And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Encouraging Tween Quiet Time #spiritualcirclejournal

Have you heard of the Spiritual Circle Journal? We received a Spiritual Circle Journal for Kids & Teens to review. Apple was very excited to get started with this journal. She loves to doodle and draw, and she collects journals and notebooks. I was happy for her to receive this journal because I've been looking for a way to encourage her to have a daily quiet time for prayer and Bible study.

We received a Spiritual Circle Journal for Kids & Teens and some scripture and prayer cards to pass out.  

It can be difficult to get kids (or adults!) to sit down and focus on time with God each day. It's such an important discipline to take time to quiet ourselves, read God's word, and pray daily. I don't always do a great job of it, and it's something I didn't even really try until I was an adult. I hope that I can teach the importance of that practice to my children early so they don't struggle with it as much when they are older.

Liz Lassa originally created the Spiritual Circle Journal for adults. It was a success and so she created a version for kids and teens to use themselves. The first 3 pages of the journal are pages for the parent or group leader to pull out. This guide gives information about the Spiritual Circle Journal and how to guide your kids as they start to use it. These pages really give lots of ideas about using the journal in a personal way that works best for your child. I love the suggestions and think they would be particularly helpful with a younger child. 

The journal is spiral bound with a black plastic cover. Apple likes this outer cover because it makes the journal look like a notebook so her brother won't snoop in it. Past that is a clear plastic cover. Inside of that is a colorful cover like the one above that shows the different pictures on the journaling pages. Next there is a white cover so the user can make their own cover. You can see below that Apple has been working on various doodles on her cover. I think she will color it in later. On the back of that page is a Key to the pictures on each journal page. There are spots with prompts for things like Journal Entry, God Moving, and Prayer. The total of 9 journaling spaces will give your tween a place to record almost anything that has happened to them that week. After those main journaling pages, there are Summary Pages with ovals on them. Those are for writing lessons learned and favorite verses. That section also has an instruction page to help the user. 

Apple is familiar with the concept of journaling, so I gave her the Spiritual Circle Journal for Kids & Teens with only a few short instructions. I made sure to point out the key in the front to help her remember what the special spaces were representing. She's been a bit hesitant, but she has started using the journal some. She's commented that the labels for the pictures help give her direction about what to write or think about. Since there are just over 60 of those pages in the journal, it wouldn't be wise to use one each day. I suggested Apple try to do a page a week like the guide outlines. She could add to it each day, and that way her journal would last over a year. I need to add a note about it to her school schedule so she will have a reminder to work on it daily.

I think the concept of this journal is fantastic. The prompts will really help reluctant writers get their thoughts for the week down on paper. I think it would work equally well for a girl or boy. There was obviously a lot of thought and energy put in to this journal to make all the little details just right. The Spiritual Circle Journal for Kids & Teens is currently priced at $15 for one or $26 for two making it an affordable option. I think this is a lovely way to ease your kid or teen into some quiet time and journaling. 

See what other Crew members thought of the Spiritual Circle Journal for Kids & Teens:
Spiritual Circle Journal
Connect on social media:

Instagram:  @spiritualcirclejournal
Twitter:  @liz_lassa

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Wrapping Up August

Whew y'all. August has been rough on us. What say you? It has been such a long, chaotic, rainy, crabby, crazy month, and there are still a couple of days left! I'm looking forward to September and dreaming that Fall will arrive in Tennessee within that month. Probably not but one can hope for cooler days, hoodies, hot beverages, and fire pit nights.

This past month we started school. Rough. Hard. Not as I'd hoped. I also started the 30 Days of Praying for Your Homeschool Challenge though and that has made a HUGE difference in my own attitude! Even though it's about a week in, you can jump in now! There is a digital journal you can purchase, but it totally optional. I've just been using a notebook.

I've found some new favorite music. Selah's Greatest Hymns Volume 2 is AMAZING! So thankful a Facebook friend recommended it. I love it.

We are getting close to the end of the Schoolhouse Review Crew year. If you are a blogger who regularly blogs and might enjoy reviewing homeschool curriculum, keep an eye out for information on applying for the Crew for the 2017 run. It has been such a blessing to our family to try so many amazing products! The Crew is an amazing resource of wonderful people who are supportive and wonderful to work with so you should totally apply when it comes up!

Even though we met so many challenges this month, there are plenty of things to be grateful for and excited about. We have some changes on the horizon so I'm feeling hesitant about September. However I know God has the ultimate plan in place before us.

Since I am wrapping up the month for you, I'll give you a hospitality update as well. August was a little better as we had a family game night we hosted. It's something we once did regularly but don't seem to do very often anymore. I enjoyed the evening with lots of laughs and some fun games. I counted it victory to have that game night and to let one of the kids have a sleepover in the midst of the craziness of August.

How are you doing with your word of the year or goals for 2016?

HomeSchool Scholastics for Health #homeschoolnutrition

HomeSchool Scholastics, an i4 Learning Company, sent us a WAY Comes Home Kit for review. This health and wellness curriculum comes with 3 levels of learning for K-5th graders. We received a huge package with loads of goodies to get Speedy started on Health this school year. It included book work as well as items for hands on learning.

I was so impressed with all the materials we received. WAY Comes Home included a WAY parent guidebook, 3 student journals, a My Plate booklet, and a DVD. Those items are all for the first 5 modules or lessons of the program. Each journal corresponds with one level (K-1st, 2nd-3rd, 4th-5th). We also received a large pack of printed pages (Art Card Stock) and vocabulary cards.

In addition to those lesson items, HomeSchool Scholastics included a Fulcrum Balance Scale, eye chart, measuring tape, stethoscope. plastic trays, glitter, fingerprint ink pad, foam balls, plastic eggs, and transparent counters. These items were used in many of the suggested hands on activities throughout the lessons.

The WAY Parent Guidebook will lead you through suggested lessons for each level. This program is designed to be very flexible to work for any family. There are three levels, and the guidebook gives 3 distinct lessons for each level. It also includes ways to include children of other levels so that you only need to teach one lesson if you have multiple students of different grades. The DVD has physical activity videos for each level. These are fast paced exercises to get your kids (and you!) moving in your own home. The DVD also includes lessons for the modules for each level.

The guidebook gives the teacher lessons to read or go over with the students. It starts with a Parent Prep section. That's information to be read before doing the lesson and suggestions on topics to cover. Then, there is a Lesson at a Glance page. It has all the Vocab words and a supply list. As I said, HomeSchool Scholastic has included most of the supplies you will need. There are even suggestions for books to expand the topic. The What to Do section tells you how to implement the lesson. A page called Include Me Too! gives those suggestions for allowing older and younger students to participate. There's even a Bible verse and a quote to go with the lesson. Art Attack, Weekends with WAY, WAY More Resources, and WAY More Fun give you ideas for continuing the lessons.

The student levels each have a theme. Health Safari is fun for K-1st grade. 2nd-3rd graders get to investigate Me Mysteries. Speedy "went" on the Innerspace Adventure for 4th-5th graders. Each level of the student journals corresponds with the theme. The journals have blank covers so the students can design their own. The themed material was mostly limited to the videos for the lessons.

We took the 5 included lessons and spread them out over about 5 weeks. Most weeks Speedy worked on the materials 2-3 days. One week he was keeping an activity log so he had a little something to do each day. It would be very easy to follow all the extra ideas and stretch these lessons to last longer. Those who purchase these materials are given online access to 3 new lessons quarterly. I was sent an example of the printable materials for one extra lesson, and it was very similar to the content included in our printed materials. There did seem to be more lesson activities including a quiz in that additional material.

Speedy enjoyed WAY Comes Home, and I thought it was a great way to introduce Health and Wellness lessons to an elementary student. This is one homeschool kit that I think would work even better for larger families. I felt like we missed out on trying many of the aspects since we were using the highest level. Most of the hands on materials were included for use in the Health Safari or Me Mysteries lessons. Many of the additional printed pages were for those levels as well. Speedy's level did use the stethoscope and measuring tape. The other two levels seemed comparable in set up and lesson plans, but there definitely seem to be more activities involved for the lower grades. I am certain Apple and Speedy will find some fun uses for those other materials. Now I'm off to hide that glitter...

As of 9/8/16, HomeSchool Scholastics is offering this kit for $29.95 with FREE shipping, and there's no coupon code required!

Find out how other Crew members used WAY Comes Home with their students:
WAY Comes Home Kit Review

Connect on Social Media:
Twitter: @WAYComesHome

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Step Outside

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.“
Winnie the Pooh

It really made me laugh when I saw this quote this morning (thanks Crew leaders!). This is certainly something we have struggled with the last few years. We were in a church surrounded by friends of like ages with kids of similar ages that just fit our family. Most of us moms stayed at home and eventually became homeschoolers. The dads all bonded and found similar interests. We were able to study the Word, lift each other up in hard times, and pray for one another consistently. It was such a blessed time. Of course, I didn't always recognize the specialness of that time at the time. Isn't that the way?

When that season came to a close, we found ourselves embracing our community. We reconnected with neighbors and friends who lived closer to us. Our kids got a little older and became involved in sports in that area. We found ourselves in a different time, much different, but still so wonderful. We worshiped with friends. We spent our weekends among those we'd known for years. We enjoyed life with others who were enjoying life too.

When we moved from that community, it was a big adjustment. It feels like time has just blown right by. It's hard to grasp how quickly two and a half years have passed. We find ourselves living in a place where we still aren't quite established. Our kids play some sports here. We've met some people. We just haven't found our place here. I really began to feel the loss of that back at the end of 2015. When I decided my word for 2016 would be "Hospitality", I think I had it in mind that I needed to open my home to people from our area. To be honest, that's not happened much at all. Yet. Because 2016 still isn't over. Because things can change quickly. Because we are making steps to find friends here.

We aren't waiting for them to come to us. It isn't like someone is just going to ring the doorbell and want to come in for coffee and be BFFs. We have to roll up our sleeves, push down our anxiety, and take ourselves out of our corner. Sometimes it just takes a quote from Pooh to put it all in perspective.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Monday Mania

Today is a tough day. It's Monday. Ugh, right? There's a backhoe digging in the neighbor's yard. My kids just want to stare out the window at it. We got a new lamp for the schoolroom so it would be brighter. How many times can we talk about the new lamp?

I spent time last night reprinting their schedules and writing their lessons for the week on their printable planner pages. I made sure they had all the books and supplies they needed when we started school. How are we already on week 4? How can their areas look like little bombs went off? How come they can't find anything they need? Why do they ask me what to do for math or what's left or how many pages to read when I wrote it all down for them on those printable pages?

Why do they ask what time it is when there are clocks everywhere? Why can't they find a pencil when there are at least a thousand in this room? Why all the chit chat? Seriously. Chit chat. All the time. So I go from nicely saying, "No more talking," to screaming, "STOP CHIT-CHATTING!"

My to-do list is swimming around in my brain, and I'm jumping from task to task. I can't concentrate any better than they do somedays.

Now is when I need a sweet word from the Lord. I need a moment to breath and focus on what is important. I need to remember...

Proverbs 3:5-7

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.

And for added measure, I need to step away from social media. I need to look away from all the perfect, pretty pins on Pinterest. I need to focus on my husband and my children and MY life. Everyone else's life isn't for me. I don't want to be them. I have my own Monday Mania to work on. May your Monday be peaceful, full of joy and laughter, and made just for you!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Unique Puzzle Review #shakestirsolve

Enlivenze LLC recently sent us one of their FlipStir Puzzles for review. We received the Tyrannosaurus Rex puzzle. It is a Level 1 (their easiest level) and has 10 plastic puzzle pieces inside a sealed clear, plastic cylinder. There is a metal stirring stick with a plastic end that you use to manipulate the pieces to solve the puzzle.

Each puzzle piece is a plastic semicircle with a portion of the picture on one side. The pieces can be manipulated all around inside the container. Honestly I thought a 10 piece puzzle would be easy breezy. This thing can be tricky! I was the first to solve it, and it took me at least 20 minutes. While it wasn't as simple as I expected it to be, it was fun! While there are only 10 pieces, they can flip from side to side inside the cylinder, and you must find a method to separate pieces that are correctly placed and pieces that need to be moved. It can also be difficult to manipulate the pieces with that little plastic end on the stirring stick.

The kids were both very excited when our new puzzle arrived. They argued over who would get to try it out first.

Big sister won that battle and tried her hand at putting T-Rex together. When it wasn't as easy as she expected, she passed it on to little brother.

He had a little strategy going but ultimately gave up. 

A family friend put it together in a little less time than it took me. There were lots of laughs as we watched him figure it out. The kids have played with it several times, but neither has concentrated enough to solve the puzzle. I can really see them spending more time figuring it out in the winter when they are stuck inside. They have just been too on the go the last few weeks to do anything inside that they didn't have to do. Both have declared that it is a fun puzzle!

I did it! And I had to really refrain from taking the label off so I could see my beautiful puzzle!

FlipStir puzzles come in 2 levels, and there are several different options. The level 2 puzzles have more pieces and the edges are wavy! I have a feeling those would take me much more than 20 minutes. Other available puzzles are the Solar System, Stature of Liberty, Periodic Table, and Rainbow Pencils. These puzzles would be great incentive for finishing a particular topic or study during homeschool. For instance, I know Speedy would LOVE to receive the Solar System puzzle as a reward when he finished Astronomy. The Periodic Table would be a lovely present after your student memorizes the table. This would also be a great activity for car trips since none of the pieces can get lost. I may stick ours in the car so Speedy will have an activity for days when we are waiting on Apple to get out of her classes. I like that these puzzles require some strategy to solve them and that they are sturdy so there's no worry of them breaking!

See which FlipStir Puzzles the other Crew members received:
FlipStir Puzzles Reviews

Find out more about the FlipStir puzzles on Social Media:

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Speaking Spanish #homeschoolspanish

Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids sent us a full Spanish  Starter Set 1 to review. Our set included a DVD, stickers, the Go Squish Cardgame, and three levels of student books and teacher guides. The Volume 1 DVD includes 3 video episodes. One video is for each of the included levels.

This is a conversational Spanish course for a range of ages. It is recommended for students ages 5-14. The videos exclusively use Spanish for speaking and for any labels or words that are included. The goal is for the students to watch the movies over and over until they have learned all the Spanish words in each episode. The workbooks and games support the DVD.

The whole program is based on flights. The first flight goes to Lima, Peru. The second one is going to Bogota, Columbia, and the third one is headed for San Jose, Costa Rica. The flight aspect is a short segment at the very beginning of each video. The student workbooks are "In-Flight Magazines". The lessons within those workbooks cover a little information about each of the destinations. For instance, the first level suggests the student draw the flag of Peru.

Apple's version of Peru's flag

The first video is named "Basketballs Aren't for Breakfast", and it portrays a morning in the home of 3 brothers. Their mom is making breakfast, and they are interacting. The dialogue is all in Spanish and every once in a while a little short sidetrack is given to explain the meaning of a word. Those are completely in Spanish as well. The Spanish words are also displayed during the video on T-shirts, signs, and in random places. The set also included Spanish word stickers to use around the house. 

Apple has been the one trying out this program. She was able to complete the first level during our trial period. She worked on it 2-3 days per week. The lessons and video are short so it took her less than 20 minutes most days. While Apple has been watching the video over and over, Speedy has picked up many of the words even when he wasn't in the same room with her. I've heard both of them subbing Spanish words for "breakfast", "apple", and "I like". 

Flight 1 includes 11 suggested "lessons". This program is very adaptable, but offers lesson plans including how much of the video to watch, suggested games to play, and workbook pages to complete. Lessons 2 and 3 are a little longer. Those videos are titled "The Little Magic House" and "The Little Magic House Part 2". Part 1 includes 18 lessons, and Part 2 includes 22 lessons. Each video ends with a "Rapid Review" section for students to practice all the words they are learning.

I think this is a great immersion technique for teaching Spanish. It is certainly geared towards younger students, but I enjoyed watching the videos as a review of the Spanish I learned in high school. From completion certificates to the brightly colored workbooks full of fun word searches and crosswords, the lessons are engaging. I think it is a fun concept to have the videos based on going through a regular day. The beginning flight segments are a great way to incorporate some geography in the lessons. I like that she can independently complete most of the lessons. She does need another person or two for the card games though! If I had one suggestion, it would be to move the answer keys from the back of the student workbooks into the teacher guides. Apple is looking forward to completing Levels 2 and 3, and there are more DVD Volumes with guides we can purchase in the future to continue the study.

See what other members of the Crew thought of this FL4K Spanish Starter Set 1:
Beginner Spanish Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids Review

Connect with Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids on Facebook.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

My Current Fave Netflix Shows

I can't believe it's been over 4 years since I did a post on my favorite Netflix shows. I mean we watch Netflix every day. We don't have cable and antennas never seem to consistently work for us so Netflix is our main source of television entertainment. Hubby works crazy hours but most days we find time to watch at least 1 episode of whatever we are currently watching together.

Now in my post 4 years ago, I said it would be WONDERFUL if Netflix had The Middle, Criminal Minds, Golden Girls, and Castle. Well, they've gotten one of those! I just finished the latest season of Criminal Minds on Netflix. I just get wrapped up in the regular characters. I'm really sad that Shemar Moore has left the show, and NO ONE say a word about Thomas Gibson. I don't even want to think about it.

My goofy show choice last time was Raising Hope. This time I have 2 goofy show choices. My friend Jennie totally got me hooked on New Girl. There haven't been any new episodes add recently, but this is a cute show if you don't want to think at all. It's great for when you need a laugh. The second goofy show that I'm currently watching is My Name is Earl. I tried watching it when it first aired way back when but I never got into it. Another friend kept recommending it so I made myself try it, and it is humorous. Certainly enough laughs to keep me going to the next episode.

The throwback show Hubby & I recently binged was Cheers. We'd seen most of the episodes on reruns at some point, but it was our first time to watch them in order. There were several that seemed brand new to us! It was a fun show to watch together, and when it was over we finally tried Frasier. I had never been able to enjoy Frasier before, but we are both loving it now! My mom let an important spoiler slip one day because she didn't realize I had never watched it before. Now I keep waiting on that part to happen every episode. I guess that one's drawback to watching a show years after it aired. 

Obviously Hubby & I both really get into the crime shows. We binged all of NCIS when it hit Netflix. We also have really fallen in love with Blue Bloods. We will watch the newest season via Netflix when we finish Frasier.

Our kids really like The Great British Baking Show and so did we. I wish they'd add more seasons of it! As a family we've also watched Cutthroat Kitchen, Good Eats, and the Food Network Star Collection. Apple & I also enjoyed watching Fixer Upper together. 

Parenthood ripped my heart out. I knew it would. I watched most of the first season when it aired, and I decided it was just too emotional. When it first showed up on Netflix, I tried to ignore it, but I eventually gave in and watched every tear-jerking episode. 

The Office is still the show I can watch again and again. It never seems to get old. Friends is also a good one to watch and I enjoyed watching them in order when it came to Netflix. 

It sounds like we watch a lot of TV but really we don't. We watch an hour or so each night before bed after the kids have gone to sleep. Their screen time each day is limited so they don't watch very often. It's nice to share a show with Hubby when he's home or to have something to entertain myself when he's at work.

What are your favorite Netflix shows?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Night Night for Your Little Ones #giveaway

I try to only request review items that we (the 4 of us in this house will use), but occasionally I get the opportunity to receive an item that I just can't pass up. This was the case with Night Night Farm by Amy Parker. This sweet little board book is going to go to a little baby who will be born soon to a dear friend who is going to be a mommy for the first time! Since this is her first bundle of joy, I feel obligated to fill his little bookshelves with wonderful books. 

Night Night Farm is a softcover board book that is illustrated by Virginia Allyn. The front cover features lots of farm babies that appear in the story. This book reminds me of several that I read to my children over and over and over when they were little. We had a bedtime routine that we used most nights, and it included a bath and some snuggles and a story or two. Oh we were so diligent doing that routine every single night with our first. By our second born, we realized it wasn't logical to be so stuck to the routine so we varied it quite a bit but most nights we followed that routine. Our children are much older now but the routine hasn't changed much. They take a shower (or bath), get their nighttime kisses and hugs, and then head off to their rooms to read before falling asleep.

Back to the book, the 20 pages are fully illustrated. 10 of the pages feature the words of the story. It is a good night to all the little animals on the farm. The mama and daddy animals are going through the bedtime routine to get them all washed and put to bed. The farm includes all kinds of animals from sheep to mice. The last page reminds the audience that God made all the animals and them too!

I can see that this would easily be a favorite among littles because of the sweet tone and rhyming. Animals are usually a favorite for young ones too! Do you have a little one who needs a new bedtime story to love? I can giveaway 1 copy of this sweet book to a reader. Enter below via the Giveaway Tools widget, and one entry will be randomly selected to win. Ends 8/21/16. If you can't wait, this little book is available to purchase now.

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Friday, August 12, 2016


I may not be the best person to give encouragement to you on your homeschool journey. I tend to be the more realistic (ie blunt) person in any group. Not that realistic people can't be encouraging, I'm just not very good at it!

I will attempt to add something to this topic though. We aren't new to homeschooling by any means, but I still have days when I don't think I can do it. There are days when I'm ready to throw in the towel and load the kids on the bus. I have a few things to get me through those days (or weeks or months).

The Bible. I've really learned this year that spending more time in the Bible has a HUGE impact on my life. God's word really is the sword of the Spirit, and it can help us slay overcome anything. Reading Scripture keeps us focused on the things God has called us to do, and it reminds us that our most important homeschool job is to bring up our kids in His word.

Friends. You need a friend or friends to help you through. Someone else who homeschools. Someone else who has or is dealing with children close to the same age of your own. Someone who can empathize with you and make you laugh during the tough times. I've been so blessed by the ladies who have come along beside me and helped me through. You have to be there for them on their tough days too! No one is exempt. We all need encouragement sometimes.

A list. Mine has always been a mental list but I have a goal to make a physical list to keep in my homeschool planner. What should be on the list? The reasons why you homeschool. Obviously some of those reasons may come from reading the Bible. Hopefully chatting with your friends will remind you of some of the reasons. I think though it is super important to have that list to add to as time goes on. The reasons we finally gave in to homeschooling in the beginning are still a part of our list, but the list is so much longer now! The days when you unexpectedly feel grateful for the homeschool lifestyle because you can go out of town on a whim or meet a friend for lunch at CFA in the middle of the day or your child can participate in something during shcool hours, write it on your list! There will be a day that you will need to see it all in black and white so you don't give up!

Those are my tips for finding encouragement...because I'm not very good at giving you any myself. HA! Maybe you can find some better encouragement from others participating in the Schoolhouse Review Crew 5 Days of Homeschool 101 blog hop. Is anyone else sad today is the last day? I ope you've enjoyed all the special posts this week!

5 Days of Homeschool 101

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Homeschool Traditions

Today's Schoolhouse Review Crew 5 Days of Homeschool 101 blog hop topic is traditions. This topic made me laugh a little bit because nothing came to mind right away. I'm still not sure we really have any homeschool "traditions". Then I laugh again because my mom always says I'm the one in the family who INSISTS we do all the holiday traditions (well DUH!).

So what do we do every year during/ in/ for homeschool? Well we always take a first day picture. Those are mandatory. I love going back to see how much they've changed each year.

Every fall we take a fun field trip to a local farm. Each year I think the kids may be tired of doing it, but they always ask to go!

I'm sure there are other little things that we do each year but those are the biggies. We enjoy trying new things and our schedule tends to be different this year so it would be hard to have too many other yearly traditions. Now Christmas traditions...I could write about those for days!

Find out how others do a better job making and keeping homeschool traditions that I do...

5 Days of Homeschool 101

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Managing the Home

To homeschool and efficiently manage your home, you have to be a bit of an undercover superhero. It takes a lot of time and planning for me to feel like I'm juggling both well. I will just state here that I'm not a mom who can let things go easily. I've tried to let the housework go, and it makes me terribly uncomfortable. Our home is very lived in and it is never perfectly tidy, but I like it to be clean. When I try to skip housework or skip a trip to the store or skip planning and scheduling, I feel like it takes too much work to get back on track. I'd rather just keep up with everything even if it means a late night or missing out on something outside the house. I must say upfront that I also blog and work from home so my time has to be a little more scheduled than many other homeschool moms.


Just like homeschool planning, the routine I have for cleaning has changed over time. In some seasons it works best for me to do a little each day. For those times I generally keep a schedule and work in one area each day to stay on track. The drawback to that method is the house is never really clean all at one time. Everything stays fairly neat but there's never a day to look around and have the whole house gleaming.

My current method is the traditional get-the-whole-house clean in one day plan. With school and soccer and my husband's work schedule, that's just working best for us right now. I haven't even been very particular about which day I get it done as long as it is about once a week. I know it will take me a 2-3 hours, and I just plunge in and work my way from one side of the house to the other. Then the kids have chores all week to help keep it tidy, and I do a little "maintenance" each day.

I know many give advice to let housework go while your kids are young. As I mentioned earlier, I just don't seem to be one of those people that can do that. I think a couple of hours of cleaning and organizing each week saves us time. We aren't constantly searching for lost items (sometimes we do but it's unusual), and I'm not distracted by mess. Generally the kitchen stays clean so it isn't too often that I need to clean the kitchen or wash dishes just to prepare a meal. Plus a clean house is hospitality ready!


Some days I feel like my biggest job as a mom is to make sure everyone eats. Since we homeschool, we typically eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home. Many days my husband can come in for a meal even when he is working. All the planning, shopping, and cooking tasks tend to be overwhelming at times. This is another area where I feel like a little extra time on the front end keeps me from running frazzled on a daily basis.

The best case scenario is that I meal plan and have a complete grocery list ready before my shopping days. I print out my menu plan with shopping list and write down our evening meals for each day. Then I jot down some breakfast and lunch options for the week. After that I fill in the shopping list part based on what we will need to have on hand for all those meals. I usually keep a notepad on the fridge to jot down household items we need. When I make a shopping list, I add those to it.

I think the hardest part for me is remembering all the things we might need for a week. I tend to forget drinks or snacks. If I don't forget them then often I just won't buy enough. I also seem to be very optimistic when I'm planning. I want our family to eat better so rather than buy a box of granola bars or a muffin mix, I will plan to make my own. Some weeks there just isn't any time to accomplish those lofty goals.

Even though this is an area that I struggle in, I keep trying. Maybe I'll get it right by the time the kids move out. HA!


I miss my BIG, GIANT board. At our last house I had a HUGE dry erase board in my kitchen just for keeping up with everyone's schedules. There wasn't a great place to put it in our current home and my whole family made fun of it so I no longer use the big board. Now I print monthly calendars to keep on the fridge (because I usually end up with a calendar for Christmas and somehow I didn't this year). On those calendars, I write work schedules, sports schedules, family events, and anything else the whole family needs to know. Then I have a planner that I keep on my desk. In it I write the same things I have on the calendar plus extras like dates library books are due, my own work goals, our Sunday School lesson for each week, and so on. That planner is actually a homeschool planner I converted to a personal planner. I also have a homeschool planner on my desk that keeps up with the lessons the kids need to do every day. Sometimes I even get really important things put in the calendar on my phone (not very often though).

All these reminders are just another way I stay afloat. If I don't see tasks in front of me, I will plop down with a good book or my latest Netflix binge and totally forget any responsibilities I have for the day. It's harder to sit and play on social media if I have a "to-do" list right in front of me. On my personal planner I list days I need to pay bills, meal plan, and sometimes which day I need to clean the house. I think the disadvantage to be very scheduled is that I can very rarely say yes to something last minute. However, that isn't always a bad thing. I feel like the Lord has called me to be the mom of our family and to be the home manager. Those responsibilites come first, and when I stay on track we have plenty of down time.

Home Management is no easy task. It can be rewarding however. It is important to remember we are called to:

Colossians 3:23-24 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. 

Hope around the Crew's 5 Days of Homeschool 101 to see what others have to say about Home Management.

5 Days of Homeschool 101

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Planning it Out

I've probably written more blog posts over the years about planning than I have about anything else homeschool related. I am one of those people who really enjoys having a plan and being organized. The homeschool planning I do has evolved over the years. It looks a lot different now planning for a 4th grader and a 7th grader than it did planning for one Kindergarten kid! A couple of years ago I really thought I'd found the perfect formula for planning each school year but like most things in life it has changed.

I've mentioned a few times that I selected our curriculum this year based mostly on what we already had on the shelves or already had access to. Many of them are items I've purchased over the years, we've used in the past, or we've received for review but didn't finish. Reviewing curriculum is one of the things that has changed my iron clad planning process. Now I know I need to leave some room in our schedule for new things to come and go through out the year. I still need a core group of subjects and plans for them to follow though.

One change we have this year is that both kids are going to be involved in some outside classes. That means less planning for me as far as lessons, but they will both need some school time to work on assignments for those classes. Another thing I'm doing is working hard on keeping grade records this year. I want to encourage them to do their best on their work the first time. Both kids did a good amount of work over the summer that will count towards the 2016-2017 school year.

I sat down first with my planner and mapped out the remainder of their 180 days. Then I marked in the days/ times that they will be out of the house in classes. Then I started filling in their daily work based on the number of lessons they have left and the number of days they would be working on that subject. Both kids now have Chromebooks which will help greatly as they both have several subjects that they are doing online. Since Apple is getting older, there are a few subjects that I will just give her a weekly amount of assignments and it will be up to her to complete in her own time.

Their schedules are much less strenuous than they have been at times in the past, but we've already had some struggles to get everything completed. My planning is much more fluid this time as I'm already looking for ways to tweak their daily work so that it can be accomplished in a reasonable time frame.

We need this to be a good, solid school year. I want them to have many successes to celebrate, and I want to enjoy school time with them. It seems like we try a few new things each year and some work and some don't. One of the things I personally find most difficult about homeschool is I never really know if we are doing too much or too little. Actually when I'm being realistic I realize both of them are on or beyond target in just about every subject. I have difficulty ever feeling like it's enough though.

Aside from all that, my #1 homeschool planning tip is WRITE IN PENCIL! Things will change even if you have the best laid plans. Write it in pencil and leave some days for "makeup" work. You'll be glad you did!

Want to find hear more about planning? Check out the Crew's special Blog Hop on Planning:

5 Days of Homeschool 101

Monday, August 8, 2016

4th Grade Curriculum Choices

Around the time we really realized homeschooling was going to be a long term lifestyle for us, I decided (being the frugal person I am) that it was going to work out great because Speedy would be able to use all the same curriculum Apple used for each grade. Hahaha. Isn't it funny how we decide we are experts so quickly? While Speedy does use some of the same materials that his sister used, he has a different learning style and different abilities than she had at the same age. Plus we joined the Crew a couple of years ago and that gave us access to so many new choices and books.

When I began planning for the 4th grade, I did look back at what we used a few years ago for Apple. Then I checked out what all we had on the shelves and on the computer before I made a list for Speedy. I have all our choices listed on the Curriculum tab, but I will give you a rundown here as well.

Language Arts

Logic of English B (finishing the last few lessons)

Fix It! Grammar The Nose Tree

Here to Help Learning Flight 3 Paragraph Writing (completing)

Phonetic Zoo

Lingusitic Development through Poetry Memorization

Cursive Writing (using various resources)

Literature with Unit Studies
The Sword in the Tree
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Farmer Boy
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
Because of Winn Dixie
The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler


Math-U-See Epsilon
CTCMath 4th Grade


Science Shepherd Introductory Science
Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy


Checks & Balances from
Lighting the Way from
Wonders of the World from

Government Co-op


Veritas Self-Paced Old Testament 1


Health- WAY Comes Home

Speedy is also using other resources like MaxScholar and Essential Skills Advantage. I am also using sites like Notebooking Pages, Homeschool Copywork, CHSH-Teach, and others to print supplemental pages for both students. My big goals for Speedy this year are to improve his handwriting (cursive and print) and to help him with completing assignments in a timely manner.

5 Days of Homeschool 101

This week the Crew will be hosting a different homeschool topic Blog Hop each day. Today is the kickoff and the topic is Curriculum. I'd like to invite you to Hop around and explore other posts on curriculum choices.

7th Grade Curriculum Choices

7th on earth did we get here? Seriously seems like we JUST pulled Apple out of public school Pre-K. Seems like we JUST decided to keep her home until Kindergarten. Seems like we JUST realized that public school wasn't going to be her best option. Seriously. Like yesterday. Like life is running on fast forward, here she is a 7th grader. Whew. Not sure this mama is ready! At all!

I spent a lot more time researching options before I set a solid plan this year. I spent much more time looking over the choices available to us before I picked anything. I scribbled all over my planning pages by marking things out and adding new things in. And to be honest, I'm still not sure I've got it right. In fact, I'm pretty much convinced I don't. However, we needed to get moving on the year and so I just said some prayers (okay LOTS AND LOTS of prayers) and started planning.

Our biggest change for 2016-2017 is Apple will be going to 3 different co-op classes. She will be attending a science lab class and a language arts class for her grade range with other homeschoolers. She is very excited for those classes to begin and so am I! I truly hope this is an opportunity that will spur her into feeling responsibility for her own schoolwork. Independence. She has always been independent, but in the education area she could use a little more initiative. She will also be taking a short set of government classes in our immediate area. She knows a few homeschoolers from our little town, but I'm hoping she can build some real friendships while learning about government during this appropriate season.

I have listed our curriculum choices in the curriculum tab (where you can see everything we've used over the years), but I will give you a little more detail here. Our local school system gives 7th graders 6 classes (4 core and 2 elective) so I'm going to try to break ours down the same way. HA! This should be fun.

Language Arts

Language Arts Class (outside the home)

Literature with unit studies:
King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table
Adam of the Road
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Robin Hood
Across 5 Aprils

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization


Math-U-See Algebra I
CTCMath Algebra I


A Reason for Science Class (outside the home)


American Government from (Fall)
Civil Rights Movement "      " (Spring)
Government Co-op

Bible Road Trip Year 1

Latin Derivatives I
Spanish Starter Set
Music Appreciation 1

With some creative squeezing, I can pretend she only has 6 classes too! One of the things we love about homeschooling is that the kids have time to study what interests them or to work on areas where I think they need improvement. Since I serve on the Crew, we are always receiving great resources to try. Apple is still accessing and using MaxScholar, SmartKidz Media, and a few other programs we've received to review over the last year or so.

Every year I feel a little more anxiety about meeting the "requirements" she needs as she heads towards high school and college years. It is really just pressure I put on myself because I know she's well past where she needs to be. Maybe by the time both kids finish school I will have learned to relax a little! HA!

The Crew is doing some special Blog Hops this week. Today is the first day and the topic is Curriculum. I'd like to invite you to Hop around and see what choices others are making for the year (or what they used in previous years).

5 Days of Homeschool 101

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Colorful Bible with Lots of Extras (Includes a Giveaway!)

We received a new NKJV Color Code Bible for review. This hard cover Bible is bright and colorful and full of extras. The front cover features multi-colored hexagons, and hexagons are a reoccuring theme throughout this Bible. Both the Old and the New Testment are included along with many additional resources. 

The main feature of this Bible is that many verses throughout the scriptures are highlighted in 7 different colors. The colors each represent a category, and a key is given on the back cover and inside the Bible. I think it is a unique idea to highlight passages inside the Bible to bring out key verses in the following areas:

Green: Spiritual Growth/ Living Your Faith
Blue: Prayer/ Praise
Red: Jesus
Gold: God
Purple: Heaven
Navy: Sin/ Evil
Orange: Cleansed of Sin/ New Life

Also included in this Bible are maps and some various reading plans. There are pages in the back for notes. I think one of the best features is a few pages that highlight the authors of the Bible. That section gives some information on each author but stresses that God gave each one the words to write. It is so important that we remind our kids that the Bible is God's word. All together there are over 1300 pages in this lovely Bible.

Would someone in your life enjoy a copy of the Color Code Bible? You can check out a special preview if you want more information. Then make sure you enter the giveaway via the Giveaway Tools widget. One winner will be randomly selected to receive their own copy!