Wednesday, December 31, 2014

31 days of blogging

31 Days of blogging.

I got this list from here.  I am planning on blogging for 31 days straight starting tomorrow. 


I am horrible with follow through on these types of things.  Here’s to hoping!

01 - A few things about yourself
02 - Things you are good at
03 - I am looking forward to…
04 - Today’s playlist
05 - Weekend goals
06 - Least favorite words
07 - If I won $100,000,000 in the lottery, I would…
08 - In my bag
09 - My favorite things
10 - On my wishlist
11 - Things I collect
12 - Daily rituals
13 - DIYs I want to try
14 - Things I love about _________
15 - On my shopping list
16 - Places to see in your town
17 - Words that are hard to spell
18 - Road trip must haves
19 - Recipes I want to try
20 - Celebrity crushes
21 - Things to do this spring

22 - Today I saw
23 - Guilty pleasures
24 - I make lists for…
25 - Things I’d rather be doing right now
26 - My favorite books
27 - Lessons learned
28 - Vacations to take
29 - Favorite foods
30 - Today’s to do list

31 – What’s for Dinner?


Monday, December 29, 2014

A glimpse of our not typical day…



Sometimes as a blogger you feel like your days aren’t good enough, you don’t get enough done, you are not creative enough.  You aren’t doing enough hands on activities to share about.

Today was what I would consider an ideal day for us!

That’s why I’m so eager to share it with you.

Now these types of days don’t happen very often at all, so I definitely want to document when they do.

I woke up about 7:30am and lay in bed for about an hour reading on my phone and checking Facebook, my bank account and the like…

I got up and took a shower.  I was ready for the day by 9am and started getting kids up. 

Mr. 5 got up and got dressed and ate breakfast while my oldest two got showers and ready for the day and started independently on their schoolwork. 

I started schoolwork with Mr. 5, which he is to the point that he can work through his daily workbook alone and the Get Set for the Code book that he just started in alone for the most part. 

While he was working on those I got up Ms. 9 and got her sometime to eat.

It was now about 11am.  I got her working on her Teaching Textbooks math lesson independently, then I went back to work on All About Reading with Mr. 5.

After that, Ms 9 was done with math, so I set her up to paint like Michelangelo while I read to her about Rome from A Child’s Geography.  When I was done reading she continued to paint while I cooked lunch.  It was sweet and sour little smokies with broccoli and hollandaise sauce.  We all ate lunch about noon. 

After lunch Mr. 5 watched The Magic School Bus: Makes a Stink. Ms. 9 read in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  This is the first book I have ever had to stop her from reading.  In her Lightning Literature Curriculum she stops and does worksheets and we discuss things from the book.  So really, this is a good thing and a bad thing. 

After the younger kids were done with schoolwork, I met with each of my older kids to see what else they needed to do and to verify and correct their work.

By 1:30 everyone was done.  We decided to make Christmas Cards with stamps to mail out to family and friends. 

We enjoyed our day and my house was clean and dinner was in the crock pot! 

It was heaven!

Then came bedtime…. That’s another story. 


Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Evolution of our Homeschool. {YEAR 1}



As I am looking forward to the future of our homeschool, I couldn’t help but take a look back through where we have been.

woman juggling life

Our first year, I pulled the oldest two out of public school in October.  They went for about 6 weeks of public school that school year.  My oldest was in 5th grade and my next was in 3rd.  I had my 4 year who I had in a preschool program (with many problems, and much of my homeschooling her has stemmed from that.)  She was pulled from preschool to do homeschool preschool in October as well. I later found out that her preschool teacher had been fired in December for not treating the children properly after many complaints from parents.  This was also the year I had a baby.  He was just 3 months when I began homeschooling.  CRAZY, I know!

life is a matter of balance

During that first year I was able to teach my then 3rd grader cursive, all by myself.  We did many fun unit studies, including this one on architecture.  My 3rd grader was an avid reader and I just had to take her to the library often enough to keep a fresh book in her hands.  My then 5th grader was/is more of a hands on learner. He was able to do so many projects that year and earned many scouting badges.  

The main subjects we did and what we used:

Handwriting:  We used Handwriting Without Tears.  This was actually the first piece of curriculum that I purchased.

Math: We used Math U See. Beta for my then 3rd grader and Epsilon for my then 5th grader.

Reading:  We did fun reading unit studies that went along with the books we read.  I remember doing Charlotte’s Web and The Secret Garden.  I know we did more than that.  We just did fun activities that went along with the books we read out of.  I just found the activities around the internet or made them up.

History:  We used History Odyssey.  We loved this program.  I don’t know why I ever went away from it. I often themed our food around what we were studying.

Unit Studies:  We did some fun Unit Studies this year.  The 4th curriculum I purchased was a Valentine Unit Study.  We learned about Idioms and the heart. This and history were all of our favorite subjects.  I also got my lesson plan organization under way.

I still had overwhelming moments when I thought I couldn’t handle everything.

We made some more fun memories while doing History Odyssey… I still can’t think of why we quit using that.  I am thinking I am going to have to pull it back out. 

Over the summer we worked through Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Botany.  We dissected a flower! 

Other highlights from our first year were the fact that we reached out and joined our local homeschool co-op group.  We were also able to travel and take school with us.  We really incorporated real life learning into our children’s lives.

I’ve had a lot of fun looking back at the year we started. 

Stay tuned to see our highlights from year two. 


Thursday, December 11, 2014

10 Favorite Phone Photos. 1st Edition.



I try to take pictures with my phone to remember the memories. 

Then the pictures just sit on my phone until I load them onto my hard drive, then they sit there. 

I never do much with them. 

Occasionally I post them here, or on Facebook or Instagram.  But most just sit in digital land…

I decided as a way to show and share my life with you all I would share some of these hidden gems. 

My goal is to post my 10 favorite phone photos each month.

1IMG_6169[1]Katey and I had a special day.



I found this picture and made it my screen saver on my phone.

3 & 4

IMG_6114[1]IMG_6090[1]Katey and I went in the Zorb Balls at one of our towns holiday events.


IMG_6082[1]After Thanksgiving Dinner we decorated a Gingerbread house.  I never did get a picture of it fully decorated before the kids started eating off it.



Some of my friends and I went out to eat in our Ugly Sweaters.  So much fun!



Tyler was learning about Volcanoes for science and he got to make one explode.  It was AWESOME!


IMG_6031[1]My little guy knows how to cut a rug.  He is always the star of the show at weddings with a dance floor!


IMG_6034[1]Same wedding.  I asked someone to take our picture since we were all gussied up and while there are good (non blurry) ones on my phone this one is my fav.



This is not one of my favorites because one of my kids got hurt.  It is one of my favorite because I was so grateful she was able to get treated quickly and that the ER was not busy that night. Katey burned her hand cooking dinner on the Monday before Thanksgiving.  We spent that night in the ER getting burn care.  She is fine now and the blister has popped. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday Fun


Today Katey and I had a mom and daughter day.  IMG_6169[1]

When she got done with her school work we headed out to the ice rink. IMG_6165[1]

We had a ton of fun there, just the two of us. IMG_6166[1]

Then we came home and made dinner.  She made Sloppy Joes with my help.

After dinner we cleaned up and then made a bunch of cards for Little Addie. IMG_6172[1]

We had so much fun today and I realize that I need to spend more one on one time with each of my kids. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Back to the basics!


Goals Quote

Photo Credit

Sometimes life just gets so overwhelming.  I have deep thoughts and I have a hard time putting them into words.   I know what I believe in and why, I have the self confidence struggle to put it all out there.  I am not a controversial person.  That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in something one way or the other. It just means that I don’t put my believes out there for all to know…

I haven’t been blogging as much as I would like to because I keep thinking that I have to write about something deep and meaningful.  I blog to write about OUR LIFE!  I blog to show everyone a glimpse into OUR HOMESCHOOL! I blog to share MY OPINION on products with you!  Most of all I BLOG BECAUSE I WANT TO!


I don’t have to blog about my feelings on things going on in the world today.  (But, I can if I want to.)  I don’t have to blog about the fight I have been having with my youngest to get his schoolwork done.  (But, I can if I want to.)

In all this deep thinking I have decided that I just needed to get over it all and write a blog post about this. 

Some ways I am going to ease back into blogging is by creating a daily routine where I actually turn on my laptop and do something on it. 

I truly want to blog.  Sometimes I just don’t feel important enough to write something.  On the other hand I don’t want the pressure of being so important. 

See ya on the flip side! 


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Throwback Thursday (Updated) Gingerbread Houses and Architecture.

This is the very first post I ever wrote on this blog.  It was so long ago and the kids have grown so much!  I decided to go back through and add some resources I found.

We studied architecture around the world during November. We built Lego houses. We drew cities with many different elements (such as roadways, utilities, parks, stadiums, ect.). We learned about how the first towns/cities were built. (It all started with farming, they didn't have to travel for food anymore.) We went to see the lights at Temple Square and to talk about the architecture of the buildings downtown. To end this unit study we built an igloo in our front yard, thanks to all the snow.


We also built gingerbread houses. What fun!





Since this post I have found quite a few architecture resources.

Here is a graded Homeschool Architecture course.

MIT has an open coursewear  class that is completely free!

Homeschool Giveaways has a whole list!

There are many great elementary architecture resources, including this one.

Architecture is a great way to incorporate art and show kids that art is all around us.
Check out these art architecture resources:

Deep Space Sparkle


I hope you enjoy teaching your children about architecture!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Clued in Kids {A Review} Get one free!


Clued in Kids in a company that makes learning fun, easy and engaging.  They do this by creating a wide variety of Treasure Hunts.  (Check out this video to see one in action)

Stay tuned to the end to get one for free!

Some of their printable PDF treasure hunts are:

They also have preprinted ones (even some in a greeting card, that you could mail to a friend or family member.)

Christmas Treasure Hunt In A Greeting Card
Slumber Party

About The Product we received:

We were able to play with the Multiplication Dragon set and the Halloween Printable Set.

The Halloween Printable Treasure Hunt ($5.99).  This treasure hunt has 12 premade clues that either have activities such as howling at the moon or saying Boo after each sentence for so long, as well as worksheet type activities, like riddles and puzzles.  All of the activities were Halloween themed of course!  An instruction sheet and answer key is also included.

The Multiplication Dragon Printable Treasure Hunt ($19.99) Actually comes with 5 separate hunts; 2X- 6X.

Each hunt came with 12 clues that varied between math problems, riddles and puzzles. There is an instruction sheet and an answer sheet included as well.  

A day/week in our life:

Scavenger Hunts are nothing new to my kids.  We often do them for them to find their birthday presents.  They were pretty excited to complete these.  Each hunt says 8 minute prep, but my teens enjoyed putting the clues out for my 9 year old, and helping her with the treasure hunts if she needed it.  So I really didn’t have to do much!  I had her do one each week as a reward for completing her schoolwork.  (How fun that I could use something educational as a reward!) The prizes that I provided ranged from a sticker sheet to a candy bar to nothing.

Our thoughts and feelings:

Overall we loved these hunts.

I like that the clues were pre thought out and they were puzzles and riddles to solve.

One thing is that I had to be pretty creative for a few of the areas we were supposed to hide them.  For instance, the prize for one was supposed to be hidden in our mailbox.  Our mailbox is clear down the street and I didn’t want her going down there.  So we hid the clue with her shoes so she would see it when she got ready to go to the mailbox.  She does have a suggestion that you just have the kids to some type of physical activity, like jumping jacks, to earn the next clue if you have a hard time hiding it where they suggest.

For some hunts our answer sheet didn’t always match up, but it wasn’t really a big deal as each clue has the place to put it on the bottom. 

While they are PDF files, so you could reuse them, I found that my daughter would memorize the order of where they were hid.  I think after a few months we will get them out again when she has forgotten where the clues go. 

The Halloween one we will be using as an activity at our Homeschool Halloween Party.  So even though she knows where the clues go, they will be in different places than they were at our home. 

My kids love treasure hunts and I love the ease of use!

You can get the Homework Reward Treasure Hunt for free by signing up for the Clued In Kids newsletter.

Join Clued In Kids on the following Social Media:

Twitter: @cluedinkids


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

Sunday, October 5, 2014

How I became more productive by doing less.


I have been working this year on finding balance in my life.  In an effort to find that balance, I have decided to almost completely stop multitasking. 

  • No more cooking dinner and blogging at the same time. 
  • No more paying bills while I am supposed to be helping the kids with schoolwork.
  • No more having my phone downstairs during the day.
  • No more cleaning during school hours.

Now I didn’t just stop doing those things all together.

I still have to cook, I still enjoy blogging, I still have to pay the bills and help the kids with schoolwork. 

I just focus on the task at hand and each task has been taking me less time. Instead of taking an hour to pay bills while helping kids with schoolwork at the table.  We do schoolwork for 20 minutes and I can have the weekly bills paid in 20 minutes. That saves me 20 minutes, or 1/3 of my time. Instead of cooking dinner and blogging at the same time, where cooking dinner would take 1 and a half hours and blogging would take 2 hours.  I can cook dinner in 30 minutes to 1 hour and blogging only takes about 45 minutes.  That saves me anywhere from 30-45 minutes together. Also my blog posts get more attention and I can pay more attention to details then.  And… our dinner doesn’t burn.

While often we think that multitasking saves time, I have found in many areas of my life that is actually costs me time as well as costs me giving the task my best.

I have recently found time to get my house as clean as I like it and I have organized my sewing supplies and set up a sewing area and I have even done quite a bit of mending and hemming of my pants for the cooler months.

Do you multitask?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Preschoolers and Peace {A Schoolhouse Crew Review}


Preschoolers and Peace is a company that has written 2 ebooks.  This time we reviewed their newest one Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling older kids with success while loving the little ones at your feet (e-book, $2.99)

About The Company:

Preschoolers and Peace is an excellent blog written by Kendra Fletcher and Michelle White.  This blog is completely full of homeschooling ideas for many ages.  The focus is on preschoolers but many ideas work for all different ages. 

About The Product:

This e-book is a short read, I think they know us homeschooling moms don’t have very much time.  This book was written by a mother of 8 children ranging from adult to age 5.  She pulled the best of the best from the Preschoolers and Peace blog and created The Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling older kids with success while loving the little ones at your feet.

The book is broken down into 13 chapters along with Meal Planning 101 at the end. Each chapter is only a few pages long, which was nice since it allowed me to pick it up and put it down easily as needed.

The chapters are:

What a Homeschooling Mom Needs
Preparing Yourself to Homeschool Older Kids With Little Ones Underfoot
Planning Around Preschoolers
How Do I Keep Them Busy?
What Does a 2-Year-Old's Day Look Like?
How Do I Get Any Preschooling Done?
How Not to Just Kill Time
Circle Time: Or How We Pull the Little Ones In
Preschool Boys
When All of Your Kiddos Are Preschoolers
Preschool Chores
Planning for Preschool
When Mama is Worn Out (or Pregnant)
Meal Planning 101

A day/week in our life:

My youngest in in Kindergarten, but don’t think that means this book has nothing for me.  I actually found many helpful ideas in the book.  I am organizationally challenged as well as we have a hard time sticking to a schedule.

Most of the ideas can all be done with out purchasing anything more.   An amazing tip that I got has to do with “five things.”  You teach your little ones to do five things each day when they get up.

She talks about how to schedule with out being a slave to the schedule as well as has many scheduling ideas.

Our thoughts and feelings:

I learned a lot of things from reading this book.  Things that will help me now and I can only imagine if I would have read it while I had 2, 3, or 4 year olds under foot it would have really been a lifesaver. 

In the past I have reviewed another one of their e-books; Circle Time

Preschoolers and Peace can be found all over social media:

You Tube:

I have even listed to a few of Kendra Fletcher’s Podcasts.

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, September 30, 2014

Fix it Grammar ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review.


IEW is an acronym for Institute for Excellence in Writing.  They have products for all things writing from full on courses, including teacher training to writing supplemental books.  We have used a few IEW products before and we were so excited to be able to review Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree [Book 1] Teacher Manual ($19) and Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree [Book 1]  Student Book ($15). This program is recommended for grades 3 and up.

The Teacher Manual has all 33 weeks worth of lessons, and a very organized scope and sequence with what will be learned each week as well as each day’s vocabulary words.  The manual is set up to look just like a condensed version of the student manual with notes along the margins and the corrected sentences.

The Student Manual is set up very simply.  Each week there is a Learn It Section and a Fix It Section.  Then on the adjacent page is 4 sentences (one for each day) that throughout the book make up a story.

The lessons are to be done 4 days a week.  In the Learn It section will be the grammar rule you will be learning about and a quick explanation of when to use it. Then the Fix It section which tells you to read each sentence (one a day).  Look up and write the vocabulary words.  Next it tells you what to do daily, as in the first day you will go over the first sentence and fix it with the students.  Days 2-4 the students will mark the remaining sentences on their own.  The abbreviations being used for the week are at the top of each weeks pages to make a quick and easy reference.

Then finally at the end of the week the students will rewrite the entire passage (all 4 sentences) into a separate notebook. 

In the back of the student book is flashcards that you can cut out and use for review each week. 

There are 6 books in the Fix It! Grammar series. 

The reason why I chose to start with the very beginning level is because I could use it with my 3 oldest kids.  My 4th grader has only had very basic grammar training.  My 8th grader has had some grammar training along with a writing curriculum, but nothing that focused solely on grammar.  She is also an avid reader.  My 10th grader has done 2 grammar curriculums.  I was still able to include all of them in this.  We were able to do it daily as a family.  While some of it was easy for my older two, I was glad for them to get the review.

It literally only took us 10-15 minutes a day 4 days a week to get through this.  My kids were so shocked at how little time it took that they were not always ready to stop.  I did end up letting the older two do one whole week at a time and move on with out my 4th grader as she wasn’t ready for that.

I do recommend this grammar as it is simple while being effective on both the teacher and the student.

IEW can be found all over social media

You Tube:

Click to read Crew Reviews
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Friday, September 19, 2014

My Student Logbook


I was able to review the My Student Logbook, which has turned homeschooling with my 4th grader around.

About The Company:

My Student Logbook is a company owned by a homeschooling family. They know how time consuming planning can be. 

They created a student planner that takes very little time on the part of the parents and it actually works week after week. 

They can also be found on the following social media sites:

Facebook –
You Tube -


About The Product:

My Student Logbook is a fairly simple format (YAY!!).  The very first set up took me about 5 minutes.  Each week I spend about 5 minutes (or less) updating it. 

It consists of a checklist page.  Which I call the subject flap. and a calendar page.  You take the checklist page and write all the subjects on it and attach it to the calendar page.  Then you just check off each day as you go. 


Watch this quick video that explains perfectly how to set it up

These are available in printed spiral bound format ($15) in undated, dated beginning with the school year (July) or dated beginning with the calendar year (January). The dated versions are also available as a PDF yearly license.  A single use license is $10 and a family license is $20.

The My Student Logbook can be used by kids of all ages.  I currently use it with my 9 year old.  I had originally got it to use with my oldest.  When I was planning out the school year I realized that my 9 year old had no planner at all.  I went scouring the internet for one for her and everything was too complicated, either for me, or for her.  I decided to let her use the My Student Logbook.

A day/week in our life:


When setting it up I first filled out each subject she does. Then I crossed out with a pencil what days she doesn’t have that subject.  In the little time box, I either wrote the time that the subject would start for things like outside classes or family school.  If there wasn’t a specific time like reading then I just wrote in that box how long she was supposed to read for.  Some subjects we just spend how much time we need to and they also don’t have a specific time, I left those ones blank.


The next thing I did was under what I call the subject flap is write notes about each subject.   On the same line as reading we list each book she reads as she finishes them.  On the same line as spelling we write down our goal lesson to be at by the end of the week. The same goes for math.  Under science I just write what topic we are learning about that week. 

Our thoughts and feelings:

This planner has given me just the right amount of flexibility mixed with the right amount of structure.

I believe this is something that I will purchase year after year for her and others.  It worked that well in our family.

One more thing:

Even though I ended up using this for my 4th grader when I had intended to use it for my high school age student doesn’t mean it doesn’t work there.  They have two full pages in the front of the book explaining how to use it to track and create high school transcripts. There is even a page on their website discussing this.  The planner style that I ended up going with for my highschooler just isn’t holding him accountable enough so I do plan on ordering him one as well. 

This will fit the bill for both accountability on my son’s part as well as transcript creation on my part.  For that I am grateful!

Click to read Crew Reviews

To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 Review Crew


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