Thursday, July 31, 2014

Yellowstone Day 3 ~ Family picture day, Kayaking and a play!


PA052653We went to bed the night before with the news that our photographer (the one we had lined up for 6 months) had cancelled his appointment with us for the next morning at 10am.  Since you can imagine, we are from all over the country and it is very rare that we all actually get together.  PA052619

We are the type of people that make the best of it.  You see this is my husbands family and I had taken my brother with us.  So we all got ready while my husband installed a gas line for a generator. (I have no idea why that had to be scheduled at the same time as our original picture time, but they were both scheduled at the same time and we had decided to keep our original picture time with my brother since we didn’t want pictures to take our whole day.

We started pictures only an hour late.  Practically right on schedule.


After we had been all gussied up for picture what better thing to do than go kayaking?

We headed on down to the river and rented them right out of everything they had left. Some of us were on kayaks, some on SUP’s, some on a canoe, and some on a raft.


Oh yeah, I cut my hair the week before.  PA052724PA052736PA052738

The bus driver that took us up the river had told my brother about a great spot to stop for lunch that had a rope swing into the river where it was 7 feet deep.

This was a total blast!!


We then ran home and all got ready as fast as we could to head to The Playmill Theater in West Yellowstone.  We saw the play Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Day 4 coming up!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hewitt Homeschooling Lightning Literature 8th Grade {A Review}

Hewitt Homeschooling is a company with a pretty great homeschooling philosophy. 

Some highlights of their philosophy are to balance character, academics, work and service. They want to encourage homeschool, not school at home.  They do this by personalizing your home education.  Their services and products help develop a mind for a lifetime of use. They offer an array of materials for all ages of kids and a wealth of parental resources.


We were lucky enough to be able to review Eighth Grade Literature and Composition.

(We only received the Teacher Guide, the Student Guide, and the Student Workbook.)

About The Product:

Lightning Lit & Comp is a year long course.  You can buy it as a pack with all the required reading books or buy the teacher guide ($20), the student guide ($25), and the student workbook ($25) all separately and get the books on your own. For us none of the books were hard to find and I had originally was going to check out the books from the library, but after starting I decided that they chose such great literature to use that I would be purchasing most, if not all of the books.  I have been purchasing them as we get to them. 

The Teacher’s Guide includes an explanation of the philosophy, a weekly lesson planner (which was a complete lifesaver for me!) and comprehension questions, discussion questions, the lessons and writing exercises, the workbook answers and additional teaching suggestions.  Each chapter tells you which student guide and student workbook pages you will refer to. Here is a sample of Chapter 2.

The Student Guide has all the lessons broken down into categories such as:

  • Introduction
  • While you read (what to pay attention to, like the authors purpose, setting, imagery, etc.)
  • Vocabulary List
  • Comprehension Questions
  • Literary Lessons
  • Mini Lessons
  • Writing Exercises

Each Chapter also tells you which student workbook pages and teacher’s guide pages you will refer to. See a sample chapter of the student guide.

The Student Workbook is where students will actually practice the skills and concepts learned.  They will do things like:

  • Composition skills
  • Thinking Skills
  • Grammar Review
  • There’s even optional puzzles and challenge workbook pages. (When I told Tommy these were optional he said, “Oh sure, make the fun pages optional.” He did choose to do them.  They are thinks like crosswords and word searches.

See a Sample Chapter of the Student Workbook here.

A day/week in our life:

I can honestly say I would have had no idea how to use this without the weekly planning schedule.  Each week he would have assigned reading, and most weeks he had to complete a certain number of activities.  We used this just like the teacher’s guide said to.  Absolutely no modifications. That is rare in my life, and fairly rare in the homeschool world in general.

Our thoughts and feelings:

I had my 15 year old son use this.  Even though he is going into 10th grade I chose to have him start with the 8th grade program.  We have never done a literature program other than reading books we choose.  I am so glad I started with the 8th grade one, as these are very in depth.  He doesn’t really enjoy reading very much.  When he does read he prefers fiction.  This program has helped him to enjoy reading.  I believe it is because he is looking for something as he reads, like comparing culture or paying attention to the setting.

I do wish the weekly planning schedule was in the front of the student guide as well.  I solved that problem by printing it from here and giving it to Tommy to check off.  That way he could take charge and just know what he is supposed to do without waiting for me to figure it out. 

Check out Hewitt Homeschooling all over the web:




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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

V is for Value


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I have been reevaluating things recently.  I think much of it started when I realized that this is not what I wanted my homeschool to look like.

I was very blessed to review the book Flourish and I am again very blessed to be reviewing these Student Logbooks. 

I have also discovered a Podcast from The Savvy Homeschool Moms that refreshes me and inspires me.

I have decided that I have to treat time with more VALUE!

I that you don’t spend time.  It can’t be earned back.  You just use it up.  Never to be replenished.  This really struck me and I have decided to cut back on quite a few things in order to treat my time with more value.

I won’t be on my phone and facebook so much. 

I will cut back on the amount of moms group activities I  do.  I will still be on the board and participate monthly.  Just not weekly anymore.

I will cut back or possibly cut out the co-op classes I teach.  I will probably still teach an archery class since I have signed up for training for that.  I also won’t sign my kids up for very many co-op classes.

I will still work nightly cleaning the doctors office, but may or may not keep my job at the grocery store.

I will treat my time with more value than I have been.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Flourish ~ Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate {A Review}

Okay – I have to admit I absolutely begged for this book when I saw Apologia Educational Ministries offering it for review.  All that begging definitely paid off. This book is everything I had hoped and more.

You know if you are a blog reader that Balance is my word of 2014.  You know that I have been struggling to find this so called balance.  Well, after reading Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate ($15), I am one huge leap closer to achieving it.

About The Company:

Apologia has been a well known company in the homeschool world ever since I have been homeschooling. They offer everything from curriculum to books and resources to online classes to retreats and more. They are worth checking out.

About The Product:
Flourish is a 289 pages that is full of simple yet genius ways to balance your life. Each of the 16 chapters is divided into smaller subsections.  IMG_4794[1]They are labeled in such a way that if you need to review a section it is so simple to find.

At the end of each chapter is a take action section. This is where you apply what you have read and learned into your own life. IMG_4795[1] These are not always simple tasks and often require quite a bit of thinking and contemplating on your part. I mean, think about it.  Balance is an ongoing process.  It is not just boom, fix it and done.  It is something you have to constantly work on.  The author realizes that and she makes sure you realize it too.
Sometimes to do the Take Action items a worksheet would be nice.  You got it!  There is an appendix in the back of the book with the lay out of all the papers she refers to. Also once you purchase the book you will have access to some bonuses on the authors website.
My favorite part of the book is the Take Action section.  The very biggest eye opener for me was the Time Log.  Now here I will really show you my real one!  No Judging! IMG_4793[1]
I completely realized my waste of time on my phone, either playing games, checking Facebook, moderating a moms group, searching the web, etc. I knew I’d want my time log to last, so I laminated it and wrote on it with wet erase markers.  I knew this would be key in finding out where all my time goes when I feel off balance. I knew I’d want to use it again after each season of my life changes.  Like say, around September, when we start back to school. I know that time management is one of my weaknesses and I will constantly have to work on it.
The whole book is based around the Time Log, there are actually many concepts that you can put into place in your own life to make huge differences.  This Time Log was just so eye opening and life changing, as in my day to day life, for me!

You can see what is tipping your scales to one side or the other and reevaluate which item or area things need to change in.
Our thoughts and feelings:
I am certain that I will read this book again and again, even if it’s just a chapter here and there to refresh my memory on how to stay balanced. I feel like Mary Jo Tate was writing this book with me in mind the entire time.

Social Media:

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

Monday, July 21, 2014

1 week. 20 people. 1 cabin. Yellowstone. We survived! part 1. Days 1 and 2.


It is a 9 hour drive from our house to Island Park, ID.  Where we were staying.  My in laws own a cabin up there.  We have spent a portion of our last 3 years going up and helping build it.  This was our first trip to be able to just enjoy it.

vacay hatsMoonlight in Wyoming

These are our vacation hats!

We decided to take the drive through Jackson Hole, Wy. and up over the Teton Pass.  We left in the middle of the night and arrived in Jackson Hole in time for breakfast.  (Luckily this was a trip my husband was going on with me and being in the oilfield, he is used to driving through the night often.)

jackson holejackson hole1

We then finished our drive to Island Park and spent the first day resting and relaxing. 

back porch sittin

viewOur second day we went into Virginia City, Montana then on to Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park in Montana. This is very worth it, and was what I called Route 66’d.  (When a new interstate came in and bypassed it). We did this trip with just our immediate family and my brother. Still a full car, but not 20 people. Virginia City

In Virginia City we did a tour of the town, went to Skeletona fun museum and ate some amazing pizza. Our very favorite was gypsy arcadethe Gypsy Arcade.

Then on to the caverns. lewis and clark caverns2lewis and clark caverns

They are very cool and my pictures do NOT do them justice.  So go on, head on up there for yourselves.

Stay tuned for day 3 which was packed full!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

U is for UP!


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I feel like I am beating a dead horse here, but I am just not happy with how our homeschool went last year.

I feel like I focused too much on making money. Don’t get me wrong, we needed it.  My husband had switched jobs and then was injured on the job shortly after that. For now, I am in a position where I work because I like it.  I realize I will probably have to cut back on that.

I feel like I focused too much on other peoples children.  I completely enjoyed teaching my co-op classes and they benefitted my children as well.  I understand that we all have to take our turn in order to create successful group classes.  I think I am going to have to cut back on that too.  Not only the co-op classes they take, but I just don’t think I can teach any this year.

I feel like I focused too much on my phone.  I always had it on me.  I got caught up in the games, and in Facebook.  I realize this and have made a commitment to leave my phone on my nightstand until after we are done with school next year.  This is actually going to go for my children’s phones as well.

I feel like I focused too much on to much.  This year we are completely going to simplify, and while I haven’t made all my curriculum decisions for next year,  I have made some.  The goal is going to be simple (on me) and efficient.

So while I feel like this, my 5th year of homeschooling was a total bomb, it can only go up from here! 

I am excited for the future!


Saturday, July 12, 2014

T is for Timing!


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Things in my life have been hectic to say the least.  I have tried and tried to focus on bringing the balance back.  This has not necessarily come easy for me.  I am the type of person that takes on and tries to do way more than I should.  From simple things like, going to many places, traveling to much, over planning, I always buy way more then I need at the grocery store. 

I have recently read a book by Carol Tuttle.  Remembering Wholeness is the name.  This book has taught me about positive affirmations and creating the life you want.  I have struggled with deciding the type of life I want.  I struggle with narrowing it all down.  I don’t want to have to give up the fun things in order to have more money in the bank, but I want more money in the bank.  That kind of thing.  

I have been doing quite a bit of pondering on many things.

I took another job.  This one is cleaning a doctors office nightly.  While I am at the job I often listed to audiobooks or podcasts.  I have began listening to The Savvy Homeschool Moms Podcast and it is amazing.  I feel so normal!  I feel like they are talking about me.

I have received and read the book Flourish – Balance for Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate and this book has been a life changer for me. (Review coming very soon!)

I keep being asked what co-op classes I am going to teach next year and honestly, I don’t have any idea.  I’m not even sure if I will.  I think I may focus more on just my family and create the homeschool life I want.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Moving Beyond The Page


Moving Beyond the Page is a company that I had heard of but I had never really looked into their products.

I am lucky enough that I was able to review 2 curriculum packages from them. 

unit_152The Social Studies Package- World Wars I and II, we received in physical format along with the required reading books. This package is recommended for ages 10-12 with a price of $42.89.  It is yours to own and you may take as long as you wish to complete it. However the copyright laws state that you may not copy it at all.

unit_215The Language Arts Package- Great American Poets came to us in an online format as well as we received the physical book required.  This package is recommended for ages 12-14 and is priced at $19.99.  You may print off as many copies as you need of the activity sheets, but you only have access to this for 90 days.

There truly is so much to say about this company that it is going to be hard to put it all into one blog post.  I do plan on continuing with Moving Beyond the Page curriculum and I am sure you will see it in other blog posts as well. It really is that great. 

About The Company:

Moving Beyond the Page is a curriculum that allows children to see connections between science, social studies and language arts, by using Interdisciplinary Instruction. The educational philosophy behind Moving Beyond the Page is most closely aligned with the Constructivist theory of Learning. Which indicates that understanding, application and competency cannot be achieved without actively engaging the learner.

About The Product:

The two curriculum packages that we reviewed were set up very similar. 

Each package comes with a workbook/ parent overview book. Our Great American Poets one was online and our World Wars I and II was in physical form.  They both provide the same set up as far as structure.  The physical one was just that in a spiral bound workbook.  That includes the lesson, the questions as well as the activities. The online version has all of those same things, just in link format, like this.


The prices and age ranges vary depending on the unit you purchase.  Currently they have units that range from ages 4-14.


A day/week in our life:

The very first thing I noticed about the physical version is that the beginning of the book has a list of all materials you will need for the entire unit. Each lesson begins with a getting started section that gives you an overview of what you will be learning about. Then a stuff you need.  The activity sheets are either in the book or can be printed from the online version. There are Ideas to Think About.  Which gets you thinking while you are reading. Then Things to Know which often has your Vocabulary words and some basic facts. The Reading and Questions section lets you know what you will be reading as well as either essay or discussion questions at the end.  Then comes the fun!  The Activities.

The activities is where the engaging learning comes in. Just to give some examples of the activities we did in WWI and II.  You can read a poem written by a solider and memorize a stanza.  You also dissect the stanza to what you think the author meant by it. You have a ration sheet and use rations in your family for certain things like gas for a few days. You write a letter to President Roosevelt letting him know your thoughts on US involvement during WWII.  You create a poster to try and convince people on the home front to join the war effort. You learn to write in Navajo Code. You become an TV Reporter and do a report on the war. You learn about some of the WII monuments. You create your very own World War Trivia Board Game! 


To keep the excitement up, I want to show you how neat the Great American Poets Package is.  Emily had to recite the same poem using different techniques. She had to make a Ven Diagram. She had to write her own poems using her senses. She learned and made trading cards about many famous American Poets. She had to dissect a poem’s literal and symbolic meaning. Emily’s very favorite was learning about lyrical poems.  She loves music and this was right up her alley.

If you are working on a unit 5 days a week, it should take you about 3ish weeks to complete. The World War I and II unit often took us over an hour each day.

Each lesson is laid out for you and tell you what you need to do that day.  Some lessons are even expected to take more than one day and the book lets you know that. 

Our thoughts and feelings:

We thoroughly enjoyed both of these unit packages. We did prefer the physical one to the online one.  However, I wished I was able to copy some things like the game card pieces onto cardstock.  We did just glue ours onto some cardstock and then laminate them. I also wished that we could have personal home copyrights, since I do have 4 children, and a limited budget.  Even with this, this curriculum has been wonderful for our family.  We didn’t get as much schoolwork done last school year as I wanted us to and my children didn’t complain once about doing these lessons through the summer.  They often wanted to do them with out my saying it is time.  My history loving daughter has fallen in love with the WWII time period and is still learning more about it and reading some books written about that time period.

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



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