Monday, October 15, 2012

Hands on Homeschooling Review

We have been really busy these past couple of months. I mean really busy. Baseball, flag football, school, having family over, sewing, cleaning, sorting closets and moving rooms around just to name a few of the things we have been doing. Before we started back to school I knew that we would be busy because we are always busy from September through the first of the year getting stuff ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas. That's why I started looking for some kind of school work for Ellie that I didn't have to plan or design. There are a couple of different things out there for 2 year olds but after researching and a lot of praying I decided that I really wanted to use Hands on Homeschooling for her. 
I added the devotional myself. It isn't included with the curriculum.
Each curriculum is shipped in a 3-ring binder with the following sections:
(At the bottom this page are links to each individual Curriculum.)
Introduction – a welcome letter
Prep and Planning – helpful information for getting organized, getting started and getting in the mindset for homeschooling
Overview – year at a glance. The main overview shows you what topics you will be covering throughout the year as well as the Bible stories. This is a good reference to keep with you when you go to the library because you can select books (or reserve books) for your current or next month’s themes.
Lesson plans – weekly overview and daily lesson details from September through May. Each weekly overview shows you the daily activities, lists ideas for bulletin board, and notes any reservations to make or special parts to collect.
Alternate activities – lots of extra ideas to choose from in case you do not want to do (or are not prepared to do)  something in the lesson plans.
Patterns – all worksheets and patterns (including craft patterns) that you’ll need to get through your school year.
Index- alphabetical list of all of the activities so you can look them up again.

I was so excited to see all of this was included and how easy it was laid out. You want to know what really sold me on this curriculum?? Talking to the author through email. She is so kind and quick to respond with answers to any questions you might have. 

Once my order was in it took literally days to receive it and everything was in a binder, in order by month and ready to go. I was so excited to get started and so was Ellie. She begs me everyday to do school work with her brothers, so I was more than happy to comply with her wishes. 

Ellie has had so much fun tracing lines, coloring pictures, doing small crafts and so many other awesome things. My favorite thing she is learning every month is the Bible verse. How awesome is it that my 2 year old is memorizing the Bible already? I love Hands on Homeschooling and I think that if you give it a try you will too! It's amazing! Oh yeah, Zeke wanted me to say that he loves it too! Lol. I have to copy some of the coloring pages for him because he thinks they look so fun.

Here is a link to the main website: Hands on Homeschooling

Here is what we are doing: 2 year old curriculum

What your 2 year old will learn by month: Monthly overview

So there it is! I love Hands on Homeschooling and I think it is a great choice for your 2,3,4 or 5 year old. You should definitely give the website a visit and have a look around. 

** I was given this curriculum in exchange for my fair and honest review. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Memoria Press 2nd Grade Literature Review

Most of you who homeschool know all about finding the perfect curriculum. About the hours and hours of research you do as a homechool mother. I am obsessed with curriculum and I love books and school supplies just about more than anything else. I had pretty much picked out everything when I realized that I still wasn't sure what I was going to do for literature for Barak. He is an amazing reader and his comprehension is through the roof so I wanted something that would keep his interest. I finally found Memoria Press' lit program and decided that it seemed like a perfect fit. Here are some of the things that are taught in the 2nd grade guides. 
  • Pronounce & Spell
  • Vocabulary
  • Quotations
  • Facts to Know
  • Comprehension Questions
  • Discussion Questions
  • Character Studies
  • Illustrate & Color
  • Noticing Details
  • Language Lessons
  • Life Lessons
  • Composition
  • Scripture

Our first book was The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh. It is such a great book and I love that I don't have to worry about there being anything I wouldn't want Barak to read. He is still reading out loud to me and I loved that I get to hear a new story along with him. : ) One other thing I love about this program is that it gives you a teacher's guide with the answers just in case you aren't reading with your child you can still check their work. 

We have only complete the first book as of now but there are four student workbooks all together.
The Courage of Sarah Noble
Little House in the Big Woods
Tales from Beatrix Potter 
Mr. Popper's Penguins

There is one negative. There is quite a bit of writing in this program and it's hard for Barak to do a full lesson unless we do part of it orally. So that is what we do. I ask him the comprehension questions and he tells me the answer. It's not a big deal and it's easy to fix but I just wanted to make sure and let everyone know. 

This program costs $55 for the student workbooks and the teacher's manual or you can buy the whole set that includes the novels for $99.  Everything was shipped quickly and in  perfect condition. Memoria Press is a great company to order from and they have excellent customer service. I love their website because they have sample pages. Here is a link to this lit program and you can click on any grade and see what the workbooks look like. 

I received the Student Workbooks and Teacher's Manual in exchange for my honest review. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Not Back to School Blog Hop- Our School Room

 This will be our third year homeschooling and our third school room. Our third room with our sixth room setup. We move furniture so much in this house my amazing husband and father should never have to lift a weight. These are the different places we have had our school room.

 1. Our upstairs living room
2. Our bedroom (we moved into Ellie's room when she was born)
3. Back out into the living room (we moved back out of Ellie's room into our bedroom)
4. Downstairs front room ( I thought it would be easier if we were next to the kitchen)
5. Back upstairs into the living room with a different desk(it wasn't easier next to the kitchen)
and finally.....................................
here is our 6th setup. 

This is the school/sewing area behind our couch and chair. Ellie had to start dragging stuff out before I could get even one picture taken. Go figure. : )

Our favorite reading spot is our huge bean bag chair from Ultimate Sack. We love this thing. I love it because it's super comfortable. The boys and Ellie love it because Daddy throws them on it from way across the room. I am not a huge fan of the throwing part in case you were wondering.

When we bought this armoire off of Craigslist we planned on bringing it home and adding some shelves but then I found these crates and decided to use them instead. Now everything is sorted and I can take one out and see everything inside without having stuff hidden in the back of a shelf. One basket has all of my supplies (printer ink, post its, scissors, hole punches, etc.), one has all of our markers, unsharpened pencils and other various coloring and writing tools, we keep math manipulatives and counters in one and the last has clay, chalk and little chalkboards. I put a few colored pens in the clear cup and different types of markers are in the white bucket (from Target in the kitchen section).  The open shelves have all of our crayons separated by color in little buckets, some of Ellie's toys are in the white basket, all of our dry erase boards and markers are on the bottom along with the boys' play money.  On the very top I have a black basket that I keep all of my teacher's manuals in (you can see it in the very first picture).

This is our Expedit shelves and desk from Ikea. In the 2x2 shelf we keep all of Ellie's puzzles, games, blocks and pretty much anything else she can play with while we do school work. Now onto our big shelf.....I have our ipod dock/ cd player on top where we listen to our Bible verses and Latin cd. In the white boxes on top I have stickers, card games, flash cards, the boys art projects and my laminating pouces. The next row down has our binders that hold the previous years work and our curriculum for this year. The magazine holders are from Ikea and we have card stock, construction paper, coloring books, sticker books and last years curriculum. All of our notebooks and lined paper are in the red basket, and I use the two black baskets to separate the boys workbooks every morning. We tried the workbox thing and it didn't work for us but I still put post its with the page numbers on the books they can do independently. When I work with Zeke I tell Barak to pick a book out of the basket and he can work on it and vice versa. It has worked really well so far and it's just one basket I have to mess with. 

One thing we have always struggled with is having too many pens, pencils, crayons and markers ALL OVER the table and not having any room to work. So when I saw this idea to color code the kids I knew I had to do it too. Of course they are already color coded in everything else except for their school supplies so it was so easy to pick colors. Barak is orange, Zeke is blue and Ellie is pink or purple. My awesome laminator is on this table, our pencil sharpener and a box to keep library books in. Under the table is Ellie's blocks, her ride on toy and a box to keep library books that are ready to go back. 

Last but not least is my desk/sewing table. I rarely sit here while we do school work but I do my lesson planning here and of course I sew here.  I'm sure you will all be shocked to learn this but my sewing table is from Ikea. After looking through all of these other school rooms I'm thinking that homeschoolers are single-handedly  keeping Ikea in business. : ) I live an hour and a half away and it's a good thing or we would be BROKE! Anyway that is our school room and I am so excited to get started on Monday!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Not Back-to-School Blog Hop: Curriculum

Somehow I completely spaced on this blog hop and so I am a week late. I do have my school room post ready though, so I will be caught up and ready for next week. Enough of my excuses and on to our curriculum choices for this year.

This is what we will be doing together:

Heart of Dakota:Beyond Little Hearts for His GloryThis is our main curriculum it includes Bible, History, Art, Reading, Literature and has some sort of schedule for pretty much everything else. We used HOD last year and we loved it and are so excited for this next level.

Math: Life of Fred-Butterflies- The boys can't get enough of this. I mean they literally beg me to read "Fred math" to them all the time. This isn't our only math but we will be doing this together along with each boy having there own separate math.

Latin: Prima Latina from Memoria Press- We will be starting Latin this year and although it really is more for Barak's age Zeke really wants to do it so we will be working on this as a group.

Music: Rod and Staff Beginning in Music- We are also planning on starting their piano lessons again.

Geography: Road Trip U.S.A by Confessions of a Homeschooler

Character: Kids of Integrity- I found this free curriculum through Pinterest (of course) and I am so so excited! We haven't tried it yet but it looks great, especially since it's FREE!

Physical Education: Family Time FItness- I received this in exchange for my review last year and we loved it and will do it all over again this year. They are also playing baseball and football and Barak will be starting Track and Field next month.

Barak-2nd grade

Literature: Memoria Press-2nd grade lit guides- We also have Drawn Into the Heart of Reading but I'm not sure if we are going to use it. We are going to try Memoria Press first and see how that works out.

Spelling: Sequential Spelling 1- I have Level 2 in the picture but I found out that Level 1 is for 2nd grade so it's on the way.

Zeke-K/1st grade
Reading/Phonics: The Reading Lesson and some easy readers

Handwriting: Abeka Writing with Phonics Cursive ( I had to buy mine on Ebay because they were sold out on the Abeka site so I didn't include a link.)

Ellie- 2 years old
I am doing Hands on Homeschooling with Ellie and so far we really like it. I will be writing a review in the next couple of weeks but so far she has really loved doing school work with her brothers.

I also just bought One Year Devotions for Preschoolers so we will be reading that together along with hundreds of other books.

Whew!! That really looks like a lot when it's typed out but as always if there is something that is too hard we will slow it down or change it up or if it isn't working throw it out all together and take a break. That is the best thing about homeschooling if something isn't working we don't have to force it and I love it. I am really excited for this year and I think we are all (including me) going to learn a lot. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Taking care of my home with a happy heart

Who here likes to clean?? Anyone love doing laundry? Yeah, well neither do I. I've started to realize that I've turned into a big old grump when it comes to taking care of my family. I whine if I have to pick up someones dirty socks, or put a cup in the dishwasher that was left out. I think to myself how dare I have to do this for them. Seriously, I do. I'm totally embarrassed to admit it but I act like a child. Some days I even have temper tantrums. I stomp up and down the stars and make sure I'm slamming the cabinet doors loud enough for everyone to hear me put away the dishes in the dishwasher.  All the while I'm telling the boys to do their schoolwork with a happy heart.  The other day I was quoting scripture to them about rejoicing and being glad.  

Psalm 68:3
But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.
Psalm 118:24
"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Proverbs 15:13
A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.

How's that for God opening your eyes? I was sick when I realized that I was telling them to do everything with a good attitude and I was going to pout and ruin our day by being a big baby. It was like a light went on. I don't have to be upset about cleaning pee off of toilet seats but I choose to. My attitude is my decision and only mine. So I decided that I wasn't going to have a bad attitude about taking care of my family. God has blessed me with this amazing family. My wonderful husband, 3 great kids, a brother who loves my kids and makes them laugh everyday (though he doesn't live with us all the time), and 2 amazing parents who gladly live with this rowdy bunch. How can I complain when I am so blessed? 

So last week I dusted upstairs and down, ran the sweeper, cleaned all the ceiling fans, disinfected the garbage disposal and many other things that I had gotten behind on since we went on vacation. I listened to good music, prayed and watched movies on my ipad while I did laundry. It was fun!!! Not only did I enjoy myself I felt great afterwards. Now I am caught up and where I need to be so I can use my cleaning schedule again and never get behind on those things. This is my job, taking care of these blessing that I have been entrusted with and I will do it with a smile on my face and joy in my heart from now on. 

Here's my Pinterest cleaning/organization board with tons of printables, cleaning tips and schedule ideas -


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Orlando Stroller Rentals review

Taking a break and eating ice cream.

I really think this picture says it all but I will write a full review anyway. : )  I am so glad that I found Orlando Stroller Rentals. We rented the City Mini Double Stroller with the jogger glider board. I wasn't sure if renting a double was a good idea because I figured the boys would never be in it but boy was I wrong. We used this stroller non-stop. Having that glider board on the back was so helpful and the boys really liked being able to hop on and off if they got tired of walking. I can't say enough about how great having this stroller was!! It moved like a dream! We have had more double strollers than I care to admit and this thing puts them all to shame. Zeke fell asleep riding in the stroller 2 or 3 times and he fit perfectly. Most strollers the boys are too big to fit in at their age (5 & 7) but they could both ride side by side in this without a problem and it still wasn't too heavy to push. The other great thing about this stroller is that my dad and Glen could both push it without kicking the back or the wheels. I'm short so I don't have that problem but with most of the strollers we have used it has been hard for the men to push because their legs are too long.

I will put one warning out there though. Everyone and their mom rents these strollers so you need to keep your large name tag on it. There are tons of strollers and Disney moves them so if you don't have that tag you will lose your stroller, for sure.

 Now I want to talk about how easy it is to rent from this company. I emailed them and had a confirmation email the next day. They answered my questions right away and were very professional and easy to work with. When we arrived at our hotel we told the front desk and they gave us our stroller right away. The kids rode in it to our building so they didn't have to get back in the dreaded suburban after 18+ hours. We used it everyday, all day and then the day we left we took it back up front, made sure our tag was still on there and that was that. I can't believe that I have never rented strollers on our trips before. It was so easy, affordable and convenient. You can rent this stroller for 4-7 nights for only $75 and they have many other strollers and night combos to choose from depending on your budget and your needs. All the info is on their website.

Phone Number: 800-281-0884

I received my stroller and glider board free of charge in exchange for my unbiased and honest review.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Our Disney Trip!

So this is basically going to be a long post with tons of pictures from our Disney Trip. I do want to give one HUGE tip today though. If you are going to Disney World anytime, ever you absolutely, positively need to pay the money and use Tour Guide Mike . We have been to Disney 4 times now (since I've had kids) and this was by far the best trip and we hardly ever waited in a line. I'm not exaggerating in the least when I say this was the best $20 I've ever spent. 

Now that I have gotten the most important bit of info out there, here are the million and one photos we took while on vacation!

The suburban we rented. 

Ellie ready to hit the road!

He actually pulled out the sword!!

Hysterical picture of my mom trying to go up in the Swiss Family Robinson  Tree House. She is terrified of heights and practically crawled half the way. LOL!

Ellie waving at the parade.

My brother Jon.

My favorite picture
Mad Hatter Glen

My young Jedi


We stopped at Daytona Beach for 1 hour on or way home just to stretch our legs and the boys and Ellie loved it!!!  They were not ready to get back in that cramped suburban.

We finally made it to Gatlinburg for the night and they got to play putt putt so they were happy about that.

Oh and one more little tip. You can get ice water for free from the food vendors at Disney so you don't have to pay for bottled water. I didn't know that until I read a comment someone left on a blog post about saving money at the parks. 

Tomorrow my review on Orlando Stroller Rentals will be up and I have a few recipes I'll be posting soon.