Friday, May 30, 2014

My family rocks!

We have had this bench and table on our front porch for about 10 years. It's definitely seen better days and I was thinking (out loud, possibly) that I would love to get it painted or just trash it and start over. I was thinking of just spray painting the whole thing red or something. I figured it couldn't look any worse.

Big Daddy read my mind (that I possibly spoke out loud) and he and the kids set to work this past weekend. It pains him to paint wood (or watch me paint wood) and he did a job on this that I never dreamed he could do. I love it...and love that they all worked so hard on this. It looks better than it did when it was new!!!

Demolition - took the whole thing apart!

Divide and conquer. Some painted.

Some stained.


Seriously - how beautiful is this???

I love it and am so thankful they took the time to do this for me. Now, I'm eyeing those chairs in the background and mentally picking out colors. Those are already painted, so surely I can (re)paint that wood, right?

While all this was going on, Princess P and I made a wreath for the front door too. I need to get a finished picture of it in the light and I'll post it soon. Nice to have a welcoming porch instead of a run down mess!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Review: Apologia: What on Earth Can I Do?

Apologia Review
I love Apologia Educational Ministries and have used many of their Science and Bible curriculums in the past. I was fortunate enough to get to review for them last year on the crew and thrilled to hear I would get to review the 4th book in their What We Believe series called What on Earth Can I Do? 
In addition to the textbook, I was also graciously sent the following:
What On Earth Can I Do Notebooking Journal
What on Earth Can I Do? Junior Notebooking Journal
What on Earth Can I Do? Coloring Book 
We were so excited when they arrived. If you haven't perused any of Apologia's books before, you are missing out. If you have, you know what I mean here. The full color, beautiful books are so inviting and we love to flip through to get a feel for what is coming. This book is no exception. The hardback book is sturdy and just so pretty. The notebooks are nice quality paper and spiral bound. The coloring book was a fun surprise too. 
Apologia ReviewSince I received this whole set, we decided that Terrific T would do the Notebooking Journal, Princess P would do the Junior Notebooking Journal, and they would share the coloring book - most of the pictures are found in the Junior notebook so T used it while I was reading if he wanted to color too.
What on Earth Can I Do? is described as a Biblical worldview of stewardship. As a side note: While this book does build on the previous books in the series, it is totally ok to start with this one too. It can stand alone and make sense. When I think of stewardship, my mind goes straight to finances and tithing. But God calls us to be good stewards of more than just our money and this book is about so much more. It begins by teaching that we are part of God's story here - this isn't about us. Then goes on to teach about what your treasures are and how you use them and how you use your time, that isn't really yours. It even has a chapter on taking care of God's earth.  This is very different than any other Bible study we have done together.
They suggest taking 3 weeks on a lesson, doing it 2 days a week. That made for some long days (pushing an hour with all the reading some days) so we broke it down more than that even and did it 4 days a week instead of 2 so we still got through a lesson in 3 weeks (or a little less actually). The notebooks have a suggested reading plan but it is still flexible enough to work at your own pace.

Apologia books are written so you do not need a teacher's guide. The textbook is like a conversation with the kids. You truly can just open up and start reading. Every once in a while, there are additional activities that require some prep work or supplies, but mostly you can just sit on the couch and read with your kids.

We took turns reading because I'm trying to get both T and P to be more confident oral readers. This isn't easy reading, but isn't so hard it's frustrating for P. Each lesson has part of an exciting fiction story in it, as well as lots of history mixed into the lessons. It was so cool to see the kids recognize all the history figures and places from their time in CC. Once it mentioned the Boer Wars and the both said, "in Africa" before I could keep reading. Those in CC know why...but it's part of our timeline. There are lessons about Hitler, Churchill, and Beethoven mixed in...all people they just learned about. One new one was Charlie Chaplin, who they enjoyed learning about, and we looked up youtube videos on him during lunch that day. lol. It was neat to see how all these people are part of God's story and had responsibilities to be good stewards of their lives too. Some chose to follow God and some didn't, but they are all part of His story.

Each day, we spent about 30 minutes reading aloud (and the kids would color when they weren't the ones reading) and then would move to the corresponding pages in the Notebooking Journals. The normal and Junior notebooks were similar and some pages were exactly the same, but they were on their own levels. There are samples of the journals on their site that you can download to decide which one is right for your kiddos. The set is recommended for grades 1-6 and I'd guess the Junior journal would be for grades 1-3 and the normal one for 3-6 (there is some overlap so look at those samples and use your own judgement). I liked that they were similar enough that you could use them together - they were doing basically the same thing, just maybe P didn't have as many questions.

They really enjoyed the little mini books in each lesson. These are in the back of the journals and you cut them out and fill them in, then glue them into the journal on the correct page. It was a place to reflect and no right or wrong answers. For those that get frustrated having to be "right" (like in the crossword puzzles and such), this is a fun activity. For those that want to just fill in the blanks, this could be annoying - haha. T and P are both more on the creative, free thinking side and both liked these a lot. There is also a page in each lesson to keep track of prayer requests and praises. This is good for the kids to keep track of to look back on later and see how God answered their prayers. I also like that the journals mix in vocabulary and Bible memory work. The "think about it" questions really do require some thought and not just multiple choice questions, so there is some writing involved here too. With so much history in it too, you could even count this as history for the elementary kiddos. I love when subjects overlap. This is truly helping the kids get a Biblical Worldview, like it says. Touching on all these subjects with Bible - love it!

We are really enjoying this book. We finished the first two lessons and then jumped to the 5th, just because I wanted to get into it before we started summer. It is titled, "Where does your time go?" Yikes! It's easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and the day be done before you have done anything productive. This is a convicting lesson for ME and I hope we can make some positive changes in our family's time schedule after we finish this lesson. 

As I said, the recommended age for this is kids in 1st-6th grade but it is challenging me as well. I think it could be good for any grade actually - all the way through high school. It would take a lot less time for highschoolers and I wouldn't recommend the journals for the older kids necessarily, but it would be a great book for them to just read through. I think they would really enjoy it. I'm going to have Captain C read it on his own since he missed the time with us reading it together. 
The prices are:
$39 for the textbook
$24 for the Notebooking Journal
$24 for the Junior Notebooking Journal
$8 for the Coloring Book
You wouldn't need the coloring book if you have the junior notebook unless you had younger kids sitting it. Then it is great for them to fill the time while you are reading and keep them still. The coloring book follows along with all of the reading so they are focusing on what you are reading while they are coloring. I do love this.
Since you don't have to buy a teacher's guide, this really is a great deal for quality Bible curriculum. 
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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Dance recital time again.

Today was Princess P's day in the spotlight. She used to be so shy and nervous to be in front of people but between weekly presentations at CC and several years of dancing, she now eats it up. Her smile lights up the room and we love to watch her glorify God through dance.

The theme of the recital this spring was "Clear the Stage" - meaning, get all the clutter and things (good or bad) out of the way to let Jesus shine and have center stage in your life. I love the themes and lessons taught all year long in her dance classes.

We are so proud of her - beautiful inside and out!

Cropped her out of the group so you can see the smile. She has this on the entire time she's on stage. I love it!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: Military tough iPad Trident Case

Trident Case Review
I am always in the market for a way to protect our ipads or phones and was pumped to have the opportunity to do a review for Trident Case. I was so generously sent the Kraken A.M.S Case for Apple iPad 2/3/4 to review and stalked my mailbox waiting for it to arrive.

I actually wish I had heard about this company earlier because we love this case. The kiddos and I use our ipad almost every single day. I love it and love the convenience of having it at the table or couch or car or church or etc, etc, etc. :) Having foster little ones, our ipads have taken quite the beating this past 8 months. They have been dropped and thrown and the leather cases on them have been almost shredded. This is the perfect solution for families who use ipads.

The case was so easy to get on the ipad. It is actually three parts, like the picture below. The shock absorbing silicone inner sleeve goes on first to hug the ipad and then the hard case snaps on around it. The front of the case acts as a screen protector - that can't be peeled off on all four corners by you-know-who. ;)

Once it is all snapped into place, the holes for the cord and camera are perfectly lined up. It was easy to charge and use headphones and the case didn't block the camera's view when we were facetiming. Each of the holes has a little cover (on the silicone insert) that you can snap open or closed to keep dust and elements out or pop open to charge. It is all connected so you don't have to worry about losing the little plugs. 

They have eight different colors to chose from. I got the red and black one like the picture below. It's perfect! We have been using it for about a month and it looks brand new still. Little dude has even played with it and it's holding it's own. Phew!
Trident Case Review
This bad boy is military tested and can withstand rain, wind, sand, etc...and completely protect your ipad. The screen protector requires a little more pressure than my old stick on screen protector but the added protection is worth it. The kids have never mentioned it; I just notice when I'm typing that I sometimes have to make sure I'm connecting well.

They have different cases for difference devices and now I want one for all of our electronics that will be touched by children.

One thing I really miss about my old case is the ability to stand it up. But...I am in luck, because TridentCase has this cool stand that I can get for $19.95. I need to get it ordered! For now, I prop it up on books or pillows. :)

This awesome case retails for $69.95 and is appropriate for all ages.

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Our week in pics

We spent last week in TX and had a great time. We didn't do anything major but had a great time just all being together. I was so impressed with how well the kids got a long and seemed to actually enjoy each other. We shopped and swam and shopped and ate and shopped some more. It was a great week. We started on Sunday with a visited the Alamo and then spent the day in San Antonio, which was awesome.

Here are some random pics off my phone from the week.

P thought these "tiny towns" in the middle of the turnpike were so cute. ;)

Love Sonic ice!


Apparently it's more fun to watch TV on a tiny screen...that's taking a picture of a bigger screen.

Worked out everyday and loved it.
At the Riverwalk. I'm always shocked how tall C is when I see pics like this.

T begged me for this sweet rug at IKEA. He promised to keep his floor clean so you can see it. We will see how long that lasts. He's playing Legos on it upstairs as we speak. :)

At the Japanese Tea Garden in San Antonio. So cool!

Lots of swimming at the hotel. They had the pool to themselves most of the time. Especially when it was 70* out!

Another from the Tea Garden. They wanted to explore, not stop for a picture!
C took this on the drive home.  Man we bring a lot of snacks for a drive! The kids were watching the Cosby Show in the back and C was helping navigate for me.

So much fun and we made some good memories...but one will stand out from the week. The night before we left, I had left my clothes in the bathroom to get dressed early the next morning and Princess P comes out saying, "Sorry I dropped your bra in the toilet, Mom." I've laughed about that for days!

Man, I love my family!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

Hope all you moms have a fantastic day enjoying your kiddos. I'm so thankful for my three and my two bonus blessings we've been able to enjoy since last Mother's Day. Love and miss them both, but was blessed to be able to text and talk to both their grandparents today. I'm so happy to spend all day with these peeps below. Love you guys!! Being a mom has made me a better person!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Review - Logic of English, Essentials

Logic of English Review
When the Crew reviewed the Logic of English last year, I loved reading all the reviews and wished I had been on the review. I was so excited to see it come up for review again and this time, I got picked to review their Essentials: Logic of English Complete Set! YAY! This set is for ages 7 to adult and I chose to use it with Princess P, who is 9.
Logic of English ReviewFor our review, we recieved:

Essentials Teacher's Manual
Essentials Student Workbook(s) in Cursive 
Spelling Journal
Basic Phonogram Flash Cards
Spelling Rule Flash Cards
Grammar Rule Flash Cards
Advanced Phonogram Flash Cards
Game Book and Game Card decks
Phonogram & Spelling Rule Quick Reference Chart
This program covers reading, writing, spelling, and grammar in a unique integrated manner. Since it is a new program to us, we just started right at the beginning, even though the first few lessons were pretty simple. It helped us get a feel for the program. There is an amazing intro section that is about 60 pages long. It explains the system and tells how to teach it. It has all the rules and lists there for easy reference later. I took a couple of days to read through all of this and look over the box of materials before bring P into it. She was dying to get her hands on the goodies after looking at them for a few days. We stored them all in one of our IKEA boxes so we didn't lose anything.

The lessons are divided into 3 sections and take about an hour to complete. In part 1, you learn the new phonograms for the day and review old ones, learn new sounds and spelling rules. The second part is for spelling and dictation exercises. Part 3 is the grammar, dictation, composition and vocabulary development.

The beginning of each lessons shows what flashcards and supplies you will need for the lesson. I would sort them out as P got her books ready to go. The lessons themselves are totally scripted. Once you have read through the intro and know what you are doing, there is very little prep work day to day. What I was supposed to say is in bold print and their suggested answer and explanations are in normal font. Easy peasy.

You will want to have a white board or something to write on for the lessons. We have a portable one that I used and it was fine - it doesn't need to be too big.

P really enjoyed these lessons and working together with me everyday. This is entirely teacher led so I couldn't just tell her to go do it - had to do it all with her. I enjoyed that one on one time with her too.  There are enough hands on things to keep her busy, and the workbook pages were pretty quick, even though there were a lot of them with each lesson (about 10 pages per lesson). She loves filling in blanks so enjoyed the workbook. If you have someone who is resistant to writing, you could modify this and have them not do every thing - some are listed as extra practice and we sometimes skipped some of those if we were short on time or she was getting bored.

I loved that this teaches all the subjects each lesson. Sometimes I got frustrated that it took so long, but when you think about all the subjects you are teaching, it makes sense that it needs to take so long. lol. There isn't very much actual reading on there so we still did separate reading so she could use what she was learning. One of my favorite things was the grammar part. Everyday in the second section, there were 15 spelling words given. The list was different everyday instead of every week and went along with the rules and phonograms learned that day. After finished their list, they move on to grammar. I love that this is mixed in to the lessons! Everything we did went right along with the grammar work from CC that she has learned. It is going through the parts of speech and plural/singular - they label all their spelling words and use them again in the grammar review section. By the time they have finished the lesson, they've used their spelling list about 5 times through all the spelling, dictation, and grammar practice. It's great.

As I said, this is all scripted, which is great and easy. I wanted her to start getting used to the wording we use in CC so changed up a little it to match that when she is identifying parts of speech or saying those definitions.

P is not a very good spelling. I'll just be honest here. This program is working though! We have used another phonics program in the past so she knew all of the basic phonogram sounds, but this includes all 74 phonograms and the spelling and grammar rules. Here she was learning when to use oi/ai or oy/ay (middle of a word or end of a word). Once she was able to see these in her spelling words and activities and games, she got it. They are teaching to all three kinds of learners - visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. It's a great program!!

Yes, it takes an hour...but it's totally worth that hour investment each day. If we did some of the games, it took even longer, but she loved the games. I'll admit I'm a bit lazy with the games part...we skipped that sometimes. Most of them needed another player and either myself or Terrific T would play with her.  The Phonogram and Spelling Game Book is FILLED with great, easy games for helping to get these words and rules to stick. The cards that come with it are in cursive, which just helped P keep learning more and more how to read cursive.

After the lesson was finished, we would go back and add any of the tricky words into her Spelling Journal. Then she had a place to go back and check when she's trying to remember things like the 19 words that have "igh" in them. Love this too!

We were also given the Logic of English Phonograms app to enjoy. This is a fun app for reviewing their sounds. They are again aiming to have the kids use all three learning styles and see, hear, and touch the sounds. The kids were able to make their own accounts that tracked their progress. Little Dude even had an account so he could play with letters. :) P really enjoyed this little app. It helped her get those new phonographs down and was clean and easy to run. The voice is clear and crisp and things are worded just like we do in the lessons, ie the "oi that may not be used at the end of English words." The app is geared for 4 and up but Little Man is 3 and enjoyed playing with letters - lol. He didn't get things right, but had fun listening. It's $2.99 and for iDevices only right now.

I asked Paige what she liked about it the Essentials program and she said she likes that it's fun and there are games in it. She likes the cursive and doing the workbook.

The Complete Essentials Set, that I was so generously sent, sells for $243 and ships for free. In the homeschool world, people will gasp at the price, but it's completely worth that! If that's too much, you could pick up just the teachers guide and student book for $120, but we really liked the visual of the flash cards too. The teacher's guide is not consumable so you can use it and the cards (that are thick cardstock and holding up really well) with all of your kiddos and just have to pick up an additional student book for your other kids. They are $25.

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Another Month, Another Oils Update :)

These monthly oil posts seem to be coming up faster and faster. Surely time isn't truly flying, is it? We have had another busy month and our oil uses haven't slowed down. I'm pretty sure we are in this for life now. Nothing drastic to share this month and we are all pretty much just using them for maintenance. We are very thankful to not have anything major going on - love how fast the oils seem to nip things that are trying to start!

T's allergies have taken a huge turn as the trees bloomed and allergens filled the air this month. We decided to not use his nose spray from the Dr or OTC meds and see what we could do. Lavender under his tongue had worked in the fall/winter, but wasn't touching it anymore. Boo. So we started with Lavender, Peppermint, and Lemon in capsules or in a spoonful of local honey. That was working but then something else must have bloomed because he spent about 4 days itching his eyes so bad they were swelling and looked like he had pink eye. Some friends suggested adding Copaiba to the LLP. I took an old bottle and mixed 10 drops of Lemon, Lavender, Peppermint, and Copaiba with some grapeseed oil and put a roller ball on time and told T to use it at will. And it worked. He rolls it on the bottoms of his feet, his spine, or chest. Since it has Lemon in it, he only puts it on his face or neck if it is in the evening. Gotta watch that Lemon!

I decided last month to test Elemi to see if it really would work like Frankincense (at a fraction of the price!). So far so good. C has a little rash on his shoulders - I mixed together some coconut oil and Lavender and Elemi and he is putting it on there morning and night. He's already noticing a difference. The scent isn't exactly the same but it comes from the same plant so I'm going to keep using it. We use real Frank in the morphine bomb or to ingest and Elemi for skin.

Oh...Check out this amazing testimony from my friend on passing her kidney stone with zero pain thanks to Young Living. I love it!!

P had a bite on her leg, we thought, and were putting Lavender on it. It wasn't helping. Poor thing. I looked again later and it was spreading. Poison Ivy! Oops. Switched up our oil to Purification and it started drying it up! She had a spot start on her arm and we put Purification on it first and it never got bad like the one on her leg. I should have started with Purification first - live and learn! 

We are looking forward to moving into spring and summer seasons with our oils. I love that if I'm starting to get stuffy at night, I can put Lavender on my nose and thieves on my throat and feet and wake up feeling good. I love how much Progessence Plus has revamped my monthly issues (ladies...hit me up if you want details!). I love that the kids have seen these oils work and ask for them above OTC meds. Heck, I'm even making Wondermutt a flea collar with the oils and we have found a bug repellent that we are going to try out too. Can't wait!

I'm also excited that Young Living put out a new Starter Kit. If you are interested in trying these oils, these start kits are the best bang for your buck. There are several kits to choose from but I'm wanting to snag another one of these new ones to try this new diffuser. The kit is a great deal and then you can buy anything you want for 24% off any time after that. There is no monthly minimum and you only have to spend $50 a year to stay active. It's such a great company and the oils can't be beat. Really.

If you aren't ready to sign up but want to order some things to try them out - that's great too. I am offering my 24% discount to anyone that's local that gets their order to me by the 7th. I order every month on the 8th and am always happy to add things in for you. Just let me know!