What's the big deal about Young Living

Free Preschool Printable

I’m trying my hand at something new: Printables

Preschool printable

Here’s a super simple preschool printable I whipped up. Click the link to view and print the pdf. You can hand this to your preschooler when you have a lesson to do with big brother or sister that requires your attention. Pre-readers can follow the simple instructions on this printable to practice their preschool skills without assistance from you.

This is my very first try, but I’ll be making more of these for all ages. Be sure to sign up for my free email newsletter to get more of these free printables delivered to your inbox.

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Love and Loss

One day recently while the kids and I were at the lake splashing around at the sandy beach area, we noticed a raggedy man wearing a backpack a little way down the beach throwing something repeatedly and with much force into the water. My 13 year old animal lover went down there to look and came racing back frantically telling me he was throwing baby ducks into the water with all the force he could muster, trying to kill them.

We all walked closer and I could see that she was right. He seemed intent on his task, and I’m guessing he had some mental health issues. Before I could stop her, my Adrienne went running to him shrieking for him to “STOP! STOP DOING THAT! What are you doing??? You’re going to kill them!!!”

I called her back to me and told her to stay away from him. I felt like there was nothing we could do, so I turned my attention back to my little ones splashing around in the water.

When it was time to leave the beach for home, I called the children to me and I noticed that Adrienne was holding something in her arms.

Adrienne with newborn geese


She was carrying the ducks.

“Mama, we have to take them home! After the man left, the mother duck wouldn’t take them back. She was chasing them away and pecking at them. We have to save them. They’ll die if we leave them!” she begged.

I told her to put them down and that I thought they would be fine. As soon as she did, they both fell over, panting hard. I could see that they were injured and that she was desperate to help them.

“Fine,” I said, “Pick them up and get in the van.”

I remarked on the way home that I hoped at my funeral all the children would reminisce about the myriad of rabbits, naked baby mice, goats, kittens, and puppies I have allowed them to bamboozle me into bringing home.

The little ducks were so weak when we got them home they both immediately fell into a heap in the cage we prepared for them. I warned everyone that they would likely die overnight.

Adrienne's swim lessons with geese

We looked up information about what kind of ducks they were (Egyptian Geese – a duck/goose hybrid) and what we should feed them, and miraculously they survived. They followed my girlie around like she was their mother, and we took them to the lake with us whenever we went.

Swim lessons with geese

They loved her. She loved them.

Goose snuggles

One day, we noticed one of the little guys didn’t come running to Adrienne when she came outside. We searched around and finally found the little fella dead under the henhouse. There was no sign of trauma, so we never knew what happened.

The other goose, Sherman, continued to thrive and we still took him on field trips to the lake. He always stayed close on the heels of his Mama.

Goose field trip to the lake


We kept saying we needed to return him for good one day, but none of us really wanted that day to come.

adolescent goose


He was learning to fly and growing bigger and more beautiful every day. My girl loved him so.

We were all so terribly upset when we found him dead soon after the above photo was taken. He had been mauled by an animal. We never found out what killed him, but we surely mourned.

We buried him and remembered what a good goose he was.

“I’m glad I saved him,” my girl remarked. “He had a good life with us.”

Yes, he did.

“Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Alfred Lord Tennyson



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Preparing Homeschoolers for College Success: Reading Aloud

Preparing Homeschoolers for College Success

Since I am about to send off my second exclusively homeschooled child to college on an academic scholarship, I get quite a few questions about how to prepare homeschoolers for college.

There are many elements we teach our children during the years and years we are preparing them to launch out on their own. These include, but are not limited to:

  • organizational skills
  • discipline
  • determination
  • proficiency in basic subjects
  • independent study skills
  • curiosity
  • self motivation

But what I want to touch on today is the single most important thing I have done for my children to prepare them for college success.


And I don’t just mean reading “Red Fish, Blue Fish” to my preschoolers. I mean reading aloud every day to all ages who are gathered in the living room and listening attentively to true stories of real life heroes, and fairy tales, and science fiction, and historical fiction, and biographies of famous inventors, and the classics, and the popular chapter books, and silly poems, and long sombre poems, and current events. I mean reading things above their levels of understanding and then talking about the words they didn’t understand.

This daily activity is important in so many ways. 

Reading aloud trains children to sit quietly and listen.

Everyone comes to the living room at the appointed time with paper and pencils or crayons so they can doodle or draw if they choose. The little ones sometimes want to whine, but I correct their behavior and continue reading. Before long, even preschoolers can sit for half an hour listening and then summarize what was read.

Reading aloud expands their minds.

What we send into that ear becomes the foundation for the child’s ‘brain house.‘” -Jim Trelease

Reading aloud sends your children to foreign countries they may never be able to actually visit. It allows them to explore imaginary lands, real landmarks, homes of historical figures, ocean depths, and distant planets.

Reading aloud sparks curiosity.

There have been many times when one or more of my children have sneakily taken the book I’m in the middle of reading aloud and read the entire thing in one day. Then they beg me to go to the library and check out more books by the same author or on the same subject.

When I read aloud about missionaries in Africa, they want to know more about missionaries and Africa. When I read The Magician’s Nephew, they want the rest of the Chronicles of Narnia series. When I read The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, they want to see what other works Poe has written. When I read about how to incubate turtle eggs, they want to know more about turtle development. In all of the above cases, the child seeks out the new reading material on their own.

Reading aloud instills a love of reading.

See above.

Reading aloud develops vocabulary.

I try to include literature that has vocabulary slightly above the children’s level of understanding. When they hear an unfamiliar word, this does an amazing thing. It makes them wonder what the unfamiliar word means. They ask me about it. They try out the word in conversation at the dinner table. We may congratulate them on using a new word, or all laugh at their misuse of it and tell them how to correctly use it. Whatever the success or our response, a new word has worked its way into the storehouse of the child’s mind.

One example of this is when my 9 year recently old asked me, “Would it be treasonous for President Obama to work with Russia?”

Reading aloud increases success rates on standardized tests, like PSAT, SAT, and ACT.

Studies show a close correlation to students’ success in school and on standardized tests and vocabulary knowledge. My own two oldest children who have gotten academic scholarships based on the results of their SAT and ACT scores have shown this to be true in our family.

You can see why I am a firm believer in reading aloud to children of all ages. 

Do you read aloud to your children?

See some of our favorite read alouds here.

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Grace Upon Grace

I spent a solid three days mad at him.

I had outlined some property cleanup work I needed done. It would require a chainsaw, a burn pile, and quite a bit of heavy lifting. He reminded me more than once that he’s “an adult now” and could handle it, including figuring out how best to get it done. Now looking back, I guess that was a signal from him that he wanted me to treat him like a capable adult, instead of the 13 year old kid I sometimes forget he’s not.

But, I didn’t get the signal.

I kept after him, telling him how to best accomplish it, and finally he snapped at me.

It wasn’t a loud, door slamming scene like is often depicted on teen television dramas, but it was sharp. It was disrespectful. It was unlike him.

I stormed away and busied myself in the house, fuming all the while. That’s when I did what I often do when one of my kids has a high fever. I go straight to the worst case scenario and start imagining funeral plans and sobbing over a coffin. (I know! It’s a curse!)

I told myself if he could not even take instructions from his own mother without talking back, how could he take instructions from a boss? Or a college professor? Or a police officer holding a gun?

From there, my imagination went wild (as usual) and I imagined him in his twenties homeless, jobless, and in jail. What would his future hold if he couldn’t even respect his own mother enough to follow orders without giving me lip?

We didn’t see each other much over the next couple of days. He stayed busy working 8+hour shifts at his movie theater job, and I was pulling my usual 24/7 cab driver/nurse/counselor/cook duty.

The third day, I thought we had better talk it out, and I mentally prepared my speech. It contained a fair bit of “I expect you to give me the respect I deserve” and “How can I trust you to be responsible when you don’t show me you are?”.

I kept waiting for him to get home, and when dinner time came and went, I knew he must be working the closing shift. I headed to bed around 11pm and heard him pull in close to midnight, the usual time he gets home from closing the theater. It struck me then that I never once considered worrying about where he was. He had a job to do that his boss depended on him to complete well, and he always did. So well, in fact, he was offered a managerial position if he decides not to go to college in the fall. I also pondered how we had never considered giving him a curfew since he always lets us know where he is, and there has never been a time we have worried about the places he goes or the company he keeps.

Huh. I guess he’s an okay kid after all. I’ll give him that lecture in the morning.

Bright and early the next morning I got up to stormy skies and pouring rain. I was the only one awake and I tiptoed upstairs to deliver my well thought out speech. He wasn’t in his room. Hmm. I know I heard him come home last night. It’s 7:15 in the morning. Where could he be?

I checked the driveway. His truck was there, but he was nowhere to be found. Weird.

Over an hour later I heard the neighbor’s tractor pull into our driveway. He was driving it, completely soaked from head to toe from the driving rain. ”You’re drenched! What have you been doing out there?!” I asked when he stepped inside.

“That load of gravel needed spreading. I knew this would be the only chance to get it done before the road floods again.”

Suddenly my speech seemed petty. My grudge made me ashamed.

“I’m sorry I provoked you to anger, Son. I love you. You’re such a fine man.”

He hugged me tight. “I’m sorry I talked back to you. I love you, too.”

It was then that I thought of God’s grace for us. Over and over we fall short and disappoint, but our heavenly father never withholds the sunrise, or the rain, or the rainbow after the rain. He never stops calling us to Him and waiting for us to draw near. And I thought that’s how it should be with us. No matter how many times our children fall short or disappoint, we continue to hold out blessings and waiting for them to draw near.

We never give up, never tire of waiting, never stop loving. Like the story of the prodigal son, we continually watch and wait for the coming home.

I learned a lesson that day. Talking back to your mother seemed like a major infraction to me at the time. But when I thought about what I could have been upset about, like drugs, drinking, lying, stealing, or promiscuous relationships, I realized how fortunate we were to have that be our only issue. I also thought about how we would never give up watching and waiting even if those issues do crop up with our children.


Just like our creator waits for us.

“For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” John 1:16

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Devotional Journal for Kids {SALE}

How to Manage Your Mouth for Kids {eBook}


Are you looking for a little bit of book work for your kids to do over the summer so they don’t forget everything they’ve ever known about writing actual words to form sentences?

Or maybe you just want a little something for them to do each day to keep them busy and using their brains?

Or maybe you need a low maintenance, independent Bible study for them to do over the summer?

I’ve gotcha covered! I’m offering “How To Manage Your Mouth – FOR KIDS, A 30 Day Wholesome Talk Challenge” to ONLY THE FIRST 100 takers for $1.97!

THAT’S UNDER $2 for a 30 day devotional guide! You can easily have them do 5 lessons a week for 6 weeks.

I wrote this eBook for my own children, and it is intended for ages 7-13. It has space for daily journaling with a scripture and explanation for each day on controlling the tongue.

Click here and USE CODE “Under2″ at check out for the discount.

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How to Make Giant Bubbles

How to make Giant Bubbles


If there is ever a perfect time to learn how to make giant bubbles, spring time is it!

giant bubbles

The weather is perfect, and everyone is ready to get outdoors after months of cold rain, ice, and snow. So all the Smockities have been on a quest to find the perfect recipe and the best method to make giant bubbles.

Popping giant bubbles

Here is the recipe that we found great success with.

Giant Bubbles Recipe

  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups blue Dawn dish soap

1. Mix the water and corn syrup thoroughly.

2. Add dish soap slowly, and stir, trying not to make bubbles.

giant bubbles


We experimented with the design of the bubble wand before we settled on our final model.

Emelyn with giant bubbles


Here’s how we did it.

  • 2 dowels
  • 2 pieces of string (one longer than the other)
  • washer (for weighing the lower string down)

1. Tie the ends of the short string onto the ends of the 2 dowels.

2. Thread the washer onto the long string.

3. Tie the ends of the string onto the dowel near the first string.

4. Dip string into bubble solution.

giant bubbles

In this photo, you can see the washer on the bottom string is weighing it down, so no one needs to hold it as in the above pictures.

giant bubbles

We had so much fun with these easy to make giant bubbles!

Outdoor Play Challenge


Give them a try and check out the rest of these great outdoor activities in the Great Outdoor Play Challenge.


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