click the photo to enlarge)

My favorite unit is the one on personal success. It's not a get rich quick scheme. It's about growing and maturing in a way that will benefit you in life and relationships.

Each chapter has excellent tips, and then expands the thought to help your student understand and apply it to herself. For example, chapter 10 on getting organized has "Prioritize Your Obligations", "Balancing The Obligations", and "Beat Procrastination". Each of these topics has a few paragraphs dedicated to explaining why it's an important trait or skill, and then gives ideas on how to accomplish the goal.

Most chapters have a "Think About It" section for the students to answer questions. This is useful to get the students, well, to think about the subject. The photo on the left is an example of this section The photo on the right is a worksheet that can be filled in.
How To Purchase: High School Prep Genius is available for $29.95 and is an excellent value.

What We Thought: Honestly, I wish I had this before my 17yo was graduating from high school! There is so much information in this book that we could have used to better prepare. But on the good side, I can use this for my 7th grade son. He's not ready to be thinking about high school even, but there are many steps that we can take to get headed in the right direction.

What I liked the most is that Jean and Judah speak directly to the students. They ask pointed questions and offer advise that is straight forward, and typically easy to follow. Though most of the book is on preparing academically, there is plenty of helpful tips for growing and maturing with qualities that are admired and desired.

This book is neither Christian or Secular, necessarily. It can be used for students that are in public school, private academy's, or homeschooled. You just modify to your needs.

How We Used It: First I read this book cover to cover. I wanted to understand what it was all about. Each page often brought a sigh, wishing I had known that before, or done that before. But that's what learning is all about. I then had my daughter read through it. She liked it, too. She thought there was nice information and liked that it wasn't just for homeschoolers or "public school kids". She didn't like that this book doesn't start until 9th grade. She felt that, for example, with test anxiety, it's something that should be learned throughout the school years, not just in high school. "It's something that takes time to learn". She also didn't think that the organization section for academics would be totally useful for homeschoolers. But I think that's because she doesn't see all of my IHIP's or quarterly reports, lol.

After she finished reading it through, we started to use some of the worksheets and projects. Jean & Judah first write about starting a binder/notebook with tab for a 4 year plan, classes, test prep chart, college searches, awards, etc. This is something that we can utilize throughout my son's high school years. We then went through the chapters and worked together answering the questions (since my daughter is almost done with her senior year and my son is in 7th grade) and using them as learning tools. This was nice. There is a section on faith and beliefs and it suggests sitting down with your student and talking about the family's beliefs and traditions and what he or she believes. Encouraging thoughts about difficult questions. We have always talked about things like this, but I like that it's included in the book.

I believe High School Prep Genius will be a wonderful asset for your family. It's offered me many great ideas and avenues to take in order to get my son headed in the right direction. I believe we can also use it for my daughter, to help her make those decisions that are literally right around the corner.
Throughout life we learn many important lessons. Some are from personal trial and error experiences, while others are passed on through generations of lessons learned. Tidbits of wisdom are an invaluable part of these. I was privileged to have grown up having grandparents, great grandparents, and for a short time, great-great grandmothers. I have heard many stories of old, along with a few very important pieces of wisdom. But sadly, as I have grown, some of those have faded from my memories. However, a recent review opportunity triggered some of those memories back, and I am ever thankful.

Papa's Pearls: A Father's Gift of Love and Wisdom to His Children and Grandchildren was written by Diane Flynn Keith to "share my father's heart to the world". She compiled memories and anecdotes from her own childhood, her father's life, and those of family members, and created this beautiful memoir that we, as readers, can enjoy, think upon, and learn from. "Papa's Pearls" are words of wisdom that her father not only spoke, but also lived by. A few are common sayings that anyone my age or older may have heard their parents or grandparents recite, while others come from hard life lessons Papa endured. But don't be quick to judge this book thinking it's just simple phrases that have been overused. It is far from that. Mrs. Keith offers experiences and lessons behind each pearl that Papa gave, which affirms the wisdom behind it. By the time you reach the second chapter, you will have already realized this book is more than just a memoir.

You may have heard Diane Flynn Keith's name before. She is a homeschooling mom that is also an alternative education specialist and parenting coach. Her book, Carschooling: Over 350 Entertaining Games & Activities To Turn Travel Time Into Learning Time, is how I became familiar with her. She is also the editor and chief of Homefires, and offers the sites Clickschooling and UniversalPreschool, as well. With all of these accomplishments, she is, as she writes, first and foremost, Papa's daughter.
Papa's Pearls was written "to help parents and children reach their full potential and enjoy the extraordinary lives they deserve," (Papa's Pearls). 

You might ask how Ms. Keith father's pearls can help you. I believe this paragraph straight from her introduction in the book, says it best, "Papa lived by a set of immutable truths that he used as guidelines for an extraordinary life. He learned these truths through the school of hard knocks. He was a Depression-era street kid who was on a fast track to prison through criminal activity with hoodlum friends. He had a series of life-changing experiences that caused him to course-correct and establish a path for personal success and happiness." (pg. 1). 

A little bit about Papa- He was born Carol Joseph Flynn during the Great Depression on January 19, 1922. He was named after King Carol I of Romania. He lived in San Francisco with his family in a very difficult period of America. He was favored by his mother, who encouraged him throughout his life. He worked hard, even as a young boy selling newspapers, to help his own family. His Father, Mickey, was a boxing trainer and promoter, which in those days, often meant that there was connections to not so nice people. Papa learned a few things then and, as Ms. Keith writes, "when I piece together the hints, the fragments, the barely veiled stories, I now know that during his teen years, Papa was not just hanging around with delinquents and petty criminals, he was probably guilty of committing crimes himself," (pg. 7). He was sent to "Continuation School" which was thought to be an answer to "what's the worst thing that could happen". It wasn't, and was even "one of the best things" that happened to Papa. He learned skills that he wouldn't have in regular school, and straightened out his life. 

That question became one of his pearl's passed on to his family. There are many throughout this great little book. There are 17 chapters, each with at least one pearl of wisdom. Ms. Keith added wonderful stories from Papa's life and family memories that fit the specific pearl well. Papa's Pearls includes many these important truths, but the most meaningful to me are:

"Everyone Deserves a Second Chance"
"You Don't Kick Someone When They're Down"
"When You Fall Down-Get Back Up, Brush Yourself Off, and Try Again"
"Tell Yourself You Like It"
"What Were You Thinking"
"Let It Go-Like Water Off a Duck's Back"
"Be Grateful Every Day"
"Life Is Too Short, Relax. Take A Little Time Off"
"You Gotta Roll With The Punches"

There are, of course, many more pearls of wisdom in this great book, but you will have to read it yourself to see them : ^ )

Ms. Keith writes the book in an easy to read conversational style, which is nice. It makes you feel like you are a part of the pages, or the stories. It brought back many memories for me as I read each of the stories. Either stories of my own, or those that I've heard from my grandparents and parents.
How To Purchase: You can purchase an autographed copy of Papa's Pearls for $14.97 (plus $7 shipping) directly from Ms. Keith. There is a special offer right now, as well, if you sign up for the e-updates. The book is also available through Amazon for $13.47. You will find the link here.

What We Thought: I really enjoyed reading Papa's Pearls. It reminded me many different sayings I have heard throughout my life. I lost my father in 2000 at age 47, but he, too, was an incredible man. His grandchildren called him "Pa", and the name kind of stuck, even though it was for too short of a time. He wasn't perfect either, and had a lot of learning experiences in his life, but he taught me some wonderful lessons from the growing that he did. He encouraged me, loved me, and taught me how to be wise and love always. 

I think the most valuable pearl that Ms. Keith wrote was not necessarily a pearl, but a statement, "I love you. You know that, right?" Love is the most precious thing you can offer your children, and Papa certainly freely gave that to his family. That's how I feel about my dad.

The one thing that I was surprised about with the book, was that God was mentioned in one chapter towards the end. To me, these many pearls of wisdom fit well with The Lord's Word and the messages that He wants us to know and live by. It doesn't necessarily cause the book to lack in value, it was just something that I noticed. I plan to use this book along with our Bible studies to help the kids learn how each of the pearls fits into God's Word, and what He says about each.

I'm confident you will enjoy reading Papa's Pearls and will find the lessons applicable to your life, no matter where you are in your walk.

You can read more reviews by clicking the following link.
Writing, like reading, has always been a part of who I am. When I was younger (with time on my hands), I used to write poetry and short stories with every occasion in my life. Whether I was happy or sad, angry or frustrated, writing was my outlet. Writing my thoughts, even if it didn't make sense, helped me get through various phases of growing up. I have encouraged my kids to use writing in the same way, but they don't always see things the way I do : ^ )

My 17yo has always liked to write, but mostly about things that she created, not assignments that were given. With the help of Writing with Sharon Watson, though, I have found a new method to encourage creative writing in our home. As members of the SRC, we were given Sharon's Writing Fiction [In High School]: Bringing Your Stories To Life and Writing Fiction in High School: Teacher's Guide for review. This program has helped re-open my daughter's eyes to her love of writing.

Sharon Watson was a fellow homeschooling mom for 18 years. She now teaches high school composition, fiction writingand literature to homeschool students, and offers all-day workshops. She is also the author of Apologia's Jump In curriculum, as well, and you all know how much I like Apologia :^) She created her writing courses to help students that  were "stumbling through school. . . trying to make sense of their writing and literature classes". She wanted to find "ways to make difficult writing tasks and concepts" easier for students to understand (Sharon Watson Biography). 
Writing Fiction in High School is a wonderful curriculum designed for high school students that love to write but that may need guidance to get started or even to enhance their already written stories. 

It is written in a conversational style, which makes it easy to follow and enjoyable. The student doesn't have to have a dictionary next to them to understand the lessons, which is not always the case with traditional textbooks.

There are 13 chapters that have multiple short lessons. Each lesson is considered a day's lesson. At the end of each, there is a box with "The End of Today's Lesson". This may seem insignificant, but to students that are wired for lesson plans or need to see the end of the tunnel before going through, this can mean a lot. Because each lesson is brief, the student will not feel rushed when completing the assignment, which, again, is not difficult, yet moves the student forward in the quest to write a great story.

For example, in Chapter 2, point of view is being discussed. One of the activities is to write down your first memory. Later in the chapter, there are a few questions to answer based on that memory: "What point of view did you use, How close to that child is your retelling-in the skin or outside looking at yourself, Did you tell it as though you were that age or from the distance of your current age, looking back?" The next step in that lesson is to rewrite your memory using a different point of view. The lesson and assignment seem simple, but could you do it . . . easily? It took me quite a few minutes trying to decide what my first memory is. Even as I write this, I wonder if it's really the first, and was it really my memory or one that I created based on a story that my mom told me. Writing it from different POV's was interesting, too. Being able to step outside of the story and read it as though it were someone else, is fascinating. Although, I think in many ways, we do this throughout our life in different situations, or at least I do. It's a good way to reflect back and learn from the experience, or see how God had His hands in it.

In Writing Fiction in High School, students are encouraged to discuss their writing with others, which helps adds objectivity and find areas that could be tweeked. The curriculum can be used by independent learners, co-ops, writing clubs, and classrooms. It can be easily adapted to meet the needs of your family and students. Sharon does suggest forming a writing group if the curriculum is not being used in a co-op or classroom. This is so that the students can interact with others and "have lively discussions, read or listen to one another's work, and critique one another's work" (Teacher's Guide, pg 1).

Writing Fiction in High School also has a "Manuscript Track" for students that already have short stories or manuscripts written. In many of the lessons, there are extra assignments that students can do to modify or enhance their pieces. This is an added bonus for us. Since my daughter has a manuscript that she wrote for our homeschool theater group, it's allowed her to examine it with a different perspective and new found ideas. One of her first comments was "Wow, my characters are really shallow." She realized she needed to add more dimension to the main characters to make a better story. 

The Teacher's Guide offers ideas for discussion as well as answers for assignments and lessons. It's a handy tool for moms that need guidance in teaching writing.

With Writing Fiction in High School, students will learn how to:

* Write engaging dialogue *
* Build scenes *
* Ramp up the conflict *
* Create empathetic protagonists *
* Select a point of view *
* Describe settings and characters *
* Hook their readers *
* Critique themselves and other writers *
* Get published *

* And much, much more! *
(Writing Fiction in High School)
How To Purchase: Writing Fiction in High School is available for $25.05 and the Teacher's Guide can be purchased for $9.95. An excellent price for a curriculum that can be used in multiple ways.

What We Thought: We loved this curriculum. It is well written and very easy to follow. My daughter really liked that. The lessons were straight forward and not difficult to complete. We have a co-op class with our homeschool group and I'm considering offering a writing class and using this curriculum. I believe it will be well liked by other parents and, more importantly, the students.

I wanted my daughter to write her thoughts down, since she was the primary user of it. This is what she wrote: 
"I like the way the workbook is written, it is very easy to follow. The book excerpts given are perfect illustrations of the point the author is trying to make. The examples taken from other books were from very interesting books, I looked up a few of them so I could read the rest of the story.  Writing Fiction In High School is very helpful for learning how to better write new stories of my own, and also to polish the ones I have."
I am confident you will find Writing Fiction in High School a wonderful supplement to your high schooler's curriculum. There is much to offer.

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