Thursday, April 30, 2015

April Happenings in pictures


We had a very busy April this year.  I took a few pictures to be able to share that with you.

I really want to get better at updating my blog and I hope to be able to do this more often.

First things first. 

Remember, we just made a major move the end of March.

I registered for and began Real Estate School.  I am working on being done by the middle of May. IMG_6742 Then our crazy life will really begin, as I go to work as a real estate agent all while homeschooling and being a mom and a wife.


I ran my first 10K race. I ran it in 1:11.  I am pretty proud of that.  The fact that I was able to keep training during the packing and moving sounds crazy, but I did it!


Our kids got season passes to an amusement park for Easter.  We took them to an Easter Egg Hunt there and to spend a day there.  IMG_6771We got to see a peacock all spread out. 


Tyler has spent tons of time on La La Logic on the iPad.  We love these simple logic games.  

Our tarantula molted.  This was very exciting! 




Katey and Tyler build a fun fort while I was mopping the floor and read and played with some Usborne cards.


For Christmas Katey got a science kit and one day we got it out and made some eyeballs!  The kids really loved doing this.


IMG_6803We took a little road trip to spring clean our family cabin.  We had to get up really early to leave.  Most people in the car slept while Emily and I stayed awake.


We did lots of cleaning and had lots of fun! IMG_6843

Even a food fight!


Emily had a friend  from our old town come and stay with us.   We did tons of stuff with her.

IMG_6859 Some of the highlights were us going to a chalk festival.


Emily and Tyler made brownies.  It was pretty cute to see them work together.

The weather has been so great that we spend a lot of evenings at the parks near us. 



Tyler and I have been reading his book My Silly Body and Book and doing the activities in it.  This really is a great book.


Softball season started for Emily.  She plays short stop and catcher.  I am really proud of her and it is neat to see how far she has came in softball.



We did all of these things along with more along with our normal day to day schoolwork and household stuff.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Artistic Pursuits {A schoolhouse review}


We were lucky enough to be chosen to review Elementary 4-5, Book 1: The Elements of Art and Composition from ARTistic Pursuits.



About The Company:

Artistic Pursuits is a homeschool art curriculum company who has been around since 1999.  They produce art curriculum for Preschool to High school.  Their art curriculum is written for homeschool or independent study. They are made for novice and experienced artists alike. You learn by capturing your interests as you work from direct observation and personal preferences. A range of activity books is offered, from focusing on drawing, art and composition, art history, art appreciation, color theory and composition. They also have sculpture specific books; construct, model and coming soon, carve.

About The Product:

We have been working out of the Elementary 4-5 Book One The Elements of Art and Composition. Written by Brenda Ellis, this book of 68 lessons divided up over 16 units is in it’s 3rd edition. $47.95.

4-51 p9 72

This book is for ages 9 and up. The child is never told what to draw.  They pick their own item to draw while focusing on the concepts taught.


Students learn art by:

  1. Learning to observe the world around them- to really see it.
  2. Learning what to look for.
  3. Learning to focus on one element of art at a time, while drawing, and block out the others.

Each unit is divided up into 5 pages or lessons.

The first page of each unit focuses on building a visual vocabulary by showing students which topic to focus on, explained in words and pictures. One of our favorite things have been reading the stories in the first lessons. Students create a work of art from their observations and ideas.

The second & third page of each unit focuses on American Art and appreciation and history by showing students how the topic is used in master works. They learn about artists and the times they lived in. Students create a work of art from their observations and ideas.

The fourth page of each unit focuses on Technique.  Students learn how to use the materials and tools of art.  They again create an original work of art using what they have learned.

The fifth page of each unit is Application. Here is where you create a final project of each unit, using what you have learned so far.

Students are encouraged to spend upwards of an hour on each class or lesson. The reading/ learning part only took us about 10 minutes.  The drawing we spent anywhere from 10 minutes to 45 minutes on.  To make this curriculum last a full school year it is recommended to do two one hour uninterrupted classes per week.

A day/week in our life:

We used this curriculum as more of a family style curriculum.  Even though it is geared for 4th and 5th graders to do on their own.  My 4th grader, 8th grader, 10th grader and I all worked on it together.  We would all gather in the afternoons with our art supplies (see the list above).  One of us would read the days lesson and then we would just work on it quietly. One time we all drew the same things, after that we all always chose our own things to draw. This made art time very relaxing for all of us. We would all show each other our pictures, with no judgment, which we discussed at the beginning of starting this curriculum.

Our thoughts and feelings:

We all really enjoyed this curriculum and while I have used the higher levels before with my older children I still found it very easy to do as a family. I like how we did NOT all do the same project/ drawing each time.  We loved how it was open to our own interpretation.  This left no comparing each others drawings and no competition as to who’s is the best.  I was thankful that the curriculum, while written for individuals was able to be used in a family setting.

ARTistic Pursuits can be found on social media here:



To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 Review Crew

Finding a routine.


I had found what I thought was the perfect routine for our family.  We would get up and moving about 8:30 or 9am.  I was so proud.  I always wanted to be an early morning homeschool family, but this was as early as we could do it.  By 10 am everyone would be working on their schoolwork.  They would work until about noon.  That’s when we would break for lunch.  The kids would help me make lunch, we would eat and then take a small 30-45 minute break.  By 1 or 1:30 we would do a “family quick clean” that’s where everyone would clean for about 10 or 15 minutes.  The house would look clean enough after that and then we would sit down and watch CNN Student News and then discuss things.  Then we would read aloud a chapter in a book. Then we would each go back to individual works.  In the morning I would spend my time helping the younger kids with what they needed me to teach or needed my help on.  The afternoon was left for the older kids and what I needed to teach or help them with.  We would be done with school every day by 2:30 or 3.  Some days we had co-op and our routine just got smooshed together a little more, but stayed basically the same.

Then we moved far away. Our lives changed dramatically.

We moved toward the end of the “school year”  so no co-ops to join or classes to get involved in. 

Our schedule changed.  We started waking up later, like 10 or 11am.  Ahhh!  I know.

We are much slower to get going in the mornings.

We have cut out things like CNN Student News and our read aloud due to not having enough time. 

We generally don’t even start schoolwork until after lunch, which is about 1:30 or 2.  So we are now working on schoolwork from 2-6 or later each day.  And having to do some on the weekends. We eat dinner about 7 (instead of 6:30 like we used to). 

This leaves my children doing schoolwork in the afternoons and while it’s working, I DON’T LIKE IT!

I was us to go back to when we are getting done with school about 2:30 not just getting started then.

I need a fresh start in the routine department for us.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Memoria Press: New American Cursive. {A Review}

I have a confession to make. I haven’t taught my 4th grader cursive yet. (until now)

When I saw New American Cursive:  Penmanship Program Workbook 1 by Memoria Press come up for review, I knew I needed to put in for it.

About The Company:

Memoria Press is a family run Classical Christian Education materials publisher. Don’t let the family run fool you though.  This is no small company.  They produce a wide range of curriculum for all grades Junior Kindergarten up to grade 12.  They have full curriculum sets or you can pick and choose individual subjects or books.

About The Product:

I was able to use their New American Cursive: Penmanship program workbook 1 ($22.95) with my 10 year old daughter, who remember, had absolutely no cursive experience. NONE!

Now my excuses for not teaching her cursive yet are:

  • She hates writing, even a sentence.
  • She is left handed, and I am right handed.
  • I know how to read and write cursive, but I had no idea what I was doing.
  • She didn’t start reading real well until this year.
  • I am pretty sure she has dyslexia.

This workbook, took all that away from me.  Once I first got the 114 page book, I was not scared anymore.  I knew she could do it. 

This book was written to be able to use it to teach cursive to first graders. It goes through the whys and teaching cursive throughout history.  Usually in the US cursive is taught in 3rd grade and many schools are trying to do away with it for good. 

I totally procrastinated teaching cursive to my 10 year old, because of my list above.  This book actually told me that typically dyslexic kids learn cursive easier than they learn print.  That is because there is less letter reversals. 

The 3 page teaching guide will tell you everything you need to know, from proper posture to pencil grip, to paper placement, to how to use this book.

This book has Mr. Meerkat who helps you write cursive and is there in the book to tell your child what to do. He begins by showing the proper pencil holding position for both right and LEFT HANDERS!  (Whoop whoop!) Then he shows them the correct paper placement for both right and LEFT HANDERS! (Whoop whoop!) Next begins the real writing, he goes over some simple lines used in cursive and then your child practices writing those lines. After that, right into the letter writing you will go. Each letter has an instruction page.  My daughters favorite thing is that it has you,

  1. Say the letter
  2. Feel the letter
  3. Write the letter.

Mr. Meerkat has your child circle the best letter and then you move on. The next page has fun exercises and artwork. These fun exercises include writing and joining letters and a review of previously learned letters.

At the bottom of every few pages it has reminders about pencil position or paper placement for both right and LEFT HANDERS! (Whoop whoop!)

A day/week in our life:

Honestly after going through a few things with my daughter the first day, she has just taken off.  She needs no help from me.  She does a letter a day at the most.  Usually she just does a page a day.  This has needed very little involvement from me.  I have her show me every day after she has done it and choose her best writing.  She is very proud of it.  

Our thoughts and feelings:

I am grateful that this program includes both right and left handers throughout their curriculum, in case you couldn’t tell. I think that was my biggest fear of it all.  I am surprised at how quickly she has been able to learn cursive too.  She is enjoying learning cursive too.  It makes her feel more grown up.

Memoria Press can be found on social media here:


To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 Review Crew

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Seriously, why can’t I….


The struggle is real people. 

I am not a morning person.  I want to be.  I am trying my darndest to be.  I just can’t get up when my alarm goes off.  It doesn’t matter when I set it.  It can be at 6 am or at 9 am.  I just feel the need to fall back asleep after shutting it off.  It doesn’t matter whether I get 6 hours or 11 hours of sleep.

I recently read a book, The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.  I realize that I can change my life and create more for myself and my family if I follow his morning routine suggestion.  There are 6 things, he calls them SAVERS.

S = Silence

A = Affirmation

V = Visualization

E = Exercise

R = Reading

S = Scribe (writing)

I have woken up and done these things a few mornings and my days were great, much more productive.  I also felt really great about myself. I was so proud. 

It lasted for 3 days.

I have tried and tried for 2 months to get back on and complete my 30 day goal of doing The Miracle Morning routine.  I have struggled.

As I sit here at 1:30am writing this blog post, I realize that it probably has to do with my bedtime routine.  So for the next little while I am going to focus my time more on having a proper bed time routine for myself and my kids.  We need a set bedtime and routine at night.  I hate being a slave to a schedule though.  That has never been who I am. I will need flexibility and realistic according to our lifestyle.

I am hoping this is a great change for me.  I am hoping we can all embrace it.  I know we are going to start slow with baby steps.  I know we will get a rhythm and routine going.

I can’t wait!!

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in my posts. There are also freebies. There are also just links to products without affiliate links. I'm trying to show what we did and where you can find it, not to sell you a product...although if you decide to buy one of them, please feel free to use the links and support a fellow homeschooler.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Updates, Updates and more updates.


Our lives have changed so incredibly much over the past year and even more so over the past month.

We have been living in a whirlwind that I’m not sure I see slowing down real soon.

We made a very quick, but educated decision for my husband to take a new job.  He was on the drilling side of the oilfield.  He moved rigs from location to location.  As gas prices dropped people stopped drilling.  He began to just stack out (move rigs into storage) rigs.  Then we began to look at other jobs in other towns.  The small town we lived in is an oilfield town, boom and bust.  We knew that moving there, which is why we always rented instead of buying a house.  We were in the perfect position when my husband got offered a job to haul crude, to just pack up our family and move.  So that is what we did.  We really feel like we did this at the right time.  The move was hard on all of us.  We loved where we lived, we loved the people around us, we loved our friends.  We have lived in our new house about 2 1/2 weeks.  We are meeting friends here, and getting settled in. 

Tommy driving

The first week we were here, Tommy got his learners permit.  We seriously went from small town living to big city living and I am struggling with the traffic myself, let alone letting my kid drive in it.  We are both making progress and it isn’t as bad as I had imagined.

family bowling

Once a month out here the homeschoolers get together and go to a funplex center.  We decided to go we could all use a fun day out anyways.  We did not meet any other homeschoolers that day.  It was Spring Break for the PS kids and we didn’t know who was a homeschooler and who was a PS.  It was fine and we all had a ton of fun.

Alyson 10K Lagoon

The second week here I ran my first 10K.  I came in at 1:11.  I am pretty proud of that. The furthest I had ran before that was 5 miles and a 10K is 6.2 miles.  There was also a giant mountain to climb.  It was huge and I did have to walk up it and down it.

Alyson in RE School

I finally got a date night with my husband.  Since moving he has been in training and then working every day.  He took some days of to spend with the family and one of those we went out on a date.  I had registered for Real Estate School shortly after we moved here.  HUGE STEP FOR ME!   I just hadn’t gone and picked up my textbook yet.  We decided to go out and pick it up and then we went to the mall!  Trust me, I am just as shocked as you. We have never gone to the mall on a date in our over 11 years of marriage or dating.  We went shopping and then went to eat at what is now our favorite restaurant.  It was a great night.  And to think, I tried to get out of going because I was tired.

I am enjoying this new life more that I had thought I would.  We are finally getting into somewhat of a school routine.  We are up to 5 subjects a day, most days only getting 3 done.  But we are working on it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Thick as Thieves -A Circle C, Andrea Carter book. {Review}


Circle C Milestones is a book series written by Susan K. Marlow. 

Thick as Thieves is the first book is in the Circle C Milestones series which is the 3rd Andrea Carter series.

All of the series are based in the late 1800’s in California and are as far as I can tell, historically accurate.

Circle C Beginnings is for ages 6-9, in these books Andi is about 8 or so and dreams of owning a horse. This set of books is based in 1874. A few years ago my girls read this entire series of 6 books and loved it.

Circle C Adventures is for ages 9-14, in this set Andi is about 12 and is based in the 1880’s.  We haven’t read any of these, yet.

Circle C Milestones is for ages 12 and up, in this set Andi is 14 and deals with some drama as far as friends, and raising horses. 

Thick as Thieves is about Andrea’s (Andi’s) life on the Circle C Ranch. She is still raising her horse, Taffy, whom is foaling.  Taffy is the horse she received in the very first set of Andi Carter books.  Andrea is in school even though she would rather be spending time with her horse and the foal. To make matters worse she is assigned to be seatmates with a girl who Andrea doesn’t get along with. Then when the cattle rustlers come to town and target the Circle C Ranch, Andrea doesn’t have anyone else to turn to but her new seatmate.  Will she help her and even more important, can she trust her? 

The theme of Thick as Thieves is FRIENDSHIP!

One really neat thing besides the great storyline and writing behind all three of these progressive series’ is that Susan K. Marlow includes free study guides with all of these books.

These study guides are age/ developmentally appropriate and match the levels that the corresponding books are written for. 

The study guide for Thick as Thieves has 6 lessons that are chapter based.  Each lesson covers approximately 3 chapters. However you can use the study guide as you go, or read the entire book and then go through the study guide after.

The study guide includes things like vocabulary, fill in the blank, multiple choice, crossword puzzles, science (about foaling and lice!), math (Are you smarter than an 1880’s 8th grader?), writing, venn diagraming, history (about cattle rustling, dime novels)  and so much more.

A day/week in our life:

We decided to read the entire book and then do the FREE activity guide.  By the time we got to the activity guide my girls were not really interested.  They already knew how the story ended and were not interested in the activities. It would have worked better for me if we did the chapters and study guide intertwined.  They would have had more interest to do the worksheets in order to move on to the next read.  I just wasn’t able to motivate them enough.

Our thoughts and feelings:

I am a huge Susan K. Marlow Fan.  My kids have loved many of her books.  We even have some from her Goldtown Adventures series (for boys).  Her books have always delivered.  The work she puts into the study guides is nothing less than amazing.  The Thick as Thieves book and study guide held up to the very high standards that we already had Susan K. Marlow set at.

Circle C Adventures can be found on social media here:

To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 Review Crew


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