Friday, September 22, 2017

Things That Make Me Smile 9/22/17

Jake (11 1/2), Alyssa (9 1/2), Zac (7 1/2), Tyler (5), Nicholas (2 1/2)

Happy Friday! This week we celebrated Talk Like A Pirate Day, Leighton took the older 2 boys hunting, and Alyssa turned 9 1/2. Did you make sure to Smile this week? 

1. Me, about Nicholas, teasing: "What are we going to do with that baby. I'm pretty sure he's trouble."
Jake: "Really? You're only pretty sure?"

2, Zac, about sea snakes: "God made these creatures really special."

3. Nicholas: "God go to fweep!"
Me: "God goes to sleep?"
Alyssa: "Well, the Bible does say that God rested on the 7th day of creation."

4. Nicholas, holding a play phone: "Beep boop beep boop beep. Hello? Gramma? Papa? Why you at your house? Hello, mateys!"

5. Nicholas, noticing that the TV remote was missing a battery: "Hey, what happened? Eberyone stole it!"
Me: "Everyone stole it?"
Nicholas: "Tink about it. Jakey stole it."

6. Tyler: "Nicky's fun to play with."

7. Zac explained a whole narrative of how Alyssa was mistreating him.
Me: "Alyssa."
Alyssa, sweetly: "Yes?"
Me: "Oh, don't pretend to be innocent. What's going on?"
Alyssa: "Well, Zac's not playing nicely!"
Zac: "She's being mean to me!"
Alyssa: "He's being like Nebuchadnezzar."
Me, trying not to laugh: "How is he like Nebuchadnezzar?"
Alyssa: "He gave himself gold and gave Tyler bronze. He thinks he's the best and better than everyone else, just like Nebuchadnezzar."

8. Jake got his second deer.

9. Tyler came inside with a scraped and bloody elbow.
Tyler, proud: "Mom, look!"
Me: "Oh, no. What happened?"
Tyler: "My body got ahead of the swing and I backwards flipped off. I liked the backwards flipped off part!"
Me: "Do you want me to clean it up?"
Tyler: "No, I just want to see it!"
{10 seconds later}
Tyler, whining: "Ow, ow, owie . . . It hurts. Ooow . . . Can you do it now?"
It didn't hurt until he saw it. A complete 180 with his reaction.

10.  Alyssa: "I have a feeling I'm going to be cold or hot. I'm just not sure which one."

11. Me: "Were you a good boy tonight at church?"
Tyler: "Uh . . . hmm . . . well . . . No. Yes . . . Kinda."

What made you Smile this week?

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Lessons in the Valley: Part 1

My injury happened one month ago this past Saturday, 5 weeks ago yesterday.

I used to think that a sprained ankle wasn't really that big of a deal. I had heard numerous times about people getting a sprain, maybe using crutches for a few days, and then being back to normal. 

I've learned a lot about sprains in the last few weeks.

The most common type (which I just referenced) is a simple rolling of the ankle that heals quickly. The inversion sprain happens when the ankle rolls outward, the foot turns inward, and the ligaments on the outside of the ankle are injured. An eversion sprain is the opposite, causing damage to the inside of the ankle, and is much less common. 

The least common is the high ankle sprain. This can happen when the leg twists forcefully while the foot is planted. The ligaments that connect the leg bones together are stretched and torn, resulting in a severe injury and lengthy healing process. This sprain can happen alone or along with an inversion or an eversion sprain. 

(You didn't know you were getting a medical lesson today, did you? Ha.)

So where do I fall (no pun intended) in this list? I managed to get all three types of sprains at once. The dreaded high ankle sprain along with both inversion and eversion sprains, as well as damaging additional ligaments through my shin--because if you're going to do something, do it right. To make matters worse, they were grade 2 sprains because there is a significant level of tearing.

I quickly learned that sprains can be a big deal. In fact, I was told multiple times that it would have been better to break my ankle than sprain it the way I did. My healing process can take anywhere from 2-6 months. 

To read the facts is one thing, but to experience the pain is something completely different. 

I have a high pain tolerance. But this was different. It wasn't so much the initial discomfort, but after 2 solid weeks of throbbing, shooting, radiating pain, I was getting weary. My foot, both side of the ankle, all through my lower leg--everything hurt immensely. And constantly with no reprieve. Then when I pinched a nerve and caused sciatic pain to pulse from my hip all the way through my toes in a continual tingling sensation, I was near tears. 

It was agony.

It was so excruciating that it woke me often each night, both from the pain itself and the nightmares that it caused. The most gut-wrenching, disturbing, fear-inducing dreams I have ever experienced. I'd wake up breathing heavy with my heart racing. Had I been taking pain killers, I would have attributed the horrors to them, but there were no drugs in my system. 

Why? I know, reading that it seems foolish to even me, but I'm stubborn. I don't take pain meds unless I absolutely have to. And I figured that if I didn't take it in the beginning when the pain was potentially the worst, I surely didn't need to take it now. Every day was a little better than the day before. If I got through that, I can get through this. Leighton tried multiple times to get me to take something to lessen the pain, if for nothing else than to allow me to get some sleep. But I was determined to complete the whole experience without a drop of drugs. Why? Just so I could say that I did. (Again, I know it doesn't make sense, but, stubborn, remember?)   

I couldn't put any weight on it for those first 2 weeks, not simply because of the pain, but also because the torn ligaments just could not hold the weight. If I tried to stand, the ankle would buckle and I'd have to catch myself. I spent my days using the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) method of recovery. I dutifully set my timer for icing: 20 minutes on, 60 minutes off. I was determined to do everything right in order to heal as fast as I could. I have 5 young children; I need to be able to care for them.  

My purpose in explaining this is not to complain or get sympathy. Before today, I didn't tell anyone but those absolutely closest to me what was happening in such detail, mostly because they could see it anyway. I believe that your attitude affects your situation. You cannot control your circumstances, but you can control your response to them. That's why even when things are rough and we've had a difficult week, I make sure to still post about what made me Smile. Because, no matter what, there's always something good. 

So, what's my good in all of this. 

It's easy when you're in the mountaintop living. Things are going right, and you just coast along without much thought. But it's those valleys that can really teach you. It's in those hard times when you may be searching for God and just feel lost. 

That was me.  

It was so much more than the physical pain I was experiencing. It was helplessness in caring for my family and our home. It was disappointment in not being able to partake in annual seasonal favorites (like canning bushels of tomatoes and apples, geocaching with the family, and more). It was worrying about things I knew better than to worry about. It was feelings of guiltiness for getting injured and putting extra responsibilities on others. My thoughts became my enemy.

I was starting to become depressed. Not just discouraged, but depressed. I'll spare you the details, but it was very unlike the positive, "there's always something good" person I try to be. That's when I really sought after God, not just my typical daily prayers, but begging for His help. I knew my situation wasn't going to change overnight, but I needed help in changing my perspective. God began to work in my heart. He helped me to be grateful for the blessings, to recognize the good things.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, 
to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Lessons in the Valley: Part 2 will explain those good things--and also the huge mistake I made that reinjured the leg and set my recovery back. There are many lessons I'm learning through this experience.

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Let's Go Geography

When I saw that we had the opportunity to review a geography curriculum for kids, I was intrigued. Geography was never a subject that interested me when I was in school, and because of that, the information never really stuck. Now as an adult, I find myself wanting to know more about other places in our world. I want my kids to have an interest in countries and cultures. But all that can seem overwhelming to kids, and I don't want them to be uninterested. Once I started looking through the material though, I realized that Let's Go Geography was exactly what we needed.

Let's Go Geography, created by Carol Henderson, is a K-4th grade curriculum that gives you a little taste of traveling the world. The study takes you to a new country every week and suggests you visit about an hour. Of course, if you find yourself having so much fun learning about each country, there are plenty of options for staying longer. There's everything from activities, crafts, songs, videos, journaling, books, online content, globe skills, and more. So, pack your bags for a trip around the world!

A subscription to Let's Go Geography's online program gives you access to download the weekly curriculum and also sends you a reminder email each week that includes the country of the week and a few facts about it. The curriculum will be a three-year program, covering quite a few of the countries in the world. Year 1 teaches about 28 countries from all over the globe and includes a few review weeks and breaks.

The lessons are divided into 6 chapters:

  • Map It -- a printable map of the country and lists many things to find and explore (cities, bodies of water, neighboring countries, etc.)
  • The Flag -- mini flag to be cut, colored, and glued to either a page in the travel journal or personal passport
  • The Music -- the lyrics for the national anthem in English and also a link to a video of it being sung in the national language
  • Let's Explore -- various facts about the country (landscape, people, places, animals, occupations, and more) with links to videos for further study; also includes more online facts, library books, a printable journal page for notebooking, and a photo album of pictures
  • Create -- printable coloring page relating to something in the study and directions, tips, and any needed printables for a featured craft
  • Printables -- all the printables needed for the lesson

The beginning of each lesson includes a printable itinerary with boxes to check as you complete the assignments. After that is a detailed list of things you need for the trip: library books, craft supplies, and a travel journal (3-ring binder to keep and organize the printables and information for each country). Carol emphasizes that this curriculum is to be adapted to best suit each family's needs, ages, and abilities. She also stresses that you shouldn't feel obligated to do every single activity that's offered, since the goal is to familiarize the student with the country, not overwhelm him. 

The lesson format is incredible easy to follow and includes the links for videos and other content directly in the lesson where they're needed. It's easy to scroll through the lessons in order without having to jump around to find what you need. There are also photographs, maps, and graphics throughout the pages, making them visually appealing, as well.

The kiddos and I are studying one country a week, but dividing each lesson into 2 days. The first day, we cover the first 3 chapters. We start by finding the country on our globe and then discussing the Map It topics. From there we move to The Flag and The Music. Instead of making individual travel journals for each of the kids, I chose to make a combined one for the family. The kids take turns coloring the flags and marking the maps.

Day 2 is Let's Explore and Create. We watch all the videos together and stop them often to discuss different aspects. Even the 2-year-old comes over to watch with us. Because the videos are found on YouTube, they vary in quality, but that also means it keeps it interesting because the content is so different. After the videos, we move to the craft and coloring page. Some of my kids are craftier than others, so I don't require my non-artsy 11-year-old to participate. On the other hand, the crafts are my daughter's favorite part. There are so many aspects of this program that it's easy to pick and choose what to use and still get a good understanding of each country.

Our family is loving this curriculum! We're currently finishing up week 6, so we've learned about US, the Northeast region; US, Hawaii; Canada; Haiti; Nicaragua; and Belize. The material is easy for me to teach and keeps the kids' interest. The variety is good and leaves plenty of room for deeper study. 

There are additional resources to enhance your materials, such as personal passports, travel journal covers, continent coloring pages, and bookmarks. You can also sample some of the products for free and watch a  sample lesson. And don't forget to check out the special offers for the current coupon codes!

You can connect with Let's Go Geography on the following social media sites:

You can read more reviews of this curriculum on the Homeschool Review Crew blog. 

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Imagine. . .The Great Flood

Reading is kinda our thing around here. The kids go through so many books in a week, so it's always exciting when we get a new one to review. I've said before that we like all types of books from fiction to nonfiction. This time, we enjoyed a fictional book that is based on factual events. Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich places the reader in the story of--yep, you guessed it--the Great Flood.   

Barbour Publishing was kind enough to send us this book. The company has been publishing Christian classics at value prices since 1981. With over 1,000 titles--covering audio books, Bibles, reference books, children's, devotionals, fiction, nonfiction, activity books, music, and more--there's something for everyone. This was the company that introduced us to the Diary of a Real Payne years ago. The kiddos liked that book so much that we purchased the other 2 books in the series. I was looking forward to reading another book that they offer.

Imagine. . .The Great Flood is the first release in an exciting new adventure series by Matt Koceich. Matt, a schoolteacher and missionary, began the Imagine series to help bring the Bible to life by portraying what it may have been like to live through a monumental biblical event. The books are written for ages 8-12, but are good for anyone who loves an adventure.

The day we received the book, the kids were getting over an illness. The two little boys (the ones who don't sit quietly for very long, ha) were napping, so it was the perfect opportunity for some reading. My girl cuddled up with me under a cozy blanket while the other two boys grabbed some Legos to keep their hands busy. At the halfway point in the book, I asked if they wanted to stop. Of course they didn't, and we finished the book in one sitting. It took less than 1 1/2 hours to read it aloud with a few short breaks. The 110 pages are broken into 15 short chapters, making it a quick read.

The story begins as Corey's life is falling apart. He doesn't understand why his family has to move. The idea of a new school, new city, new everything, scares him, but his mom assures him that he needs to trust God. Suddenly, Corey found himself face-to-face with a lion. Somehow, he had been transported back thousands of years to the land of Mesopotamia. He befriends Shem, son of Noah, and helps him load the animals on the ark. It was not an easy task though as they soon were attacked by the Nephilim. Superhuman giants, lion attacks, smashing boulders, a secret plan, a traitor, a sorcerer, a raging river, a deep pit, and a rhino ride are some of the excitement they experienced as they worked to prepare for the Flood. Corey learned to trust God and see the blessings in situations that he didn't understand. When he returned to his present time, he had a new attitude and learned a valuable lesson: things change, but God never changes.

The book is full of adventure and suspense. It does a good job putting the reader in the story and giving a glimpse of what it could have been like to live during the time of Noah. The only thing that I don't care for is that some of it is not biblical. I understand filling in details to make a story, but to change facts that are in the Bible to make a story "better" doesn't make sense to me. For instance, in this book, the rain pours before all the animals and Noah's family are in the ark; whereas the Bible says that they were in the ark and that God shut the door before the rain began. I made sure to read my kids the biblical account of this event and talked about this and a few other details that varied.

One thing that we found funny was that one of the character's name is Ardad (our dad). We made many jokes while we were reading (and even over the next few days, ha) whenever his name was mentioned. "Our dad did that? That doesn't sound like something our dad would do! Our dad lived before the Flood?" They thought it was so funny.

 Here's what the kiddos had to say about the book:

I like the giants.

My favorite thing is that Noah saved him and he saved Noah.

I like how it was about the Bible.

We really enjoyed Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich despite the few inaccuracies and look forward to reading the second book in the series which explains what it would be like to live during the Ten Plagues in Egypt.

You can connect with Barbour Publishing on the following social media sites:

You can read more reviews of this book on the Homeschool Review Crew blog. 

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Things That Make Me Smile 9/15/17

Jake (11 1/2), Alyssa (9), Zac (7 1/2), Tyler (5), Nicholas (2 1/2)

Happy Friday! This week I'm thankful for family and friends who have provided meals as I continue to heal. Their love and generosity have made this experience easier. Even in unpleasant situations, there are always reasons to Smile.

1. Tyler, after Nicholas jumped on his back and they both fell off the couch: "That was the best . . . fall . . . ever!"

2. How almost every book Alyssa reads is "the best book ever!"

3. Leighton, after giving Tyler directions: "Ok?"
Tyler: {emphatically}"Ok! . . .{hesitantly} But I don't exactly know what you said."

4. Tyler: "I smile at you all the time because I love you."


6. Leighton brought up a load of laundry, but as I started folding it, I realized it was still damp. He took it to put it back in the dryer and brought up another basket of clean clothes.
Me, teasing: "What is this? I reject one, so you bring up another?"
Alyssa: "Kinda like the colonists and the taxes!"

7. Tyler: "Mama, I forgot, what's a mice called when it's only one?"

8. Nicholas, in bed, singing 'Jesus Loves Me': "Bible tell me He love meeeee!"

9. Jake: "I never met a cake I didn't like."

10. Jake: "Dee-ssert."
Tyler: "Dessert."
Jake: "It's dee-ssert."
Tyler: "Mommy, is it dee-ssert or dessert?"
Me: "You can pronounce it however you want."
Tyler: "Oh, good! I'm calling it bologna!"

What made you Smile this week?

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Carole P. Roman Books

* This post may contain affiliate links. 

We've reviewed multiple books this year alone, and each time I comment on the fact that our family loves to read. Picture books, chapter books, fiction, nonfiction--we're not picky; just hand us a book or two. Or in this case, four.

We were given the opportunity to receive more books by Carole P. Roman. We own many of the books in her If You Were Me series and were excited to own more titles. In only 5 years, Carole has written over 35 books for children and received countless awards (no, really, there are so many I'm not going to count them all!) for her works. Not only is she an accomplished author, she's a generous one, as well. We were able to choose 2 of her titles; then she picked 2 more to send. We received the following books:

If You Were Me and Lived in...Viking Europe was an easy choice. Because of my husband's Scandinavian roots and the vikings' pirate-esque qualities, my kids are fascinated with the people. This book, like the others in this series, is written in second person format. Each book places you, the reader, in that location during that time period. This book, which is part of the Introduction to Civilizations set, is so much more in depth and contains much more information than the Introduction to Cultures books. 

The 75-page paperback give a fantastic description of what it could have been like to live in Viking Europe in 870 AD. It teaches about the people and their classes. The Jarls were the wealthy people of government, the Karls were the free peasants or farmers, and the Thralls were the captured slaves who did all the hard labor. The book talks about food like cod, mussels, shrimp, whales, walruses, ducks, hazelnuts, cheese, berries, and more. It teaches in detail about the utensils and tools of the period, the clothing, and activities. There's information about their gods, marriage traditions, sagas, and poems.    

The back of the book contains a glossary of people, places, and things that are pertinent to that time and place. It also has a section about important or famous people and a description for each. These resources can be used as a spring board for further study.

As much as we love the If You Were Me books, I wanted to experience Carole's other writing styles, as well. Again, my choice was fairly easy: pirates. The Captain No Beard series is based on her grandchildren and teach a tender lesson while using  the imagination. I read through some of the descriptions in the series, but decided on starting at the beginning with volume 1, Captain No Beard: An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate's Life)

This silly book tells the story of Captain No Beard and his crew: Mongo the Monkey, Linus the lion, Fribbit the frog, and first mate Hallie. The crew learns important pirate lingo and how to perform pirate duties, all while No Beard laments that "being a captain is hard work." They braved the open seas, survived a storm, searched for treasure, met a mermaid . . . and ended up back on Alexander's (No Beard) bed with his cousin Hallie and stuffed animal friends.

It was exciting to receive 2 surprise books. The first was Rocket-Bye

This book is Carole's love letter to her grandsons. The story takes the reader to the stars, quite literally. The pages are covered in illustrations in the galaxy. Two boys (representing the grandsons) sit atop a rocket ship as they zoom page-by-page past stars, planets, moons, constellations, and other cosmic colors. The rhyming text weaves and curves through the pages as if it's traveling through the vast universe along with the rocket ship. This story is sure to inspire an out-of-this-world adventure.

Our second surprise book was Can a Princess Be a Firefighter?.

While the last book was written for the grandsons, this book is Carole's love letter to her granddaughters. Little kids dream of what they want to be when they grow up. This heartfelt lesson to little girls encourages them to follow their dreams--whether they want to be an explorer, nurse, chef, farmer, teacher, police officer, pilot, accountant, or anything else they can imagine. And no matter what they choose, they can still be princesses.

The kiddos and I sat and read these books together. The 3 are quick reads and typical picture books. If You Were Me and Lived in...Viking Europe is a lot more educational and filled with facts.  I even found the kids reading these books on their own, too. Here's what they had to say:

I like the pirate one because I like being a pirate!

I liked Can a Princess Be a Firefighter because I like princesses. 

I liked Captain No Beard because I want to taste their treasure!

I liked the Viking book because I'd like to practice archery and spear throwing like them.

If you need some quality children's books, Carole P. Roman has many award-winning options for you.

You can connect with Carole P. Roman on the following social media sites:

You can read more reviews of many of the books written by Carole P. Roman on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

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* Some of the links in the content above are affiliate links. If you click on a link and purchase an item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I recommend products or services that I have used personally and all the text and opinions are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 225.
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Friday, September 8, 2017

Things That Make Me Smile 9/8/17

Jake (11 1/2), Alyssa (9), Zac (7 1/2), Tyler (5), Nicholas (2 1/2)

Happy Friday! I meant to mention this last week and completely forgot: Nicholas spent the night with my parents' for the first time! My mom took him to make things easier while I recover. I've mentioned a little before about how bad of a sleeper Nicholas has always been, but he did so well at their house that they kept him 2 nights. And he's even continued to do well at home! He still doesn't sleep much, but he's at least sleeping straight through most nights. That's a big reason to Smile.

1. Me, because Jake moved Nicholas' play kitchen to the living room: "Thank you."
Jake: "You're welcome. It was a piece of cake . . . Heh, it wasn't a good pun, but at least it was a pun."

2. Zac, after cutting 2 pieces of zucchini bread: "Which one do you want?"
Tyler: "I'll let you have the bigger one, because you're bigger than me. And I like being nice."


4. Tyler: "How long did you do it?"
Me: "One minute."
Tyler, pointing to the microwave: "Yeah, but a minute on there is a long time."

5. Alyssa, after opening a new jar of creamy peanut butter: "Look how peaceful it looks."

6. Alyssa, at least a dozen times, the night before our first day of the new school year: "I am so excited for tomorrow!"


8. Tyler, whining: "Zac's not playing nicely! I'm hitting him with lightning and he said it's not affecting him at all!"

9. Zac: "I like learning about fish."
Jake: "My favorite part about fish is that they're edible."

What made you Smile this week?

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Things That Make Me Smile 8/25/17

Jake (11 1/2), Alyssa (9), Zac (7 1/2), Tyler (5), Nicholas (2 1/2)

Happy Friday! I am still recovering from my high ankle sprain, so this week was also spent on the couch being taken care of by my family. I experienced some secondary effects of the injury, like a pinched nerve that resulted in sciatica that traveled all the way to my toes. That pain was worse than the sprain itself. My dad came over multiple times during the week to adjust me. How many people can say that their chiropractor comes to their house? :) Everything is now back in place and I am continuing to heal, slowly but surely. 

1. Tyler: "I'm hungry, but I'm stuffed at the same time."

2. Jake, while listening to a Rush Revere audio book, in reference to a poop deck: "I thought it was called that because that's where seagulls go to the bathroom."

3. Zac made a LEGO putt-putt golf hole.

4. Me, at the end of the day: "Who picked out Tyler's clothes today?"
Tyler: "I did."
Me: "I just realized you're wearing Nicky's shorts."
Tyler: "No wonder they feel so weird!"

5. Tyler, about the multi-colored bruise across my foot and ankle: "That looks so cool! It's awesome!"

6. Zac, because Leighton and Nicholas were running errands for a couple hours: "Is Dad on his way home? I can't wait to see Nicky again."

7. Zac, playing hide 'n seek: "Nicky, where are you?"
Nicholas: "I under table!"


What made you Smile this week?

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Greatest Inventors Review

I often to refer to my kiddos as little inventors. They love to create new things, whether they use Lego pieces or bits of odds and ends found around the house. We go through a lot of tape, string, and rubber bands, and I find various projects in different stages all across the house. They're always explaining new inventions to me. In that sense, they are so much like their daddy. Probably my favorite thing that he's created is a motorized wagon with benches that he designed from an old wheel chair. It's the perfect convenience when we spend a day trip at places like zoos and museums. It draws attention everywhere we go, and I feel so much pride when people stop to ask questions and praise his invention.

Because of that creative gene and their curiosity, I knew my kids would enjoy a study of The Greatest Inventors from A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks.

A Journey Through Learning was started by two homeschooling moms. When they commented that there was a lack of quality, hands-on materials that covered fun topics, their husbands encouraged them to start their own business. Over the course of the last 10 years, they experienced some early struggles and a devastating event, created many products, won multiple awards, and have built a thriving company. While their passion is lapbooks, they also offer unit studies, notebooking pages, and copywork pages.

Lapbooks are a fun, hands-on way of learning and recording information. Each lapbook is focused on a topic of study and then filled with various mini-booklets of key information. They do require a little work, as there is printing, cutting, folding, gluing, writing, and whatnot involved, but the process is fun and helps to cement the information in the student's mind. Plus, it serves as a great refresher later on as the student flips through and remembers the information. These lapbooks from A Journey Through Learning are designed to be as simple to use as possible. They even have various videos that describe what they are and how to set them up.

The first many pages of the download are filled with the how-tos of the book. There's a list of supplies, the assembly of the book, tips and tricks, picture diagrams, and more. The rest of the 67-page book is the study guide and mini-booklet patterns. The format is such that there is a study guide page for an inventor, and then there is the accompanying pattern pages for that inventor for the lapbook immediately afterward. This setup makes it super easy to find what you need.

Another aspect of this book that makes it simple to use is that there are diagrams at the top of every pattern page to show you exactly where the mini-booklet is placed in the lapbook. There is also a full diagram of the whole lapbook in the beginning pages of the book, but these small diagrams throughout are very helpful as you're working your way through the material. I did find one mistake though. The mini diagram lists the Guglielmo/Marconi booklet as being in folder one, but the main diagram shows folder two. Since we already had another inventor in that spot in folder one, when we got to that, all we had to do was check the main diagram in the beginning of the book.

Just as I assumed, my kids enjoyed learning about the various inventors and their creations. The material is not a full-blown description of each person's life, but just a brief summary with an overview and tidbits of information. Some of the study guide feels a little disjointed. For instance, they list some of the events in Marconi's life, mention his death, and then immediately talk about when he was drafted in the Italian Army, his service there, and more of his life.

You can choose to use the study guide as a simple introduction to the inventors, or you can use it as a springboard for further study. Since we've been on a summer schedule, this was the perfect amount of work for a day. The kids and I would read the one-page description of an inventor, make the mini-booklet, and add it to our lapbook. There were a few times when we would look up more information, like a video of a working cotton gin or a picture of an ear phonautograph, but mostly we stuck to the material in the download.

The lapbook itself is more basic than other lapbooks we've created. There aren't spinning parts or detailed features. Instead, these are simple and can be created quickly. Everything is printed on plain, white printer paper, so there's no swapping paper for colored or cardstock. I think both versions have their advantages, but if you're looking for convenience and ease, A Journey Through Learning is the way to go. There are also easy-to-understand directions at the top of every pattern page that explain what needs to be done for the mini-booklets.

I think The Greatest Inventors was a perfect summer study and definitely plan to incorporate more lapbooks from A Journey Through Learning in our schooling.

You can connect with A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks on the following social media sites:

You can read more reviews of this lapbook an of some of the other products offered by A Journey Through Learning on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

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Friday, August 25, 2017

Things That Make Me Smile 8/18/17

Jake (11 1/2), Alyssa (9), Zac (7 1/2), Tyler (5), Nicholas (2 1/2)

Happy Friday! This week, the kiddos painted, read books, and played with Legos. Things will be different around here for a while as I heal from a bad ankle sprain. The kids are helping out more, especially with meals, and my mom has come over to help some days, too. Of course, Leighton is picking up the majority of my responsibilities around the house in addition to his own daily tasks. The situation is not ideal, but it reminds me just how thankful I am for this family of mine. I am truly blessed and have numerous reasons to Smile. 

1. Tyler, getting tucked in at bedtime, dreamily: "I could hug you until morning."

2. Jake: "It is so weird how some cars have the engine in the back. It's like putting the cherry under your ice cream."

3. Jake: "Is the opposite of productive deductive?" Or antiductive? Or is it just ductive?"
Mae: "None of them, but good job with your prefixes. What's another prefix that means 'not'?"
Jake, thinking: ". . . Un! Unproductive!"


5. Alyssa, after I commented about something: "That's what Dad said."
Jake, because this type of situation happens often: "How many times are you and Dad going to say the same thing? For the rest of your days?"

6. Nicholas: "I wike you, Mama."

7. Me: "I'm hungry."
Jake: "From my experience, saying 'I'm hungry' doesn't make a hamburger appear in front of your face. Trust me, I've tried." 

What made you Smile this week?

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Kids Cook: Southwest Cheesy Chicken & Rice

Ok, I'm going to be honest up front and say that this is not a pretty dish. What it lacks in appearance though, it makes up for in taste. 

I mean, my pickiest child asked for 4 helpings of it. 


He said, "This is way better than I thought it was going to be!"

I think that was a compliment. Ha. 

Leighton had planned to assemble this in the crock pot the night before, but with all the extra responsibilities and craziness around here because of my injury, it completely slipped his (and my) mind when it came time to do it. We realized it the next morning. 

Oops, I'll have to grab something on my way home.

Nah, don't worry about it. The kids can handle it.

It is really cool having kids who can cook. Jake got the first few ingredients cooking in the crock pot before he headed outside to play with his friend, and the last few were taken care of just before we ate. 

The recipe calls for 4 cups of rice, but the typical directions for jasmine rice produces only 3 cups. I could have explained how to increase it, but for simplicity's sake, we kept it as is. You could use white, brown, or long grain rice, too. Anything would work in this. 

We garnished ours with sour cream, extra cheese, and crushed tortilla chips, but other southwest flavors would be good too, like green chilies, jalapeños, cilantro, guacamole, or a squirt of lime. 

The whole family liked this dish, and it's an easy one for the kiddos to make. Just don't wait until you sprain your ankle to have them make it for you, ha. 

Southwest Cheesy Chicken & Rice
5 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
8 oz Velveeta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 cups cooked rice

1. In a 6-quart crock pot, add chicken breasts, taco seasoning, tomatoes, black beans, and corn. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 5 hours.
2. Remove cooked chicken and cut into bit-size pieces.
3. Add Velveeta and cheddar cheeses to crock pot and cook on high for 15 minutes.
4. Stir crock pot to make sure cheeses have melted. Stir in chicken and rice. 

Recipe adapted.
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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Kids Cook: Spalfredo

I sprained my ankle last week. 

Not a simple sprain, mind you (because where's the fun in that?), but a grade 2 high ankle sprain. And to top it off, I also managed an eversion sprain and an injury to my shin, as well. The pain encompasses both sides of my ankle, the entire foot, and up through my leg. If you're going to do something, do it right. Right? I'm 7 days in and I still can't put any weight on it whatsoever. The healing process is going to be lengthy.

But this isn't a woe-is-me post.

Since I can't get off the couch and my family still requires food for sustenance, I knew I needed to do something. I gathered some simple meals that Leighton or the kids could throw together. No, these aren't our typical from-scratch, homemade meals. Though cooking is a passion and I love to create healthy dishes for my loves, this isn't the time for that. This is a time to keep things as easy as possible while everyone else is doing Mom's chores. This is exactly why it's so important for me to train my little ones, both to know their way around the kitchen and to know how to do chores around the house.

I picked meals for this week and then let Alyssa choose which one she wanted to prepare for Kids Cook Monday. Normally, the child has to pick the meal on his own, either by looking through cookbooks or just thinking of a favorite dish. Since I wouldn't be able to oversee the process, we went this route for now.

Alyssa chose spalfredo. 

Spalfredo? It's a pasta dish that combines spaghetti sauce with alfredo sauce. Clever name, right? We've been making this on vacation for years, because, again, it's super simple to make. I like to add ground beef and onions to it to give it more substance. You could toss in a variety of veggies to increase the healthiness of it, too, or swap the beef for chicken. It's a perfect base recipe, but still delicious as is. It's good paired with a nice garden salad, but I didn't want to give my 9-year-old too much to do on her own. 

Alyssa also made a loaf of bread in our machine to go with it, and since my mom was here helping because of my injury, she walked her through that recipe. She needed help getting the big pot of water on the stove and again to drain the boiling water. Otherwise, this dish is perfect for a child to prepare. 

It's a hit with the whole family, though Alyssa will tell you she prefers it without the parmesan cheese on top. I'm sure she'd think differently if it were freshly grated, but we're going with simple, remember?

I can't cook for my family right now, but I am so thankful my little ones have the skills they need to do it for me. I'm so proud of these kids and their abilities. 

And knowing that Mom trusts them to assume responsibility and do it well means they're pretty proud of themselves, too. 

1 box penne pasta
1 jar (24 oz) spaghetti sauce
1 jar (11 oz) alfredo sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup parmesan cheese

1. In a large pot, cook pasta until it is not quite al dente (it will finish cooking in the oven). Drain water.
2. Add spaghetti sauce, alfredo sauce, and mozzarella cheese to the pasta in the pot. Mix well and pour into a 9x13 pan.  
3. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly. 
4. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and bake another 5 minutes. 

Recipe slightly adapted. 

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The Everyday Family Chore System

Curricula for the kids aren't the only products I get to review as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew. This one from Everyday Homemaking is more for me--and any parent really, not just homeschoolers. One might think that since I'm a full-time, stay-at-home mom that I have this whole thing under control. Ha. While I absolutely love being a homemaker and all that entails (even the cleaning!), I struggle like anyone else to get it all done. That's why it's important to have a system in place for accountability and structure.

I take my role as "mom" very seriously. Not only is it my responsibility to teach my little ones reading, math, and history, it's also my duty to train them in life skills, too. When it comes to working around the house, The Everyday Family Chore System makes it easy to organize the responsibilities. 

As a mother of 8 daughters and a foster mom of almost 50, Vicki Bentley has experience in raising children and teaching them what it means to be a "responsible, caring, sharing part of your family." She wrote this book to help other moms see what worked for her family and to give them the tools necessary to implement the program. The book is broken into the following sections:  

  • Introduction
  • Part One: Laying a Foundation
  • Part Two: Implementing the Plan
  • Part Three: The Actual Chore System
  • Suggested Resources

In Laying a Foundation, Vicki explains the purpose of her chore system, in that it's meant to train your children to be responsible members of the family that diligently serve one another and to disciple them in life skills. She talks about having the proper expectations, establishing standards, having a working knowledge of family discipline, and showing your kids love.

"If you don't have time to do it right, you sure don't have time to do it over!" 
~ Vicki Bentley

Implementing the Plan gets down to the nitty gritty details. She includes a life skills checklist that acts as a guideline for training children. Each age from 2-teens has a list of possible skills in which you might begin to train the child to do. In parentheses after each skill is the age which the child might be able to complete the task on his own. For example, you might choose to start teaching a 3-year-old how to dust furniture, but he might not be able to properly do it on his own until age 9. Or you may train a 7-year-old to clean the bathroom, but he may not fully hone the skill until he is 12. She is very clear that this list is simply a guideline to help you, not to be followed strictly. Each child is different and has different abilities. As an example, she lists baking a cake and making pancakes starting at age 10 and being fully capable by ages 14 and 16 respectively. In our home, both of those skills are reached on their own, years before her suggested age of 10. It is a lengthy list that includes more than cooking and cleaning, as there are skills such as building a fire, filling out a job application, changing flat tires, planning a workable budget, and much more.

In this section, she also describes the plan and gives suggestions of ways to set it up. She even has many tips you can implement to help your kids succeed, like having a routine, having a place for everything, labeling, making your home child-friendly, and others.

Part three is The Actual Chore System, meaning it contains printable cards for your system. There are individual card labels that name the jobs. They include the most common family chores and then there are several empty labels so you can customize your list for your own family.

There are also How-To-Do-It Cards that correspond to the majority of the jobs and a few extras. These 3x5 cards explain step-by-step how the task should be accomplished. This ensures that the child does a thorough job and does not forget any steps. It also acts as accountability so he can't claim that he didn't know a specific portion needed to be done. Some of the cards have blank spaces so you can fill in your chosen cleaner. I laminated all of my cards for stability and chose to do so without the blanks filled in. This way, if I decide to change my cleaner, I won't need to replace the card. I simply write on the laminated card with an overhead transparency marker, or a wet-erase marker. This way, the ink is semi-permanent, but can easily be changed with a little water and cloth.  

There are many different ways you can put the system together. I chose to use a plastic pocket chart that I used during my teaching-in-the-classroom days many years ago. This was incredibly simply to use, because once I had my cards printed, cut, and laminated, all I had to do was fill the pockets. The chart can stand up on its own, or I can collapse it to hide it away. There is also a large velcro pocket in the inside that I use to store the How-To-Do-It cards that are part of the weekly jobs in the chart.

As far as the other cards, I keep those in a 3x5 card box. Those are the jobs that don't need to be completed as often. We use these tasks for various things: weekly job from box, disciplinary purposes, seasonal cleaning, ect..

"Don't put it down; put it away!" ~ Vicki Bentley

I have seen many variations of chore charts over the years, but never one quite like this. This one isn't simply a list of age-appropriate tasks and a way to organize them, but includes valuable information explaining exactly how the child should complete them. The How-To-Do-It cards make this system stand out above the rest.

My kids are doing very well with this format. It's easy to keep track of the chores for the week and helps them to see what they need to do. They especially like doing the jobs from the box and often ask if they can do extras! We'll see how long that enthusiasm for extra chores lasts, ha.

Vicki also wrote a cookbook with tried-and-true recipes that we reviewed years ago. She is currently offering 10% off the Everyday Family Chore System and Everyday Cooking with coupon code TOS10books through September 5. The code is good for both the printed and digital versions.

You can connect with Everyday Homemaking on Facebook or the website.

If you'd like to read more reviews of the chore system or check out some reviews of the cookbook, please visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

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