Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop Day 2: Curriculum

Welcome to Day 2 of the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop!  
Today I get to share with you all the details about our curriculum!

Choosing curriculum is tough.  Well, at least it is for a Type-A personality like me.  We have tried a lot of different things (thanks in part to the TOS Crew) and I am always willing to make changes if we are using something we don't enjoy.

When I first began homeschooling 2 years ago I was so worried about doing it "right" that I chose a boxed curriculum.  Kayley had been going to preschool since she was 2.5 and by the time she was 4  she was completely bored.  She was ready to read, tired of learning colors and shapes.  It was about this time that my heart strings were tugged toward homeschooling so I took that opportunity and at the end of preschool we jumped into homeschooling.  I started Kayley in Kindergarten at the age of 4 and I don't regret it a single bit.  I bought Bob Jones University Press Kindergarten complete with the DVDs.  I was so nervous!  We would sit down, watch the DVDs and do the cooresponding work text pages.  It was, in all honesty, a really good choice for us.  After about 6 months we ditched the DVD portion and finished up the year on our own.  We loved it.  It has a very easy, learn-to-read program and I intend to use it again with Maggie.  In fact, I've even been looking at the K4 program they have as well.

For first grade we used BJU again for Language Arts and Math.  We skipped the DVD portion all together and just did our own thing.  For Science & Social Studies we flew by the seat of our pants and enjoyed whatever came to mind.  That year we took a trip to the Butterfly Palace, Hershey, PA, Virginia and Washington D.C.  We visited the Smithsonian, Discovery Center, and Zoo.  Kayley participated in Zoo-school, Silver Dollar City Homeschool Days, and the D.C. Bookclub.  It was fun and completely unstructured.

This year has seen things change up quite a bit.  As Kayley has gotten older, I keep becoming more and more accountable to the state for the schooling we do.  I'll talk about this more tomorrow in planning but each year we have to "do school" for 1000 hours.  600 from Core Subjects - 400 from Electives.  All documented.  I have found it easiest and natural just to keep a portfolio of completed work and a loose tracking document showing our extra-activities.  Also, as Kayley has been moving into the second grade over the summer I am wanting to fill some of the "seat-of-our-pants" activities with a little more structure so we are filling a few gaps with real curriculum and living books.

Not to mention that Maggie has become very interested in what we are doing and had been anxious to get involved, so this has been my first year homeschooling 2 children.  Yes, believe it, Maggie has started what I call Nursery-school.  She loves it.  She is thrilled to sit with us during reading time and always asks for her own school to do when we are at the table.  She is whip-smart like her big sister and unless something changes I will start Maggie in PreK at 3 and Kindergarten at 4 just like Kayley.

So that leaves us with the ultimate idea behind todays topic and that is:  what curriculum are we using this year?  We are about 2 months into the new school year so I think we finally have it all figured out.  So, here it goes:

Kayley, 2nd Grade

Character Development
The Learning Parent - Character Trails
We Choose Virtues
Devotional Studies from:  Christian Hero Tales and Princess Stories

Language Arts
Phonics - Explode the Code Book 5 & 6
Vocabulary - Wordly Wise 3000 Book 2 & 3
Grammar - BJU English & Grammar 2
Spelling - A Reason For Spelling Book B
Handwriting - BJU Handwriting 2, Queen Homeschool Copywork for Little Girls and Lessons in Manners Copybook
Creative Writing - WriteShop B
Reading - BJU Booklinks & Sonlight 2nd grade readers (moving into 3rd grade readers mid-year)

Singapore Standards Primary Mathematics 2A and 2B
Math-U-See Beta

Sonlight Core B & C  Intro to World History
Discover the Scriptures - Old Testament & New Testament
MapTrek Geography - Ancient World

Sonlight Science B
Apologia Exploring Creation - Astronomy with Jr. Notebook
Christian Liberty Press - Nature Reader Book 1 and 2
Simply Charlotte Mason - Outdoor Secrets & Nature Companion
Burgess Bird Book for Children, James Herriot's Treasure for Children, 1001 Bugs to Spot, and whatever strikes our fancy.

Health and Fitness
AOP's Horizons Health 2
Vintage Remedies for Kids
Homeschool Family Fitness

Fine Arts/Elective Studies
Song School Latin
Abeka Art 2
Kinderbach DVD based Piano course
Reading Eggs
Home-economics, Pearables:  Lessons in Responsibility for Girls

Memory Work
Classical Acts and Facts
Articles of Faith

Now!  I know it looks like a LOT but, keep in mind that we do not do all of these things at once and we make a lot of them a family affair.  For example we do Singapore Math daily but Math-U-See only once or twice a week as a supplement.  We will do Sonlight History and reading daily but most often we do the read alouds at bed time as a family so we do not squeeze into our homeschool day.  Same with the devotional studies & Scriptures, we do them as a family at bedtime.  Many of these programs are so bite-sized too that we are done with the entire subject within 10-15 minutes.  Language Arts is so incremental that Kayley can have all of her L.A. subjects completed within 30 minutes.  We really work well with short, short, short lessons daily.  (A Charlotte Mason thing!)  Science will alternate topics.  I'm a little undecided how to do it still.  We may finish one, then start the other or alternate.  We will do nature studies on our short day - but not until it cools off! 

I've also made a few changes this year.  I've dropped nearly all BJU except for Grammar and Handwriting.  It was a good change and cheaper too!  I have also added in Health and Fitness, Lessons in Responsibility, Manners and more Character Development.   (An area sorely needed to be worked on).  You'll notice at the end I have added on Memory Work.  This will coincide with our Co-op...I'll admit, I'm nervous!   Adding Latin should be fun...it is all music based and I also downloaded the Articles of Faith songs (and several other childrens hymnbook favorites) as well and put them on a CD.  Kayley listens to the CD during quiet time and right before bed.  James and I laughed and wondered if we couldn't put subliminal messages in there as well like, "you love to clean bathrooms...."  lololol.

Ok, so next up:

Maggie, Nursery School

Sonlight Core P3/4

Before Five in a Row

Abeka Nursery Products
Nursery Arts & Crafts
Learning Numbers with Button Bear
Letters and Sounds for 3's
Child Art for 2's
Preschool Bible Coloring Sheets

The great thing about the Abeka stuff is it is consumable -I just rip out a page and let Maggie go nuts with crayons.  They are easy - you don't need a teachers guide and it is pretty self explanatory at this age...you know, starting with A and working your way through the book until you get to Z.  They are inexpensive - so when Maggie uses up an entire book I could just buy another one with minimal investment.  The crafts are simple and easy for little hands to do.

Maggie also uses a lot of fun goodies like file folder games, magnetic letters, counting bears, matching cards, puzzles and so on.

So, I think that is about it.  That is our curriculum for 2012-2013!  Thanks for stopping by!  If you want to explore what my crewmates are using this year, have fun clicking through the links!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Schoolhouse Teachers - Schoolhouse Crew Review

It is always a challenge to find a one-stop shop resource for all your homeschooling needs.  It seems that whenever I want to find a printable for this or a download for that I have to weed through several websites before I find exactly what I am looking for.  Not any more!  A new website offered through The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is filling the gap:  SchoolhouseTeachers.com.

What is SchoolhouseTeachers?
An updated version of Teachers Toolbox, SchoolhouseTeachers offers the subscriber, honestly, MORE than I could ever type here, but I'm going to try!  Here it goes:

--Each month teachers in different areas offer insight and lesson ideas in several subjects:
Kim Kautzer - Writing
Diana Waring - History
Terri Johnson - Geography
Adam Andrews - Literature
Hands of a Child Team - Lapbooking
George Escobar - Film making
and many more!

--Teachers offer FREE daily lessons to supplement your homeschool.  Writing prompts from Kim Kautzer of WriteShop, geography & math lessons, and a free...completely FREE downloadable lapbook each month from the Hands of a Child!  This month was Summer Safety.   Wow!

--Each month there is a free e-book just for members!  Not to mention on the Schoolhouse Library you can download inspiration books, homeschool helps, copybooks, reading lists, arts and crafts ideas,and so much more.

--Each month finds Schoolhouse Teachers exploring a different theme.  This month is Summer Olympics where you can enjoy a complete unit study on anything and everything relating to the Olympics.  History, research and Quiz Questions!
--Do you have a special needs learner?  There is an entire page devoted to you!  Hosted by Judi Munday you will have access to articles and tips to help you teach your special learner.

--Like to read?  Enjoy Reading Book lists!

--Little learners are in luck with Schoolhouse Teachers pages that focus on literature and units for PreK Read N' Play complete with recommended literature and downloads.

--Hungry?  Don't worry, there is an entire months worth of menu's (complete with recipes) to take some of the hassle out of your homeschool day!

--Enjoy free downloadable planners!  No really!  The planners are AWESOME!  Download the pages you need and assemble a made-to-order planner.  Choose from 5!

Yes, like I mentioned earlier, there is way more than I could ever mention here.  So much fun awaits you at Schoolhouse Teachers.  Check it out, you won't be sorry!  There is so much more to come including MP3s of the Schoolhouse Expo speakers (I'm waiting anxiously for those!) and I'm antsy waiting for them to update the Nature Studies section as well!
Click HERE to go to the Site Tour of Schoolhouse Teachers!

You can also check out a variety of SchoolhouseTeachers.com Sample Pages by clicking HERE.

Ready to join?
Schoolhouse Teachers in only $5.95 per month!Right now pay only 1$ for your first month!  You can cancel at anytime if you are not satisfied.

And, here is a cool deal!
After 12 months of uninterrupted membership, you will receive a $25 gift certificate to the “Totally TOS” section of the Schoolhouse Store.  Wow!

Click HERE to Sign Up!

Would you like to read more reviews about Schoolhouse Teachers?  Check out my crew mates thoughts here:


Back to Homeschool Blog Hop - Day 1: Homeschool Methods

I am so excited to be participating in the Schoolhouse Review Crew's Back to Homeschool Blog Hop! Many of my fellow Crewbies and I will be blogging about Homeschool Topics all week and posting our link-ups to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.   We are blogging topics that are near and dear and I think it will be fun!  I can't wait to check out what homeschooling looks like in everyone else's house!  :)

Todays topic is Homeschool Methods...

I know right?  If you are new to homeschooling you may be asking..."What?  There are methods to this madness??"  Believe it or not, there are...and chances are you already subscribe to a certain method without even realizing it!  If you don't, that is ok too...because there is a method for that - knows as the eclectic method of homeschooling.  The eclectic method of homeschooling allows for this n' that and a lot of whatever you want!  In fact I'd say most homeschoolers follow their preferred method with an eclectic twist. 

In our homeschool, our preferred method is the Charlotte Mason Education method.  First, I'll tell you about Charlotte and her method, then that will explain why we like it.

Charlotte Mason was born in 1842 in Wales, England.  She was home-educated by her parents until their death when she was 16.  At that point she enrolled in school, earned a teaching certificate and began teaching.  It was during this time that she began to desire that all children, regardless of social class, should have access to a well-rounded and generous education.  She fulfilled her dreams by writing several books on parenting, character training, education and teaching, and even her own series on geography.  After moving to Ambleside, England in 1891 she established the House of Education that became a training school for governesses, teachers and others who worked with young children.

Some basic tenets of a Charlotte Mason Education include:

1.  Real/Living Books:  Charlotte Mason believed that dry, factual (boring), committee-written textbooks take the joy out of learning for children.  Living books, written by a single author who is passionate about their work, give children the ability to read about history, science, etc by someone who is/was engaging.  Charlotte Mason insisted on "twaddle-free" books, or in other words, books that are dumbed down.

2.  Narration:  Children are expected to be able to verbalize what they read after only one reading.  This requires the child to train their habit of attention.

3.  Habit Training:  Charlotte wanted to instill the value of good habits in everyone so as to make them productive members of society.  I just listened to a great audio by Sonia Schafer called Laying Down the Rails and she talks about all 60 of the good habits Charlotte wants individuals to have. Sixty is a lot!  Whew!  Habits include: honesty, prayer, cleanliness, compassion and so forth.

4.  No Grades, ho homework, short lessons:  Children need to love to learn purely for the LOVE of learning, not for external rewards like grades, stickers, etc.  Homework in the little years is unnecessary and short lessons keep children focused.

5.  Nature Study:  Charlotte wanted children to be children.  Playing outdoors for several hours a day, she felt, was the best way to help children appreciate God's creations, learn about science and enjoy the health benefits of Play.  Encourage children to carry a sketch pad and document what they see and narrate what they discovered are all ways of learning that are fun and engaging.

6.  Fine Arts:  Picture study, composer study and poetry get children in touch with history.

There is much more to a Charlotte Mason Education that what I have listed here, but the above are the top 6 reasons I homeschool this way.  I love how a Charlotte Mason Education is a discipline and lifestyle.  We love reading real and living books to help us learn about people and history.  I think, when history is presented in this manner, it is so much easier to remember because you learned about someone's story and not just factual material.  Narration has been a hard skill to learn but I can see why it is so important for your child to listen for information and be able to verbalize it back to you - when they can tell you about it - then they understand it! Working on habit training has been eye-opening as I've come to realize how many bad habits I have!  I need to improve greatly in order to be a better example to my girls!

So, you may be wondering what the Charlotte Mason Method looks like in our homeschool?  Well, we've made it super easy on ourselves and use Sonlight.

Sonlight Curriculum 

Sonlight is a literature-based homeschool curriculum that is very Charlotte-Mason-like in its approach.  Using living books to teach history and science, Sonlight offers an easy-to-follow, but super-flexible schedule.  Do a little or do a lot.  The books we have read this year are all wonderful, classic stories that are twaddle-free.  For example:  The House at Pooh Corner,  James Herriot's Treasury for Children, Curious George, Mary on Horseback, Here's a Penny, The Boxcar Children, The Wizard of Oz, Mother Goose and a whole lot more!  It has been the best homeschool decision I have made and both my girls are loving it!  We snuggle up on the couch to read and it is "school."  We find ourselves discussing what we read over dinner and if we forget to read a chapter, Maggie is the one bringing me the books!  I am thrilled to instill a love of learning and reading in my girls.

This is my first year using Charlotte Mason and Sonlight so I am still early in my learning.  In fact, as we speak I have the Classical Education classic, The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer waiting to be read.   We will be incorporating many of her ideas into our homeschool this year as well (which probably has Charlotte turning over in her grave - lol) but that is a blog post for later in the week when we discuss co-ops!

If you'd like to learn more about the Charlotte Mason approach to learning, here are a few links for you to check out and a few books I'd recommend.  Thanks for stopping by!  Come back tomorrow if you want to read Day 2:  Homeschool Curriculum.  I'll be talking about a lot more than Sonlight!

Find out more about Homeschool Methods by browsing the links from my fellow crewmates!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Coming to Know Christ - Deseret Book Review

Becoming more like our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ—spiritually more attentive, personally more sensitive, more tender, more gracious—ought to be the desire of every Latter-day Saint. But how can we accomplish that?
In this thoughtful volume and with his warm, accessible style, author Robert L. Millet shares poignant stories and fresh scriptural and doctrinal insights to help us feel our Savior's love and realize that He stands ready to assist us in coming to know Him.
Brother Millet's heartwarming reflections on what it means to worship Christ and to trust in Him and in His grace renew in us a desire to stay focused on our Savior through all the ups and downs of daily life. Insights into how much Christ loves us and how He can lift us up to where He is strengthen our commitments to Him.

Throughout, Brother Millet conveys his deep witness of the essential truth that eternal life consists of knowing God and His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
Coming to Know Christ invites us to experience what it means to know our Lord—not just know about Him but how to come to know Him, our Savior and our Redeemer.

In his book, Coming to Know Christ, Robert L. Millet addresses the concerns of how to be closer to the Savior by feeling of his love for us and by, literally, getting to know Him better.  Millet is a professor of ancient scripture at BYU and his book is full of stories, quotes and gospel principles that point us toward a stronger relationship with Christ.  This book is full of his testimony and I could feel Millet's love for the Savior, his love of the gospel & scripture and the love that he put into this book.  I deeply appreciate his insight and because of the depth of the subject this book is not an easy read.  I struggled through this book, often re-reading paragraphs several times to really grasp what Millet was trying to convey to me.  The material is heavy and relevant and someone more academic and scholarly than I will enjoy this book and glean more from its pages.  With that being said, I was still moved by his stories, the quotes were inspiring and I could truly feel his testimony flowing through each chapter.

Coming to Know Christ can be purchased at Deseret Book for $18.99 in a hardback edition.

Disclaimer:  Thank you to Deseret Book for providing me with a copy of Coming to Know Christ free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions expressed herein are my own.

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop!

I'm excited that next week I will be participating in the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop link up with the Schoolhouse Review Crew!  I hope you get a chance to stop by!

We will be blogging Monday through Friday on homeschool topics including what homeschool method I use, what curriculum is in our lineup for this year, how I plan our school day, pics of our "classroom" and...drum roll...our co-op activities for this year!  Yes!  We did find a co-op!  I'm totally excited to tell you about it too, so stop by next week!  :)

Zane Education - Schoolhouse Crew Review

 In our homeschool we get to review a lot interesting curriculum.  It seems I am always swamped with lots of interesting things to download and read.  It isn't often that we get an opportunity to review a product that lets us kick back and watch!  Through the Schoolhouse Review Crew we were given an opportunity to review Zane Education, a video database overflowing with supplemental materials perfect for the classroom or homeschool!

What is Zane Education?
Using the world's largest and most comprehensive library of fully subtitled education video currently available online, Zane Education provides a highly effective and unequalled online visual learning solution using curriculum-based educational video, interactive quizzes, video study tools and free lesson plans.

Nearly 2,000 curriculum-based education videos and a quiz database of over 23,000 curriculum-based multiple-choice questions provides online learning for 11 different subjects and more than 260 curriculum topics for K-12 grades. And more material and resources are being added all the time.

Schools, teachers, home educators, tutors, students, special needs and gifted children, and students learning ESL across the United States and in other countries are using Zane Education's on-demand Visual Learning solution in their homes and classrooms as a valuable and trusted teaching resource. 

(Info taken from their website, click HERE to read more...)

How Zane Education Works:
Zane Education offers 260+ video content to supplement your homeschool.  Each video offers colorful slides, narration and subtitles to reach each child's individual learning style and to hit all of those learning styles at once!  Zane maintains that it fills in "the missing piece" compared to most educational videos by providing the "essential subtitles that enable it to cater for different learning styles."   Learn more about "The Missing Piece" and the importance of subtitles by clicking HERE.

Each Zane video also offers a downloadable .pdf Lesson Plan guide that offers review questions, key glossary terms and an interesting section for older students called "sharpen your skills."  Sharpen Your Skills offers thought-provoking questions for discussion and debate, a research assignment, activity and essay assignment.

In addition to a teachers guide your student can take the Online Quiz found in each section.  Each quiz helps your student learn by providing the answer and explanation to correct/incorrect answers.  You can track quiz scores by emailing completed quiz results.  (Just FYI:  Math quizzes are not owned by Zane and therefore are not subtitled and there are no quizzes.)

Zane offers over 200 videos in the following subjects:  Art, Biology, Geography, Health, History, Library Skills, Literature, Math, Music, Religious Studies, Science and Social Studies.  Each video series has a recommended age/grade range.  Several of the videos offer fun and interesting characters to follow through the entire video series.  The Lollipop Dragon takes you on a tour of South America...

In the science videos, Maggie the Owl takes 2 little boys into a storybook where they learn about different types of species of plants and animals.

What we thought of Zane Education:
1.  The subtitles were a nice addition to the video.  I am unsure of how well Kayley kept up with them while we were watching but I know she tried.  I do firmly believe that reading as well as seeing and hearing enhance the overall learning experience so I know for certain that the subtitles with the videos are a great thing!
2.  Some of the recommended ages for the videos were a stretch.  We watched a couple of videos where Kayley immediately glazed over.  I'd suggest watching the video first to see if the age range is a fit for your child.
3.  Another good reason to watch the video first:  the science videos do teach evolution.  I'm not saying this is a bad thing, just something that a strict creationist family might not want to have to explain without at least a heads up.
4.  The videos had a tendency to freeze up on us and we couldn't always finish watching a video unless we reloaded the page.  Not a major issue...just an inconvenience.

How to purchase Zane Education:

There are several membership levels for purchasing Zane.

1.  Basic Membership is free and gives you access to demo versions of the videos.
2.  Topic Taster Membership is $5.00 per month and gives you access to the videos within in a single topic you have chosen.
3.   Bronze Membership is $8.99 per month and gives access to all videos within a single subject you have chosen.
4.  Silver Membership is $12.99 per month and gives access to all videos for a single grade you have chosen.
5.  Gold Membership is $17.99 per month and gives full site access.
6.  Yearly Memberships are also available, starting at $98.89 per Single Subject through the Best Value – Full Access - Gold Membership for $197.89.

Ready to Buy?  To purchase Zane Education click HERE.

Many of my crewmates also reviewed Zane Education, to see what they thought, click the link below...


Disclaimer:  I received Zane Education free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Happy 6th Birthday to Kayley!  We really made a day of it.  Scavenger hunt-style saw us with a trip to Chuck E. Cheese, Build-a-Bear, the Dollar Tree, Red Robin and Bowling!

 I really like the shoes...really.
 More scavenger hunt!
 Gifts hidden in the dryer...lol
 It was a really fun day.  According to Kayley it was the "best birthday EVER."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Spelunking Anyone?

We kind of fly by the seat of our pants right now for Science in our homeschool.  I know, I know!  We are going to get more focused on Science as we move into the next school year, but right now we have been having too much fun doing our own thing and we really plan to keep it that way to a point.  Recently I had asked Kayley what she wanted to study for Science and she told me she wanted to go see some caves. 

SWEET!  Easy!  Fun!  and Educational!

We went a few places.  First we headed to Talking Rocks Cavern down in Branson.  Kayley had a great time playing in the "speleobox."  A speleobox is a "mock" cave that you can practice crawling through.  Pretty brilliant if you ask me.  It was a labyrinth so  you went in one door and eventually snaked around out the other door.


They had another speleobox inside...
see Kayley looking at you from the little window below?
We explored the Cave, which is a "vertical cave" meaning...if you slipped and fell you'd plummet to a sudden death and splatter on the rocks below.  Or maybe you'd just keep falling all the way to China.  Either way...basically what I'm saying is, I'll never do THAT with little kids again!  I had no blood left in my hands from clutching Maggie so tightly!  Thankfully there were 3 of us because Gramma came with us too!

We also headed to Fantastic Caverns again and enjoyed the comfort of America's only ride-thru cave.  I think we would have enjoyed more, but once the record-breaking heat set in, we pretty much shut down and got back to school.  We have enjoyed a lot of library books and identifying all kinds of cave formations though and will get a chance to do Marvel Cave and Civil War Cave in the fall!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Happenings of a Homeschool Family

Hello!  I know my blog postings have been sporadic.  It seems like summer kind of creeps up on me and then has consistently been trying to melt me into oblivion!  Oh, how I hate the summer heat!  Terribly!  After traveling to Virginia and back again I have also fallen so far behind in so many different aspects of my life that I am just barely catching up!

I had posted a few times in the past in the Homeschool Mothers Journal link up and I was gearing up to do that tonight when I learned that HMJ has been moved to a different host and the link up has changed a bit.   Since I wasn't really looking to link up I thought I might just give my own update and catch you up a little on the Happenings of This Homeschool Family....

1.  My Life This Week:  Whoot!  We have a BUSY week planned for certain.  This Thursday will be Kayley's 6th birthday!  We are not going to have a friend party this year, instead we are going to do something a lot different.  I am creating a "progressive birthday party."  As we go through the day Kayley will receive envelopes with clues that will take her to her next stop.  I am throwing around a few ideas still but I really think she is going to LOVE it.  Shhhh!  Don't tell her!  It will be a surprise!

2.  Our Homeschool This Week:  I have a LOT to share in this area but I'm saving it up for next week when I will be participating in the Schoolhouse Review Crew 5-Day Blog Hop and it will all be rambled about there.  Needless to say, we are doing pretty darn good! 

3.   Places to Go/People to See:  This week = nobody!   Last week was the dentist for Kayley where they gave her a cap on one of her teeth.  She was so brave!  I was really proud of her. 

4.  Church and Family Activities:  Glurg!  As a counselor in the primary I taught Sharing Time the last couple of Sundays and again for a couple of Sundays in August.  The kids give me a run for my money!  Its summer and they are full of energy!  Yesterday we learned about honesty and I did a "Mormon Trail" race to the Salt Lake Valley.  I hung up pictures of 15 major landmarks on the trail and as the kids were given scenarios at each stop, answered questions about what the honest choice was, then they could move ahead.  A few scenarios were "uh oh, stuck in the mud or lost your cow" scenarios and they had to lose a turn.  It was actually pretty fun.  :)

5.  Whats We are Working On:  Routine, habits and character training.  We have been out of our routine for so long that it has been tough getting back into one.  I love routine and my kids thrive on routine so I know we need to get this going.  Not to mention bad habits are running rampant.  We are working on learning good character qualities.

6.  I'm Reading and Studying:  Right now I'm reading Coming to Know Christ by Robert Millet.  It's a review for Deseret Book.  I'll be posting about that later this week.   In my to-read pile here from Deseret Book,  A Perfect Brightness of Hope by David S. Baxter, More Than Miracles by T.C. Christensen and Journey to the Fringe by Kelli Swofford Nielsen.  I am enjoying a wonderful partnership with Deseret Book!  Since I have been swamped with requests from them I have backed off of my other book review programs.  I couldn't keep up with all that reading! I'm also excited to be offered a chance to review a program through TOS from Apologia called I Don't Have Enough Faith to be and Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek.

7.  I'm listening to:  Pretty Darn Funny, music from the web series courtesy of Deseret Book and Simply Charlotte Mason's Laying Down The Rails podcast (I'll be moving into the study guide this week when I've completed listening to the seminar.  It's all about habits training and it is SO interesting!)

8.  I'm watching:  Not much right now, but I'll admit that I love So You Think You Can Dance so I've been tuning into that every Wednesday night!

9.  I'm Cooking:  This week, I'm on the lookout for a Zucchini Bread recipe.  We are getting an abundance of garden-goodness from our neighbors!

10.  And I'd also like to share....  I made some changes on my blog.  It felt good!  I have been out of blogging for a while and just doing the bare minimum while I have traveled.  It had also gotten to where my blog was taking a direction I didn't like with all the reviewing I have been doing!  Once I got out of the habit of doing family updates it has felt hard to try to get back into them again.  I'm working on setting up a blogger schedule and trying to keep a mix of family updates mixed with reviews.  I love my partnership with the Schoolhouse Crew and with Deseret Book so I will keep busy with those, but I am going to back down on the book reviews from other companies like Booksneeze, Waterbrook-Multnomah, Tyndale and such.  It will be a good thing.  My blog needs swing back the other direction for a while! 

Many of you may also be wondering where we are at in the adoption process.  We are going nowhere fast.  Getting our profile done is still our main goal but we have just been so busy.  Not to mention that, busy or no, I am not feeling the PUSH to get it done.  With Kayley and Maggie I had the push to get our paperwork completed and ready to go but right now I'm just not feeling it.  This is ok though.  It gives us time to evaluate and reevaluate before we move forward. 

And, for your pleasure...
This is a picture of Gramma extricating gum from Kayley's hair.  
Fun fun fun!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Eventide - Deseret Book Review

When a traveling bard stumbles into a dragon's den, he is forced to tell stories to the fire-breathing menace or end up being eaten. Eventually running out of tales to share, he makes a deal with the dragon: for his freedom, he will return with new sagas of adventure, romance, and bravery.
Tales of the Dragon's Bard is the story of one man's quest to collect the most exciting stories he possibly can, and Eventide is the first town he encounters. With wish-women, gnomes, a centaur farmer, a resident Gossip Fairy, and a blacksmith dwarf, those living in Eventide have enough going on to keep the Dragon's Bard busy collecting—especially if he can liven up those adventures a bit with his own ridiculous plots. 

 Author Tracy Hickman brings us a fun work of fiction in his new book, Eventide-Tales of the Dragon's Bard.  A fantasy story following the adventures of Edvard the Just and his unlikely apprentice Abel as they travel the country-side in search of exciting stories to share with the mighty, man-devouring dragon, Khrag.  Passing through Eventide, Edvard is certain he has found his next greatest story in the awkward Jarod Klum and the lovely daughter of the High-Wish Woman, Caprice Morgan.  As the bard sets the scene and arranges his cast of characters - the scene is set for his next greatest story...

What I thought of Eventide:  Fantasy is not my favorite genre and I did find this a bit difficult to read as it is written with an "olde English" kind of style dotted throughout and it started a bit slow BUT I did enjoy following the sweet romance between Jarod and Caprice once the story got going.   

Eventide - Tales of the Dragon's Bard retails for $23.99 at Deseret Book.  It is also available as an ebook for Deseret Bookshelf or as an MP3 download.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jeepers Peepers - Schoolhouse Crew Review and a Coupon Code!

We are always game for a game!  Since we have a family game night every week finding a fun game that can be enjoyed by grownups as well as kids, is challenging.  We enjoy being able to sit down together, have a sweet treat and play a fun game but as a homeschool mom, I want our games to be not only fun, but educational as well.  A hearty thank you to Super Duper Publications and the Schoolhouse Review Crew for creating so many fun & educational game nights at my house!  We have laughed until we cried playing Jeepers Peepers!

Who is Super Duper?
Super Duper Publications was founded by Sharon and Thomas Webber in 1986.  Specializing in easy-to-use therapy materials Super Duper offers creative and colorful educational products to enhance your at home (or at school) learning experience.  Read more HERE.

What is Jeepers Peepers?
(From the website)...
 Am I a monkey? A hamburger? An astronaut? How many questions will it take to find out?
That’s the question on everyone’s minds—or glasses—in Jeepers Peepers, The Ask and Answer Question Game that builds questioning skills, describing skills, categorizing skills, problem solving skills, and more! Have one student put on the glasses. Place a photo card in the Peepers slot without showing it to the student. Have the student face the other players and ask yes/no questions to find out what he/she is! Then, have everyone play!

What did we think of Jeepers Peepers?
Let me just tell you.  This game is fun-fun-FUN!  You start off with the giggles while wearing your Elton-John-ish glasses.  They are just enough too big for my daughter's head that her nose looked like a bizarre little bulb sticking out between 2 big circles.  Once you have your glasses on, put a card up in the holder (no peeking!) and then start asking questions!  For example, if you have a train in your glasses:
You can't see it (even though we tried)...  So then you start asking questions.  The other players can only answer with a yes or no.  Luckily there is a handy-dandy cue card to prompt your questions if you get stumped like I tended to.  You start asking..."Am I a toy?  Am I gray? Do I have wheels?  And so forth."  By asking questions you can solve the riddle and figure out "Am I a train?"  "Yes!!"  And play moves on to the next person.
There are myriad ways to play -- each type of game getting progressively more challenging.  Jeepers Peepers is recommended for Kindergarten and up but big kids and adults will have fun playing this too!  We sure did!

Jeepers Peepers includes:
-6 Pairs of glasses
-Cue Cards
-101 photo cards
-Spinner and bingo chips (for more advanced play)
-Instruction book

Jeepers Peepers sells for $29.95 (order HERE) and you get free shipping on orders of 20 dollars or more!  You can also purchase extra glasses (set of 6) for $11.95 and 101 Add-on cards for $15.95.

Here is a great deal for you as well!  A coupon code for Jeepers Peepers! 
Save 30% until Aug 31, 2012 using code BLGJP30 at checkout!

Several of my fellow crewmates also reviewed Jeepers Peepers and many others reviewed different products from Super Duper.  To read more reviews, click the linky below!


Disclaimer:  I received Jeepers Peepers free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.
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