Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bible in 90 Days

I remember growing up as a child being in awe of people who read their Bibles in a year. It just blew my mind.  How could they read the whole thing in only a year?!  Of course this is the same child that read over 250 books in 3 months so she could get all the prizes offered through the library's summer reading program. But somehow that was different.

This same child was given a One Year Bible in her teen years, and she may or may not have read it completely through during her years in high school. She did however, read every text book from cover to cover, all the appropriate library books in the local library, and read books for the middle school librarian for age appropriateness.  But the Bible just seemed like a mountain too big to read.

And as an adult, this same child has multiple Bibles, devotions galore at her finger tips, is married to the preacher, and still, I cannot tell you if I have ever read the Bible cover to cover.  There. I said it out loud.  No more hiding. No more secrets.  You know my biggest fault in which I find much shame.  And now, there are no more excuses.

No more is this child going to say it's too big. No more can this child claim it's too hard. The little reading machine cannot pretend there just isn't enough time in the day to care for all that has been given her, and still CONSISTENTLY read the Word. 

The same struggles, the same fears are still there. Fear of failing. Struggling with finding out I may not be good enough.  Procrastination. Slothfulness. Bottom line, pride. What I want is far more important. 

So here I stand, child and woman, together beginning a new journey. I begin reading my Bible cover to cover in 90 days. But I make this commitment not from fear of disobeying God, or fear of the consequences. Nor do I make it from a place of shame and guilt. God is good. And He has offered me His grace, and I accepted. And this commitment is made out of faith and love to my Creator. The Saver of my soul.

If you are beginning a new Bible reading plan this year, let me know. If you would like to join in reading the Bible in 90 days, join our group being hosted by Jessica at Jezamama.  She has some wonderful tips, and is a great encourager. And if you don't mind, would you check in on me ever so often to see how I am doing?  Cheer me on, hold me accountable, push me when I need it?  Tomorrow is the big starting day. There is excitement in the air, and a few nerves as well. Lord, your strength is perfect, and it is honor I wish to bring to You. Cover me, and hold me up as I endeavour to worship you more. God is our refuge, a very present help in trouble. And He uses you and me to be the messengers of that help!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Our kids love listening to CDs in the car. Recently, we discovered they enjoy listening to books and other audio stories as well.  So when The World’s Greatest Stories arrived, we couldn't wait to listen. Th

e World’s Greatest Stories are dramatized tellings of the Biblical narrative. The text is straight from your choice of the NIV (New International Version) or KJV (King James Version) with nothing added or taken away. They are read by George W. Sarris who desired to increase Biblical literacy in children. He saw the need to produce an auditory Bible that was true to the words of the text, didn’t add characters or remove any of the actual events from the telling but still keep it captivating for children to listen to. 
There are currently six volumes in The World’s Greatest Stories Collection. The Crew reviewed Volume 1 The Prophets; which included tellings of The Blazing Furnace, The Handwriting on the Wall, Daniel in the Lions’ Den, Elijah and the Prophets of Baal and The Prophecy of Jonah. Other Volumes include:
2. The Life of Christ
3. Beginnings
4. Joshua and Esther
5. Jospeh and His Brothers
6. Defeating Giants
Each CD is about an hour long so they are great for car trips, to have playing during chore time or to have in as the children are going to bed at night. And at just $7.95 a CD (or cassette tape) they are reasonably priced for just about any budget. If you order six or more items in one transaction, shipping is even free!


For other reviews, see The Homeschool Crew blog.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

College Genius?

My oldest is 13 years old. He has been looking at colleges since he was four years old.  At that time in his life, he was determined to go to Harvard.  Not because Mom and Dad suggested it, or encouraged it, but because while reading in the Encyclopedia (Yeah. At four years old, all by himself) about Boston, he learned of Harvard.  And he read that Harvard had the first established library in the U.S.A., so it had to be the one place in the entire country that had the most books and best books since they had been collecting the longest.  But he did write a letter to Harvard asking that they move the university to Oklahoma because he just couldn't imagine living so far away from home.
Fast forward to now, and the child is still devouring books, and earnestly trying to finish school so he can get to college early.  So when the chance came to review College Prep Genius, we jumped at the chance. We have the College Prep Genius DVD set and he immediately began watching the first of 12 lectures to prep him for the SAT.  The lectures are about an hour in length, and slightly dry to me, but he soaks them all in.  He is normally a very good test taker, but has been very animated after his lecture telling me of new things he has learned, and new test taking techniques.  He absolutely cannot wait to take the SAT so he can see how this program has helped him.

If you would like your own copy, you can get the whole program for $99 (a 25% discount) right now through the College Prep Genius website.


This product was given to me for the purpose of review.  All opinions are mine. For other reviews, check out the Homeschool Crew Blog.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 6~ The trucks arrive.

Today, we began loading the trucks and trailers. It was a day of sweat, tears, and hard work.  It was not a day of smiles and sweet remembrances. We tripped over each other, weren't on the same page, and emotions were raw.

Once we got the loading rolling, things seemed to progress better.  We loaded three trailers up with stuff, and headed down the road.  One of the trailers carted off our old car. The other two were full of stuff. And there is more packing to finish. More to haul off, to donate, to store.  I laughing told a friend I was ready to find some matches for the things we have left. 

Tomorrow, we say good bye to our church family.  I can't even begin to express how hard that will be. I suppose emotions will remain raw for a while. Between good byes, no sleep, and walking into the unknown, we are going to learn how to deal when on edge. But I suppose that's for the best. If I trust God to take care of my reactions, what needs to be said will, what needs to be held silent, will not be uttered.

I am going to enjoy the extra hour tonight.  Probably not with sleep, but with an extra hour to pack, clean, work. 

Blessings to you tomorrow as you observe the Lord's Day. Even if it isn't a normal activity for you, seek out the Church House and discover what God has for you.


Friday, November 4, 2011


Short and sweet tonight.  The trailers are coming tomorrow, and we have been busting out all that we can.

The box count is 742, 849 127 and counting.  There are still some critical things that need to be ready tomorrow, but it will get done. 

The wattage on my smile dimmed a little today. I'm having a few space issues. I can't find any place to hide. I'm beginning to process that a long list of good-byes are coming up this weekend, and I'm not ready.  Nor am I quite ready to say good-bye to this house. Two of my babies have been born to us while here, and we have four years worth of memories.  I think my happy exterior may have a small crack in it.

But, thankfully, I don't have to rely on my armor. I can put on God's armor. Put on His yoke, rest in His grace.  Have no fear, because His love is perfect. Yesterday, I went and found a quiet place in my van and sat there for a short while and spent time resting in God.  No talking, no whining, no worrying, just rest.  God is leading us down a beautiful path, and an exciting adventure. I will sit back and enjoy what He has planned.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day What number are we up to?

Day 4, and I don't want to see another box. Actually, it hasn't been so bad. Who am I kidding? I haven't really packed a single box.  But the sorting and question answering is becoming trying. 

The slave driver wonderful helper, Darcy, wasn't here today. So I suppose I have had my break and tomorrow we will hit the ground running.  Heath and I went over to the neighboring community and helped with our last youth lunch.  It was nice to see everyone, and to get out of the house for just a little bit.

We have had some families from our homeschool group bringing food to the house.  Of all the things we are having to let go of, this group is one of the hardest.  These ladies and families have become a mainstay in our home.  And a wonderful group of women upon which I rely.  I will be going to the November meeting Tuesday, and it just hurts thinking about having to say good-bye.  So much so, that I think I'll go ahead and plan on being at the Christmas party in December too. But the meals have been wonderful, and so appreciated.  Heath is finishing packing the kitchen tonight, so the meals are becoming a necessity now. 

The box count is up to 61, and Heath is still at work.

The crankies are setting in, but that is to be expected. Everything is out of place, so everyONE is being affected.  Or maybe that is just me. The kids are doing great. They are getting nearly unlimited amounts of movie time, computer time, and play time. The school books got packed, so they are on a vacation.  Heath and his brother, Tim, are constantly laughing and cutting up about one thing or another. Darcy and Thomas have been work horses and in wonderful spirits.  Yes, it sounds like maybe it's just me. So, tonight I am signing off, and headed to bed. First to read a little devotion, and then to SLEEP.  And tomorrow, I will arise to a new dawn, a new cup of mercy, and the day will overflow with joy and grace. 


Salvete mi Amici

One of my favorite things we do in our school, is learn Latin.  I know, that sounds crazy. But it is one of our frivolous extras. Well, maybe not frivolous, we are very science orientated family, but an extra non-the-less. We have been using a simple curriculum from Memoria Press for the last year or two, but were recently asked to try a more in depth program also from Memoria Press.  I jumped at the chance.

Soon, a decent sized box arrived FULL of wonderful learning goodness.  And as I began looking through the workbooks, CD, DVD, and flashcards, I began to panic. There was NO WAY we would be able to handle this!  I borrowed some big girl panties, and dove in head first.

Photobucket Memoria Press: First Form Latin is actually an easy to use curriculum that a beginner can utilize.  It is a complete beginner Latin course for students fifth grade and older.  I have a fifth, sixth, and eighth grader whom I used this with.  The kids LOVED the DVD aspect of the course, as did I.  Most all of the instruction given comes from me, so to get a different "teacher" was a nice break for them.  I kinda liked it too. I could affirm my thoughts on the lesson, or learn the correct lesson, and I didn't always have to be "on" for Latin.  There are multiple worksheets per lesson, which gives ample practice time for the kids.  And of course they listen to the vocabulary and grammar lessons everyday, thanks to the CD.  They study for quizzes and tests together using the provided flashcards, and I use them while doing laundry or cooking dinner to keep up with what the kids know.

You can purchase First Form Latin for $55.  After having the DVD and flashcards, I would highly suggest paying the $115 for the First Form Latin PLUS.  I know you could make the flashcards yourself, but the DVD really is worth the money. 

And one more silly endorsement; I LOVE the teacher's manual.  It is spiral bound, and TOP FLIP! I'm really not too sure why, but I just like it!  It would have been nice if the students manual was spiral bound, but that may come from my odd aversion to breaking the spine of anything. Book. Workbook. Animal. Whatever.

This is such a great program. So much so, that when we finish up our current course, we will move into Memoria Press: First Form Latin


This product was sent for the purposes of review.  All opinions stated are mine. For other reviews check out The TOS Homeschool Blog.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Packing ~ Day 3

My brother-in-law apparently said the other day there are three steps in packing.
     #1~Keep it and pack it
     #2~Do I really need this?
     #3~Throw it all out!!!

I'm not quite sure I am at the point I want to throw it all out, but I am already tired of the process.  I am worn out, can't seem to make the decisions required of me, and just want it all to be done.  But, we have had great help, and are making good progress.  Today we have 51 boxes ready to go as of this moment, and we are seeing some rooms become really bare. 

I have received many phone calls and some visits from friends.  Expecting a few more these next couple of days, and am going to get a few hours children free on Friday. 

I have been struggling with some sewing decisions.  As most of my avid readers will remember, I make Christmas pajamas every year for my kids.  It's a really big deal.  With Heath not having a new job yet, and all the transitions going on, I was resigned to not making them this year. It was just not going to be feasible to purchase that much fabric.  I really debated too.  It was going to be such a different holiday for us all.  And then a dear friend from the community showed up on my door step this afternoon with a 15 yard bolt of Christmas flannel she knew I had my eye on for this year's pjs.  I was just overwhelmed by her generosity and graciousness.  And amazed again by God.  He IS there with us.  I know yes, He is guiding our steps, calling us to this move, and will provide for us.  But God cares for the little things too.  In the grand scheme of things, this flannel is a pretty small issue. But my God cares for me, and met this desire of my heart.  This will always be a treasure to remember when we look back to this Christmas.

I had one other teary eyed moment. It is probably the hardest I fought to control my emotions.  My brother rounded up the chickens today, and took them to his place.  I really thought it stupid to cry over chickens leaving, but these were the product of a childhood dream.  One that connected me to my dear Grandmother. It almost got the best of me.  But, we will be living close to my brother for the time being, so I can go visit them any time I want.  And Thomas will bring me eggs, so I have no need for worries or distress.  It's a far better idea than my 8 year old who offered, "we could butcher them this week if that solves the problem".

When I wed Heath 15 years ago this night, this was not how we envisioned our anniversary.  But we did dream of doing God's work, and following His plan, so I suppose we are just where we thought we would be.


15 years

15 years ago, I walked an aisle

I made a promise

I changed my name

We set up house

We began a new life

We learned to share our space

Our thoughts

Our dreams

Our desires

We have welcomed additions to our family

We cried together as others left our life

15 years ago I left the security of my parents' home

And joined my heart to another

I didn't fully understand the promise I made

Or the work involved in a marriage

But with each passing day, I learn more

And discover how little I truly understand

I love you Heath. Far more today than yesterday.

Far more than I even understand.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Packing~Day 2

We are still plugging away at this whole packing thing.  And I use the word we fairly loosely. Because I really haven't packed a single box. I have sorted toys, been the gopher, ran errands, cooked the meals, and made difficult decisions as to what to keep, store, toss, or donate.  While it sounds as if I have the easy job, my husband is quite thankful I'm not actually packing the boxes.  I'm just not the organizer.  It would take 6 U-Haul trucks if I packed us, and only 1 with Heath being the packer. 

We are up to 32 boxes. The boys' room is sorted, packed, and all done except for the stuff we have to have the next few days. The girls' room should be finished tomorrow. The kitchen has been started, and most of the breakable dishes are packed.  It still looks like an thrift store storeroom around here, but Heath says there is big progress. I think he is getting into the groove, and is feeling the ball rolling.

I had one small, sad moment today. No tears or anything, but I did pause for a moment at Wal-Mart. They have most of their Christmas stuff out, and that was bittersweet. Heath and I love to go aisle shopping every year and ooh and ah over the new stuff.  And I realized that this year, I most likely will not be decorating my own house.  That has been a treasured tradition between Heath and I.  In fact, we were married 15 years ago tomorrow, and the first thing we did when we came home from our honeymoon, was buy our tree and decorate the apartment for Christmas.  But this year, we will probably be staying with my Mom and Dad, and can decorate her 9 foot tree.  That should be just the fix I need!

And, to surprise me, Heath brought me flowers, candy, and a card a day early!  I sure do love that man!


Made it through Day 1 of packing. Heath was gone most of the day to school. It was a wonderful time for him to get further encouragement, acceptance, and prayer time. I am so thankful for the friends he has made, both from the student population and the professor population! My brother and sister-in-law were here for a large part of the day, and we got tons of laundry done, organizing done, and seven whole boxes packed! I know that doesn't sound like a ton, but we have so much to sort through. Darcy and I threw out tons of stuff, and have tons to donate as well. The best part of moving is the paring down of things! Thomas got the shed organized and ready to begin packing, and played the kids to death. Doesn't sound like much, I'm sure, but keeping the kids out of our hair, and getting the shed ready for Heath was huge. Heath's brother, Tim, was able to come up last night after he got off work, and we spent the evening packing and laughing. We are up to 16 boxes I believe.

We are overwhelmed with the amount of work that is ahead of us, but so at peace with the decisions made. Darcy will be up to help almost the whole week, and Tim has moved in for the week so he can help. It will be a long week, and at times, a hard week. Just making the decisions as to what to keep and not can get to you. And even though we have no real plans other than packing and an extended "sleep over" with my parents, we are not panicking. God IS good and is faithful. So we will trust Him.

Day 2 is calling. Remember us as we wade through boxes and stuff deciding what to keep and what to toss.  As a pack rat at heart, this can be hard.  But, we are anxious in nothing, but with thanksgiving, we are lifting our requests to God, and His peace and understanding are guarding our hearts! (Philippians 4:6-7 summarized)


Saturday, October 29, 2011


Tonight, my heart is heavy.  It aches for those around me. For those that are watching loved ones last days, for those who are sitting over a baby's hospital bed, for the ones that are losing sleep over where tomorrow's meal will come.  These are requests from friends, internet acquaintances and others with which I have a connection.  The world is full of pain and suffering.  It is broken and filled with sin. My life isn't any different. There are dark hidden places in my life that are stained black.

In fact, I often battle with a blackness that wants to consume my heart.  It's just a tiny seed. But it is totally depraved. Hateful. Sin.  And there are times, I let it out of it's box.  You know. Those times when you say,
 "I know I shouldn't do this or think this  BUT..."

And there are times when you get hurt. Those are the things that scare me the most.  I can feel that darkness wanting to seep through my heart. It grows. It takes over. And I want to give in. I don't want to fight it. To give in to the dark would mean my heart wouldn't have to break or hurt over a situation.  That darkness whispers to my soul that all will be well once I give up control.  And it's right.  But for only a short while.  Because I know that serving that black stain will only lead to more hurt, more devastation, more pain.  And then I listen to that still, small voice. The one that says,

"My yoke is easy."
"I long to carry you through the night"
"Come, find rest at My feet"

I cannot fight this alone. I serve the ALMIGHTY. The Creator, my Sustainer.  I am reminded that we all must serve one of two masters. 

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? Romans 6:16

I watched part of the Spiderman movies the other day. Maybe it was the third? And watching that black blob consume Peter was much how I envision the war in my heart sometimes.  But I will not be a slave to it. I WILL NOT give it a foot hold. So I must let go of the me, and become the slave to righteousness.

Guard your heart dear friends. Do not let even that tiniest seed of bitterness into your heart. It is consuming. And deadly.  Cling to the Father.

If you don't mind, please pray for those around you. Your friends who are hurting, for people you don't know that hurt.  And then, pray for your heart.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Northstar Games~ Wits & Wagers

When you were little, do you remember there used to be TONS of game shows on T.V.?  I loved to watch those games!  I was always so much better than the actual contestants. They didn't seem to know very much, and weren't really in tune with the prices of things in the world.  And at ten years old, clearly I was an expert.

Well, recently our family was given our own copy of the game Wits & Wagers, produced by Northstar Games.  It has really been fun.  There are questions asked, and family members write down their best guess as to the answer. When all answers are written, the one closes to the actual number wins! Kind of like Price is Right.  Questions are like, "How many different colors of Froot Loops are there?"


The game comes ready to play for up to 10 people.  But if you don't want to play teams, you can play up to five.  Since our family is so big, we adapt and use a marker board to keep up with our answers and scores.  It is also suggested players need to be ages 8 and up.  You can let the littles play as well. They have no concept of the real numbers, but it's fun to write numbers down just like the big kids.

This game is available online, or from some national retailers. The price can vary depending on the retailer. With Christmas coming up, this would be a great idea for a gift for the children and families on your list!


I was given a copy of this game for the purpose of review. All opinions are mine. For other reviews, please visit the Homeschool Crew Blog.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Educating the WholeHearted Child


"A Christian Home is never defined by what the children are doing; it is defined by what the parents are doing." Clay Clarkson

Where do I start with this review? The Clarkson's and Apologia Press tied together is an awesome combination! Educating a Whole Hearted Child has been revised again and is an incredible resource for Homeschoolers and I think the average Christian home. The Clarkson's have such incredible insight on education and it has been a blessing to read.
"Home Discipleship is how you as a parent not only instruct your children about Christ but also model the life of Christ for them and lead them into a relationship and daily walk with him"
Honestly, this was a book I really wanted to read. And when I first started it, I was thrilled. And then terrified. It has given me so much to think about, discuss, and ultimately, lay at Jesus's feet.  It lays out a plan that rids the home of conventional learning, and that is completely terrifying to me.  I love that time and again the authors state this is what works for them, and not an all-inclusive method that will make my children perfect little learners.
The book is sectioned off into 4 Titles and then sub-sectioned in each Title:
I loved that the book is in workbook form.  It just appeals to me.  But then again, I was the nerdy kid in school who lived to get a new workbook!

Educating a WholeHearted describes a "WholeHearted Learning Model" The 5" levels" build and are all intertwined together. "

"The Model is designed to enable you to provide a range of coordinated learning experiences for your children, moving from structured learning to more unstructured learning and from more teacher-directed learning to ore directed learning" page 114 , Educating A Whole HeartedChild
In the columns of this book are various nuggets from Authors, Educators, Presidents. Also suggested resources and Scripture. This is one of my favorite aspects of the book!

Clay Clarkson keeps it real! He recognizes the struggles in the balancing act of choosing to homeschool. That is why one of my favorite parts of the book is a little section called "In Our Home." These short paragraphs gave me confidence that the Clarkson's applied these various model methods in their home and what that looks like. This is one of those books that I will read every year.

This book is chalked full of invaluable information. Over 350 pages worth! The book cost is $22.00 and can be ordered right on the Apologia website. You can also view a sample of the book on the Apologia Website.

*I was given a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest opinion. To see other reviews, see The Homeschool Crew Blog.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Over the past month, I have had the privilege of reviewing E-Mealz, a resource for busy moms who still want to put a yummy meal in front of their family at the end of the day.
What is E-Mealz?
E-Mealz is like a menu planning central for moms who really need help with planning their dinner time menus. The site provides you with meal plans that are complete with recipes, grocery shopping lists that are printable, and more.
How Does it Work?
You choose the store. They provide the plan! Each week you will receive a brand new plan with a complete grocery list organized by sections. Each meal plan is ONLY $1.25 per week!!
There are over 20 meal plans for you to choose from:
diet specific: low carb. gluten-free, portion control, vegetarian, or a regular diet
shop specific stores: Kroger, Aldi’s, Wal-Mart, Public’s, Ralph’s, or choose any store
They even have plans for just two people!
Here is what a sample menu plan looks like:
While this is a good program, there were a few things that I wish were different.

~There is no way to substitute meals: What’s on the menu is there. You don’t have the option to change out a meal if your family does not like the ingredients. You can leave it off, but if you are new to menu planning, then this might pose a problem. For someone like myself who is a seasoned menu planner, I knew I could just fill it in with a meal from my own base of menu plans.

~You can only change your meal plan option once: This was a little aggravating for me, because I first chose “any store” when I signed up because I live in a very small town–20 or 30 minutes away from most Wal-Marts and Aldi’s. The any store was okay but then I chose the Wal-Mart menu and after that I was stuck with it.

~It just doesn't work for a large family: Unless I double up the family sized plans or go with the special occasion plan, there isn't a working plan for us.  Plus, we don't consume very many processed foods, and I found myself trading many things.

All in all this was an okay program that I think works best for a new menu planner. Like I said, I do wish it gave you the option to switch out each night’s dinner plan with a different dinner plan, but other than that–I give it two thumbs up!

I received a complimentary subscription in order to write my review for the TOS Review Crew. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Always Icecream

As much as I would love to tell you that I "always let my kids have ice cream", I actually am writing about a website called "Always Icecream".


This is a website for girls that really has a little bit of everything.  It is geared for 7-12 year olds, with an emphasis on education. It's really a melting pot of different popular kid's sites into one. 

As the "Always Icecream" site says:
     With Always Icecream, we’re trying to combine three important aspects of child-appropriate online learning in a unique way:
- Motivation: Girls experience Always Icecream as a fun “play” site, with a friendly community (parents can turn off the social features).
- Learning: Girls practice a wide variety of academic and practical skills in a playful way.
- Rewards and Recognition: Girls earn “$coops,” our in-game currency for playing learning games. This currency can be used to take care of online pets in PetWorld and decorate homes in MiniWorld. Achievements are recognized through medals and special awards as well as progress reports to parents.

My daughter, who is 11, has loved the site.  She has practically begged to play. There are a few features I'm not fond of, specifically the social media part. But the best part is, I can just turn that off, so she's good to go. 


The geography is one of her favorite spots.  She does quite well with it, and has really developed her U.S. Geography knowledge. I love watching her perk up when she hears news and says, "I know where that is!"

Of course, I think EVERY girls absolute favorite section is the pet section.

What young girl doesn't dream of having a pet to care for. And this is Mom's favorite kind. Nothing to clean up after! 

To check out the site for yourself, head to and see for yourself.  With memberships starting at $4.99 a month, it really is a good deal.


I was given a membership for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are mine. For other reviews, please visit the TOS Homeschool Crew website.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Scruble Cube

A new word game has entered our house.  We love word games around here. Malcolm's Kindle is loaded with about 10 different games, there is lots of Scrabble played in our house, as well as BookWorm.  So when the Scruble Cube showed up at our house, it was game on.
If cube is like the love child of Scrabble and the Rubik's Cube. And then it took some steroids.  I cannot even begin to tell you the gaming potential here.  Malcolm enjoys playing by himself, and I often find the other kids playing with it trying to work out bigger words.  It promotes itself as appropriate for ages 8+.  My eight year old gets extremely frustrated with it. He doesn't quite "see" the 3 dimensional aspects of the game, and gets very mad nearly all the words he can find are 3 lettered.  My 10 and 11 year old enjoy playing together. They are pretty well matched in their vocabulary, and if they spell a word wrong, the other one assumes it to be right. Playing with Malcolm, who is 13, and a human dictionary, you better bring your spelling game.  He's like the Spelling Nazi! 

Not only is this a vocabulary builder, but I think it is a fun tool to help those prepping for ACT/SAT, or other college entrance exams.  You are always trying for the next bigger, better word, and is addicting!

The website is extremely helpful, and beneficial. Especially for people who cannot keep up with the rule sheet. *ahem* There are tons of ideas for play and use. Videos to help explain the game, and a place for educators.  You can buy one for your family for $24.95, and I think it would make a great Christmas present. 


This product was sent to me for the purpose of review. The opinions expressed are mine. For more reviews, please check out the TOS Homeschool Crew review site.

Monday, October 10, 2011


It has been months since we've had rain. And here in my small farming town, we've only had a couple of inches all year.  Last night, as we were leaving church, it began to rain. The normally restrained farmers were giddy with delight. It was already dark outside, but the feel, sound, and smell of the rain was perfect, even though we couldn't see it. I'm not sure if it was rain coursing down their weathered cheeks, or tears, but I cannot even begin to express the joy of that moment.

Oh Lord, I praise you for your faithfulness.  You, God of the universe, redeemer of my soul, still care for our needs. You hear us cry out, and are faithful to sustain us. I trust You, and believe in You.  Do not forget me in my unbelief.  And just as the land is parched, and dying, so my soul feels. Bring the rain, Lord to my soul, so Your life may burst forth and produce.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Scissors and Little Boys

Perfect shoes
My sweet Anderson has the most adorable hair. It is a gorgeous color. And it hangs so perfect. I love watching it flop and fly when he runs and plays. That is until this week.

"Reading his Bible"
This week, he cut it. Not once. Or even twice. But three times that boy found the hidden scissors and cut his hair. And after the third cut, I couldn't just trim it and hit his work. I had to drastically cut his hair. And while I cut last night, with trembling hand, and teary eyes, the child fell asleep. It was quite the experience to cut a little boy's hair who was soundly sleeping in the chair.

I think, however, that he is more adorable now than ever before. And this is the perfect look for the soon to be three year old child.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

If the shoe fits

So Georgia Beth turned one in mid-August.  She is finally beginning to take a few steps this last couple of weeks.  And I was hit with a dilemma.  The child doesn't have any shoes.  This is not for lack of trying.  I bought her a pair back in February, and apparently lost them in the next store.  Mom bought her the most adorable pair of slide on black and white shoes for her birthday, and they are still too big. And that is the biggest problem of all.  Her foot is TINY.  We're talking, the size TWOs Mom bought her are too big. Not a little big. Way big.  And, since it is no longer 150 degrees outside, her feet stand the chance of getting cold. She doesn't keep socks on, plus, it's hard for a learning walker to be in just socks. They slide too much.  So, Saturday night, I decided she had to have a pair of shoes for church the next morning.  Thankfully, I had a pattern, scrap fabric, and an hour in which I could spare.  The pattern is by SweetPea patterns, and I LOVE them.  I have sewn a couple of pairs of shoes before. Slippers really.  They were freebies, and sewed just fine.  Shoes aren't the easiest always, but I got by.  SweetPea has two tips in this, the Jack and Jill, that is worth the entire price of the pattern!! Anyway, I found some fabric left over from skirts I made my niece five or six years ago, and away we went.

Just to tell you how small the sweet peach's feet are, I put the pattern to her, and the 12-18 month size was GINORMOUS! The 9-12 month size was HUGE. The 6-9 month seems slightly big, and the 3-6 looked like it would be a perfect fit.  She's almost 14 months old y'all.  I went ahead and made the 6-9 month size to give her room to grow. Plus her feet are really tall fat.  Does that make sense?  They aren't wide, and not really like fat.  But they are tall. Fat.  Well, that makes sense to me, and I was the one sewing, so that's the decision I stuck with.  They are a little too big.  She can rub her heel on the floor and the shoe slides right off.  But for the most part, they work great.  The sole isn't sewn in to this shoe.  I really like the look of a sole, and so I keep trying to keep it in the shoe.  My glue gun mysteriously doesn't work (AACK!), so for now, I just set the sole in the shoe each time she wears them. Other than that, I am SO pleased with the shoes! Sew on the vintage buttons I found in my Great-grandmother's sewing box, and you've got a recipe for success!

Now, hopefully I will have time to make her a few more shoes. I have a couple more patterns I'm dying to try out!


Friday, September 30, 2011

It has been a gross week at our house.  All was well. Until someone got sick. I'm not sure who got sick first. But having a two year old vomit all over the breakfast table sure has a way of ruining a day.  But we tried to move on.  There were two sick that day, so off to bed they went, while everyone else got busy working on school work and house work.

We have actually been staying on task the last couple of weeks.  Many lessons have been finished, lots of laughing and learning, and even tons of family game time. We've played Tri-Cross and Apples to Apples. It has really been a nice, consistent schedule. Not overbearing, but productive.

Then Momma got sick yesterday. I'll spare you the gory details, but it wasn't pretty. And of course, the children were only down for about 6 hours, but I was plagued for over 36. And it feels like it was really two weeks. And you would think the kids have had an entire summer off. I can't believe how one day can make such a difference where routine is concerned! So, here are some pictures from the last few weeks, and I'm going to go take another nap.  Where's my 7-UP and crackers?

Can you tell she has older sisters?
Anderson in his mess.

More chore buddies
Chore buddies

Last of the buddies.


Monday, September 26, 2011


Ever since I was a little kid, games have been a staple in my life.  We played all sorts of card games, board games, and video games as a child.  Oh the memories I have playing Atari with my family!  And the first Nintendo system? Get out. We had Monopoly tournaments, Rail Baron marathons, and Mario Extravaganzas.  The board games were stored on the top self of my closet, and I remember I'd get some of them down and play by myself if no one was available. I don't think I ever lost a game of Clue or Life from 1989-1996.  And that counts even when I played with other people!

So I am constantly on the look out for new games to play. With a family our size, it's a must. The kids love to play games with just their siblings, and with the entire family.  We were sent a new game, TriCross, to try out, and the kids were instantly in love.

It comes from the people at Games for Competitors, and is made for kids eight and up.  Our oldest said it's like taking chess and checkers and combining them, and then twisting it.  Honestly, I haven't played it yet. But my husband and children have, and they love it. They were screaming, laughing, and strategizing  Apparently, they all schemed together, and made sure to knock their Dad out of every game played.  It didn't matter which kid won, as long as Dad lost!

Our kids really have enjoyed it, and play it together often.  There is even a travel game, so they are begging for a road trip so they can try it out. It will get to go with us over Fall Break. Maybe my parents will get in on the fun!

You can purchase your own game from Games for Competitors. The prices start at $19.95, and they have a few options.  I would highly recommend the game. It has endless strategic possibilities!

*I received this product for the purpose of review. All the opinions expressed are mine alone. For further reviews, please visit the TOS Homeschool Crew blog.


Friday, September 23, 2011

AIMS Educational Foundation

Today, I have another review.  It comes from AIMS Educational Foundation; a non-profit foundation geared to help teachers give students a firm grasp of math and science concepts.  I cannot even begin to tell you of all the hands on curriculum they offer.  The catalog is just chalked FULL of ideas!

We were sent the AREA Formulas for Parallelograms.  It looked like fun, so we began looking through it.  This supplement is geared towards students in grades 6-9.  I have a sixth grader and an eighth grader, so we were excited to try it out.  My son, the eighth grader, wasn't too impressed with the book.  Oh, he liked it. It was okay.  But he is so logical.  He is the child that reads the math book for fun, and rarely needs any further instruction or explanation.  He just "sees" math.  So, while he liked the comics in the book, he wasn't actually learning from them. They were just fun.

My daughter, on the other hand, is COMPLETELY different.  She is the child that has to do 50 math problems before she really masters it.  Repetition is the key.  And being able to manipulate, and put her hands on it.  And this is perfect for her.  Being able to cut out shapes, turn them, fold them in half, put them all together, and make sense of all the formulas that are thrown at her.  This was an AH-HA kind of moment for her.

Our next child is in fifth grade.  He is a artistic, and very visual.  And often draws his own comics.  I can't wait to see how this book helps him.  I can't imagine it will be anything less than a wonderful fit.

The book comes with a CD, and be purchased from AIMS for $9.99.  There is even a sample of the book here.

*This book was sent to me for the purposes of review. The opinions expressed are all mine. To read other reviews, visit The TOS Crew page.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Before Five in a Row

Schooling isn't always easy.  In fact, many days, it is down right hard.  I have 6 children that are old enough to be in book learning.  And some days, that just is overwhelming.  Copies have to be made, books have to be checked out, workbooks collected and in the right place, papers checked, graded, and recorded. Not to mention making sure all the supplies are ready. Pencils, paper, scissors, crayons, glue, just to name a few.  And add to that, I have a middle school aged child who is doing "real" science experiments and needs a massive research library, it's enough to send this Momma whimpering back to her room.

And it is always difficult to find things to entertain the young ones.  And while I have one in Kindergarten and one in Pre-K, they still need lots of entertaining too. So how do I keep a 1, 2, 4, and 5 year old busy for the day?  Well, lots of ways. I wrote about many of my tricks of the trade at The Homeschool Village.  And I have found another great resource.  It is the book Before Five in a Row by Jane Claire Lambert.  This is a wonderful book full of "creative ideas to inspire learning readiness".  Basically, this is a collection of 23 units based on children's books.  It however is NOT a teaching manual.  At two years old, my son Anderson is not ready to sit in a chair and be formally taught all day.  In fact, even if he could sit still that long, this is such a special time in his childhood, I wouldn't want to rob him of this imaginative time. 
BFIAR gives you ideas of how to integrate learning into your everyday life.  One of our favorite books, Corduroy  was part of this treasury, so we worked through many of the activities.  There is a Bible verse with the lesson that we repeated often throughout the day.  We remembered and practiced being respectful like Lisa from the story, and worked on our manners with at home and away from home.  We counted buttons from my button jar, and sorted them by color and size.  Their favorite activity was acting like Corduroy.  I overheard them during their play time jumping on the beds, hugging Lisa, sewing buttons on their stuffed animals, and running "just like Corduroy"!

Paulee and Anderson "reading" Corduroy

I love that this book includes "old" books and new. Some of the books we will be reading through next are, Caps for Sale, Blueberries for Sal, and Goodnight, Moon.This is not a book I will use everyday.  It's not set up to be used that day. But it is a book that is indispensable in our home.  And this is a great book for every parent of young children. Not just homeschool parents. These are things you would be doing with your child either way.
You can purchase your own copy of Before Five in a Row for $35 at Rainbow Resource.  You can also visit the website for Before Five in a Row for more on how this book works.
*I was given a copy of this book for review.  All opinions expressed are mine alone.  For more reviews, please visit TOS Homeschool Crew.*

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Big IQ Kids (Homeschool Crew Review)

While I am a computer junkie (but not to be confused with a techie), my children are pretty restricted when it comes to computer time and content.  So when I was given the chance to review Big IQ Kids, I was excited and a little reluctant.


Big IQ Kids is an educational website offering to enrich your child's schooling.  They offer programs in Spelling and Vocabulary, Math, and U.S. Geography.  You can sign up for free memberships to these programs, or you can sign up and pay for premium membership and access additional content in the Math and U.S. Geography programs.  There is also a premium membership offer for a Spelling Junior program.  The memberships can be as low as $3.33 a month if you buy a full year at a time, but they do offer monthly rates as well.


So, what did we think?  My kids love the site.  They run through the lessons quickly, enjoy answering the math problems, and shout out state facts to each other as they learn them.  Plus, as they finish lessons, they receive coins that can go to buy "game" time.  The games may or may not be educational, it just depends on the game.  But it is a great incentive to do the lessons.  My kids line up to get time on Big IQ, and are always sad when their time is up.

I personally have things I like and don't like about the site.  I see that it is great for visual learners.  Or for children that need incentives.  The lessons are highly modifiable (Modifiable? Is that even a word? Shhh....I'll look it up before I add it to any vocabulary list in our homeschool), and no lesson can be skipped.  This is a great way to get in extra proficiency work without boring your child to death with thousands of worksheets.  And, with the premium membership, you get updates emailed to you with everything your child did while on Big IQ.

The site is a little hard to navigate around at times.  And the emails get a little redundant after awhile.  You get one for each accomplishment or for each wrong answer. Not a summary of the day.  It can fill up the email box quick.  There is so much that can be personalized, that I often feel we may be missing something. But with time, that may just work itself out.

If your child is not homeschooled, this site is still an asset to your child, and can even be used in a large classroom setting. Overall, the kids are enjoying the site, and it is reenforcing what we are teaching in their core curriculum.  We will continue to use our premium membership for the year as an incentive for good behavior and hard work in school.

Thank you to Big IQ Kids for providing me with two free one year premium memberships to review. All opinions expressed are my own.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Homeschool Link Up

Last night, I was "hanging" out with friends on the internet, and Steph was telling of her need to find things to keep her younger child busy during the 3rd graders lessons. So I shot her a link to a site I use nearly daily. Wow. I suddenly became her favorite person in the entire world! (Or something close to that)

But she did make an interesting point. We as homeschool parents don't often share little gems like that. I really didn't even think it was a big deal. But when I've been sitting here on this end of it, pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to teach something, it is a big deal. So today is Link-Up day! We are sharing our go-to, free websites we can't homeschool without.  But today, it's not about great bloggers, although many are helpful. But we're talking real, hands on, put this in front of your child today stuff.  So here are some of my favorite places to run for help:

Letter Mazes- My five year old LOVES these!
Color the animal letter- Hugely successful in keeping the 2 yo entertained for a while.
Color by Letter- Perfect in helping learn Capital and lowercase letters
Donna Young- I use this site for many things, but hand writing paper is used most often.
Paper Dolls- For history. My older kids really enjoy these. And I love that kids drew them!

Be sure to go to Education Layton to find more link ups and must have sites for homeschools!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Some days, I just want to start over.

Actually, I don't want to start the day over, I just want it to come to a close.  Some days, it's easy to see the positive, some days, it's easier to try and be positive.  And some days, you just know it's not going to happen, and you wait for another try tomorrow.  Today was that day.

I started the day waking up late.  It was almost 8 o'clock before I was woke up.  It's never good to start behind.  And since Mom wasn't getting her day started, neither were the kids. And from the time I got up, it seemed I went from putting out one fire to the next.  There was milk, but no cereal. So I had to convince the screaming 4 year old oatmeal was okay. That she liked oatmeal.  That she ate it nearly every other day. But she had it in her head she wanted cold cereal.

Then there was the baby thinking it was funny to drink large gulps of her milk out of her cup and spray it all over the living room floor.  And everyone sat and laughed and didn't tell Mom until half the cup was gone. Try breaking THAT habit now.

Or how about opening all the school work folders to discover someone forgot to get the copies done.  And having to get those done while the two year old yells about having to sit on the toilet. (I WANT A DIAPER!)(Not happening now, buddy.) And the copier gripes at you every other copy that the toner is getting low. (It will do this for like a month) All the while, the 4 and 5 year old are playing Veggie Tag and asking in tandem, "Are we having school? Where's our school? What are we doing for school today? Did you forget our school today?"

Suddenly, it was lunch time.  I don't know how that snuck up on us, but we were once again running late for lunch.  Somehow I was Super Mom, and gave them something new, and didn't get one complaint.  Peanut butter and apple slices sandwiches with honey drizzled over it.  They were thrilled! 

Put the two year old and one year old to bed. And started back up with school.  While teaching the older three their Latin, the 8 year old screams at the two year old.  You know, the one that's supposed to be in bed? And if you come here often, you also know he is full of mischief.  Yeah, this time?  Red permanent marker all over the table, book, and KINDLE!!!! I think the 13 year old lost 5 years off his life. The screen was covered in red.  The table had a massive piece of art work on it.  The book, thankfully, only had the cover colored on.  The protective cover we made for the book. 

Super Mom to the rescue; I saved the Kindle.  It is color free again.  And in perfect working condition.  The table, not so much. And I cannot figure out what the eight year old was doing that he didn't notice until after 15 minutes worth of coloring had been done.

Back to Latin.  Two year old got up again.  Put him back to bed to notice the 4 and 5 year old looking awfully guilty.  Discover they have taken 13 year old's book, and traced their hands all over the inside pages.  And of course tell me they didn't do it.  But since they were smart enough to SIGN THEIR NAMES to their hand prints, they were busted.  Off to bed for lying to Mom and defacing books.

It is now seven o'clock.  The 13 year old is still doing school work.  Everyone else finally finished around two hours ago.  Dinner has been eaten and cleaned up.  And all were kicked outside to run off some of the energy.  I did ask my eight year old if he could remember the memory verse from last week. "Sure! It's Philippians 4:6-7.  Be obnoxious in nothing, but in prayer, ask God for help.....I can't remember the rest".  Needless to say, I'm still rolling in laughter.  And I think I may go play with the kids!


Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Lord, guard my heart from wrath. Let me be patient and kind, and thank you for blessing me with these children. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Always the first

I don't even know where to start with today's post. I've known it was coming for a very long time now. And I have been ignoring it. If I don't acknowledge it, maybe it will go away. But I cannot control time, and I can't stop it's march, so this day is here. And I am a bundle of emotions.

From the night I sat in my bathroom staring at the two blue lines, I've known this day would get here. I had never taken a test like this before, but apparently I passed. With trembling hands, and a voice I did not trust, I showed my husband the test results. It was a first for us. A positive pregnancy test.  And we did what any dumbfounded couple would do. We went to Wal-mart.  And bought the child's first onesie.

There was the first OB visit. It was my first ever. And they confirmed what we already knew.  We then told our parents. A first for mine. It would be their first grandchild.  Heath shipped off to basic training, and we were apart for the first time.

I remember seeing our baby for the first time. It was so unreal. My first impression? That's a big head.  I bought my first pair of maternity pants, and a cute yellow maternity shirt to match. Each month seemed to bring on another first.

Heath was injured at basic, and left the Army with a medical discharge.  He would see his first child into the world after all.  It was such a hot summer, and I was glad to have him there with me.

The time came for me to deliver our child. No matter how many movies you watch in labor classes, you are not prepared for this experience. It would be like watching the moon landing and thinking you understood what the astronauts felt.  With a final push, I delivered our first born child at 03:59pm on this day in 1998.  And for the first time I heard, "It's a boy!"

As any parent knows, a baby's life is completely recorded by their firsts. We did too. The first night he slept through, the first tooth, the first roll over, the first time he sat up. The first word. I thought my heart would burst the first time I leaned over his crib and he smiled at me.  There was of course the first sniffles, the first late night doctor's office call.  The first step, the first run, the first scraped knee, and the first bandage. 

On and on the list goes, and I can remember them each. But I struggle today. Don't get me wrong, I'm so happy to watch this child grow, to see him change, to see him mature.  But this is my baby boy. And today I see him across the room reading, and I see a man-child before me.  No longer does he stretch to see when he will out grow me. I have to tippy-toe just to see him eye-to-eye. No longer does that high-pitched little voice squeal in laughter. I often mistake him for his Father.  His shoes are bigger than his Dad's, and soon I'll be shedding tears as he shaves his face for the first time.  I'll be seeing the first time I washed it.

I knew this day was coming, but I just don't know if I'm ready for this first. My first teenager.   And it's not because of all the usual reasons. No, my son still likes to be around us, doesn't storm through the house, doesn't slam doors or such. He's not surly or moody. In fact, he laughs often, hugs us for no reason, loves to cart his little siblings around, and is always willing to help when asked.  He holds lengthy discussions with his Dad over the latest book he's read, or Bible passage he is pondering.  He can't wait to go to his grandparent's houses, or see his young cousins.  Yes, my son is a treasure, and a joy to have around.
Anderson surprising Malc with a kiss.
So today, as I find quite moments, I will reflect.  I will shed a few tears. I really didn't know how hard this would be. But I will laugh, I'll tell him stories of that silly little boy, and his antics, and I will make it through this first as well. Some of it will be curled up next to him as he pats me on the shoulder. And if I cry, he'll cry with me too. And I will thank the Lord for these 13 years. For all the firsts. For all the things this child has taught us. For the blessing that God gave us. And for holding this Mom up.

Malcolm Thomas age 13

Happy 13th Birthday, Malcolm Thomas. May we continue to document every first, and meet it together.  And may you always love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. 


Saturday, September 3, 2011

A story about a Boy

Today is another joyous occasion.  We are celebrating another birthday in our home. I know for some of you, it must seem like we party all the time, and we almost do. In our house alone, we have a birthday in 9 of the 12 months.  This birthday today is extra special.  Our fourth child, third son, was born this day eight years ago.  Heath Jr. was a beautiful child, and I have written many things about him.  Being five weeks early, and spending almost three weeks in the NICU, I've written about him often.  So I'll just add in links so you can read about some of his history. 

Heath and Mom, age 2

This year, as always, I look at my now eight year old boy through the shimmer of brimming tears. I melt as I look into those massive pools of chocolate brown eyes; my heart trembles when he smiles and reveals his crooked smile and dimple.  And when he bounces into the room, cheerful as always, and hugs my neck, those tears spill over and I send up yet another prayer of thanksgiving to the God who gave me this child.

age 3
This boy has a heart to serve. Often I have to stop myself from scolding him for being in the way, or slowing me down. He has pushed me to find ways a small child can serve our household.  From reading to his younger siblings, entertaining babies, to asking me, "Mom, is there anything I can help you with", this child has an eye for needs.  He is tenderhearted, easily cries, and takes everything to heart. 

Cousins. They are inseparable.
At the same time, he is also my most adventurous.  I remember the first time he put skates on at a roller rink.  He was five years old, and within 15 minutes he was spinning circles, skating backwards, and teaching all the other boys how to speed skate into a wicked slide.  He has balance and coordination, and hasn't found anything with wheels he can't conquer.  He loves playing outside, and will spend hours playing catch.  He finds more dirt and mud than any other of the boys in my house.  And it never can seem to resist him!

So this eighth birthday, I will try not to hear the echoing of beeping hospital machines, nor see the ghosts of tubes and equipment hooked to my baby son.  I will live in this moment, and choose to see this precious child for what he is today.  And I think I'll cry anyway.

Looking far too grown up with his glasses.

Age 7

age 8

Happy Birthday, Richard Heath Jr. I love you more than I can ever express.