Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Preparing to Homeschool~Top Ten Ways to Get Yourself Ready!

Welcome to my series entitled, "Exploring Homeschool?." I had so many inquiries about homeschooling since I first took the plunge (as of this past September), that I've decided to share from my journey. If you, or a loved one, are thinking about homeschooling now or sometime in the future, I highly recommend reading my series in its entirety.

Part One & Two

Preparing to Homeschool
Top Ten Ways to Get Yourself Ready!

    • First I would start off by deciding WHY you've chosen to homeschool. You'll find, as you continue your journey, that this will lay the foundation for other decisions along the way (ie. curriculum, methodologies, support groups or none, etc.). For us the main reason we homeschool is to offer one-on-one support that cannot be found in a larger teaching environment. Other factors for us include: our recent move to the country, the cost of a private Christian school for four children, the draw I've always had to homeschooling, and the ability to incorporate other activities that we felt would be beneficial to their learning experience (such as more hands-on experience). Once you decide YOUR personal reason(s) why you are homeschooling, then you are ready to proceed to the next step.

    • Read EVERY book that you can find in your local library on homeschooling, and in particular books that relate to curriculum & methodology choices. I am so thankful for a close friend who recommended Mary Pride's book "The Complete Guide to Getting Started in Homeschooling". This is a MUST READ!!! After I skimmed through most of the sections I felt better prepared to converse with: vendors at curriculum fairs, other homeschooling parents, and navigate the websites related to this vary vast topic! Although your methods and curriculum will most likely evolve as you continue your journey, it is important to find a starting point. For us that was continuing with a traditionally based program that our kids had used before in school, and supplementing with Charlotte Mason type books, as well as adding in some Unit Studies I've put together.

    • Next, find some seasoned homeschooling parents. When my four children were still in school I had a lot more free time. It was during this time that I began searching the web for any trace of homeschool groups and organizations in my area. Sadly I found my area to be lacking in terms of organized groups, but in the surrounding areas I found some wonderful groups that I have connected with. The greatest asset has been this one group leader, who had great pity on me, and invited me over for tea once she heard I was researching homeschooling. She was absolutely lovely and helped calm some of my fears about homeschooling. She allowed me to explore her homeschool areas in her home. I met most of her children while they were working. I was able to speak my mind and ask her about my concerns. She didn't pretend to have all the answers for my particular situation, but she was open to listening. It was a way to validate my journey, and I still attend many of her group's activities this year. Look for that one (or more!) special mentor. Pray for that special connection. Ask around. Don't be discouraged if you don't get many responses at first. I've since realized that homeschooling parents are some of the busiest around! To find a mentor in this journey will be well worth the effort you put out.

    • Know the laws in your area. In my mind the best investment I've made this year was to join the "Home School Legal Defense Association". Even though I've discovered that homeschooling is quite legal in my area, and well received, I believe it is prudent to prepare for any surprise situation that may arise. If say, for some reason, someone came to my door asking about our 'homeschool' I can simply refer them to my legal counsel. A woman in our area had an issue with someone regarding her right to homeschool. This organization went to bat for her family and all turned out well! Protect yourself. Think of this investment as homeschooling 'insurance'. And if you are pulling your children from public school you will have to research if they'll require a legal documentation. Our area has an optional one that can be submitted. Know the laws and protect your family!

    • Find a homeschool convention you can attend. Homeschool conventions are basically like big homeschooling fairs that showcase different curriculum, and feature many different service vendors related to homeschooling. They also offer keynote speakers on various topics of interest to homeschooling families. I attended my first one last year, sans children, and collected some more useful information for my family's journey. It will be a great investment of your time and finances!

      • Look for support groups that will meet your family's needs. Now I realize not every homeschooling family requires a support group, but for the majority of us this is something vital to our well-being as 'teachers' in our little schools. I found a few very good support groups: some online, some that meet in person, and some that offer activities for all our children to participate in. Not all groups are created equal so I recommend inquiring: what is the cost? what is the commitment? do I have to adhere to any one main philosophy to join? are children of all ages welcome (ie. your nursing infant, your high schooler) and what type of activities do your offer?

    • Share your vision with your closest loved ones. Of course they may not ALL be receptive but I find that if they see that you have a plan, and have done your research well, most people are fairly open minded. If they don't believe in your plan, then  don't sweat it. Ask them WHY they disagree and take their points to heart. If they're worried you won't be able to keep up with high school math, but your eldest child is only seven years old...well, then you can assure them that you will take it year to year! If you need tutoring you can always get it and so forth. If your family is concerned you may get burnt out, then you could let them know your plan to take breaks (perhaps with your hubby, a friend, or a local co-op~which is a  group where parents take turns teaching their specialties!) I've heard the saying that you shouldn't need to defend yourself, and of course you don't have to!, but remember that by making homeschooling a normal and viable education option, you are helping to further dispel the homeschool myths that are floating around! Since I've begun sharing our homeschool journey with others I've had MANY people say they are interested in researching it further for their OWN families.

    • Now that you've researched it, it's time to actually BUY your curriculum! Or put it together if you are doing it yourself. It may be as simple as looking for a few books, or as complex as ordering a full-out grade system, but no matter what~ it's always best to prepare yourself! Maybe you are planning to unschool (google unschooling if you have no idea what I'm talking about) but you can still prepare your home environment so it's conducive to learning. You can acquire more reading books, math manipulatives, science experiments, whatever you decide is necessary to your family's goals.

  1. Decide WHERE you are going to run your actual schooling. We started in our basement. Then graduated to our living room. Now we are all spread out on our main floor. Still, I keep a desk filled with all of my teaching stuff (finished work, important documents, and craft goodies) and I have a few books shelfs that are quickly getting filled up! I found setting things up for our homeschool helped to increase the enthusiasm with our kids. 

  • 10.  Lastly, and most importantly, is BE FLEXIBLE! You may go through this list in a different order, you may skip certain points you deem unnecessary, but after all it is YOUR school! Be open to things transitioning half way through the school year. Be flexible to your children wanting to incorporate new books, ideas and tasks. Don't stress if you're feeling inadequate or overwhelmed. It's absolutely normal! Don't sweat the small stuff, but begin to search out the answers you are seeking for the 'bigger' issues (as named above). 

And above all else...enjoy your journey into homeschooling! Let it not be a laborious task. I'm sure you'll meet many interesting people along the way :)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Looking For An Easy Dessert Tonight??

On busy weeknights I often have to scrounge just to find something tasty for dinner...let alone the optional addition of dessert! Yet, if I skip the dessert altogether, my hubby and children will often be caught snacking before bedtime. Did I mention I have four very hungry males residing at our house??

Since beginning homeschooling (this past September) I've had a bit more time in the I've been working on a variety of different 'healthier' versions of our fav desserts. Recipes that are filling, and of course they have to be tasty!

& seeing as I am a Nutritionist it would seem fitting that they be somewhat nutritious :)

So here is another idea straight from our home; a slight twist on a traditional classic!

~Easy Fruit Crisp & Variations~

  1. Find a fruit, or two or 3, available in your home (some of our favs to use are: mango, raspberries, apple, pear, strawberry and/or peaches) and fill the bottom of a rectangular pan with them. About half way filled up from the bottom will suffice.
  2. On stove, heat about a cup of extra virgin coconut oil (or butter, organic preferred) until it is thoroughly melted.
  3. Pour oil into a bowl and mix with about 1 1/2 cup of oats (instant, or any ones that don't take too long to cook thoroughly). Add a bit more oats until the mixture is no longer wet but textured looking. 
  4. Mix in cinnamon, allspice (optional), and about 2 tablespoon of sweetener (could be brown sugar, coconut sugar or even chopped up finely dates)
  5. Optional additions include: unsweetened fine coconut flakes, raisins, walnuts (my fav!) or pecan bits
  6. Mix all of mixture together and then top the fruit in your pan. Make sure it is covered as completely as possible. 
  7. Cook at 375* for about 30 minutes, watch that the top is fully cooked.
  8. Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing...if your family can hold off that long!
 I have to admit my kitchen is smelling pretty delicious right now with my own raspberry/walnut crisp baking in our oven. Hope you enjoy creating your own fun variation!!

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Watch out for the potholes!

I fondly recall that as a young girl I would sometimes walk along barefoot through my back yard...

I would squish my little wee toes in the soft muddy earth...and oh, how fresh it felt!

Another interesting hobby I had as a child began with a fascination with earthworms. Oh boy!!

One day I remember vividly: I began to dig up little holes all over our property searching for my 'friends', and then I promptly placed them inside my plastic container filled up with dirt. A little hotel for them.

Subsequently, our yard ended up covered with potholes. Well, if you went walking around without paying any mind, there was a huge risk that you might trip over one of them unexpectedly!

It was a risk my parents were not willing to I spent the rest of the afternoon filling them all back up :)

As a newbie homeschooler, and seasoned mom to four, I have found that I can sometimes dig a few of my own potholes that pose similar risks... Let's see if any of these thoughts resonate you:

"Wow, she is such a patient mom with her kids. I wish I could talk that sweet with my little ones."

"Hmmm...look over at so & so's marriage. They always look happy together. I sure do wish my hubby would look at me that attentively."

"Look at that family. They sure do get along well together. I bet their kids never fight. I only wish mine would act that way...especially in public."

"How does she do it? Homeschool all those children and keep a clean home! I can barely just keep up with what I have, and still I feel like I'm drowning..."

"My meals aren't as tasty..."

"Sure wish I could look as slim as she does...I'm still wearing some of my pregnancy clothes."

You get the drift.

Now what I'm NOT saying is that by observing the people in our lives that we cannot be: inspired, encouraged, educated and pushed to move forward in our own journeys. 
That is not what I am saying at all.

My emphasis is entirely on the discontent that can brood in us: as women, as wives, as parents, as friends, when we allow the comparison trap to have rule in our minds. I am guilty of this on many occasions...

However, I am learning to give this old habit up. I cannot compare myself to another because:

a) I don't know the FULL story of that person's life (strengths, weaknesses and all)

b) I am not called to be discontent

c) It is a serious waste of time, as you and I will NEVER be that 'other person' that we are so desperately feeling inadequate next to

Instead I can choose to fill the 'potholes' I have dug up, with any unwise comparisons I've made.

Instead I can choose to grow in contentment, accepting who God has uniquely formed me to be.

~Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.~ (2 Corinthians 10:12)

***Interesting footnote on this verse-->

"Because the requirements of God, and the character of the Redeemer, were the proper standard of conduct. Nothing is a more certain indication of folly than for a man to make himself the standard of excellence. Such an individual must be blind to his own real character; and the only thing certain about his attainments is, that he is inflated with pride. And yet how common!"

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Challenges Of Homeschooling

    In the first part of my homeschooling series I wrote about some of the awesome JOYS of homeschooling~here's that post if you missed it  

Ah yes, there are SO many great reasons to homeschool!

However, that being said, today I'm going to share some of the unique challenges you may face, should you choose to begin a homeschooling journey. I will share my personal TOP FIVE, but keep in mind that our children were in full-time school up until this past year, so I realize that other homeschooling families will not have had the same experience :)

So here it goes: the TOP FIVE challenges I've experienced in homeschooling, and how I'm learning to deal with them:

1) You will have dual roles as both parent AND teacher!

How do I deal with this:

I try to be firm, loving but yet consistent. I don't want to be a authoritative task master, however I want to teach my children to respect authority figures in general, whether it be their 'regular' teacher or their Mama. It has been quite a change for them, coming out of school, but I feel that we have fallen into more of a routine. Mom is still Mom during the day, she just happens to also be 'teacher'/'leader'/'facilitator'.

2) You will be responsible for ALL of your children's social interactions!

How do I deal with this:

I plan outings with their friends. I take them on interesting day trips and afternoon adventures. We go to church twice a week. They have extracurricular activities they participate in. We go to our local library. We joined a near-by Homeschooling Group. All of the above have really helped to tame my children's feelings of being out of touch with their former schoolmates.

3) You will feel isolated from time to time!

How do I deal with this:

Well, we live out in the country. Not always easy to feel 'not isolated' we do all of the above from question #2 PLUS I also make sure to call adults periodically throughout the week...for my sanity.
 I also blog and read other homeschooling blogs as well. I keep in touch on social media with friends, but this is not the same as an actual visit, so I make sure to schedule adult hang-out time in my spare time :)

4) There is no substitute for YOU!

How do I deal with this:

Sometimes I feel tired. Sometimes I feel so tired all I want to do is sleep all day, let alone homeschool! However, I do try to pace myself throughout the week. I try to make sure to not overschedule during the day (even turning off the phone/computer for certain parts of the day).
I try to eat well, exercise and get 7+ hours of sleep. It sounds simple, but let me tell you that if I don't do these things, then I will have a much harder time trying to homeschool!

5) Your children may give you a hard time!

How do I deal with this:

Most days are pretty straightforward. Other days are a little difficult. Then there are those days that make you want to pull all of your hair out and send them all on the school bus!

So how do I deal with those really TOUGH days?

Well, I pray. I get relevant scriptures out to read. I put on worship music in the home. I call up a friend who I know will bring some encouragement. If I can't make the call I will send out a short text or email letting a friend know to please pray for me. I will call my husband with an update. Once in a while, if things are really bad, I will put on a movie...

Thankfully, the further on this journey I've come the 'bad' days are getting fewer and farther apart.

However, that being said, I would highly recommend before any parent decides to homeschool (especially if your children have already been in school for awhile) that you consider the cost. Come into this thing prepared.

***Next Up: I will be sharing in the next part of this series helpful resources and steps I took to prepare for the switch from 'regular' school to homeschooling. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Got Any Extra Ripe Avocados Kicking Around??

For those who aren't used to the succulent taste and texture of an avocado, then this recipe might take a few minutes to wrap your mind around!

How do you take a green/vegetable-y food like avocado and make it taste like something you would arm wrestle your husband over? Well, you make it into a chocolate pudding :)

Today's recipe is "Chocolate Creamy Avocado Pudding"

There are a few variations of this but this is my fav basic one:

-take a ripe avocado (or two or three, just adjust measurements accordingly)
-mash it up until it is smooth (can use food processor if preferred)
-on stove top take some extra virgin coconut oil (about 1/4 cup) and melt it, mix it with some pure cocoa powder until a dark brown liquid
-mix with avocado
-then simply add raw honey until sweetened to your satisfaction!

Some Variations You Could Add:

-add smooth 100% peanut butter (tablespoon or 2)
-add shredded unsweetened coconut
-add chia seeds (tablespoon or 2)
-add organic raisins
-add organic chocolate chips
-add a very ripe mashed banana

You can even take this pudding and make it into a pie filling! I've used in with nut crusts or even graham cracker crusts.

Super yummy!

I assure you won't LAST LONG :)

**Note: I want to thank my friend Christina Meyer for introducing me to adding the coconut oil to this recipe. It's taken it to a whole new level of tastiness! Thanks Christina!!

*Featured On: l

Melting Moments

- See more at:

Monday, February 18, 2013

Looking To Share Your Latest Blog Creation?

Hello Fellow Bloggers!

As I have delved further into the world of blogging I have come to realize the benfit of networking. Networking allows us to read and 'meet' other bloggers that we would potentially never normally stumble across, say by simply doing a google search.

In the last few weeks I have joined multiply Link-up Parties (lots & lots of fun! Scroll to the bottom of my page to see the ones I've joined), read and commented on TONS of interesting blogs, and even had the priviledge of receiving positive feedback on my own blog.

You see, it's loads of fun to work together :)

Although I am not ready yet to join the ranks of Link-up Parties (not tech savvy enough yet!) I am going to begin periodic posts where I will share a topic and invite you to 'link up' in the comments section ANY relevant post(s) you may have written (or even another blog's interesting & relevant post) that you think would benefit readers that visit my blog.

So today's topic will be: Any Benefits You've Found In The Adventures of Homeschooling

So please, go ahead and 'link up' in the comments below. I look forward to reading all of your wonderful blog creations,

Rachael DeBruin :)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The JOYS of Homeschooling

This month I am going to give my readers a behind the scene look at homeschooling in our family. Through these posts I will be sharing the JOYS, and yes the challenges of teaching your kids.

 My hope is that this series will encourage anyone out there potentially thinking of joining our 'ranks', either one day soon, or sometime in the future.

You will be able to hear from a Mom who:

-has had our four children in school full-time, up until this past September
-who has THREE very energetic boys, along with our daughter
-who is teaching/leading both elementary and middle school curriculum
-who knew NOTHING much about homeschooling up until this past year year...asides from occasional media reports and selective magazine articles :)
-who is planning on homeschooling for the next year, but is balanced enough to understand that we will have to re-exam our family's needs each school year

So for today, I want to focus in on the JOYS I have found along our homeschool journey....

One of the most amazing aspects I have enjoyed about homeschooling is the closeness it has produced in our family. Especially among our four children...

Our children have always been fairly close, I don't mean to imply that they weren't. However, being around each other all day, as opposed to being separated in various classrooms,I believe has produced this deeper bond.
I have often found the older siblings helping the younger ones with their work, unprompted, when Mommy has had to momentarily step aside to answer an important phone call, or even just get a meal on the table.

I have even walked into the room to find the older siblings working together on their assignments, and my heart melts as I hear a child who has already mastered a particular concept passing on the same principle to another who is struggling.

The kindness I have watched develop in my children, particularly our older two boys, hasn't been limited in only being demonstrated to their siblings. Nope, as a Mom I have been in awe as I have witnessed firsthand the compassion I have 'caught' showing someone around them.

Again, I don't want to give the impression that our kids are perfect! They are not.

They still fight.
They still argue.
I'm still working on teaching them to do their work cheerfully and with a thankful heart...

However, I can't negate the positive improvements I have seen this past school year. I can't deny the feedback I am receiving from others when we are out in public settings, or even just around close friends.

Homeschooling has also improved many of their academic skills. I guess this may be a given for those more experienced homeschoolers, who KNOW from first-hand experience that when you devote one-on-one time with ANY child the result will be more confidence in school work.

One of our children was struggling with reading last year. So much so that the teacher was giving extra help, sending home extra work, etc. She was an awesome teacher and I appreciated all of her hard work. It certainly did help.

Part of the answer may have been maturity, but I have noticed that reading has come much more readily this school year. A big leap in school work has been demonstrated overall with this child. I am proud to say this one is now reading us stories, and constantly learning new words.

Another one of our children has always struggled with math assignments. I have spent hours this school year reviewing the questions and formulas over and over. I can't say we are acing all of our tests, but that said, we have seen much improvement in recognition of formulas, and in the area of logic and problem solving.

Another JOY that homeschooling has brought to our family is an increase in creativity!

One of my children is an entrepreneur at heart. He is always trying to sell, sell and keep selling! This year, due to the flexibility our schedule, he has been able to start his own small business: making cupcakes. While this is something we certainly don't want to consume all of his spare time, we are delighted he is learning practical ways to: make a living, interact with people, and to work hard!

Another area of creativity exploration has been in the arena of writing. My two eldest children and I have been going through a writing skills book together. We read the assignments and then work as a group on the practical applications given. It has even helped me to expand my vocabulary!

And what homeschooling experience would be complete without arts and crafts?!

Physical education!

Or how can I fail to mention our extra time for music, friends, social events, and day trips!

Yes, homeschooling has brought many benefits to our family this year. The above mentioned, and even more....

Next blog I will share a few of the CHALLENGES we have gone through, and what I have been learning through each of them...Stay tuned!!!

***Below: please feel free to comment about the joys YOUR FAMILY has found through homeschooling!
And don't forget to post your Mama's blog so everyone can see who you are :)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Boy Meets Girl

A simple wedding invitation really...

"Boy Meets Girl...Come Hear All The Details!"

That was us, oh, about 8 1/2 years ago...I can hardly believe we've been together this long! Sometimes I have to pinch myself to remember how it all came together...

About twelve years ago I was at a Christmas sing-song for our church at a local nursing home. I was toting a toddler and a little baby in a car seat. I remember like it was yesterday.

It was probably mid-evening when I noticed "him". "Him" was my future husband to be, who just happened to be caroling across the room from me. I recognized him immediately. I remember staring at each other . I approached him a bit later and we chatted. 

"Didn't you used to be friends with so& so?"

"Don't I know you from such & such an event in high school?"

So our conversation superficially continued for a few more moments... and that was it.

Fast forward a couple of years...

We were in Ottawa as a church. Small conference type event. My car just happened to break down. I needed a mechanic...hmmm, well there just 'happened' to be one available & yes, it was Jeff!

We ended up hanging out with another friend of ours for over an hour, talking and laughing. But that was all. The time ended and to be honest I don't think either of us thought much about the other one after that. 

Another while passed...I had moved to a townhouse survey. Many children were always roaming the complex, unsupervised and seemingly very bored. Boredom often led to trouble.

I decided to start a fun little 'kids' night once a week. It grew. I had so many kids that I couldn't handle them all by myself, alongside my own two children....I needed a helper. Male, preferably, to help keep the bigger and more difficult teens in line.

I asked around. Guess who happened to be available? You'll never guess :)

So Jeff, myself, and a few other young people started meeting every Tuesday for the kids night. I started to swoon a bit. But I was scared...I had been really hurt. I didn't ever want to go back to that place I prayed. I waited. I talked to trusted people in my life.

After a few more months I was asked out for 'coffee'. I was so excited I could barely contain myself! I remember all too vividly leaving my younger brother baby-sitting while I headed out for the eve. My heart was pumping...The nervousness was growing.

There was actually no need for the fear. We had a wonderful time! We laughed, we chatted, we inspired each other sharing future dreams. I left thinking that perhaps, just maybe, God was here answering a prayer of mine.

I waited.

Another few months flew by and this time we were both conscious of the other's affection. We chatted on the phone throughout each week. We sat near each other at church on occasion. He finally made the 'big move' and asked me out!!! 

I felt like a princess in one of those Cinderella type movies. 

It was within the year that he proposed...and then a beautiful wedding.

Yes, I have been blessed. 

There are many seasons of life where I feel it's good to sit back and recollect about the times of old. Times to reflect about the good memories in life.

Sometimes between: paying the mortgage, running after little ones, running businesses, cleaning the house, volunteering at church, and whatever else may be on one's plate- it is so easy to forget how you came together. You know, your story? 

Today, being Valentine's Day, I wanted to remember. I wanted to share. I wanted to encourage my friends and family to remember the loved ones in YOUR life. There is always a story...

I dedicate today's story to "my Man" Jeff DeBruin. An amazing father. A man of integrity and hard work. An excellent connoisseur of quiche. A doting husband. A faithful friend.

I love you!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sun Stand Still!

I haven't been this excited in a long time...

I practically felt like I was floating in my van on the way home.

I just came from one of my women groups. A spiritual think tank. It's a leadership development group I attend twice a month.

Tonight's topic was pursuing growth!

But before I continue let's back track to a month ago...

A month ago I was at this very group and a challenge was put forth. A challenge to take one of our God-given inspired dreams and take ONE step towards fulfilling it. Seemed easy enough. Then the challenge went one notch higher for me when the leader of the group called me out on one of my dreams and said, "I want you to do ______ in the next month."

Overwhelmed. Intimidated. Hmmm...More like "Is this even possible?" or how about "God, is this really from you?"

Was I starting to doubt my long-standing dreams already?

After that meeting I began to 'chew' on the Word of God. In the last month I stepped up my bible reading, my prayer time, my time around other like-minded people (who also are visionaries desiring change and growth), and started to pray specifically about the dream itself.

My dream is to write a book.

So I've started.

I've finally laid down all the excuses and put the petal to the medal so to speak and let my ink flow (well computer ink anyway...). I wrote almost a chapter before I realized that I wasn't writing from the heart. It wasn't really flowing the way I wanted it to.

So I scrapped that and began anew. I have been writing almost nightly. Also, as some of you may know, blogging for fun! (and for writing practice!!!)

Then, a few days ago I received my latest book order in the mail. (I regularly order books related to topics I am digesting for myself, or my kids).

One of the books was SUN STAND STILL by Stephen Furtick.

I picked it up and began reading. Page upon page. I couldn't put it down.

It was EXACTLY what I needed to confirm what God had already speaking to my heart: to have what God fully intends for us in Christ, we need to run after our God-given dreams...and that is to bring HIM glory. To bring Him the honour. To show people what a mighty and awesome God we serve!!!

All the way home after my group tonight I prayed. I was so in awe of what God has been inspiring in me and through me.

Then, as I reached home new things came to mind. Answered prayers of the past came to mind. I was flooded with an overwhelming thankfulness for what He has ALREADY done.

You may be wondering what I mean. Well, let me share with you briefly:

-About a decade ago I was a single Mother living in subsidized housing, getting money from the government to live. But I had a prayer that one day things would change for my two little boys and I.... Since then I've gotten married, started my dream business, and the ironic part of it all is that we're living down the street from millionaire homes (and nope, we didn't pay that much! We actually got an AMAZING deal on this place, again thanks to answered prayer)

-Just over eleven years ago I was struggling with alcohol addiction and suffice it to say, a 'party lifestyle', and all that it entails. Again, I had a prayer that one day things would change. Now I lead a small group for women that meets twice a month. I also am an assistant at another group that encourages women at the university I graduated from. God again.

I believe I was reminded about these past 'victories' tonight quite simply because God wants to do more. He is not finished with me yet. He is not finished with my children. With my husband. With the women He has brought into my life. With all the things that this life entails, and for the future that will come in eternity.

I don't know who you are tonight reading this blog. I don't know where you're at or where you came from. But this I do believe. There is absolutely NO situation, no circumstance, no pit, no discouraging or despairing thing that can keep us from Christ's love. He is able to bring redemption to any problem....if we only hand ourselves over to His care.

As for me...I am continuing to pray for big things this year. Things that seem impossible for me alone. Dreams that God has placed in my heart. Some even from childhood. I don't believe I can do ANY of this on my own. What will come of this? I'm am waiting in eager expectation.

What about you? What dream have you set on the shelf? What lie are you believing that is keeping you from taking a step forward? What are you allowing to hold you back?

This year begin to dream...sun stand still. (see Joshua 10:13)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The DeBruin Family Top Movie Picks!

One questions I've found myself asking friends with children over the years is "have you watched any good movies lately?" or "heard if anything new has come out?"

We don't have cable.
We don't usually watch much TV.

Soooo, we REALLY enjoy our family movie times. This is where we all find a comfy spot in the den, get out the munchies and get ready for a fun family-friendly film!

We also have asked other married couples the same thing: what are you guys watching that you've actually both liked??

We realize our criteria may not match other families, but in general we appreciate a good film that has a positive message and is fairly clean.

When in doubt we always go to the our favourite MOVIE website where all media choices can be looked at and evaluated prior to viewing. This website also has great discussion guides and even\ suggested movie nights for the fam. Lots of great resources all in one site!

Okay, so we'll share our latest top ten fav MOVIE pics, along with some Honourable Mentions....and I'll even mention who in the DeBruin clan picked out the film (which will give you a general rating for age/gender and interest)....

1) Overall Fav Family Movie~ Courageous

An awesome movie for Fathers everywhere. With tons of good thought-provoking material, we found this to be a great discussion starter. Action packed. Sentimental. Heart-Warming for the Whole Crew.
***it does contain some mature material, would recommend for older children in general

2) Rach's Fav Date Night~ Love Comes Softly

Ever wonder what happened to Little House on the Prairie's star Michael Landon legacy? Well, his son Michael Jr. has created a whole boatload of movies that will resonate with those that loved the Little House's simplicity, but with a splash of modern screen play. This one is the first in the series and, in my opinion, is the best one!
***spoiler warning: ladies, you might need some kleenex handy!

3) Rach's Fav Girls Night~ October Baby

I've watched this one a few times now! Very strong positive life message. Mature theme, yet tastefully done. Character Driven. Even a little bit of a love story included :)

4) Jeff's Fav Movie Overall~ Les Miserables-The Original

No, we haven't had the opportunity to see the new one...mind you we're not that much into musicals. However, that being said, this performance starring Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush is unforgettable!
***Not recommended for children due to mature and graphic scenes

5) Boys' Fav Action Movie~Cars 2

This movie is more for the younger crowd, however with the spy twist that the sequel has added to the original 'Car' movie, our older boys have also requested this flick more than a few times!

6) Hannah's Fav Movie~ Black Beauty

In general our seven-year old sweetie gal likes ANY movie that have horses in it. But this one in particular has definitely captured our hearts...if you haven't read the book I'd recommend that for your children as well. The movie is a beautiful story of true loyalty and the re-uniting of long-lost friends. If you or your children are animal lovers, you'll be sure to enjoy this show!

7) JJ's Fav Movie~ Larry Boy (any in the series!)

You can't stop this super hero! He is always on the run getting all those bad 'veggies' out there. Our five-year old just loves pretending to be a spy, and hence enjoys all action-hero movies. At least with this series I know he'll be getting a feel-good message along with the super kicks!

8) Jeff's Fav Date Night~ Bella

A slower paced film, but loved the acting. Another beautiful message of hope. Single Mom facing a difficult situation. An ex-professional soccer player, turned cook, spends a day with her and both of their lives are changed forever.

9) Older Boys' Overall Fav Movie Series~Disney Narnia Series

This includes: The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe; Prince Caspian, & The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Our tween boys thoroughly relish action flicks like their Papa. Whenever they get the chance to watch a flick like this they will jump on it! This series is one that my boys have added to their fav pics of all times. With amazing graphics, special effects, and overall good acting, this one is sure to be a great hit!
***Note: the younger ones may find some of the violence scary. Viewer discretion is advised.

10) Fav Movie for Kiddies: Classics~ Old Yeller

The children got this film from their Opa. He had it kicking around the house, and before I could say 'boo' the kids started watching this one...been on numerous occasions that this film has been requested! I guess every child can relate to the desire to have a dog companion and go on an adventure defeating nature and adverse circumstances.

***Okay, now for some more Flick Picks: Our Honourable Mentions-->

-Some more of my other Favs: "Faith Like Potatoes", "Facing the Giants"

-Most of our kids really likes the classics: Shirley Temple flicks have been regularly requested

-All of our Family REALLY likes: The Old Walt Disney Classics (especially the Mickey shorts from before 1950)

-Another Fav Date Night Movie (we found this one by accident at the library): "Your Love Never Fails"

-For Couples Everywhere: "Fireproof"

-Another Goodies For Tweens: "The Secrets Of Jonathan Sperry"

-Fav Amish Movie: "Amish Grace" (based on the tragedy that took the world by captivation when a group of Amish decided to show unbelievable forgiveness to the family of their children's murderer)

-Fav Teen Inspirational Movie: "Soul Surfer" (based on the true life account of Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm to a shark attack and then went onto to win world surfing championships)

-Fav Tear-Jerker for Rach: "Like Dandelion Dust" (mature matter, but a riveting story of an adoption gone wrong and the subsequent difficult journey the family has to walk through)

-Fav Real-Life Story Overall: "Gifted Hands; The Ben Carson Story" (single mother raises a young boy who becomes one of the most admirable surgeons the world has ever known!)

-Ano Fav Animal Adventure: "Milo & Otis"

-Ano Fav Animated: "Despicable Me" hopefully each of you has found at least ONE new treasure to add to your collection! If you have a family-friendly favourite movie to share, please do so below in the comments  :)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Nourishing Winter Soup

It's super cold outside! Time to break out the crock pots and the SOUP RECIPES...

Today I want to share with you one of my go-to recipes for homemade chicken soup.

I use a homemade chicken stock, alongside some tasty nutritious root veggies, with some sprouted lentils for good measure!

And let's not forget a dash of spice and YUM-MY!!!

Okay, so here we go:

So the day before I actually make the soup I begin by doing these two simple steps...

1) I get out my bag of lentils. Rinse them off and then put them in a bowl with pure water until they are completely covered. I put in a tablespoon of a bacteria starter (plain yogurt, kefir, pure lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar). I then put a towel over it and let them soak in that bowl until the next day.

***Note: some of the benefits of soaking--> easier to absorb nutrients, easier to digest, better taste as the legumes lose their tougher exterior, and many health enthusiasts advocate sprouting/soaking all of our grains/legumes to increase the nutrient content overall.

2) I take out my bag of chicken bones. I am going to start my homemade broth. I buy my bones at a local organic farm for only a few dollars. I first put them in a pot of water and let them soak at room temperature with a teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar (to help break down the minerals from the bones). I leave them for only less than an hour. 
Then I put the bones/water in my slow cooker on high. It's good to let them simmer for about 5+ hours. 

Afterwards I let the broth cool down...strain out all the bones (sometimes pulling off any meat that may be left on the bones) and then place the leftover broth in the fridge over night to chill.

The day of the soup:

-I cook the lentils on the stove top. Should only take 20-25 minutes. Watch that they are nice and soft.

-I skim the top layer of the broth and throw that out. Then I place the remaining jello-like broth back into my slow cooker.

***Note: some of the benefits of homemade chicken broth from the bones--> you increase the mineral content of your broth. Many nutrition advocates believe that this broth has many nutrients that help encourage a healthy immune system. Jewish folklore has always said that homemade chicken broth/soup is even better than penicillin!

-I then cut up my three basic root veggies: celery, carrots, onion 

***Optional Additions--> broccoli, cauliflower, parsnip (and potatoes if you are not trying to keep your carbohydrate intake down)

I simmer the broth including the root veggies. I continue to do this until the veggies are soft to the touch. 

I then pour in the cooked lentils and stir.

Lastly, I season it! Today I added a bit of my favourite sea salt blend, alongside a spice blend.

Season it to taste and then serve it up to your hungry brood. Enjoy it on a nice cold winter day :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Prevailing Attitude

"Jeremiah prayed, and said, "Ah, Lord God! behold, thou hadst made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee." Nothing is too hard for God; that is a good thing to take for a motto."~D.L. Moody in "Prevailing Prayer"

Today was a difficult day.

The children seemed to be struggling with their studies. I was on the edge of a strong migraine ALL throughout my day. It just didn't seem that things were 'quite right' on many fronts.

I hate to admit it, but it was one of those days where I was out of control. Not particularly kind. Not smiley faced. Not very patient. Wanting to go crawl into a hole and sleep for 24 hours...

Finally I came to a point where I realized I simply needed some rest (and try to ward off the migraine!), so after lunchtime I put the older boys at the table with their work, and since my younger two had finished their goals for the day they were free to play upstairs...then I sprawled myself on our guest room's bed and began to reflect...

What did I do wrong today Lord?

What could have been done to prevent this? Better planning? More sleep? Less activities the night before?

Finally I shut off my 'mind' and racing anxious thoughts...I picked up the Word and started to read.

Ever so slowly some words began to roll off my tongue:

"Forgive me Jesus..."

"Help me."

"I can't do this...not on my own..."

Even after I finished my simple prayers I still 'felt' so defeated, and to be honest a bit condemned as a Mom, but I knew that His presence was with me.

After my 'quiet time' I have to admit I still staggered through the rest of my day. I had groceries to pick up (the migraine was still gaining momentum), the house needed cleaning (at least the basics!) and food needed to be cooked and served for the fam...

Nothing radical happened after the prayer. None that I could see.

This is where perspective in my circumstances needed a shift...a small reminder of sorts.

So tonight, although I didn't accomplish or get to all the goals I had set out for MY day, and even though I still don't feel 100%, I have PEACE reigning in my heart...

I have hope for tomorrow that it's a brand new day.

I am so very thankful that MY God promises that everyday I am in this journey He will NEVER leave me or forsake me...

I am reminded of the character trait I've been constantly trying to teach my children, and that is the attitude of prevailing!

Of staying the course. Of finishing the task. Of not giving up.

...and if I'm honest with you, on certain days I feel I am literally crawling on my hands and scraped knees to my 'finish line'.... 

However, on each and everday I must continue heading to that finish line because frankly, what would be the alternative??

We cannot give up.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Public Perception of Homeschooling

Take a moment and open up another tab on your web type in the search words "homeschool blogs", or even just "homeschooling"...and if you have the time (and stomach for it!) begin to scroll down the pages.

I assure you that you will find many interesting blogs written by homeschoolers from around the world...I also guarantee you that you will also notice MANY blogs and articles written denouncing its very right to exist!

Since the beginning of our family's journey, that eventually led us to homeschool, we have found it to be quite the adventure. I don't even have the time to relay to you HOW many homeschooling families I personally contacted before we finalized our decision. I even attended a homeschooling conference last year, when all of my children were in school full-time! I spent hours researching at the library, and even read through many books related to home education. I wanted to see for myself if this homeschool lifestyle was going to be something I could realistically commit to for at least one full school year (Note: my husband and I had previously decided that homeschooling would be a decision we would take year by year based on our family's needs).

...and I discovered that all parents that choose to homeschool do so for a WIDE variety of reasons, but here are some of the factors that led us to make our final decision:

-the desire for me to have an increase of one-on-one tutorial time with each child

-to hopefully encourage and facilitate a greater natural love for learning, and pursuing personal goals in life

-the flexibility to supplement with other subjects, in addition to the much-needed basics (NOTE: I blogged about pursuing extra-curricular activities at home in an earlier entry)

-the opportunity to implement 'hands-on' learning experiences; including an increase of educational field trips

-the ability to focus on character building (for example: integrity, honesty, hard-work ethics, kindness, compassion for others, etc) and include activities that demonstrate to our children, in a relevant way, the many needs right here in our local community (visit a food bank, bring food to an elderly shut-in, showcase a talent to bring encouragement to someone, etc.)

-to have the time in our schedule to develop any natural gifts and talents they have (i.e. music, art, drama, entrepreneurial endeavours, etc.)

-the freedom to learn necessary life skills naturally as we progress throughout our day (these can include but are not limited to their personal chores, help with meal prep and clean-up, etc.)

-the opportunity to open up our home for group activities: with friends, family, neighbours, and even other homeschooling families we've met along the way

-instead of sitting in the evening 'working on our homework' for hours, we are able to work on our academic work around the children's schedules, family's needs, and any inconviences of life that may arise (such as funerals, sicknesses or special excursions)

While I realize that no homeschooler should feel the need to defend him or herself in a country where the freedom to homeschool still remains, I do however believe that we should be able to articulate (should the need arise) WHY we do what we do, and the vast number of benefits for our children.

A number of growing public figures have been outcrying against the very right of homeschooling to continue...and while it seems to me this trend is more common in the U.S, I do feel as Canadians we should never take our freedoms for granted. Let's not allow other people's views on educational matters to rest solely on popular or inflated opinions (which have always been prone to sway one way or the other depending on the political and social climate) but instead we should seek to educate ourselves, our circle of influence, and anyone who asks the reasons why it can be beneficial to undertake for those who have the:

a) need to homeschool
b) the desire to
c) the time
d) the energy
e) the discipline to commit to adequately instructing their child(ren)
f) the support
g) the understanding that as stewards of our children's lives we would indeed be neglectful to do a 'poor' job of educating our children...however that being said, I have YET to meet one other homeschooling family that was not interested in investing the VERY best in their family, and subsequently each individual child.

While I am not against a child being educated in public, private, or home school settings as I realize many life situations are beyond our control (and thus can play out in less than an ideal manner), I am however 'pro' for each parent making an informed educated decision with their eyes 'wide open' to both the positives and negatives that could appear in each learning situation.

One of the main arguments I've read against homeschooling was that our children will be too protected from the 'real world'...I cannot speak to every family but from personal (albeit short) homeschooling experience I can say this:
Homeschooling, in less than six months, for our children has exposed them to more places, ideas and learning opportunities than they have had in the past number of years. Homeschooling has not only benefitted our children academically, but also our entire family dynamic. I have seen more positive relational interactions, not only amongst my four children, but also in their social interactions with friends, relatives, and even strangers.

I may be personally biased of course, but from what I've already experienced this year in the way of positive results (including academically) I'm signing my children up for homeschooling for at least another year :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

The High Calling of Motherhood

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. ~~Psalm 119:11

What are we as mothers 'hiding up' in our precious children's hearts? 
Each and every day we have choices as to how we will influence the lives of our little ones...

Seeing as our time with them is relatively short before they are 'sent off' into adulthood, I am reminded of the imperative instruction to train them up in the way they should go...
...the awesomeness of this vocation entitled: Motherhood.

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
~Proverbs 22:6

Does anyone else feel the sheer magnitude of such a task??

Does anyone else feel overwhelmingly humbled...AND honoured to be selected for such a high calling??

I am reminded that these precious lives are only entrusted to us for such a short season...

To be be valued. To mold. To nourish.

To be carried in our hearts always....

The Prayer for a Mother:
Thank you dear Lord for the gift of motherhood. 
This is such a blessed and dignified vocation.

Lord, we often forget just how much you trust us, 
by giving one of your precious children into our care.

Please help us always to appreciate the importance of being a mother. 

(courtesty of


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