Friday, January 27, 2017

What we’re up to

We’ve been busy around here! In Science we’re still working on our cell unit. We made pizza cell models and did a classification experiment with pasta.

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We’re cruising through Volume 4 of Story of the World. We’ve learned about Italy’s Resurrection, the Taiping Rebellion, the American Civil War, and the Dominion of Canada, to name a few.


We’ve also been reading more great books: Nory Ryan’s Song, The Good Master, The Hobbit, and Homeless Bird. Katie finished a 6 week long unit on writing a research paper, and Frankie has been practicing news articles and shorter essays.

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Cooking is one skill we wanted to hone this year, so the girls have been taking turns making supper. There’s a talent show coming up at church, so our house has been filled with lots of music and singing lately. On her days off Sam has been giving them vocal pointers. It’s so nice to how far she’s come and how much she has learned while working on her Theater degree.


As Katie was heading out for youth group it struck me how grown up she is becoming. I had to actually stop her and take her picture because in another minute she will be an adult and off on her own. I don’t know how my precocious two year old suddenly morphed into this almost 13 year old standing before me, but it happened way too fast. Can we just stop and take a moment, please?

How was your week?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Our Week in Review

This week we started a science unit on cells. In history we moved into book 4 of The Story of the World and learned about The Crimean War, British Invasions, and the Persian-Russian invasion of Afghanistan. We’re also reading some really great books: The Banner in The Sky, Betsy and the Emperor, and Around the World in 80 Days. While I don’t love the pace that Sonlight tries to move us through The Story of the World, I absolutely love the literature. We’ve read so many great books we may not have otherwise heard about. Since we’re a family of book nerds, Sonlight is such a great fit for our family.


Celebrating National Hat Day at the library. Everyone who checked out books got a free hat!


My dad and Mary came for a visit to celebrate Christmas with us all. They gave the girls awesome sewing kits that they were super excited about, (hah, not that you can tell by their faces in this picture!)  We don’t get together as a family nearly enough, so it was a really good time of catching up and enjoying each other’s company.

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Today is Don’s birthday, and he and Francesca had a blast with friends ice fishing for the afternoon.

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While they were doing that, Katie and I spent some time playing with all her cool new sewing stuff. She made this great pillow in a couple of hours all by herself, with just a tiny bit of help from me!


Katie also made her daddy a birthday cake to enjoy after our birthday spaghetti and meatballs. She accidentally used food coloring instead of the writing gel, but we didn’t laugh at her-much. It was a delicious cake, and we had a nice relaxing night celebrating.

How was your week?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew:


High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {}

I was so excited to learn that the first thing I’d be reviewing upon my return to the Homeschool Review Crew was the Yearly Membership from With 300+ classes for Preschool through High School,  I spent days just exploring the site and getting a feel for it. Once I knew my way around, the girls and I chose a couple of classes to try out and dove right in.

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {} offers so much, I don’t even know where to start! In addition to the 300+ classes (with online, video, and printable formats), there is a treasure trove of resources available. There are tools to help make homeschooling easier, such as:

There’s a great Just for Parents section that has classes and unit studies covering everything from homeschooling to marriage, parenting to menu planning. Bible studies, cleaning, and organization; there is something for everyone.

In the Resources section you’ll find encouragement in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Resources, and practical help in a monthly menu with a recipe for every day of the year. In the Planning Section you’ll find tools like The Schoolhouse Planners (I love these!), printable calendars, and course information. I could go on indefinitely sharing with you all that’s offered, but let me tell you how we used it.


High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {}

The courses vary in length from a few weeks to a year or more. You can browse by grade and by subject. For a website with so much content, I found that it was intuitive and easy to navigate. Since we are in the middle of the year and our curriculum in most subjects, I decided to look for classes to supplement our studies. The girls have been wanting to learn sign language for quite some time now, so we chose ASL Adventures. We also chose Drawing with Realism, as Art is one of those subjects that seems to fall through the cracks for us no matter how many times I decide it will be a priority.

For both classes the first thing I did was read through the Lessons Plans. These contained the class length, detailed lesson plans (both of these classes have a 3 days/week plan), and instructions. Next, I visited the Class Lesson page for each class and printed the materials we’d need.

ASL Adventures is taught by Sandra Heflin who has taught Deaf Education and Interpreting for more than 40 years and has also worked as an interpreter. Everything needed to complete this course is included on the website, with a video to watch and printables each week.

On the first day of the lesson we watched the video together, pausing as we went along to practice the signs as she taught them to us. When the video lesson was over, we used the Vocabulary sheet to quiz each other to help further reinforce the new words. Throughout the week we took turns practicing the new vocabulary as well as the previous week’s vocabulary. In the lesson printables there were games, quizzes and other various worksheets for each week as well. Part of the reason my two girls chose this class was because our oldest daughter has taken a couple of ASL classes at college. It was really fun for us to show her the signs we learned, and to have her to make sure we were doing them right. We didn’t finish the course during the review period, but plan to continue on until we do.

Drawing with Realism is taught by Jan Bower who has painted hundreds of commissioned portraits and illustrated sixteen children’s books. For each lesson there is a video and printables, but I did need to purchase some art supplies that we didn’t already have on hand. You draw one item per lesson, and each lesson is broken up into four weeks. The first lesson taught us how to draw a realistic apple.

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This class was really open and go. For each lesson we just collected our supplies and got to work. We would pause the video often as we followed each step. This course is suggested for middle to high school, but my fifth grader had no problem keeping up. My seventh grader, who has some artistic talent, found this class to be interesting and challenging. I have no artistic ability at all, and was able to draw an apple that mostly looked how it was supposed to. We really liked her soft-spoken, easy to follow lessons and greatly enjoyed our time spent drawing together.

I look forward to using SchoolhouseTeachers a lot in the coming year. There are some great history videos I want to incorporate into our current studies, and more art classes that look fun. I think for the remainder of this school year I will take advantage of all of the Electives, and then try to incorporate more as I plan for the upcoming school year.

Overall, I think SchoolhouseTeachers membership is a phenomenal deal. Right now, with the coupon code CHRISTMAS it is $9.95 per month, or $90 a year with the code CHRISTMASYEAR. These codes are only good until January 15. In mid-January, SchoolhouseTeachers is having a price increase. The promotion is to lock in now at the $9.95/month rate so that you save 50% on the new prices. In a few days this same monthly service will be $19.95/month.

To see what my fellow Homeschool Review Crew members thought, click below.

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {} 
Crew Disclaimer 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

IF:Gathering 2017

The IF: Gathering is a two day event that gathers women to seek God and to equip them with tools to better live out their callings right where they are. I’ve had the blessing of watching the simulcast the past few years at an IF:Local, and there is always great worship and teachings. I’ve also been part of an IF:Table for almost two years, and our monthly time of food and fellowship always ministers to my soul. If this is the first time you’ve heard of this, be sure to check it out. This year’s IF:Gathering is February 3rd and 4th, so you still have time!

If : Gathering Vision from IF Gathering on Vimeo.

IF:Gathering 2017 from Joy Of It on Vimeo.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Just Being


Perhaps one of my favorite things about vacation is the relaxed, unhurried pace of it all. With Don home all week with us, it was really nice to see him be able to leave work behind and just focus his undivided attention on us. One of his girls in particular took full advantage of it, and was loving every minute with her daddy. It was a wonderful week of being together, of long days spent just enjoying each other’s company and being fully present in each moment.





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