November 21, 2018

Book Review: Your Money, Your Marriage by Cherie & Brian Lowe

Here’s a copy of the review for this book I just posted on my GoodReads.com profile. If you’re married, planning to be or anywhere in between on that spectrum, you should plan on picking up this book and reading it for your benefit. Hope you enjoy.

Your Money, Your Marriage: The Secrets to Smart Finance, Spicy Romance, and Their Intimate ConnectionYour Money, Your Marriage: The Secrets to Smart Finance, Spicy Romance, and Their Intimate Connection by Brian Lowe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve still got a few more chapters to read to finish up this book but I could have told you after the Introduction and Chapter 1 that if you’re married, or ever planning to be you should pick up this book and read it. It’s loaded with not just good information on managing money and your marriage but just insights on life and relationships in general.

I’m blessed to say that I know Brian and Cherie personally as we’ve attended the same church and Brian and Cherie have also both been involved in mentoring our two children. (Hmmmm, parenting book in the future?!)

When you combine their personalities and senses of humor with the faith-based, Bible supported and real-life experienced insights they share with the reader, you really can’t go wrong with this book. The other thing I enjoyed with this book is the questions and challenges they present for you to do some “homework” as you read the book. It really helps to solidify the lessons being learned and the content that’s being shared so you’ll remember it and apply it to your own life and marriage more effectively.

In each of the 10 chapters in the book, the Lowe’s weave together a tapestry of engaging storytelling with guidance that really will work. As is the theme I’ve found in a few sections, what’s presented isn’t necessarily complicated, but it’s not easy. You’ve got to work at these things to improve them in your relationship and they give you not just the tools and tactics, but also the encouragement to get you through the tasks at hand.

Whether you’re single, engaged, in the honeymoon stage, or at your whit’s end and contemplating divorce (or anywhere in between in that spectrum), do yourself, your marriage and your bank account a favor and pick up this book and apply it to your life. I can almost guarantee you won’t turn the last page without having been changed by what you’ve read between the covers.

View all my reviews

Meet James Purcell – A Fellow Homeschool Daddy

The Purcell Family

My friend, and moderator of this blog, asked me to contribute some thoughts on homeschooling to this blog. I thought this would be fun, and hope to be a regular contributor. Therefore, I thought this first post should be a bit of an introduction to our family and experience as homeschoolers so we can get to know each other a little bit.

My name is James, and I have one wife, six children, two dogs, and two cats.  I have a few hobbies, most of which revolve around being outside either walking/playing with our dogs, playing with the kids who are young enough to still want to play with me, or just generally hanging out. We love to cook, and we love to eat. Our family also loves the water…so much so that we are hoping to relocate some day to a much warmer climate.

As for work and careers go, my career path has woven in and out of the insurance industry and healthcare, and my wife is a middle school math teacher for a public chartered virtual school.  We’ll talk more about that in a later post.

As I mentioned, there are six kids in the family.  Three boys, currently ages 20, 18, and 15. Then, three girls, ages 13, 8, and 6.  Yes, it makes me tired too. Many people ask us…”Why six kids?” I always answer with, “well, my wife wanted four, and I wanted two.  We both got what we wanted.”

The question about the number of children in our family usually leads to other questions, and homeschooling usually isn’t too far down the list. I’m sure we get the same questions you do….Why do you homeschool?  When did you start? When will it end? Are you a scientist/how will you teach chemistry? What about sports? What about what about???????

What is YOUR biggest question for yourself about homeschooling?  What fears, doubts, or insecurities cause you to struggle?

My single, underlying fear was AND IS….what if my kids grow up, and look at me someday, and ask….WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO ME?????  What if my kids get to college unprepared, because we “forgot about” something SUPER important?

So, a little spoiler alert here…if you paid attention to the ages of my kids, you know two of them are old enough to be college students.  So far…they are doing great. Both earned academic scholarships to the University of Indianapolis, a private liberal arts college in Indianapolis. Our oldest is in the middle of his junior year majoring in business, and boy #2 is halfway through his freshman year majoring in classical guitar.  That points to a future post…how different our kids can be, and why homeschooling is AWESOME for that reason.

I will leave you with my greatest homeschool dad FAIL….I mentioned our son who is majoring in classical guitar.  Well, the University gave him access to a locker to store his guitar…with a padlock. But…since we don’t have a locker bay in the front room, we apparently never taught him to open a padlock!  Good thing one of his locker-mates was a public school kid who gave him a quick tutorial 🙂

Share the strangest question you’ve ever fielded about homeschooling, and share your greatest fear….remember, you are among friends 🙂

Positive Discipline for Toddlers

Toddler Next to the Lake

Almost every parent at some point will struggle to discipline their toddler. Once the ‘terrible twos’ have hit, you’ll sure know about it! However, discipline doesn’t have to mean telling your child off and yelling at them. In fact, many parents are now choosing the positive discipline approach, and are seeing huge benefits by doing so. Here, we will discuss some of the ways you can start to discipline your toddler in a more positive way.

1. Focus on good behavior

Toddlers respond much better to being told what to do, rather than being told what not to do. So, instead of telling them “don’t hit the cat”, try something along the lines of “we have to pet the cat gently”. Redirect their negative behavior into something more positive – toddlers love to please. It’s best if you can phrase things so you don’t even have to mention the bad behavior at all. For example, by saying ‘don’t snatch from your friend’, you will probably just reinforce the idea of snatching. By using a phrase like ‘use your words to ask for the toy’, without mentioning snatching or grabbing, your toddler is much more likely to perform the good behavior.

2. Give options, where possible

Toddlers love to feel in control, and in fact feeling like they are not in control is very often the cause for bad behavior. If your child has done something wrong, try and give them the choice over what to do next. For example, if they have hurt someone suggest they can either apologize or give them a hug. Or ask them if they would prefer to continue playing nicely or go and do something else to calm down. Simple choices are best for children at this age.

3. Prevent situations where bad behavior is likely to occur

If you have noticed that certain things or situations trigger negative behaviors in your child, try to avoid them, or at the very least be prepared to step in quickly. For example, if the child frequently fights over some toys with their friends, leave it out of sight the next time they’re playing together. Or if your child always has a tantrum in the grocery store, try providing distractions, or ask if someone else can mind the child whilst you go shopping. After a few weeks of not being taken to the store, you might find they are suddenly well-behaved the next time you take them.

4. Ensure the child understands what they are doing wrong

For older toddlers who understand most of what you are saying, and who are able to communicate well, this can be a great way to eliminate negative behaviors. Explain to them why they can’t shove their friends, or why they have to put on their coat to go outside. If your child simply thinks you are punishing them for no reason, they will probably keep repeating the behavior.

5. Let your child suffer the consequences

Of course, this depends on the situation, but it can work well under certain circumstances. For example, if your child will not eat their dinner, let them go to bed hungry. Don’t bribe them by saying they can have dessert if they eat dinner, or that they can stay up later if they eat dinner. Instead just use a phrase like ‘oh well, in that case you’ll be going to bed hungry. No more food until breakfast tomorrow.’. Using the ‘natural consequences’ of not obeying instructions is much more effective than bribing them with rewards which are not related to the behavior.

Hopefully, you have learned something new about how to positively discipline your toddler. Children respond really well to this kind of treatment, and you should notice an improvement in your child’s behavior almost immediately.

Links for Further Reading

Students Write About Digital Marketing and Win $1000 Scholarship

ReviewerTouch $1000 Scholarship

Hey Parents and Students!

Looking for a way to add another $1000 to your scholarship income for the upcoming school year. Here’s an opportunity for you to write about the topic of “Digital Marketing” and you could win $1000 scholarship. The other good thing about this current opportunity is the competition isn’t that large, there are currently only 12 entries submitted. Here are a few more specifics you should know:

  • A hint about how digital marketing works
  • Passion about writing
  • Strong observations about real life digital marketing working
  • Expressive writing manner
  • A strong will to get famous
  • Only one entry per student is allowed.
  • Your first entry so uploaded is the final chance for participation in the $1000 scholarship program.
  • Edition or modification in the entry is not allowed. Make sure the uploaded entry is your best one.
  • Content has to be unique and free of plagiarism in any possible way and should pass copy-scape tests.
  • Word count for essay should be between 400-500
  • Last date of uploading entry is Aug – 1 – 2018

Click Here for More Information from the Sponsor, ReviewerTouch

Are We Pushing Our Kids Too Much

Here’s another update I’m sharing from a friend that recently posted it on Facebook, Kelly Phillips Erb. Apparently, I’ve got a number of friends who are sharing some really great stuff on Facebook lately right? This update focuses on whether or not we should be pushing and accelerating our kids through their educational years as fast as we are. Or, perhaps not deciding one way or another, but making sure we’re conscious of the reasons we’re doing so and understand the ramifications of that effort in the long run. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


Graduation DayToday, I overheard parents discussing how they are putting their kids in summer school so that they can graduate early. The plan is to stack college credits in high school so the kids (and they are still kids) can get through college in three years and start graduate school early. The one mom said, “She’s going to compete, she’s going to get it done.”

I don’t purport to be an expert on parenting. Goodness knows, I have made and continue to make mistakes as a mom. Just like all of us, I’m learning as I go.

But I want to tell you a story. Many of you know that I started school at age 4 (after loudly complaining that my brother got to go to school). I skipped a grade. I left home at age 14 to attend a residential high school. I started college at age 16.

I was always the youngest (except at law school, thanks Ambreen). I was always trying to prove myself. I was always rushing. I wanted to keep finishing early because I wanted to start the next chapter as quickly as I could. And I don’t regret any of those things because every step along the way – even the mistakes – made me who I am today.

But I do want to say this. As a mom, the thing I want to teach my kids more than anything is to ENJOY.EVERY.MOMENT. Don’t rush.

All of that speeding ahead? Yes, it gave me some opportunities – but I’m not so sure that I wouldn’t have found them anyway. The things I missed? The school trips? The parties? Hanging out after school? Lazy summers? I can’t get those back.

I have resisted efforts to skip or rush my kids. The most we relented was letting Ames take an accelerated math class. I have good kids and they are doing well in school. They enjoy playing sports and attending clubs at school. In summers, we’ve been traveling, not taking classes (Kate excepted but she did that on her own as an online class). I know that achievement is important and I try hard to balance their own appetites for success with the understanding that they also need some time to have fun and be carefree. The stresses associated with adulting will come soon enough.

Studies prove that we don’t laugh as much as adults as we do as kids. We’re not as active. We don’t take as many risks. Somewhere along the way, we lose all of that. I think about that a lot now that I’m older. And I intend to let my kids be kids for as long as I can.

* Edited to make clear (as in the comments) that I’m not suggesting that skipping and accelerated classes are bad ideas. Skipping was the right choice for me and my kids are taking some of those accelerated classes. There may be valid reasons – like avoiding college debt as Miranda Marquit points out – for some of these choices. When it comes to my family, I just want to make sure those reasons include something other than just being first.

Kelly Phillips Erb and an attorney with The Erb Law Firm PC, in suburban Philadelphia, PA, where she focuses on tax law for individuals and businesses. Erb is also mom to three children, so she can add “dinosaur expert”, “cupcake baker” and “princess dress designer” to her resume.


Are you pushing your kids to get double-credit for classes and courses in college and high school? Are you letting things happen on a slower, perhaps more organic level with that accomplishments and educational goals? Again, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Are You a Doctor? Didn’t Sleep in a Holiday Inn Last Night?

Doctor w/ ClipboardI’m taking this post from a friend’s Facebook wall as he recently shared. His daughter has been amazing at battling some medical issues and the story below is about the experiences shared by a woman who relies on the same type of IV feedings (TPN) that my friend’s daughter relies on for nutrition. I share this post because I want to challenge people to just think before they open their mouths and give their opinions or share their thoughts on a subject. Be aware that you may (and more than likely don’t) know all the details about a situation. The facts you’re not aware of could be (and probably are) crucial to having a clear understanding of the reality you see in front of you through your limited and biased perception of another person’s life.

I don’t want people to not talk to each other and not interact, but do so from a level understanding of what you may be sharing. Unclear about something? Respectfully and sincerely ask someone for insight and more information. Don’t assume you know history that you’ve never been associated with in your life. Enough talking by me. Read the shared story and think twice (or more!) before you open your mouth next time.


“I stopped at the grocery on my way home tonight and set a new record for the number of people who felt the need to offer commentary on my appearance and weight (it’s usually only 1 or 2 people per trip – today was ridiculous). For the record, I’m the heaviest I’ve been in well over a year AND I’m wearing horizontal stripes. I’ve done all I can do to keep fellow shoppers from having to suffer through looking at me while shopping. I’m sorry I can’t shop in the middle of the night so they don’t have to see what is in my cart.

[Holding box of cookies in one hand and doughnuts in the other, pondering which mess and sugar-high I will regret the least when giving them to my students tomorrow as a reward for surviving ISTEP]

Random Man I Don’t Know: “You need to buy 10 of each of those and maybe you’ll get a little meat on you. Men like women with curves.”

Me: *** ignore him and walk away to find less-judgmental selection of cookies ***

[Broken-hearted in the Jello aisle at the discontinuation of peach Jello, I pick up box of sugar-free cherry Jello and realize I grabbed the wrong one – reach for full-strength Jello…]

Random Lady I Don’t Know: “Fad diets aren’t good for you. You’re already too thin. You need to buy some real food, not Jello. You need to shop the perimeter of the store and only eat real foods and a lot of meat to fatten you up a little bit. Stay out of the middle aisles with all the fake food.”

Me: *** Resist urge to point out she’s in the Jello aisle with me, ignore her, and walk away. ***

[Pick up carton of skim milk]

Random Store Employee: “That’s the last carton of skim milk because we’re waiting on a truck. You don’t need skim milk, so why don’t you buy the 4% and leave that for someone who needs diet milk.”

Me: *** Put the skim milk in my cart and walk away. ***

[Pick up container of fat-free cottage cheese. Turn around and wait. Look at every person in aisle. Wait for the comments. Keep waiting. Nothing happens. Determine cottage cheese is random-person-approved. Put cottage cheese in my cart.]

[Pick up case of bottled water.]

Random store employee: “That water weighs more than you do. Let me lift it for you.”

Me: *** Refuse and then ‘accidentally’ stomp on his toe when he tries to pull it out of my hands despite my refusal. ***

[Pick up case of Diet Root Beer.]

Random Woman I Don’t Know: “I can tell you have anorexia. My friend’s daughter had it, too. You shouldn’t drink diet soda. It just makes your anorexia worse. Why don’t you give me your phone number and I’ll get the name of the place my friend’s daughter went for treatment. I can call you with the name so you can go there!”

Me: *** At this point, I lost it. I’m wearing horizontal stripes, damn it, and I’m allowed to walk in public with, gasp, my body! This woman was the last straw. ***

Me: “Oh my gosh, are you a doctor?!?”

Random Woman I Don’t Know: “No, I ju…”

Me: *** interrupting *** “I’m so glad you’re a doctor!! I need your help! My IV pump settings are messed up and I can’t reach my doctor to fix them!” *** yank IV pump and bag of IV fluids out of my purse where they were hidden and shove them in her face *** “Please help me reset this! I’m so glad you are a doctor and stopped me to offer your medical advice. You are my hero!”

Random Woman I Don’t Know: “I’m not a doctor. Oh, you poor thing. You have cancer. I’m so sorry!”

Me: “Oh my God! I HAVE CANCER?!?! I HAD NO IDEA! Oh, God! Am I going to die? Are you an angel from God sent to tell me I’m dying?”

Random Woman I Don’t Know: “No! I thought you had cancer because… well, I… why do you have that IV?”

Me: “You’re the doctor. You tell me. You already diagnosed anorexia and cancer. Surely you can diagnose this, too. Or you could mind your own business.”

Me: *** walks away. resists urge to go find all the other people and tell them off, too ***

[Bag with skim milk falls over onto the floor in the self check-out lane and it busted open all over the floor. I’m not sure which one of us that karma was aimed for, but Random Store Employee who told me not to buy it is who came to clean up the mess.]

I’ve ALWAYS ignored and walked away every single time I go to the grocery alone. (Every. Single. Time. At least once every trip!) I think I’m going to start being the not-bigger person from now on. That lady’s horrified face when I shoved my IV pump into her hands was worth every degrading comment I’ve received over my entire lifetime! Can I start walking up to random people at the grocery and offering them medical and nutrition advice? Pretty please? It’s only fair.”


Hopefully that helps someone in the future.

A Brilliant Cross-Over From Real Life Fitness to Video Game Play

NBA 2K17 Screen Shot

I just read an article that I believe is an absolute brilliant type of cross-promotion and marketing between two companies.

Earlier this year my wife got me a fitbit HR as a gift for my birthday. I thought back then that the integration between the device and my phone and my online profile was a good measure. You see I can connect with my friends and family members that may also have a FitBit device and challenge them to certain levels of activity. The most common of these is just a simple step count. The somewhat standard challenge goal for most people is to get 10,000 steps a day.

Well, fitbit has partnered with video game developers for NBA 2k17 to give you in-game player development perks if you obtain a 10,000 step goal in real life. That’s right! Brilliant right? I know when I was playing Tiger Woods golf on the Xbox regularly, just about the only thing I could think of was doing whatever I could to get my custom player’s skills up as high as I could so I had an advantage on both the game itself and anyone I might play against, including my wife! The downfall to that relationship was that it required me to spend as much time as possible playing the game, sitting on my butt in front of the TV.

With this branding crossover, you start to reward kids with a direct exchange of being more active in real-life to gain something in the virtual video game. This time not just with gadgets from https://progamerreview.com/best-gaming-monitors/. What if we started finding more crossover promotions that promoted healthy activities instead of bad ones? Imagine Subway giving away power up codes for eating a low-fat sub and not ordering a soda? Granted, that’s going to go against their bottom line with the no soda thing, but you get my point.

What if parents could get little credit codes they could give their kids for positive behaviors that were directly related to health and fitness, or maybe even just good grades. Finish all your vegetables on your plate at dinner, here’s 25 booster points. Get an A in science this semester, here’s 1000 booster points. Imagine getting an extra life in the Super Smash Flash 2 game if you finish your term paper.

The biggest challenge once this became popular would probably be working on ways to keep people from gaming the system. Because whatever system is out there for rewards, people will be looking to game it.

What are your thoughts on this type of marketing cross-promotion?

Original Article: Here’s Why Harrison Barnes Always Gets in his Steps Before Sitting Down to Play

How’s Your Husband Doing?

Wedding Rings and Money

A friend of mine recently posted about her experience dining out with her family at a local restaurant. Perhaps much to the surprise of the waitress’s intention, she was boldly insulting the guests she was serving based on her actions and statements. I really encourage you to go read her post, “My Husband Is Not My Other Child“. If you need a little something to convince you, read these words and let them soak in.

My husband is more than a glorified door stop with a wallet. I was insulted she thought so little of him. That was it. Insulted.

How do you see your husband? How do you reference him to your friends or maybe even complete strangers?

You see, as a husband myself there are just a few things I really need from my wife. Her respect, encouragement and her loyalty. If I know those three things are in place, I can probably go without just about anything else whether it be physical, emotional or even dare I say it… sexual needs.

Do I believe there are far too many men in our society that don’t live up to the expectations and needs of being a husband and a father? Absolutely. Do I believe that popular culture and media and also done their part to tear down and destroy the image of an intelligent and capable father in the home? Absolutely? Do I think one of the drawbacks of extremists in the women’s rights movement is an emasculation of men? Right again.

So, let me ask you again. How do you view your husband? How do you talk about your husband to your friends and around complete strangers? I can almost guarantee you 100%, if you will respect, encourage and support him (even if he may not deserve it right now!) he’ll probably start to redevelop and remature into the man he’s supposed to be for you and your family.

Homeschooler Ryan Beard Performs on America’s Got Talent

Ryan Beard, a homeschooled student from Kansas City recently appeared in the auditions round for the popular TV show, America’s Got Talent. Our family enjoys watching the various talent reality shows and so far this season America’s Got Talent has been fun to watch with our son. This season is the first year for former American Idol judge, Simon Cowell (@SimonCowell), to be a judge on the show. I was one of the few people that actually enjoyed and appreciated Simon’s judging on Fox’s American Idol. He’s seemed to soften his persona a bit for this show though. It’s nice to see him smile a little more but still be real with contestants who just don’t have the talent level to be in the running for the show’s goals.

Watch the video below of Ryan’s audition where he’s got both the judges and audience rolling with laughter before he even sings his first note!

If you know of any other videos online of homeschooled kids performing on TV for any reality shows like America’s Got Talent, let us know by leaving a link to the video in the comments below.

World War II Deaths Video Visualization

I just stumbled across this video that illustrates the deaths experienced across all countries as part of the second World War. It also includes civilian casualties as well. It is perhaps the best visual representation I have ever seen to explain the impact that WWII had on the world. More clearly explaining how it was indeed a “world war”.

The Fallen of World War II from Neil Halloran on Vimeo.

I’d encourage everyone to watch this video but especially your children and students to understand the impact.

The video also compares the death tolls in World War II with other wars and events in the current century. Amazingly, by comparison the wars we’ve experienced lately don’t even come close. We’ll see how the ongoing impact of ISIS and other terrorist threats around the world continue to impact this data and history.