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Monday, November 29, 2010

The Sickies

While Steven and I were in Arizona the kiddos got strep throat.  Niice.  Friday I started feeling kind of icky.  Nothing too bad, just blah.  Ya know?

Saturday it was a little worse.  Still not too bad, though.

Sunday...It hit me like a mac truck. 

Today...I am down for the count.  I have fever, chills, stuffy/runny nose, sore throat, stuffy ears, achy body, swollen eyes/face.  In other words, I am a mess. 

Hopefully I will not pass it back to any of the kids.  For now, I am going to crawl back to bed and hide under the covers.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


It was such a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family.  Gotta love getting together with family and having such yummy food to eat!

I hope you all have had as blessed of a day as I have.  Hopefully you have taken time to count the blessings God has given you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Road Trip

I thought this was funny.  The sign indicated to me that that is all you would see for scenery!
Love the blurry lights!

A little fuzzy but we were going 75mph!

Don't know if it is a sunrise or a sunset.

Saw lots of these.

Beautiful view.

Didn't God do good?

Looks like a live volcano to me!

Can you see that?  The tree trunk is GREEN!!!

See the green grass?  That's about the only patch of grass we saw.  Seriously.

It was a pretty peaceful night.

Steven wouldn't stop on the side of the road, so this is as good as it gets.

I think this was on the trip down?  It was in the middle of the night but my flash was uber bright!
There are way more pictures on the camera but that is all for now.  :)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cheesy, Creamy, Ham & Potato Soup

I just have to post this today because I am enjoying it for leftovers for lunch.  And it is oh so yummy!

Cheesy, Creamy, Ham & Potato Soup

6 wholes potatoes cut                                         
2 cups water                                                   
1/2 teaspoon pepper                                           
1 1/2 cups milk                                               
1 cup cheese shredded                                         
1/2 cup onions chopped (optional)                             
1/2 teaspoon salt                                             
2 tablespoons flour                                           
1/2 cup heavy cream                                           
1/2 pound ham cut up (I use lunch meat, but you could use cooked ham cubes)                                         
Garlic to taste(bc garlic is good in everything!)

In large pan, bring potatoes, onion, and water to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer just until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.  Do not drain.  Stir in salt, pepper, and flour.  Stir in milk and heavy cream.  Heat through.  Stir in shredded cheese and stir just until cheese is melted.  Remove from heat and serve.

This is a yummy soup that is super easy to make.  Enjoy!

Science gone wrong...

Today I will be cleaning out my refrigerator.  How is that science gone wrong?  Well, let me tell you. 

I have mold growing in there.  Serious mold. 

Not the innocuous kind but the insidious kind that could catch a small animal and enfold it in its furry spots only to devour it and never let on that it was really a death trap.

That kind of mold.

If you hear the sound of heavy gagging later it is just me as I wade through the multiple containers of indistinguishable food items.  I know that I only put real food in there, but somehow they have all morphed into some kind of Sci-fi penicillin wanna-be's.

If  you don't hear from me again, know that I went down fighting and come search for the kids.  There are a few large containers in there that look like they have it in for me.

Wish me luck!

Monday, November 22, 2010

TOS Review Christian Kids Explore Chemistry


I can't believe how blessed I am to be able to review homeschool curricula!  I just marvel everyday at this amazing opportunity I have been given.  Not only do I get to feed my curriculum habit but I get to share those findings with all of you.  Hopefully there would be something that would assist you on your journey of homeschooling.

Products such as the one we just got done reviewing.  This wonderful product is from Bright Ideas Press.  I received Christian Kids Explore Chemistry to review and I am so glad I did.  This is a great book and we can't wait to finish with it and start on the next one!

Here is a little about the book from the Bright Ideas Press website:

Christian Kids Explore Chemistry

Included in this book:
30 Lessons in five units
Hands-On Activities: including making model atoms, breaking covalent bonds, and making gas expand.
Chemistry Terms, Notations, and Rules
Unit Reviews
Supplemental Book List
Coloring pages
This is all you need to teach a strong, basic chemistry course for Junior high and upper elementary students.
Organized and easy-to-use!
Grades 4 – 8, 384 pages.

This book retails for $34.95.

Christian Kids Explore Chemistry Student Activity Book

Tired of making photocopies or skipping activities because you don’t have the pages ready for your students to work on? We’ve taken every possible reproducible page from CKEC and turned them into one printable digital download for you. Make as many or few copies for your entire family: Review-its, Wrap-ups, Coloring pages, Activity and Experiment forms are all there.
Print it out and get the MOST out of this great science curriculum!

This item is a download and retails for $12.95

Now, I will tell you what we as a family thought about this curriculum.  We loved it!  My 11yo daughter was the primary user of this book and she was able to use it on her own.  It is well written for this age group and breaks down Chemistry concepts into bite-sized pieces allowing students to understand them.  My daughter really enjoyed the lessons and has already learned and retained the information in the first few lessons.

Each lesson has vocabulary words to learn, the text of the lesson to read called Teaching Time, a Review It section, and a Hands On experiment to solidify the concepts just learned.  There are also questions called Think about it that sum up the lesson and experiment.  It is a great format that really helps the student to learn the material given.

In the beginning of the book there is a section on how to use the book that was very helpful for me as a parent but also helpful to my daughter to read so that she could see how each section was important and needed to be completed.  At the beginning of each unit there is a vocabulary word list, materials needed for the unit list, and a list of concepts that the student should understand by the end of the unit.  Again, this was something tangible that my daughter could check back with to make sure she was understanding what she was supposed to.

This book is divided into Five Units-The Basics of Chemistry, Atoms and Molecules, The Nature of Chemistry, States of Matter, and Organic Chemistry.  There is a glossary, coloring pages, the Element Tables, resource list,  and Unit Wrap Ups that we used as tests.  This book is full of so many great things that it's hard to list them all!  The Activity CD has everything you need to print off for the student to have the worksheets for the activity questions, the experiments, and everything else they need to complete the curriculum.

If you are looking for a flashy, brightly colored book for science this isn't it.  However, if you are looking for a solid science book that will help your child understand the basics of science this is for you.  The pages/pictures are all black and white so they do not distract the student from the reading material.  Simple and clean is the way my daughter described it.   I think that's a very good description!

Here is more of what she thought:

"Ever since I can remember I have wanted to do hands on projects and this lets me do it at the end of every lesson.  It explains everything really well and I understand it.  It is fun and interesting."  S age 11, 6th grade

We have so enjoyed using this book and would recommend it highly.

If you want to see what else Bright Ideas Press has to offer, and there is quite a bit, head on over and check them out.

If you want to see what other Crew Members thought about it, head on over to the Crew Blog and check them out.


**I received this book from Bright Ideas Press through TOS Review Crew in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Back to the Blog Walk

We took a break from our Blog Walk with The Crew, but we are back at it again.  Here is a list of blogs I think you will enjoy.  Have fun looking at them and leave them some love in the form of comments!

1. 1 of 100 plus 25 TOS Crew Reviews
2. Homeschooling Hearts and Minds
3. Homeschooling Drewper
4. Burkherts Brigade
5. Families Again
6. Homeschool and Family
7. The Sunny Patch
8. Life on the Hilltop
9. Our Busy Homeschool
10. Homeschooling Blessings

Friday, November 19, 2010

TOS Review KB Teacher

It's time for another review!  This time I was able to review the KB Teacher website. 


Have you heard of KB Teachers?  If not, you are in for a treat.  KB Teachers is a great website and resource.  Here is a little about them from their website:

Celebrating over 10 years online! was founded in 1998 in New York, and our award winning KBears is now a leading online destination for children of all ages. In 2004,, Inc. was incorporated in Delaware,

KBTeachers brings the best the web can deliver to you and your students -- It is the one-stop destination for teachers and parents who are always on the lookout for new and engaging 21st century teaching tools and materials.

KBTeachers is also about value, choice and transparency. We do not charge per download or per workbook.

For a low yearly or monthly fee, you get full access to all of our content and services--which would cost you $1000's of dollars elsewhere.

Before you join, you can preview our entire library, and after you join,
you have 30 days to cancel your membership and ask for a refund.

If you can't seem to find what you are looking for, contact us.
Chances are we have it! And if we don't, we will build it.

They aren't kidding, either.  The website has so many worksheets that you couldn't possibly see them all in several visits to their site.  I have had great fun nosing around and finding worksheets that fit into our history, geography, math, english, and handwriting studies.  And there are still more worksheets than that!

There is a holiday section for each holiday coming up so that they are easy to find as well as sections for Math, Science, English, and some extras like Clip Art.  I found the site pretty easy to navigate and quickly became accustomed to searching for what I needed.  There isn't a search feature on the website but I didn't actually need it.  The links are pretty self explanatory and laid out in an easy to see fashion on the main page.  Check out their main page and see what you think.

They also have a page called KB News that has up to date information and handy links and tips for the month.  It is a pretty handy page to look at and see what is special about the month and print off any applicable worksheets.
KB Teacher is a website that I would use as a supplement for our current studies and I would find it very valuable.  Especially since you can use some of the worksheets for free!  But even the memberships aren't economical.   A one year membership is $29 and two years is only $49.  That's quite a deal for all that you have access to.

I can see how you could easily fashion your curriculum using the worksheets from this website.  One caution for Christians is that there is an old world/evolution bent to some of the worksheets.  For us, that isn't too big of a deal since we discuss it and the kids learn all about it.  I know for some though, it is a sticking point so I mention it to avoid any frustrating surprises.

The age ranges for this website range from Pre-School up to around 8th grade, with a majority of worksheets being for the lower grades.  I did find this page of worksheets in the Social Studies area for Middle School on up to High School levels.  I would suggest poking around the website and see for yourself what a help it could be.  Also, don't forget about the Webquests that are listed under For This Season's heading.  They are a fun way of learning more about a particular topic that helps the student do some independent work.

I have enjoyed this website and look forward to using it more as we go along.  If you want to see what other Crew Members have to say about KB Teachers, head on over to the Crew Blog and check them out.


** I was given a membership to KB Teacher in exchange for my honest review through The TOS Crew.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I didn't realize that I hadn't posted since Sunday!  Crazy.  Quite a bit has been happening.  Monday we homeschool group, but I didn't go.  Our 8yo has strep.  She never complains about being sick but told me on Sunday night that her throat hurt. 

I checked her out and she had a fever and a red, splotchy throat.  :(

Monday afternoon was spent getting ready for our trip.  I didn't get everything finished.

Tuesday was spent much the same way.  I still didn't get everything done.

We left for Arizona Tuesday night.  Drove all night and arrived Wednesday afternoon. 

It was a great trip filled with lots of laughter and beautiful scenery.  I do have pictures but the internet is acting cranky and it is a bear to jump through the hoops to get it so I will wait on the pics until I am home. 

Today, Thursday, is filled with appointments for my bil at the Mayo and for just hanging out with my dh for me.  I hope to get a bunch more pics and share them after I get home to my nice wi-fi connection.  For now, I am going to just enjoy being with my hubby on a mini-vacation!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

An Interesting Afternoon

This afternoon/evening my oldest daughter and I auditioned for the Christmas play at our church.  We didn't get much warning since we only got the books on Tuesday or Wednesday.  And then I didn't decide to audition until Thursday! 

We went to choir Wednesday night and sang but I didn't really learn the songs.  So, we we showed up tonight I wasn't sure what I was going to do.  I was just hoping that they would ask to hear the one song I kind of knew.  I didn't even know that one all that well bc it was the one B was auditioning on and we focused on her part so she would be super comfortable with the song. 

There were quite a few people there and we ended up auditioning in the room with everyone watching.  ugh  Can you say intimidating?  I haven't auditioned for anything in years and B has never auditioned for anything, ever.  It was a little frightening for both of us.

We started out by saying what part we were auditioning for and I didn't even know what parts there were! lol  So Steven told me to speak up and say that I was auditioning for Mary.  Seriously.  I raised my hand but was having serious doubts.  After they took all the names down they started with the ladies...for Mary.  Oh my word!  To top it all off they were singing a song that I hadn't even heard before.  So, I said that I didn't know it and wasn't going to sing it.  But Steven kept encouraging me while the other ladies were singing and I caved.  I got up to sing and had to sight read most of the song.  Let me just say here and now...I don't read music.  I just go up when the little black dots go up and I go down when they go down. 

I thought I was going to puke.  Somehow I made it through with only a few mistakes.  At least I think there were only a few mistakes, I don't really remember!

We sang several songs and had to sing with the guys that were auditioning for the Joseph part-another song I was unfamiliar with!  It was pretty unnerving.

They were finally done with us and B was up next.  She looked completely terrified.  I wasn't sure if she could do it.  She is terribly shy and scared to death to sing in front of people.  But they called her name and she got up and stood in front of all those people...and sang beautifully!  She sang it just like she had at home and it was wonderful.

I was so proud of her.  She conquered her fears and trusted us to lead her through this.  No matter whether she gets the part or not, she did such an amazing job.  It gives me butterflies just thinking about it! 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Lot of Nuthin'

Friday was full of nothing.  Well, that's not exactly true.  The two youngest had gymnastics that started up again.  That always seems to take forever.  One has class at 9am and the next one has it at 11am.  Pretty inconvenient.  But the girls love their coach.

They are doing a great job in class and learning so much.  I love seeing their faces light up when they learn a new trick and their coach encourages them.  It is priceless!  Praise God for a Godly coach that really knows his stuff.  :)

The afternoon was all about catching up.  School, housework, more school and more housework. 

Didn't get it all done.

I made homemade pizza for supper and you would have thought that I'd had it gold plaited.  The fam was oohing and aahing over it like it was the only food they'd seen in weeks.  I guess it's been a while!  I must admit, it was pretty good. lol

It was even good today as leftovers.  heehee

Today was full of errands and getting ready for our trip. 

And a nap!  I actually got to take a nap today.  No one bothered me or asked me for things.  It was glorious!  And just a little creepy.  I haven't taken a nap w/o someone coming in to talk to me in I don't know how long.  Now, if I could just go to the bathroom by myself I'll be set!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

FREE Digital Magazine!

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has done it again.  They are offering a FREE Digital Holiday Magazine.  I don't know about you, but I love FREE!

Follow the link and download a copy for yourself.  You won't be sorry you did.  :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Homeschool Misfit Awards

I have been nominated for several Homeschool Misfit Awards!  Head on over and check out all the blogs then vote for me! lol  It really is an honor to be nominated.  Really.  It's pretty cool to see the categories and then to see your blog name listed.  Pride is swelling within me and I may have trouble fitting through my door frames. 

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Hearthside Homeschool Reviews...and more is the place to check out all the categories and vote for your favorites (me!) heehee

TOS The Write Foundation Review

It's time for another review brought to you by The TOS Crew!  This time around it is a meat and potatoes kind of curriculum-Writing.  Writing is an area that many people struggle with in homeschooling.  Does it need to be a formal writing program or should we incorporate the how to's into other daily assignments?  Or maybe we just avoid it because we aren't sure ourselves of the ins and outs of writing so we leave them to pick it up through osmosis.

I am guilty of all of those things mentioned above.  Writing is a struggle for me.  Not just teaching it but doing it myself and so I have tended to avoid it in the past.  We have tried other curricula but just haven't followed through with it.  That doesn't work either!


Enter my latest review with The Crew.  I received The Write Foundations Level 2 Paragraph Writing and must admit to leaving it in the packaging for a whole day before looking at it.  Honestly, I was intimidated.  I didn't want to try another program only to quit part way through.  But since this was for a review, I knew that I had to at least read through it and give it a try.

I read and re-read.  And I felt stupid.  I didn't understand what I was reading.  It was like it was a foreign language or something.  I was frustrated.  And more than a little worried about this review.

I let my oldest dd read through the curriculum to see what she thought and she was just as confused as I was.  Not good.  Full blown panic was setting in.  We worked through the first lesson but felt even more lost than before.

I have had this issue with another curricula before so after some wonderful advice and much praying I decided to start completely over.

It was well worth it.  I read through the Overview and Instructions again with all the worksheets spread out around me so I could get a visual as I walked through it.  I was still somewhat confused but the fog seemed to be lifting.

The next day, I took the Instruction book and read through it out loud to my daughter.  We walked through each step very slowly talking about each step and finding the correct worksheets as we went.  The light was starting to turn on for both of us.  We continued the next day talking through it and working it out together and by the end of the third day, we felt more secure and stated moving a little more quickly.  Now I can say that we both like the curriculum and my daughter has used the method in writing a speech for a class with our homeschool group.

Now, what is different about this curricula?  Well, it has repetition and lots of it.  In this program the student needs to have highlighters available for all work so that the sentences can be highlighted according to the type of sentence it is in the paragraph.  Such as the topic sentence is always highlighted pink and so is the conclusion.  The supporting sentences are highlighted in different colors for easy recognition.  It sounds a little odd and it was frustrating for my daughter to keep doing this but it really works.  She started to easily identify sentences and also to remember what went into a paragraph.

There are also forms included in the curriculum that are filled out for each assignment.  The process is always the same so the student knows what to expect and how to go about it..  By having them repeat the process each and every time, you reinforce the necessary steps in the writing process.  They soon become second nature.

The speech my daughter needed to write was frustrating her because she didn't know what to write.  I pulled out the forms from her book and told her to just fill them in.  She did and had her speech written in under an hour!  The pressure was lifted because she could fill in the outline and work from there but the blank page was just too intimidating.

If you would like to see a sample of what I've been talking about go here and check it out.  The homepage of their website gives a great explanation of the program and a bit about the author's purpose in writing the curriculum.  Also on the homepage are links to ordering information, recommended ages for the different levels, and the contact information for the company.

The pricing is a little confusing since the curriculum can be used over a two year period and is priced separately as units or as a whole.  This page explains the pricing and ordering options available.

Level 2 Paragraph Writing sells for $100 for the entire thirty lessons and includes:

  • Spiral-bound Teacher Instruction Manuals with Lesson Plans (about 160 double-sided pages)
  • 1 set notebook-ready Worksheets (about 200 pages)
  • 1 CD with additional resources
    • Grading System
    • Grading Record Sheets
    • Word Games
    • Checklists
    • Teacher Presentation Sheets
    • Weekly Assignments
    • Extensive Reading list
Or you can purchase Lessons 1-15 and Lessons 16-30 separately for $65 a piece.

There are also two other levels to The Write Foundations program and they are Level 1 Sentence and Level 3 Essay.

Here is my list of Pros and Cons for this curriculum:

Confusing to read through at first
Takes a long time each day for a while
Frustrating to start working through it
Instructions are somewhat confusing and some places felt unfinished
We could have used more explanation or more of a do this, this, this type of instruction
Very different from what we had been doing

Very different from what we had been doing
Forms are included and put in order of use
Teaches and stresses the basics
Lots of repetition of the basics
Helps take the guesswork out of writing
Could be spread out over two years

We are going to continue on with this curriculum and I look forward to seeing the improvement in my daughters writing over the year.  I will probably not use it with my second born.  She would get overly frustrated with it and not be able to work through it.  I think so anyway.  We may just have to try it and see!

The Write Foundation can be found here.

To check out what other Crewmembers are saying about this curriculum head on over to The Crew Blog.


**I was given this copy of The Write Foundation Level 2 in exchange for my honest opinion through The TOS Crew.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

An Inspired Idea

I go to BSF on Monday nights and we meet at a church that also houses a Christian School.  The walls are lined with art projects, reports, letters, etc; it's pretty cool!  Well, last night as I was walking down the hall another women pointed out that there were letters of thankfulness on the walls.  On further inspection they were letters of thankfulness to THEIR PARENTS.

Why didn't I think of that?

I want my children to be thankful people and what better way to be thankful than to practice it?  So, this week and next they are going to be working on papers detailing all the things for which they are thankful.

I think I will work on one myself as well.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Good times

Just when you think things will get back to normal, someone falls down the stairs.

I'm not kidding.  Our 11 yodd fell down the stairs Thursday night.  She made it through soccer practice playing against a boy's team and then came home and fell down the stairs. 

It was a sickening couple of thuds and then the scream.  She hit her head pretty hard but that seemed to be okay.  Her foot, however, was another matter.  When we got her to the lazy boy, it was already bruising and swelling.  There was a line of some sort that was a dark purple in the center of the bruise.  great.

I took her to the minor emergency Friday morning bc our doctor didn't have any appointments available.  Can I just say that I hate the minor emergency office?  Esp. after the child abuse innuendos a few years ago. 

Anyway, the doc looked at it and thought that it was broken.  The xrays didn't show it, though.  He was surprised at that and said that if it was still hurting Monday to come back in bc the swelling could be 'hiding' the fracture. 

So, we go back in Monday or Tuesday to see if there is a fracture or not. 

Saturday was the last game weekend of the season for soccer.  Yay!  Wait, I mean, boo.  ;-D  Our oldest did a great job and played hard.  She didn't even fall down during this game!!  Her team won, beating one of her former coaches in the process.  She made it through the end of her season and can look forward to a cast or collar bone splint on Monday.  Pictures will surely follow...

Since our 11yo could play, we went to support the team.  They ended up winning pretty decidedly and ended the season on an up note.  It was a lot of fun to cheer them on, but sad to see our girl sitting on the sidelines.  I was very proud of her for being there even though her heart was breaking.

Our weekends should be quite a bit quieter now!  And I am so ready for it.

Although, my kids seem bent on getting hurt no matter what they are doing; so there is probably not much hope for quiet around here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I give...

We have been working so hard to get the girls caught up with schoolwork that I haven't had a break, mentally, in more than a week. 

So, today I called a mental day.

We had our hairs cut this morning and it took two hours to get us all through the process.  The girls were great and we look amazing!! ;-D  When we finally got home it was lunch time.  That took a painfully long time to accomplish and might have involved pulling hens teeth.  But I can't be sure about that.

After lunch, I sat down on the couch.  Turns out that there is a magic button on my behind that causes my eyes to close when it comes in contact with the couch cushion.  I barely had enough time to start the school movie before drool was escaping my mouth and trailing down my chin.  I'm not sure if the snoring woke me up or the closing credits of the movie causing a low rumble to burst forth from the peanut gallery but I missed the entire movie.  And the afternoon.

It wasn't a very successful school day but we are all a little happier for it.  Tomorrow, it's back to the grindstone!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Our Field Trip

 Two weeks ago we went to a local castle.  We have been studying the medieval times and focused on castles quite a bit.

Who doesn't like castles, right?  It just seems so distant to the kids with no way of making it real.  That's when I remembered that we have a castle in our hometown!

Instant field trip.  Just add a camera and we were set to go.

It is just gorgeous sitting on the edge of a river.

This picture doesn't do the stained glass justice.

They have added modern conveniences like ac and electricity!

On top of the tower there were five different animals in stone.

The crenels and merlons.

Interesting architecture.

We even got to incorporate our Latin studies!
A cool little gargoyle!

We invaded!
The gatehouse.
Can you see the girls in there?  They are in the shadows!
 We had a good time touring the grounds even though we didn't get to see the inside.  We will call at a later time to see if we can tour the inside.  Of course I will take more pictures!