Thursday, August 28, 2014

Girls Who Choose God {Deseret Book Review}

 From Eve to Esther, from the Samaritan woman at the well to the widow with her two mites, many women in the Bible have made courageous choices. All through the ages, women have chosen to help, to solve problems, to stand up for others, to strengthen families, and to follow God no matter what. 
Girls Who Choose God invites young readers (and those who love them) to make important choices of their own, following the examples of great women in the scriptures. With breathtaking illustrations, beautifully told stories, and insightful discussion questions, this delightful book is perfect for sharing, reading aloud, and drawing children into the scriptures.
In this book, Girls Who Choose God, we read stories of amazing women from the bible who had a choice to make...  Our favorite was the story of Miriam and her baby brother, Moses, who was hidden in a basket among the reeds.  When Pharaoh's daughter came to the river to bathe and discovered the baby Miriam had a choice to make.  Should she stay hidden to avoid possibly getting in trouble?  Or should she speak to Paraoh's daughter in hopes of saving her baby brother?
You go on to read the choice she made and the results of her actions.  The book then asks you "What choices have you made to bring your family closer together?" 

This was a wonderful, large size picture book that I really enjoyed reading with my kids.  One thing that made it unique was the questions that propelled my family toward a discussion of why should we choose God, what does that look like and how our choices affect others.  As homeschoolers we used this as a morning devotional reading 1 story each day and discussing.  As a mother of 2 daughters I appreciate finding children's scripture stories of strong, courageous and righteous women.

Girls Who Choose God retails at for $17.99 in hardcover.

*In buying this book, you support educational and employment opportunities for LDS young women around the world. All of the authors' proceeds will be donated to Interweave Solutions. For more information about the organization's good work, visit

Disclaimer:  I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Friday, August 22, 2014

One Homeschool Day {Link Up}

Ok, I debated on scratching this day...and completely starting over so my "One Homeschool Day" looked a little bit more impressive...but then I decided, in the spirit of keeping it real, I thought I'd share exactly how THIS homeschool day turned out!  It is not a perfect homeschool day...because life got in the way.  That's REAL life though and it happens!  A lot!  I didnt get to take a lot of pictures because I was so busy I kept forgetting.  Anyway, here is a rundown of One Homeschool Day and I'm excited to link up with Our Busy Homeschool.  :)

I finally drag myself out of bed.  I have been fighting a cold and I'm just now starting to feel human again.  I convince myself that the extra hour of sleep was a good thing....  I'd better hurry though, both girls have swimming lessons in town at 9:30 (a 45 minute drive - 1 way!)

I have showered, dressed, tidied my bed, etc.  I go in to wake the girls...thankfully they are already awake...Excited that they have swimming today!  They start their morning jurisdictions.

Girls are dressed and ready to go...  We have all eaten breakfast.  We head out.

Arrive at swimming lessons.  Maggie has her lesson from 9:30 to 10:00am.

Kayley has her lesson.  While Kayley is swimming I receive an unexpected phone call.  Someone was unable to pick up their commodities from the church (the blessings of being Relief Society President), I would need to run over there and get it...

I make it to the Stake Center where I pick up a food commodities order.  We head out (again)

The kids are famished.  I (cringe) stop at McDonalds.  (There were only 2 choices between the Stake Center and the Highway, it was McD's or Hardee's)  They have to eat on the go...we have cold/frozen food stuff in the car and a 45 minute drive.

 *Notice those backpacks in the back?  Those are for a school supply drive the Relief Society just finished, I was supposed to drop them off at a Women's Shelter on the way back from Swimming...that would have to wait now until after the food was delivered.

Since the recipient of the food was not home, I drop the food off with another church member who lives close by.  I end up chatting for about 20 minutes while my girls enjoy playing with her kids.  We head toward the square to find the women's shelter to drop off the backpacks.

I drive around in circles several times trying to find this women's shelter.  I eventually find it.  A sign on the door tells me that they are unexpectedly closed.  Darn.  I guess that's why they weren't answering the phone when I tried to call ahead.

We make it home just in time for the kids to watch Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.  Daniel has a new baby sister you know and the all-new episodes this week have been the rage in our house.  We need to relax for a bit anyway we are hot and tired.  I turn on the TV and let the kids watch while I check my email.

Daniel Tiger is over.  I try to get Kayley to do schoolwork with me.  She doesn't want to plus she's exhausted from swimming and running around.  She pouts and has a little fussy fuss.  She looks like this:  (adorable right?)

I convince Kayley to work for an hour and then she can quit.  She goes for it.  She does 1 lesson in Singapore 3A, 1 lesson in First Language Lessons, 1 lesson in Writing with Ease, 1 page of Wordly Wise, and her Winter Promise Grammar Lesson.  Science and history can wait until tomorrow.  Good enough for me...  after swimming and running around she can't do much more anyway.  Maggie zonked out on the couch.

3:30 - 5:30pm
Play time.  The kids pretty much destroy the house...  I don't care.  I'm tired too.  I wander around a bit, tidy the kitchen some, read some, Facebook a little, and receive another unexpected phone call which causes me to make 2 more phone calls...

Dinner Time.  Hubby is working late tonight so we literally eat a bizarre combo of Frozen Waffles, String Cheese and Cous-cous.  Weird, I know.

Kids are bored.  I suggest they clean up.  They look at me like I've lost my mind.  So, I quickly tell them after tidying up they can do art....(That worked!)  We are using Home Art Studio DVD's.  The girls love them.  They learn about mixing primary colors and Van Gogh.  We end up with paint messes everywhere, but at least we squeezed in another subject today.  Whew!

More clean up, get ready for bed, reading time, then goodnight!

Hubby comes home.  I'm spent so I go to bed to read...  I read an article about having a more organized homeschool day and it makes me feel cranky.  So I play Bejeweled instead... until I can't keep my eyes open any more....  then... ZZZZZZ!

So, there you have it.  I want to say that this was not a "typical" homeschool day but we do have a lot of days that just fall apart.  Life gets in the way.

I do not regret stopping our regular day to give service.  I am happy to set the example for my kids by letting them see that people are important, my calling is important, and that we have to just adapt to life when it happens.

I just kept it real.  Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WinterPromise Language Arts 3 {WorkBasket Wednesday}

In that past I have been piecing Kayley's Language Arts together.  In fact, following the Well Trained Mind recommendations I used a lot of Susan Wise Bauer's Peace Hill Press products in conjunction with Rod & Staff English.  We liked it.  But, I had wiggle room in my budget and for no reason other than it just "looked fun" we purchased WinterPromises Third Grade Language Arts program called "Tracking Down Good Grammar" featuring Scout the Dog.  So far, we love it and I'm happy to give my readers a walk-through of some of its features!

There are several components to this program.  You need the teachers guidebook, Student Books A-D, Wordly Wise 3000 book 3, and Spellwell B, Bb and answer key.  I purchased the Teachers Guide and Student Books as .pdf downloads, printed them myself and had them spiral bound at Staples.  I really adore buying this way when I can because it lets me write all over the teachers guide and workbooks without remorse (or fear of retaining its resale value) and then print out another if I decide to use them again.  It is also cheaper and saves on shipping AND I get it right away (I dig instant gratification - its a fatal flaw).

The teachers guide is a simple grid format.  You can see from the photo below that this Language Arts program includes Grammar, Creative Writing, Handwriting, Spelling, Vocabulary, and at the very bottom, depending on which Themed Study you are in, Kayley's independent reading assignment.  Since we are doing the Animals Themed Unit, she is reading Classic Starts Black Beauty.

The student workbook pages are fun!  
This activity sent Kayley on a capitalization scavenger hunt!

Each page is themed with Scout the Dog 
(we really like programs that offer a storyline or theme)

A feature I really like is the creative writing.  Last year, using Writing With Ease, we learned a lot about how to summarize and write a synopsis of a story or paragraph.  Creative writing seems to tickle a different part of the brain and it has been fun to try it out....

The Spelling program WinterPromise schedules is Spellwell B.  You start each week with a pretest, make corrections, and then as the teacher you can add any extra words as you see fit at the bottom.  Now, at the very bottom of the page it says that if you get all your spelling words correct or only miss 1 then you do the "alternate" assignment at the bottom of each page...

Here is an example of Tuesday's homework in the Spellwell book.

For Vocabulary, Wordly Wise 3000 Book 3 is scheduled.  
This is a simple straight-forward way to learn some vocabulary.

Now--  What do we really think of Language Arts 3?
We really do like it!  I've had to do some "tweaking" to make it fit us a little better, but not much.  Kayley really likes the Grammar, Creative Writing and Handwriting just as it is....  (FYI: handwriting makes the transition to cursive in Student Book B.)  She really loves how hands on many of the activities are, like scavenger hunts, interviews, writing about books she is reading, etc.

You can see from the sample of week 3 where I have changed spelling to All About Spelling 3 and added in First Language Lessons 2 and Writing With Ease 3.  What WinterPromise Language Arts has done for us is replaced BJU Handwriting, Rod & Staff English, and random Literature in a one-stop-shop format that is fun and engaging.

Ok, so, you might be wondering why I replaced and added a couple of things.  Here is why:

1.  All About Spelling* is just way, way, more awesome than SpellWell...  To start the 1st 3 weeks of Spellwell Kayley aced all the words.  We could follow the "alternate" assignments as listed but they typically involved "writing a paragraph using your alternate spelling words" or something similar.  (pass!)  It also seemed crazy to write in the book when we were only using every 5th page.  Plus, we used AAS Level 1 and 2 and we really LOVE the hands on approach to spelling and felt that it is more rigorous in learning the actual RULES of spelling.  (*affiliate link)

2.  First Language Lessons 2 (and FLL 1 that we completed last year) is all oral and focuses on memorizing grammar definitions, word lists, poetry, and much more.  While I've tried this year to get a little more "Charlotte Mason" I find that I can't just leave the Classical behind and dump some memory work.  We were only midway through book 2 at the end of last year so I want to finish it this year.  There is NO hurry on this book.

3.  Writing With Ease has the child reading through a story and learning how to pull out information to narrate a summary either orally or in writing.  This is SUCH an important skill that Kayley still needs so much work on.  It is just "different" than creative writing.  This is more technical writing.  It is simple to implement and we can do it in less than 10 minutes...  

We will definitely be continuing with Winter Promise Language Arts this year.  It has been a nice break from piecing other curricula together and I admit I was getting burned out on constantly trying to create the "rigor" that is Classical. 

It's also affordable.  I bought the eBook set for $69.00,  printed them myself and had them spiral bound for less than $10.00.  I purchased Spellwell and Wordly Wise through Christian Book Distribution.  

So, there you have it!  I hope this review of LA3 helps someone!  Thanks for stopping by!!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Plague is Plaguing Us!

(Kayley dressed as a medieval plague doctor) 

To say we have had "the Plague" around here is a bit of an exaggeration, but I'm not kidding when I say that we have been sharing some type of malady through the family ever since Kayley's baptism excitement.  It started 1 week ago when Daddy began hacking and coughing... We thought we were going to survive when on Sunday I started burning up with a fever.  By today, my cough is obnoxious, my throat hurts from hacking and the muscle aches have the the WORST.    So, yesterday...Maggie starts hacking and by the middle of the night last night she was crying with an ear ache.  A quick trip to the doctor determined that she had an ear infection.  During lunch today Kayley mentioned " ear is clogging..." and within a couple of hours we had sneezures and lots of drippy nose.  

So...  the only person recovered (mostly) so far is Daddy, while the rest of us have been totally wiped out!  Whew!!  It's a good thing this isn't the middle ages and the only doctor you had was this creepy dude!!!  

(FYI: plague doctor costume instructions are found in Story of the World Teachers Guide Vol 2.)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Kayley's Baptism

Kayley's Baptism was amazing!   There were a lot of things that went into play and I was so grateful that everything fell into place.  We had a lot of company including Gram, Aunt Mary, and Kayley's birth mom Kristyn (with her family!)  Here are some pictures!  Thanks so much to my bestie Christina for snapping these awesome pics!

Here are a few that I managed to snap, but I admit that I didn't take nearly as many as I wished.  I hope that my Sisinlaw, Mary, will bail me out because I know she took way more than I did!  Hint hint!!

 Kayley's little half-sister Autumn.   
She was SO ridiculously cute.  
It was like Kayley's mini-me!

Krystin brought some fun art projects for the kids to do...

People thought we were crazy for bringing Kayley's birth family out for her baptism but it was really quite amazing and I'm not kidding when I say everything went just fine.  It really did!  :)

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