Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Homeschool Grammer

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You can look at my curriculum tab at the top of the blog and see that over the last few years we've tried several different approaches to Grammer. It isn't the most exciting subject and so I have swapped things up for the kids a few different times trying to find a program that fits for us. A friend highly recommended Shurley English Homeschooling Curriculum to me last year. I decided to try it with Speedy and I went in a different direction with Apple.

Let me tell you the things I have LOVED about this resource:

1. Lessons are planned for you. No I don't just mean broken down. They. Are. Planned. with a script and everything! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this. It makes it SO easy.

2. It includes songs to help the kids remember. Now granted the songs are a little funny but kids really do learn through songs! We all know this, right?

3. The work for the kids is fairly short. Well at least it was in level 1 but I'm telling you the way this is broken down I don't forsee hours of work in any future lessons.

4. There is some review but I didn't feel like they were beating the kids over the head with the same info. Know what I'm talking about? I have one child that does not do well with being spoon fed the same lesson repeatedly. Shurley English doesn't do that!

5. It is broken down into chapters with 5 lessons each. Don't worry this will work for you if you do 4 days of seat work per week because it is a short number of chapters. In the first level there are only 28.

6. One thing I didn't like was that some of the extra activities were redundant or required extra work on my part but guess what? You DON'T have to do them!

I like this curriculum so much for Speedy that Apple will be doing it in the fall as well. She will jump in at level 5. I think she's going to do just fine with it. She enjoyed the other Grammer program we used this year but it was......a little....less than thrilling.

Now here's the exciting news for you- Educents is offering Shurley English at 20% off! Woohoo for savings!


Passion and Road Maps for the Young People

When I was in high school, I was a regular church member at a local church. I left my town to go back closer to my original home town and to a university that was associated with the church I was leaving. Even though the people who lived with me while I was in school were not regular church members, I had found a wonderful support system in my church. Starting all over in a different place, living with different family members, and not having that church support system sent me into a spiral. It wasn't enough to be at a Christian university. I took a waitress job at a very secular restaurant and though I had visited several local churches, I never found one that I felt comfortable enough in to return to it even a second time.

It's easy enough to look back now and see so many of my mistakes. I should have lived on campus, I should have found a different job, I should have.....However everything from my early twenties wasn't a total loss. I did meet Hubby and eventually we found our way back to a real relationship with God. By the time I was 25 we had settled down into passionate relationships with Him, church involvement, and welcoming our first beautiful child into the world.

I heard of the Passion conference several years ago and I see things on Facebook every now and again from a young friend attending. I've never been to a Passion event myself so when the book Passion became available for me to review (for free!) from BookLook I wanted to see what it was all about. I was immediately impressed with the names associated with the book: Louie Giglio, Frances Chan, Beth Moore, John Piper, Judah Smith, and Christine Caine. I'll bet you've heard of some of them before! This book is a compilation of some of the messages that these folks have given at Passion events over the years.

Let me tell you that no matter how old you are (because I'm certainly over the target age of 18-25), there is at least one little something in each chapter that will get you fired up! I now see why my young friends feel so energized after a Passion event. This is what we need y'all. Young leaders rising up from outstanding messages like these from the leaders that have been around awhile. We've seen that people just shuffling in and out of church on Sunday morning isn't spreading the gospel. A church building full of hypocrites (because we all are) isn't enough to bring people to God.

I am seeing more and more that we must let go of our passive natures. We must show the world our passionate relationships with Jesus and what He can do for us! Do you know a young person that needs a road map as they set off to college or to their first job? Do you know someone middle aged that has lost that passion or is just going through the Christian routine? Pick up a copy of Passion for them. Don't forget to get one for yourself!

I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

My Bible Challenge

My family is quite accustomed to all of the packages I receive filled with books and other products to review. The kids usually ask if there is anything for them and in general Hubby isn't interested. When I opened a box and pulled out a Bible (free from BookLook for the purpose of review), he gave me a bit of a surprised look and asked, "Do we really need another Bible?" I had to laugh. I know I've reviewed MANY Bibles in the past couple of years. Y'all know I love them! This Bible really is different than the others I reviewed!

A few years Hubby and I were going through a chronological study of the Bible but we changed churches and never got to finish it. I tried to do it on my own with little success (it was a LOT of page flipping). Since then I have pined for a chronological Bible. Surely I could walk through it alone without all the page turning. So when this Chronological Study Bible in NIV (my fave) became available for review, I jumped on it! And how timely that I receive it during Holy Week!

Lent is almost over and I have been wanting some way to challenge myself with Bible reading. It's hard for me to sit down and read the Bible without a plan. You may remember that I did several Bible challenges in years past and have always had success with them. So now I will do a personal challenge to begin reading through this Chronological Bible and go until I make it all the way through. I know it won't be easy but I'm up for the task!

I couldn't be happier with this particular chronological resource. It is hardback, includes some beautiful illustrations, is broken into 9 Epochs, and has maps and timelines. Almost every page includes some extra history or a map or timeline. This is truly a study Bible. I'm excited to have my own Bible class! I think I may try to get Hubby in on it too!

God provided us with His word to strengthen our relationship with Him. Satan wants nothing more than for us to be "too busy" to spend time soaking in the Bible. We must be intentional about our time and setting apart a piece of our day for God. For fun let's calculate what 10% of our day would be. We have 24 hours in day, if we assume we sleep 8 of those (ha yea right!) then that leaves us 16 hours. 16 hours X 60 minutes= 960 minutes/ day. One tenth would be 96 minutes. Are you giving God 96 minutes a day in prayer and Bible reading? I don't think I'm anywhere close! But lest you become discouraged, we have to remember that we should be using our days serving God all day and cooking, cleaning, raising children, homeschooling, working outside the home, encouraging a friend- all of those are to God's glory if you are doing it for Him! So my point was that we should give God an amount of time each day for reading His word and speaking with him. Don't look for 96 minutes. Look for 30, or 9, or 6 even! Just a portion of the day when you are all His!

Now keep me accountable as I read through this Chronological Study Bible NIV. Ask me how it is going! You can find out more information on this Bible here: http://www.thomasnelson.com/the-chronological-study-bible-niv-2.html.

I received a free copy of this Bible from BookLook bloggers for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own! It released on April 22, 2014.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Home Stretch

We are in the home stretch now. I can look at my homeschool planner and not feel overwhelmed. We only have a few weeks left of our "book work." Once I had a doctor tell me that a certain situation was a marathon, not a sprint. That's so true in so many areas of life. I'm one to want to rush to complete things. I like checking them off of my to do list.

I can't rush through schooling my kids though. I have the same "want to" in this area but it just doesn't work. This time teaching my kids is special, it's important, and I want to be intentional about enjoying as much of it as I can. That being said I know realistically that we will have hard years, bad years, years of tears, and they will be set off by laughter, joy, excitement, and fun.

So I am looking at my planner with a smile. We can't rush through these next few weeks (although it might feel that way with a flurry of baseball, softball, choir, special church programs, and school year end), and they might not be super fun, but we will make it. I'm looking ahead to a summer of some fun. I'm looking ahead to vacation. I'm looking ahead to VBS, the pool, time with friends, and some quiet mornings of coffee and my Bible to reinvigorate myself before the fall semester begins.

So I encourage you to look ahead with a smile too. Don't get too overwhelmed with buying curriculum and planning for 2014-2015. Find some time to enjoy the sunshine (we're finally getting some in TN, I have a wicked ball field "tan" already), enjoy the moments of laughter, and "plan" for some fun this summer!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lit Guide Discount

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 Right now you can score 20% off Literature Guides from Bright Ideas Press. Use the code "SAILBOAT" for 20% off guides in any of their 4 categories: Family Study, Summer Study, High School, or Bible study guides.

They offer a wide range of titles to choose from including The Hobbit, Esther, Beowulf, and more!

Check them all out under the Illuminations Literature section.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Big Books at a Big Discount

Contains affiliate links.

TODAY you can get the Big Book of History or the Big Book of Earth & Sky for $13.99 on Educents! I have reviewed both of these books and we use them regularly in our homeschool time. This special deals includes a free teacher's guide!

Enjoy this special 30% off deal at Educents!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


I think I need to adjust my standards and make incentive (to use a phrase uttered by a friend this morning) a big part of our home school outline. See incentive is different than bribery or rewards. I've tried both with my kids and they don't work. They see right through any bribes and opt not to do the lesson, chore, favor, whatever. They don't want to stoop to the level of bribes. (Who made these kids so smart?) They also don't fall to rewards. I've tried it. For.ev.er. My kids could care less about a sticker or a piece of candy or a toy. They don't care. They haven't cared since the potty training days (both were around 2 yrs old).

Speedy at 2 when rewards worked
So as I've struggled to find the magic key to prompting them to happily and efficiently do their school work, I've tightened down the ship to the point of almost no lunch dates, field trips, mid-day Nonna breaks, etc. I think this is where I went wrong. I got up this morning and told the kids to get moving that we were meeting a friend for lunch today. And there it was- INCENTIVE. They were dressed, fed, and at their desks before I had my third sip of coffee.

See the thing is maybe my expectations have been too high. Maybe I was praying and hoping and holding my breath that they would just wake up one day and declare their love for school and then birds would sing and light would shine down on us from heaven above. Maybe that wasn't realistic. Ahem. My husband told me recently that I shouldn't expect this, that kids weren't always going to love school, and that I should just make each day the best I can. Bless him, I never listen when he says it. Well....obviously I listened because I remember him saying it but I didn't heed his advice. But when a friend typed "incentive" this morning, it all clicked.

So while I'm already writing out our calendar for 2014-2015 in more of a 5 weeks on, 1 week off (roughly) way, I'm also going to have to add in some incentive days. Because on incentive days, I get to have fun catching up with a friend/ my mom/ the sunshine and my kids are excited to finish school. Yep these are important. And I have to remember that my legalistic tendencies to cut out all fun when things get tough ISN'T EVER GOING TO WORK. I'm shouting that to myself y'all.