Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking Back on 2016

At the beginning of this year, I chose my one word to help define what I wanted out of this year. My word was DISCIPLINED.


So how did I do?

I think I improved in how disciplined I am, but I know that I still have some work to do in this area.

I did a much better job of keeping up with our homeschool paperwork. Most days I had all papers graded and folders ready for the next day before I went to bed. There were still some mornings, though, when I had to get up early to get everything ready for the day.

I still have decluttering to do in a couple of closets and cabinets, but for the most part, I feel like the house is in much better shape now than it was a year ago.

I didn't start a tutoring business this year. That just isn't going to work out with the busy schedule that my children have in the afternoons. I'm sure there will be time for me to start this in a few years.

Spiritually, I have grown this year. I've done better at leaning on the Lord when I encountered struggles.

Making time for my relationships is still something that I need to work on. I always have good intentions, but time slips away and days or weeks will go by before I create one-on-one time with those who are close to me.

I didn't finish Sassy's stocking before Christmas this year, but it's close so it will be ready by next Christmas. I didn't read as many books as I had hoped to. I didn't learn how to knit. I guess for personal growth, I wasn't nearly as disciplined as I should have been.

How did you do this year?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Christmas Lights

I love going to look at Christmas lights. Sadly, none of my teens wanted to join Little Red, Sassy, and I to go out this year.

We have a Festival of Lights here where you can drive through a very nice lights display and then hang out in Santa's Village, and all the proceeds go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I didn't get any pictures of the displays since I was driving, but I did take one of Little Red and Sassy at Santa's Village. (Sorry for the quality. All I had was my phone and it wouldn't focus correctly.)


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Change Starts Now

Am I the only one already looking ahead to the New Year?

Don't get me wrong, I don't want to rush time. It feels like just yesterday The Boy was a baby and now he's taller than I am and has a beard.

I really just like new beginnings. It's a chance to start fresh - a clean slate, so to speak.

I have so many things I want to change/modify/adjust in my home, my homeschool, this blog, my life.

This got me to thinking, why do I have to wait until the calendar flips to 2017? Do I really need to wait until January 1st to get more serious about exercising? Could I start today (or tomorrow LOL) on getting my home better organized instead of waiting 3 weeks? What exactly is it that I'm waiting for?

There is nothing stopping me from starting now except me.

So here goes nothing, I'm starting now. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Changes can begin now.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Living Christmas Tree

This weekend, the girls and I are singing in the Living Christmas Tree at our church.


Soccer Girl and Ballerina are standing in the tree. I'm on the risers next to the tree (not pictured). Sassy and Little Red are singing in the children's choirs during the performance.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Enjoy

I'm joining up at Five Minute Friday over at Heading Home. Each week she shares a prompt, and you write on that prompt for 5 minutes. This week's prompt is "enjoy."

Here I go:


When I think about what I enjoy most, it has to be watching my children participate in the activities they love. This weekend I'm in Tallahassee, Florida, with three of my girls (Soccer Girl, Little Red, and Sassy) so they can compete in the Region 4 Cross Country Meet. The top 30 runners in each age group tomorrow will advance to the National Meet, which will be held in Hoover, Alabama, in December. My girls have really worked hard to make it this far, and I thoroughly enjoy watching them run.

Ballerina enjoys dancing, and I enjoy watching her. The excitement and joy that are evident on her face when she's on stage performing makes me so happy.

The Boy's passion is still playing soccer. His team this year has been very successful, and I enjoy sitting on the sideline watching them compete.

What do you enjoy most?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Chara Games Commissioned Review

The girls and I really enjoy playing games as a family. In fact it's one of our favorite family activities. Family game time has provided hours of laughter and bonding, something we don't get when everyone is settled in with their own electronic device. We have been very excited to add Commissioned from Chara Games to our game rotation.

Commissioned {Chara Games}

Friday, November 11, 2016

All Quiet on the Pee Dee Front

I realize it's been pretty silent here lately. I apologize for that. After Hurricane Matthew hit, we lost power for several days. When we finally had power restored, our internet connection became extremely spotty. There were days when we would only have internet access for a total of an hour (mostly 5 minutes here and there throughout the day). I had to prioritize what was done during that small time frame - and homeschooling had to win out. Anything the small people had to do that required internet connection took priority, which left this poor blog a little lonely.

Our internet provider came out a couple of days ago and has fixed the problem, so I am now back among the land of the internet. Yay!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles by Paul David Tripp - Review and Giveaway


I don't think I know a parent who thinks they've got it all together. (And if they say they do, they're lying!)

Paul David Tripp's book, Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family, is a great reminder of our ultimate purpose as parents.

About the Book
In the midst of folding laundry, coordinating carpool schedules, and breaking up fights, many parents get lost. Feeling pressure to do everything “right” and raise up “good” children, it’s easy to lose sight of our ultimate purpose as parents in the quest for practical tips and guaranteed formulas.
In this life-giving book, Paul Tripp offers parents much more than a to-do list. Instead, he presents us with a big-picture view of God’s plan for us as parents. Outlining fourteen foundational principles centered on the gospel, he shows that we need more than the latest parenting strategy or list of techniques. Rather, we need the rescuing grace of God—grace that has the power to shape how we view everything we do as parents.
Freed from the burden of trying to manufacture life-change in our children’s hearts, we can embrace a grand perspective of parenting overflowing with vision, purpose, and joy.

My Thoughts
I love how Mr. Tripp uses biblical principles to present a plan I can use as a parent. Principles such as:
  • Nothing is more important in your life than being one of God's tools to form a human soul.
  • As a parent you're not dealing just with bad behavior, but a condition that causes bad behavior.
  • The goal of parenting is not control of behavior, but rather heart and life change.
It's very easy for me, as a parent, to get wrapped up in the here and now - the current behavior of my children and how that reflects on me - instead of on the long-term - how I want my children to be as adults when we reach the end of this phase of my parenting journey. 

This book was also a good reminder that my primary ministry right now is parenting my children. Nothing God has given me is more important than that.

Not only was I given the opportunity to review Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family, but I also get to give away a copy of the book to one of my lucky readers. Just enter the giveaway below for your chance to win.


"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.”

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Middlebury Interactive Languages High School Spanish I Review

Ballerina is in the 8th grade this year, and I spent most of the summer debating and praying about when I should have her begin her foreign language requirements for high school, what language I should have her study, and what curriculum I should have her use. I needed it to be something that took on a lot of the burden of teaching because I do not have enough background in any foreign language to be able to do the bulk of the teaching myself. When we began the school year, I still didn't have an answer. Thankfully we were given the opportunity to review High School Spanish I from Middlebury Interactive Languages, and it has completely answered my questions for Ballerina's high school foreign language requirements.

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}


Friday, October 21, 2016

Five Minute Friday - Park

I'm joining up at Five Minute Friday over at Heading Home. Each week she shares a prompt, and you write on that prompt for 5 minutes. This week's prompt is "park."

Here I go:

When I first saw this week's prompt, I was stumped. What in the world would I write about? Then it hit me.

Two weeks ago tomorrow, our town was hit hard by Hurricane Matthew. Since we're about 70 miles inland, I don't think anyone expected the high velocity winds that we experienced. Add those winds to the supersaturated ground that we're still experiencing from last year's "Thousand Year Flood" and you have many trees that just couldn't hold their ground any more.

Our favorite park held one of those trees. This beautiful old oak tree sat at the side of the playground where my children used to play often when they were younger. During Hurricane Matthew, this tree fell, damaging the fence and playground equipment.

We pass by that park several times a week as I take my children to soccer practices, and it breaks my heart to see the park looking so bad right now. I know that eventually it will be fixed and back to "normal," but for right now, it's a sad sight.


Stop.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Five Minute Friday - Mail

I'm joining up at Five Minute Friday at Heading Home. Each week, she shares a prompt, and you write on that prompt for 5 minutes. This week's prompt is "Mail."

Go.

There used to be a time when I loved going out to check the mail. I'd see the mailman coming down the street, and I would get excited about what he would be putting in my mailbox that day. My mom and my grandmother would often send letters - actual letters!

Sadly, I no longer have that excitement when the mailman has come and gone. My mailbox is usually full of junk mail and bills nowadays. My mom and my grandmother both passed away a few years ago. 

I've often thought about starting the tradition of letter writing back up with my own children, even though they still live in my house. It won't be long before they are all out on their own. If I set up a routine to write a letter, that personal touch of writing it in my own hand, maybe it will mean as much to them as the letters I used to receive from my own mom meant to me. 

Everyone now is so dependent on technology - emails, texts, etc. - to communicate that I wonder if we are losing the importance of hand-writing letters.

Who would you love to get a handwritten letter from?

STOP. 


Thursday, October 13, 2016

MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership Review


Life at our house is never dull. Between soccer practices, cross country practices, and dance rehearsals, getting a good meal prepared for my family some nights is difficult (or even impossible). Using the MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership from MyFreezEasy has made freezer cooking so simple that I can get quality meals on the table even on our craziest days.

MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}

Friday, October 7, 2016

Five Minute Friday - Test

I'm joining up at Five Minute Friday at Heading Home. Each week, she shares a prompt, and you write on that prompt for 5 minutes. This week's prompt is "Test."

(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 we go...

Right now, the test that seems to be taking up all of my thoughts is the SAT. The Boy is scheduled to take his first SAT in November of this year. 

One would think that all of the pressure would be on him for this test. He, however, seems to be pretty calm, cool, and collected about it. (Although his personality is pretty laid back most of the time, so he may actually be feeling pressure and I just don't see it.)

I, on the other hand, am feeling ALL pressure. In my mind, this test will show whether or not all of our years of homeschooling have been effective. Have I failed him? 

What if he doesn't do well? That's a direct reflection of my failure, or at least it is in my mind.

To be honest, I'm sure he will do well. He has been studying and taking practice tests using the Blue Book and Khan Academy. I've been reading The Perfect Score Project and passing on to him the helpful tips that Ms. Stier shares in her book. He's been doing very well on the practice tests he's taken so far.

But still, there's that ever-present fear that I will prove to be a failure when he takes his test.

Stop.


Items of interest in this post:


Everyday Education, LLC - Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers Review

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}
If there is one skill that I want my children to have nailed down by the time they graduate our homeschool and go to college, it is the ability to write well. Being able to communicate effectively is crucial to success in college and beyond. We have been using Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers from Everyday Education, LLC to help my high school level children prepare for the transition to college.

For this review, we received the Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers - a 420-page PDF download. 

Two of my children are doing high school level English. 
  • The Boy is a junior and is actively preparing for taking the SAT and will probably be doing dual credit English at a local university next year. While the essay portion of the SAT is now optional, I would like for him to be prepared to take that portion if a college he is interested in requires it. Plus the Handbook for Writers gives instruction on many of the items tested on the writing section of the SAT.
  • Ballerina is in the 8th grade but is completing English I this year for high school credit. The Handbook for Writers has been a great supplement to the composition portion of her English curriculum, helping her to make a better transition from elementary level writing to high school level writing and hopefully better preparing her to transition again in a few years to college level writing.
One of the sections of the Handbook for Writers that I most appreciate is the section on The Importance of Defining a Focus. For many students, actually probably most students, choosing the topic or focus of what to write is the most difficult part of writing. This section shows how to start with a general, broad topic and begin to narrow down that topic until you get to a narrow, clearly defined topic. The Handbook for Writers emphasizes that "it is much better to argue in depth and at length about a narrowly defined topic than to offer a superficial cursory look at something much wider." (p.43)

Another section that has been very useful is the one about The Importance of Defining a Thesis. One of the assignments that The Boy will be completing during this semester's English is writing a research paper. After defining the focus, the second most important aspect of his paper will be his thesis statement. The Handbook for Writers offers activities in recognizing useful thesis statements, as well as hints on forming good thesis statements.

Other sections in the Handbook for Writers include:
  • Defining key terms
  • Deduction and induction
  • Organizing the main body of an argument
  • Paragraph structure
  • Paragraph functions
  • Writing arguments about literary works
  • Sample outlines for essays and research papers
  • Usage and style
  • Parallelism/Parallel structure
  • Clarity, logic, and structure
  • References and bibliographies, including MLA and APA citations
  • Formatting for essays and research papers
I am hopeful that, through studying the Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers, my children will become better writers, which will not only help them succeed in college but also in their future occupations.

You can find out more about Everyday Education, LLC and the Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers on social media:

Are you interested in what others have to say about Everyday Education, LLC? Check out more reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew.

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

Crew Disclaimer

Friday, September 30, 2016

Five Minute Friday - Collect

I'm joining up at Five Minute Friday at Heading Home. Each week, she shares a prompt, and you write on that prompt for 5 minutes. This week's prompt is "Collect"

Here I go:

I used to collect things. When I was a preteen, I collected unicorn items. Everything in my bedroom seemed to have a unicorn on it.

As a college student and young adult, I started collecting angels. The angel was one of the symbols for my sorority - Pi Beta Phi.

Now that I'm a homeschooling mom of 5 not-so-small people, I guess you could say I collect books. There are books filling any possible shelf space in our house - textbooks, notebooks, fiction, nonfiction, juvenile, etc.

Some days/weeks/months, it feels like all I do is just collect books. Finding time to read them isn't always easy. I try to carve out a few minutes here and there throughout my week to actually read the books that I've been collecting.

Stop.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Monday, September 26, 2016

D.E.A.R. Monday - September 26

In this crazy busy season of soccer and cross country, I am still trying to find time to Drop Everything And Read.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Busy, Busy, Busy

We have entered what is probably the busiest season ever.

  • The Boy has already had 2 weekend long soccer tournaments and will start regular season games this weekend.
  • Soccer Girl has run in 6 cross country meets already and still has a TON left.
  • Little Red and Sassy have cross country meets every Saturday in October.
When you add of that to the practice schedule, it adds to one crazy, busy season.

But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles Review

As I've shared before, Ballerina is a bit of a bookworm. My girl reads so much that she has read the same series over three times. This is why it makes me happy to find quality new books to read. It was such a blessing to be able to let her read The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles by Mark Mirza and published by CTM Publishing Atlanta to help me with this review.
The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles

Monday, September 12, 2016

D.E.A.R. Monday Update

I will be making the D.E.A.R. Monday posts every other week for a while. I'll see you next Monday when I'll share what I've been reading during my Drop Everything And Read time.

Friday, September 9, 2016

CHSH-Teach.com Download Club Review


I am always looking for resources to help supplement or even enrich our homeschool curriculum. So many times, though, I get overwhelmed just trying to figure out where to begin looking. I've now found that starting point! We've started using the resources available through the CHSH Download Club from CHSH-Teach.com.

Monday, September 5, 2016

D.E.A.R. Monday - September 5

I'm looking forward to the rest of today. We had a long run for cross country this morning, and I had hoped to get this posted before that but our internet was down.

Since we aren't doing any school work today because it's Labor Day, I have a good bit of time to Drop Everything And Read.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Spiritual Circle Journal for Kids & Teens Review


It is important to me that my children spend time daily with God. Sometimes, though, that time is not as beneficial as it could be simply because they just don't know how to study their Bibles and pray. Ballerina has started to use the Spiritual Circle Journal for Kids & Teens from Spiritual Circle Journal as part of her daily Bible time.

Spiritual Circle Journal
For this review, we received the Spiritual Circle Journal for Kids & Teens, a 94-page, spiral-bound journal.

Spiritual Circle Journal

Three of the first few pages of the Spiritual Circle Journal for Kids & Teens include a guide for parents, teachers, homeschoolers, and ministry leaders explaining the concept and usage of the journal. I really appreciated this because then I could read through the guide and help explain the various aspects of how to use the journal to Ballerina before she got started. These pages encouraged me to share how God has led and guided me. They also gave some tips for how to make her time with God fun - providing a fun pencil pouch filled with pens, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, etc.; encouraging drawing and art journaling; having her make collages with magazine pictures or scrapbook paper.

The concept of keeping a journal isn't a new one, but keeping one to go along with daily time with God is a great idea for helping structure that time. It's really easy to sit down with a Bible, read a chapter or two, close it up, put it back on the shelf, and then wonder "What did I read?" The Spiritual Circle Journal for Kids & Teens helps to give that Bible reading time a focus so that Ballerina doesn't just remember what she's read, but she also can pull out theme, concept, Bible verse, etc.

Each of the journal pages contain nine illustrations to fill in. These cartoon-like images make completing the journal page more interesting. The illustrations include a thought bubble, music note, open book, heart, car, light bulb, back pack, pinned note, and a sneaker. The front of the journal contains a key to describe what each picture represents.

  • The thought bubble is a journal entry.
  • The music note is a place to write down a song lyric or Bible verse.
  • The open book is for recording important things learned during Bible reading, Sunday school lesson, or sermon.
  • The heart is for confessing since it's important to have your heart right when you are in your time with the Lord.
  • The car is to record where you've seen God moving in your life.
  • The light bulb is for recording life lessons or "lightbulb moments" in your life.
  • The back pack is to record prayer requests where you need God's help.
  • The pinned notes is for thanking and praising God. 
  • The sneaker is for anything that God is asking you to do.
I love that the images were so carefully chosen. Each one really symbolizes the aspect that Ballerina was to journal about there.

At the end of the journal are Summary Pages as well as instructions for how to use them. These are spaces to go back through the journal and then record the most important things God has taught during the use of the journal, the verses that have meant a lot, God stories (I like this because it's always good to look back at how God has moved in our lives), and Bible characters' strengths and weaknesses.

I really like the concept of the Spiritual Circle Journal. They also offer one for adults that is circles and not shapes for each page (hence the name "circle journal"). I think this would really help me focus during my own quiet time.

You can learn more about the Spiritual Circle Journal for Kids & Teens on social media:

Are you interested in what others have to say about Spiritual Circle Journal? Check out more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Spiritual Circle Journal

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, August 29, 2016

D.E.A.R. Monday - August 29

We have officially begun our busy season - cross country meets, dance rehearsals, and soccer games have taken over my calendar. There isn't a lot of time to Drop Everything And Read, but I plan to take advantage of any reading time I can fit in.


Monday, August 22, 2016

D.E.A.R. Monday - August 22

The last couple of weeks have kicked my tail. I don't know why, but every year I forget how tough the first 2 weeks of school are. After the first 2 weeks, we usually settle into a routine and things get easier. I'm hoping now that we are entering the 3rd week of school, I will have more time to Drop Everything And Read.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Enlivenze LLC FlipStir Puzzle Review


My girls love to do puzzles. In fact, during our daily read aloud time, each of them grab a puzzle and a place on the floor. Needless to say, we were excited to try the FlipStir Puzzle Statue of Liberty from Enlivenze LLC.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids Review


In today's multicultural society, learning a second language is a must. I have been looking for a program that is ideal for helping my children learn Spanish. I was excited to review Starter Set 1 from Foreign Languages for Kids by Kids with Little Red.

Monday, August 8, 2016

D.E.A.R. Monday - August 8

Today is our first day back to school. I hope that doesn't take away my time to Drop Everything And Read!


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

CTCMath Homeschool Membership Review


It is extremely important to me that my children are well-grounded in the basics - reading, writing, and especially math. I've mentioned before that my girls sometimes struggle with math, so it's always good for me to find ways to supplement their math curriculum. This summer was a mix of maintaining the math skills they already have while trying to improve the areas they are a little weaker in. Having access to all grade levels through the Homeschool Membership from CTCMath was extremely helpful in allowing them to do that.

Monday, August 1, 2016

D.E.A.R. Monday - August 1

If you came here last week looking for D.E.A.R. Monday, I apologize. I was with Little Red at the USA Track & Field National Junior Olympics. There was plenty of time for me to Drop Everything And Read on the plane and in our down time, though.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

What a Week!

This week, Little Red and I flew out to Sacramento, California, for her to compete in the USA Track & Field National Jr. Olympics. After a crazy day of flying and arriving home at 5:45AM, I am too exhausted to write much today. I will share our trip with you all in a couple of days when I've recovered from jet lag!

Here's one picture of her with her teammates walking in for the Opening Ceremony.

Monday, July 18, 2016

D.E.A.R. Monday - July 18

I can't believe my summer is halfway over! Have you had much time to Drop Everything And Read this summer?


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

ArtAchieve Entire Level 1 Review


This summer I had plans to improve me; I wanted to learn something new. Since anyone who knows me would tell you that I can barely draw a stick figure, I thought it would be fun to do some art lessons. It was also a good time to check out a homeschool art curriculum that I could use with my girls. I thoroughly enjoyed the lessons from the Entire Level I bundle from ArtAchieve and can't wait to use these lessons with my girls this school year.
For this review, we received one year access to all of the lessons in the Level I bundle on the ArtAchieve website. This includes 11 lessons.

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review

Like I said earlier, I have NO artistic ability whatsoever. In fact, it was a standing joke in my botany co-op class whenever I would draw something on the board to show what we were talking about that I teach the science class and not the art class for a reason. ArtAchieve lessons, though, are so easy to follow and understand that even I was able to produce some decent artwork.

Each lesson consists of 4 parts:
  • A PowerPoint version of the lesson
  • A printable warm-up activity
  • A video version of the lesson
  • A printable example for the lesson
The PowerPoint is simply a written, visual version of the video lesson. I didn't use this much because, while I am fully capable of following written directions, I do much better with auditory directions. I know my girls will also do better with the video lessons. 

The PowerPoint and video lessons give step-by-step instructions for drawing the item in the lesson. They also give background information that goes with the lesson. For example, in the lesson on The Haitian Gecko, they teach about geckos and where they live. They also teach about how the people of Haiti often cut metal into gecko shapes and paint them. 

The printable warm-up activity involves copying sets of lines from one box to another. Usually it is a scrambled version of the object or theme of the lesson. The instructions for the warm-up say to remind yourself of what kind of line you're drawing as you are drawing it; I found this extremely helpful.

The printable example of the lesson was good for giving me a baseline for how to draw what I was supposed to for the lesson.

For me, one of the best things about the lessons wasn't the instructions; it was the "Rules for Drawing" given at the beginning of the lesson. The reminders that it's okay not to always like what I draw, that it's a process and what might look strange in the middle of the lesson might look better when it is completed, and that I need to draw for myself and not anyone else were all extremely helpful in keeping me focused on why I was learning to draw. It wasn't to impress anyone but to help me learn something new.

By the time I got to the lesson on The Chinese Dragon, I was really beginning to enjoy myself and my final products. In fact, I don't even mind sharing this one with all of you. Ha! Ha!


ArtAchieve has 5 levels to choose from. Level I was a great place for me to start since I am such a beginner, and I know that my girls will be able to do these lessons as well. Some of the lesson topics in Level I include:
  • Hungarian Insects
  • Haitian Gecko
  • Chinese Dragon
  • Kitenge Tree Wall Hanging from Tanzania
  • Four Suns with Four Faces
You can learn more about ArtAchieve and the Entire Level I bundle on social media:

Are you interested in what others have to say about ArtAchieve? Check out more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, July 11, 2016

D.E.A.R. Monday - July 11

Another week without a lot of time to Drop Everything And Read. We spent 3 days last week at the Regional Track Meet where Little Red qualified to compete in the National Junior Olympics.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Our Road to the National Junior Olympics

I'm sure you've seen the slogan "Road to Rio" often recently. The Olympic qualifying trials have been fascinating to watch and follow over the past few weeks. The road I'm sharing today isn't to Rio, but it's just as big to Little Red. Her journey is the "Road to Sacramento."


Little Red has qualified to compete at the USA Track & Field National Junior Olympics in Sacramento, California the last week of July.

Her journey began in Spring 2015 when she first joined the track club in our town. This wasn't because she's a great runner (she's not!) but because we were looking for an activity that she would enjoy. She had tried ballet, soccer, and softball, but none of those were "her thing." We thought that we would have her try track because, even if she never became a track and field superstar, it would be a good activity that would keep her from just sitting on the couch all the time.

For the first couple of practices of a season, the kids are allowed to try all of the events that they can compete in, and then they narrow their events down to 3 to focus on for the season. I mentioned earlier that Little Red isn't really a runner, so she decided to try racewalk for one of her sessions. It was a perfect fit for her.

If you aren't familiar with racewalk (few people are), let me try to describe it. It's a very fast-paced walk in which athletes have 2 basic rules:

  1. One foot has to be in contact with the ground at all times.
  2. The front knee has to be straight when the foot makes contact with the ground.
This is a great video of racewalk basics.

Little Red did extremely well at racewalk in the 2015 track season. She came in first in the state association meet and first in the regional meet. So last summer, we packed up to go to Jacksonville, Florida, for the National Junior Olympics. Jacksonville is only a few hours drive away so this was an easy trip to make.

During a racewalk race, there are judges stationed around the track to monitor whether or not athletes are following the rules of keeping one foot in contact with the ground and keeping their knee straight. Each judge has paddles that they show athletes who are violating the rules as a warning. After giving warnings, they give red cards for athletes who are continuing to have bad form. If 3 different judges give red cards for an athlete, that athlete is disqualified. There is a DQ board next to the track during the race where they mark how many red cards an athlete has.

During the National Junior Olympic race last year, Little Red had one red card as she began her final lap. It was really hot and she struggled maintaining her form during her last lap. She finished the race with the 5th fastest time in the race but was told afterward that she was dq'ed - her time didn't count. She was devastated! 

For many athletes, this would be the end of their journey. They would become discouraged and quit.

Not my Little Red - she's a fighter. She immediately decided that she was going to work extra hard to get her form right so she could make it back to the National Junior Olympics this year. 

This past weekend, she competed in the Regional Meet. She came in 3rd in her racewalk - the top 5 qualify for the National Junior Olympics. Not only did she qualify, but she didn't receive one warning paddle in the entire race! Not only did she qualify for the National meet in racewalk but she also ended up coming in 5th in mini-javelin. 

SHE'S HEADED TO SACRAMENTO!

I don't typically ask for money on this blog (or in my real life LOL). This trip is a chance of a lifetime and an opportunity for her to redeem her performance from last year, but it won't be cheap. We'll have to fly from South Carolina to California, stay for 5 days in a hotel, and rent a car for our time out there. We can't afford to take the whole family, so it will just be me and her going but it will still be expensive.

If you are inclined and able, we would welcome any donations for her to reach her goal of getting to Sacramento. You can contact me at the email address on my About Me page.

Another way you can help us is to use my Amazon Affiliate link below when you shop on Amazon. It doesn't change your cost at all.



If you aren't able to help, we completely understand and would appreciate prayers for safe travel. We would also appreciate you sharing this with others. Thanks!

Monday, July 4, 2016

D.E.A.R. Monday - July 4

I've had a couple of crazy weeks, and they included lots of time to Drop Everything And Read.


(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.)

What I've Finished Reading:
  • Fudge Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke - I love Joanne Fluke's books, especially the yummy recipes she includes throughout the story. Her main character, Hannah Swensen, owns a bakery while also helping to solve the murder of the sheriff, who died while eating one of her fudge cupcakes. ●●●4 of 5 stars for this one.
  • Unashamed: Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame by Heather Davis Nelson - You can read my review of this book here. (You can also enter the giveaway for a chance to win your own copy!)
What I'm Currently Reading:
Up Next on My TBR List:
What have you read lately?
What's on your TBR list?
What should I add to my TBR list?

Link up your book-related posts below.
(Family Friendly, please.)


Items of interest in this post:

 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Unashamed: Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom From Shame - 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.”

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

Almost everyone I know suffers from some sort of shame problem. And those I know who don't seem to suffer from it are simply doing a better job of hiding it. If you are like me, you would love to lose those shameful feelings and become more confident in who you are. In her book Unashamed: Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame, Heather Davis Nelson shares how Jesus Christ and the Gospel can free us from our shame.

About the Book:
Unashamed: Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame offers hope to those struggling under the burden of shame. This book shines the life-giving light of the gospel on the things that leave us feeling worthless and rejected, directing our attention to the God who promises to forgive and restore us—no matter what.

About the Author:
Heather Davis Nelson (MA, Westminster Theological Seminary) is a writer, counselor, and speaker. Heather writes regularly at HeatherDavisNelson.com and has been a featured writer at the Gospel Coalition, as well as a contributing author to the Journal of Biblical Counseling. She and her husband are parents to twin daughters and live in southeastern Virginia. 





My Thoughts:
Like I mentioned earlier, I struggle with thoughts of shame and would love to lose those feelings. Unashamed is a great reminder that Jesus came to release us from those feelings, to give us freedom in Him. This book touches on the most common areas of shame, especially for women - body shame, social shame, and performance shame. It also addresses how we usually respond to shame and how we, through Jesus, can change our responses. 

I love that each chapter ends with questions for reflection and discussion. This would be a great book to read with a group of friends and discuss.

You can find Unashamed: Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame on Amazon

Not only was I given the opportunity to review Unashamed: Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame, but I also get to give away a copy of the book to one of my lucky readers. Just enter the giveaway below for your chance to win.

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