Thursday, December 8, 2011

Artistic Pursuits- Review


I jumped right into this with my 8th grader, Michaela. She has had some *bad* art experiences in life. When I pulled this out, she moaned and groaned and begged not to. I agreed with her, that we would do just the first two units, and then if she didn't want to continue, we wouldn't. After I did unit one with her, she has continued on to do unit two and says she will keep doing them. She enjoys them, and doesn't feel the pressure to be perfect. Of course, she is finally making art that looks like "art", which has boosted her self-esteem and she is proud of what she has done. 

I would love to share with you her pastel picture she made of an elk, but I can't get my camera to upload to my computer. Just let me tell you, it's going to be framed and hung in our home. 

The program doesn't just teach art, it teaches art history, art appreciation, techniques, and how to apply all of those things. Also, it helps the student to build a visual vocabulary. 

The price for this book is $42.95. They also have books all the way from pre-school age to 12th grade. The books are non-consumable, which means that your family can use them over and over again. You can also buy the art supply packs to go along with the curriculum.

I received this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review as part of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. You can visit the blog by clicking the banner below, and read reviews of this product and others. 



Thursday, November 10, 2011

2011 Gratitude Challenge-Day 10

Day Ten:

Laughter...I am grateful for laughter. It is truly the best medicine for what ails you. There is something even more magical when the laughter is that of your children.  No matter what, though, I am glad God gave us the gift of humor and made it feel so good. 


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

My husband and my sister-in-law...I just love this picture.


2011 Gratitude Challenge-Days 8 & 9

Day Eight:

I was out of town yesterday getting my six-week check-up after I had the surgery for the revision of my colon. That being said, I am very grateful for my surgeon and grateful for the technology to help me get rid of a part of my body that was causing me much pain and my system infection. Praise God for the wisdom he gives to surgeons and all those involved in the process. 

Day Nine:

I am grateful to have a washer and dryer in my home. I do not have my dream washer & dryer (yet), but it does not matter. I have a working washer and a working dryer. I am so happy I do not have to hand-scrub clothing clean, and that I only hang on the line if I want to. 


"The Person I Marry", Bower Books- Review


I am going to start out this review by telling you that this book, "The Person I Marry", is a book I believe should be on every family's bookshelf. Society today has put a different definition on marriage, and has almost made a mockery of the sacred institution. That standard in today's society is not god enough for my family, and it is not good enough for God. Marriage is a beautiful gift given to us, and it is one that is to be taken seriously. This is the very accurate description they give of the book on their website:

Respect, kindness, honesty, faithfulness, thoughtfulness, patience - qualities like these make strong marriages.  Created by award-winning author & illustrator team
Gary & Jan Bower (married 32 years), this adorable book warms the hearts of all ages in its celebration of commitment,purity & true love!

My children have talked about "when I grow up and get married" since they were tiny tots. Of course I have told them the importance of character when the time to court or date comes along. But, how do I reinforce that? What exactly are those character traits that will help to make a marriage stronger and align more clearly with the plan God set forth for marriages? 

This book "The Person I Marry", by Gary (Author) and Jan (Illustrator) Bower answers that question beautifully.

"The Person I Marry" can be purchased for $11.99. It is part of the "Bright Future Series" which includes:
  • There's a Party in Heaven (for encouragement in times of loss)
  • The Person I Marry (looking for character traits in a mate)
  • There's a Jingle in my Pocket (dealing with money matters for children)
  • What do Heroes Wear (about serving others)

From the Author & Illustrator:
"The Person I Marry" has received wonderful endorsements from Gary SmalleyEric & Leslie Ludy, and the Duggar Family.  This book is part of our "Bright Future Series" which shares Biblical principles for families in beautiful and down-to-earth ways.  The Person I Marry was awarded "2010 Book of the Year" by the Christian Small Publisher Association.  We created this book the year of our 30th anniversary as a tool for tenderizing the hearts of our own 12 children, and sparking comfortable conversation about marriage amongst ourselves.  We hope you like it!

Bower Books has many other books available that I am sure are just as lovely. We have some on our shelves already, and after reading "The Person I Marry", we will be adding more.


Disclaimer: I received this product in exchange for an honest review. My favorable review was not a condition of this arrangement. For this review, and for other reviews of the same product and more, please visit the Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew Review Blog

Monday, November 7, 2011

2011 Gratitude Challenge-Day 5, 6, & 7


Like I said, I may have to combine some days because of being out of town and such. We went hunting this weekend, so I had no way to post. But, I am back and will post now for the days I missed.

Day Five:

My husband works for Pioneer, and they have been an amazing company to him. So, not only am I grateful for his gainful employment, I am grateful for the way that the company treats him and the benefits they provide. 

Day Six:

I'm going to get a wee bit materialistic for day six. I love my Macbook Pro. Love it. Not because of the label or the brand or whatever. I love it because it has been the most reliable computer I have ever owned. When I first went "Mac" I was so confused and overwhelmed. However, it didn't take me long to figure out that it was insanely easier than a PC. Also, I have NEVER once had a virus, malware, or spyware on here. I don't have a security program. It's just the way it is with a Mac. So, I am very grateful that we are blessed enough that I could afford such a nice tool to keep me connected. 

Day Seven:

When I "learned" of the University of Alabama, I was a teenager and wanted to go to college but thought it wasn't in the cards for me. No one taught me how easy it was to get admitted, get grants/loans, and work your way through. Maybe easy isn't the word I am searching for...I think the term may be more "attainable". No one encouraged me to seek college admission, and no one made it clear that it would benefit me. I didn't even finish high school because I had to get a job to support myself. No one batted an eye at me quitting school either. No one. I was just told "it's fine, you can get your GED and you'll be fine". I liked school, and I was smart. I did well in school. Anyhow...I was married as a teen and had two children within two years of getting married. Then the marriage ended. I found myself single with no education and no job prospects that would even pay my childcare. I ended up finding a program for single parents and they guided me in getting a college education. By this time I was the mother of three. It would have been easier to do prior to having children, but I enrolled and I got a degree in the medical field. It was not, by any means, my dream degree or career field, but it was quick and the payoff was well worth the work. In Texas, I dreamed of going to Texas A&M because it was my favorite Texas college. Any college outside of Texas was OUT. OF. THE. QUESTION. 
I did attend there for a while, but life got in the way.
Time has gone on and I decided I was going to look into attending my all time favorite college, The University of Alabama, in order to get a degree in a non-medical field. However, we could not relocate there so for a long time, it was still not an option. Enter the technology of today and Distance Learning Degree programs. I learned Alabama had one, I applied, and I was accepted. 
While I cannot attend on campus, I am a student, and I will receive a degree from UofA. I am grateful today for that acceptance, and for the chance to realize this dream. 


Friday, November 4, 2011

2011 Gratitude Challenge-Day 4

Day Four:

I am grateful for this woman for many reasons (you may see her again this month) but today I am grateful for her as my best friend. She is the sister I never had, and the only person on earth I can share EVERYTHING with and not worry about it being leaked. 
She can call me when she cries, and I can call her when I need to cry.
She can call me for any reason at all, and the same for me.
She is the only person I can talk to for hours on end about nothing at all.
I hate talking on the phone, unless it's a short convo or it's to her. 
I love her...and she is proof that family doesn't just come genetically. Sometimes God sends you just the right person when you need them. 

This is Gwen & I together :)


Thursday, November 3, 2011

2011 Gratitude Challenge-Day 3

Day Three:

I know I know, this is a given, but I still must say it. Today I am dictating that I am grateful for being a mother. So, I am grateful for my children. 

Each of them is so wonderfully different. I don't know HOW it happened, but I also got four funny kids. I mean, seriously funny. Like they even make strangers laugh funny. Of course, Tucker could take his brand of funny to stage and be rich, but they are all witty and each have a great since of humor.


He is my first born.  The one who taught me what it means to truly love someone. He is 16 now, and planning to go into the military. Honestly, I am not thrilled with that prospect, but I support him in it. He loves Ag class, Baseball, and the NFL team the Patriots. I only have two more years with him. Well, less than that. He graduates at 17 and will go right into boot-camp. He is also my most serious child, and the most quiet (most of the time). That is not saying that he is not fun loving, because he is, he is just a lot more stoic than the other three. He has been that way since the day he was born, and continues to analyze the world through deep thought and reflection. He has the most amazing eyes. You can't see it in this picture, but I'll add another one so you can. He has these silver streaks that look like lightning bolts through his eyes. 

Eleven months after my sweet Wyatt, there came Tucker:

Oh my, there is so much to say about 15 year old Tucker. I already told you he is split-your-gut hilarious. He is also very sensitive. I remember when he was born and we revealed his name, there were many nay-sayers. They thought it was a cruel name and that he would be made fun of. Well, the boy couldn't have a name that fits him any better. If he is made fun of he either lets it roll of his back, or makes the person regret ever speaking his name. He is always one of two extremes, either really sweet or really not. Mostly he is just sweet though. He has always been very affectionate and calls himself a "Momma's boy". When he was ~16 months old, he received vaccinations. Afterwards, his temperature soared to 108+. The doctors assure me this was "normal". In the months that followed, he began to drool and not make eye contact as much. His coordination began to change. I had never heard of autism or vaccine injury, and since the doctors assured me he was fine, I did not worry. However, a few years later he was diagnosed with pervasive development disorder and asperger's syndrome. This has caused Tuck some major struggles, especially as a teen, but he has fought back in true Tucker style and is doing excellent. He also has great eyes, that are so light that I can't hardly display them in a black and white/color picture. See? Those are the eyes of my grandfather & father he has. 

17 months behind Tucker, arrived Michaela (aka, Katie):

This child was born with a head of hair, that just developed into more hair and gorgeous curls. It's crazy, the older she gets, the more curly her hair gets. Anyhow, Michaela taught me what it is to have a girl child. Girls really are sugar and spice and everything nice. Don't get me wrong, this 13 year old girl has spunk and is blunt as the day is long...BUT, she is also sweet and kind and full of love for the world. She wants to compete in pageants, but her favorite hobby is hunting. Go figure that one out! She loves babies and children, and animals too (just like her Momma). She is a great cook and strives to one day be a lawyer. I believe she can do it, and will. She is an obedient child. She trips up sometimes, but not often. She aims to please her parents & God, but I promise she is not concerned with anyone else. She loves shoes...way too much. I fear for her income when she is older because of her shoe obsession. She feels about shoes the way I feel about puppies. She loves to dress up and get dirty. She also has some pretty cool eyes. I guess they are hazel, and they change color depending on what she wears. However, most of the time they are the exact same color as her hair. How that happened, I will never know. I did not modify this picture...I just removed the black & white over her eyes. This is truly how they look. People pay for contact to turn their eyes this color. Of course, she hates it just as much as she does her hair. Why oh why is it in female DNA to want to change what you're blessed with? 

Years came and years went...we got pregnant with twins, but lost them at 11 & 13 weeks. Then we got pregnant again with our precious baby Brody. Unfortunately, Brody's life was not for this world and he was born-still on May 28, 2005. We began to pursue adoption after his birth, and on August 4, 2005, we were blessed with another son.

Here, is sir Troy:

Like I said, Troy was a blessing to our family through adoption. I know God created him for us, and he fits in so well. He has a little turned up nose, just like my husband, and the same attitude. He is the most friendly child I have ever come across. He is also the most stubborn child! He puts the BULL in bullheaded. I pray I can help him to direct this in the right direction. Right now...well, I am sure some people think he is seldom disciplined, but that is not the case. We're working on it. 
He wants to talk to EVERYONE. No, seriously...EVERYONE! We laugh that he is a politician because he is literally shaking hands, introducing himself, and kissing babies everywhere we go. Okay, so maybe I have finally got him out of the habit of touching stranger's babies. He just couldn't understand how that was "off limits" but I finally succeeded. Well, for the most part. Sometimes he does it and then begs for forgiveness. This is the little guy who showed me that not all kids are food motivated. He couldn't care less about food or eating, most of the time. He is a chocoholic though. He hugs perfect strangers and those he knows alike. Anyone who he thinks needs a hug, gets one. Even the mechanic at Wal-Mart (that one was just last week, I wish I would have had a picture of his face). I would love to get him out of this habit, I think...but I don't want to squelch out how loving he is. Troy has the sweetest little face FULL of freckles. The other day I asked him how he gets so dirty so fast and he replied "my freckles are sticky".         
: )

So there you have it, my long-winded praise for today. I am so ever grateful that I was blessed with the chance to be a Mom. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

2011 Gratitude Challenge-Days 1&2

I have decided to focus on gratitude this November, and joined up with Brenda and her "2011 Gratitude Challenge". I will post something I am grateful for daily for the days of November. Now, I may not post every day, but if I miss a day, I will post for that day another day. Like today, I was out of town for 22hours yesterday so I am posting both days today.  Feel free to join up on the challenge too.

Day One:

I am grateful for my relationship with God. I am grateful he sent his son to die on a cross to atone for my sins. I am grateful that he loves me regardless. I am grateful that he sent me his word, so that I would have a guide by which to live my life. I am grateful that I know him and have a relationship with him. 

Day Two:

I am grateful for my marriage to a great man. I am grateful that he works so hard to provide for us, and that he feels the conviction that my place is in the home, taking care of both our home and our children. I am especially grateful for spending the whole day with him yesterday, alone...we had a great time and it was a special day, even though we just did a lot of driving and doctor appointments. It reminded us of how important it was to spend time together, away from our children. I pray this means more "date nights" for us. :) 


Monday, October 31, 2011

Excellence in Literature-Introduction to Literature, English 1 (review)


Literature was always one of my favorite subjects in school and college. I wish my children were naturally the same. However, they are not. 

I have heard Janice Campbell, the author of Excellence in Literature, speak at a homeschool conference. I was impressed with her approach to learning and her unique way of presenting academics. I had planned on getting Excellence in Literature to try for my kids, but had not done it yet. Then the opportunity to review the program (Introduction to Literature, English 1) came up and I jumped at it. 

The study I reviewed came in ebook form. At first, that challenged me. I do not  do well at reading for long periods of time on the computer, and neither do my children. Thank goodness there are easy options! I did not want to use my ink to print all 131 pages of the book, so I sent it to Staples to be printed. I also had it bound with metal spiral and put a hard cover on it. It cost me $13 and some change. Pretty inexpensive, and now I have it in both forms! There are links in the book and I can use the ebook to easily pull those up. 

When I got it all printed up, I sat down and read through it. I enjoyed it and I learned things I, a self proclaimed literature junkie, did not know. I decided to start off by assigning my daughter (an 8th grader) a few pages a day to read, up until the first unit. Well, the first day she read beyond what I had assigned her and asked to start the first unit! I wondered if in fact this were my daughter, and not one the aliens had replaced when they stole mine. She has since worked through almost two units, and is even doing the extra work, the honors track (even though I did not assign it). I am amazed that this is my literature reluctant 8th grader doing work of high school honors! It has also created in her an excitement for literature and writing that was not there previously. She even chose a non-assigned 700+ page book to read for pleasure, and that has NEVER happened. She is starting discussions with us and others that are deep and thoughtful. I cannot express to you the change in her that just the last few weeks of doing EIL has created! In addition to those things, it is teaching her to evaluate everything more thoroughly, and how to learn in new ways. 

So, with that being said I tell you I am won over. This is a curriculum that will be in our schoolroom permanently. 

This is what Everyday Education says is so spectacular about Excellence in Literature, and I must tell you I agree:
  • Carefully-chosen great books increase cultural literacy.
  • Self-directed courses encourage independent learning.
  • College-style syllabus helps to prepare students for university academic experiences.
  • Week-by-week lesson plans make it easy to know what to do when.
  • Honors Option provides motivated students the opportunity to earn advanced placement or college credit.
  • Evaluation rubric makes grading simple.
  • Carefully designed end-of-semester evaluation reports provide a detailed snapshot of progress.
  • Context readings provide in-depth understanding of literature in its historical and artistic context.
  • Students will be introduced to books they'll never forget.

The Excellence in Literature-Introduction to Literature, English 1 curriculum is for the age range of 8th-12th grade. You can get it in the print version ($29 + $4.95 S&H) or in the ebook format ($27). You can also try it out for free, with the sample unit.

I was given this curriculum free of charge to me in exchange for an honest review. My favorable review was not a condition of this exchange. You can read other reviews of this product and others over at the Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew Blog.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pinterest Tuesday

I have decided to join up on a new blog meme for Tuesdays. On this one, I will post my favorite "Pinterest" pins from the previous week. (please click on pic for source...give credit where due)

First up, I am IN LOVE with this idea! Since our master bath likely will never have shower curtains (walk in preferred), I am thinking this would be excellent for my teen daughter's bath! The boys...I bet I could modify it to be fun for them too! 

Back to my curly headed girl...I think I need to do this to her hair.
And soon.
I bet she'd like it...
after I held her down to do it!

and finally a little dinner inspiration...

Mason Jar Meals

Whomever came up with this was genius

The combined two of my favorite things:

Mason Jars...

& FOOD! 


Say Anything (North Star Games) - Review


SayAnything Family is a fun family game that comes loaded with a lot of laughs. No no, they're not in the box, but, I promise you, they are there. It's also easy to play. No complicated rules and regulations and no exceptions. Just open, read the few rules, and play.

The game. another product from North Star Games, is listed for ages 8+ years, for 3-8 people. Well, we got this to review and it was just me, the 6 year old, and the 13 year old when I decided to pull it out. What to do, what to do? We decided since the 6 year old could certainly understand the concept, we'd just write his answer down for him. Stay tuned for how THAT turned out!


First, let me explain a little about the game, you basically have a judge who reads a question and the other players have to write down their answer to that question. The judge then secretly chooses the best answer and lays the "Selectomatic 6000" down, which has their judgement recorded. Then, the players place their tokens on which answer they think the judge will vote for. If they get it right, they get points for their wagers. The judge gets points for every wager that is placed on their answer. Now, everyone gets to be the judge. The turns rotate. 

Playing with a 6 year old boy can be quite entertaining. When asked, "What is the best rap song?" he responded "the one about saran wrap". When asked "Which celebrity's house has the best Halloween Candy?" he answered "Mickey Mouse". My favorite was when asked "Which celebrity would make the worst presidential candidate?" and he answered "OBAMA!". Anyhow, it was a hoot. When Daddy got home that same evening, we insisted he play with us too. Now when he comes home he requests our nightly game either be this or Wits & Wagers Family, from the same company.  We all laugh so hard playing these games. It's a great stress reliever!


You can buy "Say Anything Family" at local retailers like Target, Barnes & Noble, and Toys R Us (as well as other stores, the website has a store finder app) as well as online at various retailers. The price varies from $13-$15 at most of the retailers I have found. 

I have received this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My favorable review was not a condition of this exchange, just honesty. You can see other reviews for this product, as well as many other if you click on the Old Schoolhouse Crew banner below.