Wednesday, December 30, 2015

5 Must-Read Homeschooling Books

Are you thinking about homeschooling but don't know where to start?

Are you already homeschooling but are thinking about changing a few things?


After talking with several of my homeschooling friends, I've compiled a list of 5 must-read books about homeschooling. These are good reads no matter what stage you might be in for your homeschooling.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The 2016 Reading Challenge


This is the last reading challenge I'm entering for 2016. (At least for now - haha!)

Thanks to Challies.com for hosting this challenge.

I'm planning to finish the Light Reader level - 13 books. Hopefully I'll move up as the year goes on.

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2016 Monthly Keyword Reading Challenge


(This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting this blog and our homeschool by using these links. For more information, see my disclosure policy.)

Here's another reading challenge I'm planning to participate in this year.

Thanks to My Soul Called Life for hosting this challenge.

She's chosen 6 keywords for each month. The challenge is to read a book whose title contains 1 or more of the keywords for that month.

I think this will definitely help me break out of my "same old, same old" reading patterns.

January - Treasures of the Snow (the)
February -
March -
April -
May -
June -
July -
August -
September -
October -
November -
December -

The 2016 Non-fiction Reading Challenge

Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

(This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting this blog and our homeschool by using these links. For more information, see my disclosure policy.)

I'm planning to really get my reading for 2016 organized. In fact, I'm trying to get my whole life in 2016 organized. I'm planning to participate in a few reading challenges this year so that I

  1. branch out from the same old books that I always read.
  2. can keep a better record of what I'm reading, what I want to read, etc. 


Thanks to The Introverted Reader for hosting this reading challenge.

The Challenge:  Read any non-fiction book(s), adult or young adult.That's it. You can choose anything. Memoirs? Yes. History? Yes. Travel? Yes. You get the idea? Absolutely anything that is classified as non-fiction counts for this challenge. 

I always like levels in my challenges, so here are mine:

Dilettante--Read 1-5 non-fiction books

Explorer--Read 6-10 

Seeker--Read 11-15

Master--Read 16-20

This challenge will last from January 1 to December 31, 2016.


I'm signing up at the Dilettante level - to read between 1-5 non-fiction books. Hopefully I'll move up to the Explorer level as the year goes on.

1. The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln
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3.
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5. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry Christmas and Looking Ahead


I hope you all had a blessed day yesterday celebrating the birth of our Savior. I know that our family did. It was nice and relaxing, which was quite pleasant.

I'm looking forward to sharing 2016 with you all. I'm doing some planning to make this space more organized next year.

What would you like to see more of here in 2016?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Rocky Road Candy


Rocky Road Candy is a favorite Christmas treat for my family. My mom used to make this every Christmas, and now both my brother and I make sure that our families have it each year as well.

Rocky Road Candy

1 12oz package chocolate chips
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups dry roasted peanuts
2 Tbsp butter
1  10 1/2oz package  mini marshmallows

Line a 13x9" pan with waxed paper.

Melt chocolate chips with condensed milk and butter in microwave.

In a large bowl, combine nuts and marshmallows. Fold in chocolate mixture.

Spread in pan. Chill overnight. Remove from pan, peel off waxed paper, and cut into squares. Cover and store in refrigerator.

 I've shared this at:
Mama's Happy Hive

Saturday, December 12, 2015

National Junior Olympic Cross Country Meet

Sassy is the littlest one in this picture.

Sassy earned the opportunity to run in the National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships. Her 8 and under girls team came in first in the state and first in the region to qualify for nationals.

This week I sent her off with one of the other cross country families to go to Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was so hard to let her go, but there was no way we could afford for me to go with her and there was no way I could tell her that she couldn't go.

Even though she didn't race as well as she had hoped, I am extremely proud of her for making it to nationals. I'm also proud of her for going across the country "by herself" (without me or hubby). She has made memories this week that will stay with her forever.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

My Hardworking Girl


This past spring and summer, Little Red found her sport. She started racewalking as one of her events for track and field. She was the state champion and regional champion last summer.

Today she had the opportunity to compete in an hour long racewalking competition. Rather than a race to be the fastest for a specific distance, today's race was 60 minutes of racewalking to see how far they could get. This was her first multi-level race; she was the youngest one there at age 10 and the oldest racer was 66! Thankfully, they give out awards by age groups. She was the state and southeast regional gold medalist today for the 10 and under age group. (Of course it helped that she was the only one in that age group.)

The medals weren't what made me proud of her today. The fact that she raced today made me proud. At her national meet this summer, she was disqualified at the end of the race. It was devastating! Rather than giving up and deciding to never compete again, she's decided to work even harder to keep from having that happen again.

For the hour long walk today, racers were allowed to stop, take a break, and then resume walking if they needed to. They could also completely stop at any time during the hour and just get credit for the laps completed. Little Red NEVER stopped; she kept going for the whole hour, even though she was tired and her legs started to hurt. She managed to complete 18 1/2 laps - which equals 7435 meters or 4.62 miles! That's a pretty impressive walking time for a 10 year old!

Monday, November 30, 2015

I'm Happy for You (Sort Of...Not Really) Review and Giveaway


"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”
Have you gotten caught up in the comparison game? It's easy to do that in today's society. Between trying to keep up with the Jones on Facebook and trying to create those Pinterest-perfect crafts and recipes, our culture has become one of constantly comparing ourselves to those around us to see if we "measure up."
I don't know about you, but all of this comparing has made me stressed out and crazy. Not at all the mom, wife, or person that I want to be. 

Kay Wills Wyma has written the perfect book to help those of us who suffer from the pressure of trying to keep up with (or out-do) those around us. I'm Happy for You (Sort Of...Not Really) shares how Kay and her family have learned to escape the comparison trap.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

This Year on the Crew


This year was my first year as a part of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. I had some amazing opportunities to review curriculum and other items that I might never have been exposed to before this. I also met some wonderful fellow Crew members - women and men who also are in the homeschooling trenches.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Regional Champion


Soccer Girl, Little Red, and Sassy all competed in the cross country regionals for South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida today. All 3 ran well. Both Soccer Girl and Little Red had a LOT of competition in their age groups (84 and 77 girls), so while they both had good times, they didn't quite place high enough to move on to Nationals.

Sassy, however, has 4 other girls in her age group from our club so their scores are counted as a team. The top 5 teams get to move on to Nationals. Sassy's team is amazingly fast! In fact, she is the slowest one on her team. Because the girls' total scores were so fast, her team came in FIRST in the region. All 5 girls get to move on to the Nationals - in Albuquerque!

I am so proud of all my runners!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

GrapeVine Studies Review

Grapevine Studies Review

Having a strong understanding of the Bible is very important to me for our homeschool. In fact, one of the main reasons we homeschool is so that I can give my children a solid Christian education. Since I have a wide variety of ages at our house, finding a good Bible curriculum that is engaging for all of my children can be difficult. GrapeVine Studies offers their Birth of Jesus: Multi-Level, which is perfect for families who have children at multiple ages.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Sassy's Birthday Cake

It's been a few weeks since Sassy's birthday, and I'm just now getting around to sharing pictures of her cake.

This cake was so much fun to decorate! Sassy wanted a polka-dot themed birthday, so I immediately thought that we should do an M&M cake. After I put the "8" on the cake with the orange ones, the girls used the other colors to finish the top and sides. I think it was an absolute success!



Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
I can't tell you how many times I've been asked, "Are you really going to homeschool through high school? Are you sure you'll be able to teach them everything they need to know at that level?" My answer is multi-faceted, but one of the main reasons I feel comfortable homeschooling at the older grade levels is taking advantage of online homeschool programs like Standard Deviants Accelerate. We were given the opportunity to review their homeschool courses.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Cross Country

I mentioned before that Little Red, Soccer Girl, and Sassy are running cross country this fall. They had their first meet a couple weeks ago. I have to say that I really enjoyed the cross country meet; it was much less hectic than the track meets from last summer.

All 3 girls ran a 3K for the meet. For state, though, Sassy will only have to run a 2K. All of them did a great job. I took pictures of them as they came to the finish line.








Little Red was having trouble breathing (and she was a little upset that Soccer Girl was 6 seconds ahead of her) so her finish was quite emotional.

As I said earlier, Sassy had to run a longer race than what she's been doing at practice, and she gave it all she had. She was exhausted after crossing the finish line.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Maestro Classics Review

Maestro Classics Review

For most of my school years, I played the flute in the school orchestra. Doing this provided me with a great appreciation for classical music. I really want my own children to also have an appreciation for classical music, although some of them are more willing to try it than others. Ha ha! We were given the opportunity to review The Nutcracker from Maestro Classics, and I thought this would be a great classical choice to share with my children.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ultimate Homeschool Planner Review

Apologia Ultimate Homeschool Planner

As a homeschooling mama of 5 small people, my life needs to be well-planned. To be honest, I think any mama, whether she has 1 or 12 small people, needs her life to be well-planned. Apologia Educational Ministries offers a solution for planning and organizing in The Ultimate Homeschool Planner.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

STRONG and KIND by Korie Robertson: Review and Giveaway


"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”
Unless you've been living under a rock, I'm sure you've heard of the Robertson family. This Christian family owns and operates Duck Commander, and they share their lives with America through the television show Duck Dynasty.

My family is a huge fan of the Duck Dynasty show. My kids love it because it's hilarious. I love it because they aren't afraid to share their beliefs with us. Each week the show ends with them praying, usually to bless a meal, sometimes not, but always honoring God and speaking the name of Jesus.

When I was given the opportunity to review Korie Robertson's book STRONG and KIND: And Other Important Character Traits Your Child Needs to Succeed, I was extremely excited.

Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW): Phonetic Zoo Spelling Level B Review

IEW Phonetic Zoo
Over the past few years, I have fallen in love with Institute for Excellence in Writing, also known as IEW. My love affair began a few years ago when The Boy took an IEW writing class at our weekly homeschool co-op. Then I started using IEW writing courses and themed-based writing with him and the older girls. Last year, I was given the opportunity to review Fix-It! Grammar, which just reinforced how much I love IEW's products. In fact, I switched all 4 girls from our previous grammar to Fix-It! Grammar this year. As if having great writing and grammar products wasn't enough, now I've had the opportunity to review their Phonetic Zoo Spelling Level B [Starter Set], and I was definitely not disappointed.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Koru Naturals Review #2

Koru Naturals Review
A few months ago I got to review 2 products from Koru Naturals - the Emu Oil and the Koolpurrie Restoring Balm. Needless to say, when I was given the opportunity to review additional products from Koru Naturals, I jumped at the chance. This time around I got to experience the benefits of manuka honey.

For this review, we received

Happy Birthday, Sassy!


Today my sweet little Sassy turns 8! She asked for 4 things for her birthday - a "husband" pillow, a new soccer ball, cowboy boots, and an American Girl-type doll. Those pretty much sum up who she is.

Happy Birthday, Sassy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Progeny Press Review

Progeny Press Review

Everyone's heard of the 3 R's - you know, reading and 'riting and 'rithmetic. My opinion is the reading is the most important of these since you need to be able to read to do anything else. I think the best way to get the small people reading is to give them good books to read. With 5 small people, though, it can be difficult to follow up with them and check comprehension skills, as well as other reading skills, without some type of a guide to use. Progeny Press offers a solution for that for me with their study guides for literature. We were given the opportunity to review the Miss Rumphius study guide.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Meal Plan Monday


It's been a L-O-N-G time since I've shared a Meal Plan Monday post. I'm hoping to get back in the habit because we eat so much better when I have a plan for the week.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Pray For SC

Here in South Carolina, we are experiencing one of the worst (and longest) rainstorms ever. We have had rain every day for over a week. Since Saturday, here in the Pee Dee, it has rained almost nonstop. Other places in SC have had nonstop rain since Friday.

Due to all of the rain, there has been incredible flooding throughout the state. The pictures I have seen of the Sumter, SC, the town where I grew up, make me want to cry.

This graphic gives the totals as of 2pm on Sunday, but it has continued to rain since then, so imagine those totals + about 5-6 inches.

Here in my little corner of the Pee Dee, we have had several streets flood. In fact, yesterday afternoon, every street to exit my neighborhood has flooded so we couldn't go anywhere, even if we wanted to.

We still have electricity and water, but I know there are many who are without one or the other, or both. 

I have friends who have had to evacuate their homes due to the rising flood waters near them.

#PrayforSC




Thursday, October 1, 2015

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
In today's society, knowing a second language is extremely beneficial. I firmly believe that the younger a student is when they begin learning a second language, the better. We were given the opportunity to review Middlebury Interactive Languages, and I was so excited to have an online language learning opportunity for Sassy. We were able to review Elementary Spanish I: Grades 3-5.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

USAopoly Games Review

 USAopoly Review

I have mentioned here before that I am a huge fan of using games in our homeschool. I firmly believe that games are a great way to build skills through play. We were given the opportunity to review two games from USAopoly - Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone and Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Wisdom


The adult Sunday School classes at my church are currently studying the book of Proverbs. There is SO much wisdom to be found there.

I absolutely love Proverbs 3:5-6, but this study has caused me to dig a little bit deeper into these verses.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Laura Ingalls Wilder book and study guide review

YWAM Publishing Review

I love history, and thankfully I have passed that love of history on to at least one of my small people. Loving history means that we love to read historical biographies. YWAM Publishing offers a multitude of these books in their Heroes of History series. We were given the opportunity to review the Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Storybook Life book and Unit Study curriculum guide.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Cross Country

Little Red enjoyed her track and field experience so much that she has decided to run cross country this fall. Labor Day weekend they had an early morning (7AM!) practice followed by a pancake breakfast and swimming pool time.

This was the first practice of hers that I have gone too. Usually I'm dropping her off so that I can get one of the other small people dropped off or picked up from soccer or dance. That Monday we had nothing else so I could stay.

I've mentioned before that I am not a runner. In fact, I've joked that if you see me running, you should run too because something must be chasing me. Mostly I didn't run because my knees would really hurt when I would run. Now that I've lost a good amount of weight, my knees don't hurt nearly as much. I've been doing a lot of walking, trying to get at least 10,000 steps a day.

Anyway, that day I figured I would walk the trail that the cross country kids were going to run. I knew I would be far behind them, but I was okay with that. Soccer Girl was going to stay behind the group with me because her knee has been bothering her lately ... or so we thought. She got bored staying at the back of the group and decided to run. I decided if she could run, then I could too.

I ended up doing a combination of jogging and walking and ended up going 5.5 miles and kept up with the back group of runners! I am so excited about how I am changing my health and my lifestyle.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Stinky Kid Math Review

Stinky Kid Math Review

Do you have kids that feel like they stink at math? I do! Ballerina and Soccer Girl both get extremely frustrated while working on math. I can't count the number of times I have heard the words "I'm not good at math" from one or the other of them. Enter Stinky Kid Math - with a name like this, I figured this math help website was definitely worth trying out when I was given the opportunity to review it with the girls.

Friday, September 11, 2015

9/11 - I Will Never Forget


  • I will never forget where I was when I heard that the first plane had hit the Twin Towers - at the DMV waiting to renew my driver's license. 
  • I will never forget the overwhelming sadness I felt as I watched the news for the rest of that day.
  • I will never forget that awful feeling in the pit of my stomach as I watched people jumping from the upper levels of the Twin Towers to escape the inferno within there.
  • I will never forget the dismay I felt as I watched first one and then the other tower collapse, carrying so many innocent lives with them.
  • I will never forget the pride I felt at being an American as the country rallied together in the days, weeks, and months following.
I hope you will never forget as well. 


Friday, September 4, 2015

Nichole Nordeman's The Unmaking - Review and Giveaway


"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”


I love music, and so do my small people. You can usually find at least one of us with earbuds in our ears or listening to the radio. I especially love music that is clean since so much of what you hear today contains foul language or inappropriate themes. 

Nichole Nordeman is one of my favorite artists because her music is uplifting and contains inspiring lyrics. Her newest album, The Unmaking, doesn't disappoint - wonderful lyrics and great music!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Mayan Mysteries Review

Dig It! Games Review

My small people love anything electronic. I love anything that is educational. Whenever we can combine the two, it's definitely a win-win situation for all of us. While there are a plethora of computer games for preschool and elementary ages, sometimes finding educational games for middle school students can be difficult. Mayan Mysteries from Dig-It! Games is one of those rare gems, an educational computer game for middle-school students.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Strength

The other day I shared about how hard this parenting thing is. Parenting is not for the weak, but there are many times, moments, days, etc., when I realize that I AM weak.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

This Parenting Job

I'm going to come out and say it - This parenting thing is hard work. There are no days off. There is not a moment when I am not Mom. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

I'm not saying that being a dad isn't difficult. It probably is, but I know that every other mom out there is agreeing with me right now.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Thursday, August 6, 2015

TobyMac's This Is Not a Test - Review and Giveaway


"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

TobyMac is easily one of our family's favorite recording artist. In fact, The Boy has been to 2 of TobyMac's concerts and even got to go backstage and meet him before one of the concerts. Every one of the small people have TobyMac's music on their MP3 players.

Friday, July 31, 2015

She's a Champion!

I mentioned before that we became a track and field family this year. When we first started track, I had no expectations for this season with it being our first season and all. I take that back, I had one expectation - that my girls would have a ton of fun.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

With Lee in Virginia Review

With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review

I love history, and I've been blessed with a few small people who also enjoy history. Living in South Carolina with its rich heritage, one of my favorite time periods is the Civil War. I was given the opportunity to review With Lee in Virginiaan audio theater CD set from Heirloom Audio Productions.  

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

UnLock Pre-Algebra Review

Unlock Math Review

It's hard for me to believe that Ballerina is old enough to start higher level math soon. It seems like yesterday she was a 3 pound premie in the NICU, and now she has Algebra, Geometry, etc., right around the corner. We were given the opportunity to review UnLock Pre-Algebra from UnLock Math. This came at the perfect time since I had been debating about whether or not she was ready for Pre-Algebra this year.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Home School in the Woods - Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages Review

Home School in the Woods Review

History can be a difficult subject to teach. So often, kids think history is this dry, boring subject with no relevance to them today. One way to make this more fun to learn (and to teach) is to incorporate hands-on learning. Our family was given the opportunity to review Project Passport World History Study: The Middle Ages, an activity-based world history study from Home School in the Woods.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Curriculum for 2015-16

Usually before one school year ends, I've already chosen what I will use for the next year with my small people. This year was different. This year I joined the TOS Review Crew so I have been blessed with the opportunity to review several different vendors. I've found so many wonderful, new-to-us curriculum choices that it made choosing what we will use for this coming school year difficult.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Pool Fun


We've spent the past few days at the regional track meet. I'll be sharing more about how that went in a few days, but for now I wanted to share a picture of my cutie Sassy hanging out in the hotel pool.
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