Friday, November 29, 2013

Princess P and Beautiful Lengths

Princess P decided a long time ago that she wanted to grow out her hair to donate to locks of love. She planned to wait until summer but got tired of me sending her back to the shower to rinse again (she could never get all the suds out!) and also tired of combing out the tangles every morning. We did a little research and Locks of Love apparently grossly mismanages their donations, so we decided to go with Pantene's Beautiful Length's program. Bonus is that they only require 8" so she still had plenty to play with - wahoo!

We decided to surprise Big Daddy and do it before he came home for Thanksgiving. She was so pumped and I'm thankful to have a good friend that is our hairdresser and she got her in this week. I was nervous because I liked it long but I LOVE it now. It looks so cute and healthy. And is SO easy to wash, dry, and brush.

She had to do two ponytails because it is so thick!

Some before and afters:

Friday, November 22, 2013

I'm still thankful...

Oops. I don't know where these days go. I'm staying up way too late at night and getting up way too early and still seem to run out of time in my days. I'm thankful still, for all the little things that keep my too busy to blog: Captain C, Terrific T, Princess P, Little Dude, road trips, homeschooling, church, CC, facetiming loved ones, fires, quiet times with God, hot chocolate, spreadsheet making, bill paying, cleaning...well, I'm thankful that we have stuff to clean, cooking, shopping, laughing, vegging, praying, washing, editing, playing, laundry, reviewing, snowflake making, and on and on. All these "little" things are what make my life big. Some are WAY more fun than others, but I'm thankful for all of them because they make up my days and I have some pretty good days.

We are entering the busiest time of the year and I don't want to forget to be thankful for all of these little things. I (obviously) didn't stick with the one thankful thing each day, but I am still thankful.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Review: Apologia - Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics

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In the homeschool community, Apologia Educational Ministries is tops, so I was excited to get to review Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics for them. They sent me the textbook, which is for K-6th, as well as the Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Notebooking Journal (for Terrific T) and Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Junior Notebooking Journal (for Princess P). They were so excited to each have their own books and couldn't wait to start as soon as the books arrived.

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When the books arrived, I took some time to look through them, but realized that there really isn't much prep work involved. It appeared to be pretty much open and start reading. SCORE! The only thing I did was flip to the experiment supply list and start collecting the items we needed for the first week and read through the "How to use this book" section in the front of the book.

The book is written as if the author, Jeannie Fulbright, is talking directly to the student. It was easy to just pick up and start reading and it explained it to ME as I was reading it to them. ;) It is all clearly Bible based and intent on teaching the kids about the wonderful world that God made. She doesn't speak above the kids level, but doesn't talk down to them either. I would love to have her actually sitting here teaching my kids, but this is a good substitute. ;)

I read each section aloud while P colored in her journal and T took notes (and doodled) in his. After we finished a section, I had P (and T if he had missed any) write the "vocab" words and definitions in her journal and do a little illustration of each one. There are so many experiments sprinkled in each chapter that really helped bring the science to life. Most of the supplies were common household items that we had laying around. It was great and the kids loved it. After the first day, P woke up wanting to do science first because "it was her favorite." They both made lava lamps and took them to CC to use as their presentations for the day.

We started out using the daily schedule in the notebooking journals, but ended up tweaking it a little. It has each lesson divided into two weeks. Because the kids loved it to much (and to get through more chapters to get a better feel for the review), we did this four days a week (CC on Mondays so didn't do it then) instead of two like suggested so split each day up. The time we spent on science varied a little, depending on the assignment. Normally, I would read a few pages to them and then we would stop at the "try this" sections and do several experiments or activities. It took us around 45 minutes a day with the reading, experimenting, and discussing.

Then we would do something in the notebook. Sometimes that was copying a scripture (loved that they have it in both print and cursive...I had them do both, but on two different days during the week), doing a crossword, or making a little flap book with their words and definitions in them. P's Junior Notebook has color pages in it, which she colored while I was reading each day.

When they finished the first lesson, they were supposed to write a play on Archimedes. Captain C had just studied Archimedes so he was able to jump in and help them with this. It was really cute. I keep meaning to have them redo it so I can video it and share it. T called dibs on getting to jump out of the tub naked and yell, "Eureka!" and run through the house. We all agreed that was a good role for him...IF he put a towel around his waist. Crazy kid. Here we were pretending the Little People were Archimedes as we were seeing how different things displace the water.

Each of their notebooking journals had different, age appropriate activities in them. The basic ideas were the same in each of them though so it was easy to teach off both of them. The kids didn't mind when they had to do different things and I only heard one time that "it isn't fair" that P had color sheets and T didn't. ;) The biggest difference is in the size of space available for writing. The junior notebook has wider lines, with dashes in the middle and the normal notebook just has plain lines. Sometimes P had a word search instead of a crossword puzzle, but nothing too drastically different.

We loved this science curriculum. I have no complaints at all about the content of the program. I love having God centered lessons and the kids retained what they learned. There really was only one thing that bugged me....the words are printed too close to the center of the book. I know that is petty and silly but it bugged me everyday when I was reading to have to "scroll" over (aka...squish the book down) to see it all.

I highly recommend this to anyone with kids ages 6-13. I think it can actual go for older as the material is so good and thoroughly taught.  I'm looking forward to continuing through the book and notebooks until we finish it in the spring.

The textbook costs $39.00 and each of the journals were $24.00. I like that there is no teacher's guide to worry about and there is so much to do in the books that this will easily cover a full year of science. Read what other great TOS reviewers have to say about their experiences with Apologia by clicking the banner below.

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review: IXL - Online Language Arts Learning

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I had read about a while back and was intrigued. They have had a wonderful math program since 2007 and have recently added in a Language Arts section. When I heard about it, I jumped on the chance to review their Online Language Arts Membership with Princess P.

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Their math program has lessons for K-12, but the language arts is still new so they only have 2nd-4th grade right now, but have plans to keep adding on. Princess P is in 3rd grade, but I don't do very much grammar with my kids until they begin Essentials in 4th grade. Because of this, I started her in the 2nd grade activities so she could get a foundation going before we moved on to 3rd grade. I love that with this IXL membership, you have access to all the grades and not just one specific grade. That's very cool! I could switch back and forth and when she mastered one area in 2nd, we could move up to that area in 3rd. 
After I had explored the site for a few days on my own, I brought Princess P in and showed her around. She was eager to jump in! Each section has a series of questions on the topic listed. The number of problems in a section varies depending on how well you do. If she got everything correct, it might only be 25 questions before she "mastered" it and got a virtual medal. If she missed some, it keeps asking more until it shows she understands.

One of my favorite things about this site is what happens when you miss something. When asking P what she liked about this program, she commented that she likes this aspect too. When you make a mistake, it tells what the correct answer is, but also explains WHY that is the correct answer.

This is really cool. See, there is no pre-teaching on here at all. It just starts asking the questions right off the bat. This confused me at first. But I just went with it and explained the assignment to P a little before she began. The repetition of the sections made her catch on really quickly. I was pleasantly surprised at how it worked. Any that she missed she was able to read the explanation and then keep on practicing.  Each lesson takes her less about 10 minutes (after the first few when she was learning how it works - she kept forgetting to hit "submit") so it was easy to fit this into our day. I only asked her to do one section per day, but several time she did more. This has been a crazy time of sickness and shortened school days (due to travel and our little guest's many appointments lately), so we didn't get as far as I would have liked just yet. I definitely plan her to keep using this until she has gone through all the lessons...I found it very beneficial and really, very little work for me, which is a plus with teaching so many kiddos here.;) I let her pretty much choose which topic she wanted to study each time she logged in. It made her feel like she was in control, and I figured I couldn't go wrong with any of the choices. has an amazing parent/teacher section going for it too. When I log into the site, I can choose whether I am me or P. She has a secret password that she puts in to get to her section and I have one for mine. From there, I can see all the same questions that she can, but when she uses her side, it records the scores and keeps track of her progress in my section. There are real time updates on what your kids are doing. I love, love, love that it shows me what questions she missed and what she answered that was wrong. This is so much better to me than just saying she got x# right and x# wrong. Now I have a chance to teach her more on whatever she missed, or keep scrolling and see if she figured it out from the lesson given when she missed the problem initially. There are bar graphs and pie charts and everything a good homeschool mom would want.

Check out both IXL's Online Math and Language Arts memberships and let me know what you think. You can do sample problems on each page. The cost of the membership is $9.95/month for either math or language arts or $15.95/month for both. Additional kiddos in the same family are only $2 more a month! You can also purchase the full year for $79/year for one subject or $129/year for both math and language arts (extra $20 for additional kids). I was generously given a subscription to both math and language arts but we didn't have any extra time to look at the math the last few weeks. Many other Crew members reviewed the math program though so please check out there reviews by clicking the banner below. If it is anything like the LA program, I'm sure it is wonderful!

A subscription to IXL is $9.95 for math only, $9.95 for language arts only, or $15.95 a month for both. If you purchase a yearly subscription it is $79.00 for either math or language arts, and $129.00 a year for both subjects. Each additional child is only $2 per month, or $20 per year. - See more at:
A subscription to IXL is $9.95 for math only, $9.95 for language arts only, or $15.95 a month for both. If you purchase a yearly subscription it is $79.00 for either math or language arts, and $129.00 a year for both subjects. Each additional child is only $2 per month, or $20 per year. - See more at:
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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Thankful 5 - Fall Colors

We are having a beautiful (by Oklahoma standards...which are admittedly kinda low) fall this year. T and P found some leaves in different colors from around our yard and we dried them and ironed them between waxed paper. I don't think I have ever done that with them - lol. I still have some of these from when I was a kid. So fun!

Anyway, it is so pretty to drive around and see all the trees changing colors. It makes me smile.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Thankful 4 - My Village


I know I say this over and over, but I'm seriously blessed with such fantastic peeps to do life with. Just today, I had a friend bring me a bag of pretzel m&ms just because she had an extra and she knows I'm a chocaholic. I had kids and parents stepping in to help with little dude while I was leading CC, going to the bathroom, or finishing my chicken nuggets, which another wonderful friend had just picked up for me and Captain C since I didn't have anything here to pack for lunch for us. I was dumping the trashcan at lunch and a friend and her two kids put their lunches down and came right over to help dump the stinky, nasty, outdoor trash so we would have room to throw our lunch trash away. Another friend grabbed the overflowing bag from me to take to the dumpster so I didn't have to walk it all the way over there. One dear friend's hubby was innocently standing around waiting for his daughter and offered to carry my bags to my car. Poor sucker didn't know how much junk I tote back and forth to CC each week! I so appreciated him. Another friend took Princess P home and dropped her at ballet when yet another friend, who normally does this, had a sick daughter. Another friend held little dude for me so I could lock up and then buckled him in the car for me. Another brought the train set I mention in yesterday's post (that seriously has gotten more hits than any post I've every posted besides the one that MoneySavingMom featured on her blog!) - little dude is in heaven! One friend stopped me today to ask when she can keep little man for us. She works about 3000 hours a week (the best hair dresser in town!) and has her own family to raise but wants to help. I got several other messages yesterday too offering to help.

I just feeling very thankful today for my wonderful "village." I could go on and on with examples. These are just some that popped up in my mind from today. I can't imagine not having you guys in my life. Love you!!

Book Review: If You Were Me And Lived In...

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I know I talk a lot about integrating subjects and how much I love that, but here we are again! Carole P Roman, with Away We Go Media, has written some amazing books that we were able to integrate so many subjects into...and enjoy it. We were sent 4 fantastic books to review:

Each of these books has the subtitle of "A Child's Introduction to Cultures Around the World" and that is exactly what they are. They sell for under $9 each and are recommended for children ages Pre-K to 8, which that is pretty accurate, in my opinion. Our 2 year old guest and Terrific T, who is 10, also listened in and enjoyed them, but I can see why they chose those age recomendations.

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The books give a very brief overview of life in a different country. We started with France, since we have been studying Europe. We grabbed our map and the kids found France before we started. Each book tells the capital and some interesting facts about the country. The kids liked learning what kids in different countries call their parents.

Since the books are so quick to read, we then talked about what else they wanted to learn about the country. It was a great jumping off point to discuss foods, people, religions, biomes (another things we are studying right now), holidays and more. My sister lived in South Korea for a few years so we already are familiar with many of their customs and foods. Reading this book made us hungry for some bulgogi and friend mando. YUM!! We were learning about the Scandinavian Peninsula when we read the Norway book. I loved how these all fit in so well with our studies. 

I recommend these books as a great way to begin a discussion or study of different countries. There are wonderful sites full of lapbooks and activities that you can use in conjunction with them that can be found by googling. They kindly sent us an inflatable globe (or "ball-ball-ball" as our little man kept saying) and some other fun surprises. We had fun racing to find the countries on there and tossing it around.  

The kids enjoyed these and I found P reading them several times during the past month.  That's a win in my book for my girl that doesn't love reading! I think it helps that the font is so big - makes her think she isn't reading as much as she is - haha. Whatever it is, I'll take it! Reading and learning about other cultures is a good thing!


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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Thankful 3 - Foster Care

I was so saddened recently after talking to two beautiful young ladies - sisters that had aged out of the foster care system when they were 18. They are now in their early 20s and struggling. One has a 5 and a 2 year old and the other has a 2 year old and is expecting again in a few months. She said she wanted and planned to give her first daughter up for adoption when she was born, but was too scared about the kind of family she would end up in. She is speaking from experience. She was in many foster homes, and none of them were good. And she wasn't defining "good" as designer clothes and beautiful homes or getting to stay up late. She was defining it as loving, caring, or simply safe. In her experience in foster care, she was molested several times, forced to stay in a basement for long periods of time, and generally not cared for or loved in the least. She ran away many times and would get caught and put back into another home that was just as bad as the others. When she turned 18, she was left at a park in North Tulsa by her caseworker and wished luck.

It brought tears to my eyes and heart when she said that if she had been in a foster home like ours, she would have been different now. Ours isn't anything spectacular, people. I can promise you that. We are normal people, who live comfortably but not extravagantly. We fight and yell and have bad days and our kids have logged more hours in time out than they would care to admit.

The difference is Jesus. We love Jesus more than anything else and even when we are fighting and fussing, we are quickly brought back around by His gentle hand and reminded of His love. He loves us. We know that. We have felt that. So we can in turn love others. These girls have not experienced His love (or any love) so don't have any love to share.

Mark 9:36-37 says, "He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, 'Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.'"

Jesus was hanging out at a house in Capernaum with his 12 disciples and talking to them when He said this. Can you imagine being that little child that Jesus took into his arms? How safe he must have felt to be held by the Son of God? Wow.

We want each child that comes into our home to feel that safe. The reality is that all foster homes aren't like this. That makes me totally sick to think about. I have many friends and have met more recently who are fostering and are doing it for the children. Doing it to show Jesus love "to the least of these."

We need more families like this! We need the church to step up and take care of the children! If we did, there wouldn't be enough children left for those foster families that are in this for the wrong reason to get any more kids.

All over the news are people using foster care as a source of income. Filling their home with children, then using the money the state gives the kids on themselves while depriving the kids of their basic rights and needs. That same lady I was talking about said she had been in homes where the foster parents sought out teen girls so they would do all the cooking and cleaning and everything. We are past the slave era, guys...or so I thought. This boggles my mind. A friend who is also a foster parent texted the other day, after cleaning poop up off the floor from her way-too-old-to-be-pooping-on-the-floor foster daughter, "I can think of easier ways to make $.56 an hour!"

So, church, what are you going to do? Yes, it is hard (heck, I had to stop during that last paragraph to change a poopy diaper!). Yes, it is tiring (I so miss sleeping in). Yes, it "takes away" from our family time. Yes, the "system" is frustrating.  Yes, it is going to be hard to "give them back" (no need to bring that up every time we see you...even my doctor told me that this week. Gee, thanks...I hadn't thought of that!). But on the flip side...Yes, it is teaching our kids and ourselves how to love selflessly. Yes, it is teaching us to pray fervently. Yes, it's teaching is to stop being so judgmental. Yes, it is so stinking much fun to have a little kiddo think you hung the moon and follow you around and repeat everything you say and laugh like you are the funniest thing ever.Yes, it is so precious to have a little one fall asleep in your arms and know he feels safe enough to fall asleep in a matter of minutes.

I get that not everyone can have kids in their homes. But some of you that don't could. ;)  There are so many other ways to help though. These young lady's needed guidance...a mentor. Could you volunteer at the local shelter and just hang out with the kids that are too old for people to choose them to live in their homes but too young to be left a park and wished well? Could you go up and rock babies (that aren't supposed to even be at a shelter per a new state law but the lack of foster homes forces them to keep them there so they are at least safe) or read to kids or help with homework? Could you offer to babysit a foster child so a foster family could to out to eat with their own family (not a chance we would take this little dude out to eat or to a movie - did I mention that he's so loud!)? Could you cook a meal for a foster family once a month to let them know they aren't forgotten? Could you commit to pray for more good, Christian homes for these kiddos?

I am so blessed with awesome friends that when they hear of a kiddo in our home, immediately start messaging, "How can we help?" They have showered us with clothes, toys, books, a stroller, sippy cups, a car seat, diapers, etc, etc. One sweet friend today offered to bring little dude some train tracks and trains since he is slightly obsessed with trains. What a blessing! He will be thrilled and we might get through science uninterrupted for a change while he plays with his "new" toys. YAY! Another friend is going to give up her afternoon to sit with me while I supervise a parent visit this week so I don't have to sit there alone. That's doing some love right there!

One last thought...I know it's hard to remember, but it isn't the kids fault they are in this situation. They aren't bad kids. Someone posted something recently on facebook on a foster care page that asked if you would be willing to take kids out of your age preference if you knew they were good kids. Guys, they are all good kids. They were born into is not a lifestyle they chose. Most have had poor parenting, abuse, neglect, etc. They didn't wake up one day and decide to be "bad" today. They didn't have the upbringing your kids had. Didn't have the boundaries, love, care, safety of your kids.{Update - read the comments for more on this and what I meant here. Anonymous had a great response. I should have clarified this more.Thank you!}

So today, I'm thankful for foster care. (looong post to get to that point, huh?) If there was no one to take these little ones, what would happen? If there aren't GOOD homes to take the kids, where will they go? It breaks my heart to think of these ungodly foster homes abusing these fragile kids. I'm thankful that God has led us to love in this way. This will change our family long after each kid is gone. If not us than who?

If you are interested in fostering or adopting, I would love to talk to you more. I don't have even 1/2 the answers, but I can point you in the right direction and would love to pray for your decision.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Thankful 2 - Sleep

I know this is crazy, but I'm so thankful for nice, refreshing sleep! We used to sleep in everyday around here...then our little 2 year old dynamo joined us. He doesn't like to miss any daylight! I realize now that I took SLEEP for granted.  So instead of counting the minutes hours I am missing out on with our tiny, adorable house guest here, I'm going to choose to be thankful for the hours I do get.

And on that note...goodnight! Gotta get to bed early and spend some extra time praying that the time change doesn't get us all up at 5:30. The boy is either asleep or LOUD. There's no in between.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Thankful 1 - Big Daddy

During the month of November, I want to take time out and really think about what I am thankful for. I'm going to attempt to post something everyday, but ask for grace for those days that I don't quite make it.

Today, I'm thankful for Big Daddy. I think I take for granted just how great he is more often than I realize. I am so very blessed that God chose him for me - He knew what I needed. I love that he loves the Lord and leads our family in serving Him. He is a great provider, father, and friend. I miss him when he isn't around and get spoiled when he is home for long stretches.

I love you, honey, and am thankful for YOU!