Friday, June 28, 2013

Farm Friday

One of our filler roosters.  They are turning out to be very friendly to humans but we have too many roos to hens :(

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Classical Historian- a review

Hint #1 FUN

Answer: Classical Historian Ancient History Go Fish Game!  This deck of 50 sturdy cards is jammed packed with ancient history photos, illustrations and facts.  The deck comes with instructions for several games that can be played with the same deck.  Our family's two favorites were Go Fish and Collect a Card.  Go fish was excellent for at home.  I would take out the deck and we would play several variations.  One was where you asked in classic go fish style for a category ex. " Do you have any Ancient Egypt?" the other harder and slightly more cut throat version we played was asking for a specific card from a specific category.  My two kids ages 8 and 10 loved both variations and begged for just one more hand!
Another game that can be played with the same deck is called Collect the cards.  I use this one in the car while my husband is driving.  I start giving the hints on the cards and the person who guesses first gets the card.  It engages everyone in the car (::ahem:: even the driver).  It gave us talking points and a reason to shut off devices and the radio, a win in my book.

Yet another game involved setting out the continent cards and placing the remaining cards onto the pile of Where they took place.  This was a perfect review game for my little learners who have just finished up a year studying ancient history.

This deck of cards is so versatile and portable, at $11.95 it is also a great value to supplement anyone's  study of Ancient History.  It was fun to add a fun yet competitive element to our studies.  
Classical Historian offers a other time periods as well as a full history curriculum.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Waterproof Bible

Refreshing words on refreshingly waterproof pages
I was incredibly excited to get my hands on a Waterproof Bible.  In my mind I was thinking that only the cover would be waterproof and not the pages.  I was wrong.  I love this Bible and its extreme ability to repel water and even dirt.  If you have an active lifestyle or a Boy Scout in your life then you are going to love this Bible.

You see I live on five acres of raw land (read lots of dirt).  We are having a house built on the front 2 1/2 acres while we live in a trailer and 400 sq ft outbuilding on the back.  We are raising 28 chickens and one very mud loving border collie.  We live in dirt and when it rains we live in mud.  We have ruined countless things over the last 10 months by accidentally leaving then in the rain.  Books mostly are the victims.  With a beautiful swath of land we often sneak outside to find a space to spread out and have some quiet time.  The problem came when I would be called in to pluck a cactus thorn or find a random item in the underbelly of the trailer, my book would get left outside.  Without a doubt it would sprinkle, rain or mist heavily overnight and covers would get soggy.  With the waterproof Bible however that was never the case.  My KJV New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs arrived in the mail on a day in which I was mourning, it was unfazed by my tears and I watched as they just rolled off not only the cover but off the pages of Matthew as well.  Blessed are those that mourn.......

Here it sat
In an effort to test this Bible I left it out in an area we have deemed the "prayer garden".  It sat out on that table for almost 5 weeks.  It weathered several gully washers and frequent bouts of heavy dew.  I would just wipe it off and pick up my reading where I left off.  The makers of the Bible recommend the  use of a dry highlighter to mark on the waterproof pages, which have a very slick but not overly shiny look and feel to them.  I purchased such an item at my local Christian bookstore.  It is akin to a crayon and works very well on the pages of the waterproof Bible. It did not bleed, run or wipe off when the Bible got its dunking.
Dry highlighter after it took a swim
My son obliges the dunking
For further proof of its waterproofness I dropped it in my friends pool.  I hesitated before doing so because it just goes against all I was raised with to willingly dunk the bible.  My son however was game and dropped it in for me.  Upon pulling it out I saw that the cover was wet but the pages had remained dry.  So I fanned the pages and dropped it in open.  The whole Bible came out wet but not ruined.  I was able to wipe it down with a towel and set it up teepee style to finish drying, bonus it came out clean too :)

It doesn't float, but would be perfect for baptisms
Nice and wet but never soggy
In all honesty there is nothing bad that I can say about this product. It met and exceeded all my expectations

Bardin Marsee offers a full Bible for around $45 and the version that I got for about $25.  Several colors and translations are available on their website to fit anyones needs.  This product is perfect for my scout, but I will have to get him his own as mine is pink :)

If you or someone you know likes to take scriptures on the road less traveled I highly recommend this product.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


The kids and chickens are eating us out of trailer and outbuilding.  All 5 kids and all 28 chickens are growing.  Avery earned her tenderheart level award for American Heritage Girls.
The house is slowly moving forward.  The roofers are out there right now in drizzle putting the metal roof on.  You can see the beginning of the roof over the carport on the right.  All mechanicals are in and they have covered the floor in prep of foaming the attic and walls.
It is a dreary, humid day that demands a nap and a good piece of chocolate.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Saving Memories Forever is an app based method for saving audio memories.  The resulting audio or mp3 files can then be uploaded to the website and stored to share with others.  The app for your iPhone or droid is free but the website offers a premium service which is fee based.  Here is a good chart to determine you needs and whether you need to upgrade to the premium service.

I am not big on recording memories other than scrapbooking so getting into this particular app just didn't work for me.  I found the scripting restraining and frankly boring.  With today's technology I think just recording a story using your smartphone is sufficient for me.  But that is me.  If you are very much into family heritage and love to work through scripted questions than this may be for you.  An option I thought about for me to enjoy this app would be to use the premium service while at a family reunion.  Then you could pass the phone for each "storyteller" to record their history.  Seeing as I don't live near much family at the moment, except my sister, it just didn't appeal. I could have given family members login info and they could have added themselves as story tellers, but outside a reunion setting it just seemed like another thing to add to the to do list. Your mileage may vary.

Spanish For You

My ninth grade daughter has been asking to take a foreign language, never mind that she is taking Latin.  She considers Latin a dead language and not worthy of being called foreign, just dead!  So when the opportunity to review a Spanish curriculum came along I gladly agreed.

Spanish For You is a multi level, simple, and cost effective Spanish curriculum.  The package I received was Fiestas for grades 3-8.  Now my daughter is 9th grade but she was not bored with the program.  The program is both hard copy and digital.  The workbook is a 45 page soft cover book.  The lesson plans and worksheets are downloadable pdfs.  The same book is used for all the grade levels while the worksheets are grade based.  Audio files of the workbook being read are also included.
My daughter and I sat down and printed out the first few weeks of lessons plans for grades 7-8.  The program sets it up for a four day week.  Perfect for those families who attend a co-op or the like one day a week.  The lessons per day are easily completed in a timely matter.  My daughter enjoyed the fact that the lessons and vocabulary were centered around Fiestas and not just random boring vocabulary.   You can choose from different themes too in order to engage your student according to their interests.
She created her own flashcards, although Spanish for you does include pictures for flashcards she chose to do her own.

We found the material was presented a bit disorganized in the book.  My daughter needed some time to orient herself with the material. With that said she can function with the material just fine now.  
 Spanish For You is incredibly affordable!  For grades 3-8 the curriculum package is $64.95.  You get all levels for that price!  If you want just one level it is $39.95.  Honestly after using some other programs this one is a steal!  The author is also very quick to respond to questions and feedback.  A huge plus with any program. My only disappointment is that she doesn't offer more languages :)

In our homeschool I just used it with my ninth grader.  However, this summer I plan on using it as a boredom buster/hide from the heat activity for my third and fourth grader.

A pesky little organ

I've been absent for several weeks.  April has not been very nice to my health!  I have been suffering with some right sided pain for several weeks.  We thought it might be a UTI and a course of heavy duty antibiotics were prescribed.  Two days after I stopped the antibiotic the pain came back and I was done.  I went to urgent care who triaged me to the ER because they did not have the machines to scan my innards.
Once at the ER I was given a CT scan which revealed an inflamed/irritated appendix.  The surgeon recommended it come out.  So Tuesday morning it did.  I left the hospital Wednesday afternoon.  Recovery was slow, I'm assuming my creeping upwards age is what slowed it.  As of Tuesday I was released to regular activities, to celebrate I restarted the Couch 2 5K running program and plan on running a 5k the morning of my 40th birthday!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Apologia Ultimate Planner~review

I was given the opportunity to use and review several of Apologia's planner.  I received The Ultimate Homeschool Planner ($28.00), The Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens ($19.00), and The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students ($19.00) all designed by Debra Bell.

Now in all fairness I have a different homeschool planner that I use and like.  I have been using it for several years and it is very hard to teach this ::ahem:: pushing forty dog new tricks.  That said I have been intrigued by the Apologia line of planners for some time and it was a great opportunity to look them over.
•Durable, yet flexible plastic covers (mom planner has folder pockets inside front and back cover)
•Year at a glance all the way up through 2016!  I don't even want to think that far in advance but it is nice to see it.
•Bright engaging colors
•study aids in the student planners
•open ended calendars (no big deal if you take a week off you don't waste a page)
•reading lists for the college bound

To highlight some of the above points with more detail.  The plastic covers are perfect at protecting the planners from coffee cup rings.  All three planners are spiral bound and these durable covers help keep the interior pages protected from squishing in back packs or shuffling in piles.
The study aids in the student planners are awesome.  Plenty of informational tips on how to study, use the planner and be successful.  I noticed in the student planner there is even a log for the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award.  In the teen planner there is a very well laid out high school section.  College admissions timelines, high school checklist, and reading list.  Over 25 pages of study tips!

I handed the teen planner over to my teen...the first one complained that there was not enough space each day to jot down what she needed to do.  I have to agree with her as the student planner are half the size of the mom planner.  She did like the time on task wheels and felt it helped her stay on track to see how much time she was actually spending doing her assignments.  The second teen I handed it to felt it was reinventing the wheel because the curriculum she uses all ready is set up planner style.  So not a huge hit with my teens.  I could see how it would be very practical for a teen in a traditional school setting or with co-op classes.

I entered a week for my ten year old in the planner and sent him off.  He really wasn't interested either! He has very little free work that I am not sitting with or near him for.  Again that is just our homeschooling style and the planner just made more work for me.  But in a different style homeschool, or a traditional setting I could see how this would be handy.

The big mom planner was nice.  I enjoyed having space for each kid, but again I found there to not be enough space for each days assignments.  Only five lines per day per student was a bit tight for us.  I found myself not writing stuff down because I was out of room.  I absolutely love the fact that these three planners are designed to work together.  Had I started my year fresh when I received them and was able to follow the wonderful yearly planning advice by Debra Bell I may have had a better love for these planners.  Like anything I find that some people like the things I don't and disagree with the things I love. There you have it.  These are great planners but just not my style.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

We Choose Virtues REVIEW

When this product arrived in the mail I eagerly opened it, the packaging alone made me.  I was met with adorable engaging characters, each of whom represented one of thirteen virtueville kids.  We Choose Virtues creates a fun way to teach and learn virtues for the homeschooler or traditional schooler.
In the same mail package I received one of their parenting cards.  The full set retails for $34.99.  These cards are just what you need to get started teaching virtues.  They provide ideas, virtue challenges, teachable moments,verses, and character bios on the back.  It takes the one virtue and wraps it all up in a thick card stock half sheet.
We Choose Virtues offers many supplements too. Sent as a PDF was a kids of virtueville coloring book $3.00. My 8 year old daughter enjoyed coloring the virtue of the week. I let her use my highlighters as a treat :).

We used this product in our homeschool. The way I approached it was during our bible time. Once I had finished our standard curriculum I brought out the clue cards. The first week I brought out the virtue kind. Our living situation right now lends itself to some short fuses and mean words. It is something I have been working on with the kids but yelling " be nice" was not working so well! Go figure! So I started with the clue card. It stated: I am kind in my words and actions. The verse associated with it was from Proverbs. Now when my kids were bickering and being mean, rather than yell at them I just repeated the catch phrase, I am kind with my words and actions. Whew! A load was taken off of me. I could keep my head and model kindness while getting a gentle point across. It worked so well my 16 year old daughter repeated it to the chicks who were picking on one another in the coop! We reviewed the virtue and the verse each day. By doing this it opened up conversations with the kids and in general kindness was returning in words and actions. Our next virtue we choose was diligence as my son is studying to be a memory master and the test is coming up. Asking him if he is being diligent is a lot easier to say and hear than "have you studied yet?"
We Choose Virtues offers many different packages and supplements. You can buy a whole package or pick and choose. The wonderful creator of this product is offering 20% off the homeschool kit during April. Use the code home20. For 15% off any product enter the code virtue15 at checkout. These codes can not be combined.
I encourage you to browse the website and see all that is offered. The accommodate different bible versions and have some secular products as well. I love this product so much I will be purchasing the parent cards to enhance our bible time. My kids enjoyed it too. They loved the love able characters and could relate easily. By using this product I have been able to improve an area of my parenting that has sorely needed a tune up!

Friday, March 22, 2013


We received our first batch of 25 chickens four weeks ago.  It was not a happy day for us.  The post office called and I had my phone on do not disturb so  I didn't get the call until 8 am.  The nice lady at the office let me know that she had peeked into the box and she thought that over half of them were dead.  That is 13 chickens that didn't even make it home.  We lost another three over the course of 48 hours.  There were tears and proclamations that we were chicken killers all for the sake of eggs. ( the drama of young boys!) The company we ordered from sent us a fresh batch of 25 the next week.  Three of those didn't make it within 48 hours, but all the tears had been used up the week before and no burials were performed for them.  Our kids were farm hardened all ready.
Mixing the two batches took less than a day.

 Such good guardians.  The run is not fully enclosed on top yet so the kids sit out there and do school while keeping an eye on the birds.

 Piper just wants to herd them!
On Tuesday we moved 29 of the 32 out to the newly finished chicken coop.  The other three were recovering from wounds due to overcrowding.  All three of those have now been reunited with the flock.  My kids are loving them.  I'm loving the fact that I am no longer sharing 400 sq ft with 32 chickens at night :)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

FamilyMint a review

Online banking is all the rage.  It seems that humans rarely deal in cash anymore.  For someone who has mostly gone to a cash system it is sometimes hard to get another to accept cash. Why? Because cash is hard to deposit with your smartphone.  It is hard to track with a check #.   Now our kids deal all in cash because we pay them in cash.  Our oldest will occasionally get a check for a babysitting job which we have made out to us, hand her cash and then use our smartphones to deposit.  See electronic banking!  Familymint brings online "banking" to the kids.  At first I was not impressed because my kids deal in cash.  The website asks the bankers to be the parents, depositing the kids money into a jar.  Knowing myself I had the kids hang on to their own money:).  Having cash sitting in a jar on my dresser was asking for it to be "borrowed" by ::ahem:: me.  Come on I know I am not the only one!  So my kids retain their cash and we proceded with the program online and the workbook.
As a part of the review I received a premium membership which will run you $29.99, this includes the workbook.  Familymint is running a special introductory offer in which you receive the workbook and a lifetime subscription for this same price.
I used this program with my newly minted 10 year old.  He had quite a bit of holiday money and birthday money in his possession and had goals in mind.  I had him work the first chapter in the workbook.  He came back to me exclaiming that it was fun and he enjoyed writing checks!  I then plugged him into the website with his username and password and he had fun moving his money around.  (mommy brag alert) he hit his spend goal and moved the extras to give with no prompting from me!Here is a screen shot of my son's account.  The red transaction was a lesson on what happens when you click the white box :) Neil has continued working in the workbook and proclaims it is right up his alley.  Not difficult but it makes him think.
Topics in the workbook include, but are not limited to,Tracking your money,

Goal Setting, and Budgeting.  On the back of the 58 page workbook is the certificate of achievement.   
What I liked about  My son really got into it.  The workbook was geared perfectly for his age.  The parent has options to lock transactions so the kids can't mess with them on their screen.  I could create a savings plan that portioned out any money deposited into his goals of spend, save and give.  I did not have to do the math and chop up the deposit myself.  It gave my son a sense of control over his money.  I loved that allowance is automatically deposited each week.  I don't have to keep track of it :)
I can't think of much that I didn't like other than my own hangup of  just another thing for him to be on the computer for.  But if it creates a fiscally responsible 10 year old who can set monetary goals than I can be ok with extra computer time.  He has almost worked the entire workbook himself and at 10 was moving money around his account.  I think that is a step in the right direction.  I think I might be taking him out later tonight to buy that flash drive he was saving up for!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

How's that for planning....

I set my blog planner aside and as you can see it did this site absolutely no good!  In my defense I have been dog tired!  Guessing my iron is low again but not wanting to go in for a blood draw.  I'll start popping those iron pills again and see how it goes.
In other news the chickens got to be too big for their corral and we moved 29 out to the coop tonight.  3 of them became injured today and will remain in the corral until they are healed.  Gosh they got big fast.
The house foundation has been poured and framing has started.  Plywood siding went on today.  We are so excited to walk through the house and be able to see rooms and bathrooms!  All pictures are on my phone so I will have to get them downloaded tomorrow.
In other exciting news Hannah got her braces off today!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Blog planner review

I blog mostly when the mood hits me, something important happens in the family or when I have a review to write. I did not think I had a need for a blog planner. After all my blog is very unplanned. However, for our first review on the new review team that I joined we were to review a free blog planner. I looked over our choices and selected the free planner designed and offered by confessionsofahomeschooler. What I liked about this planner is it is simple. I like simple! The design of it is also girly with swirls and such, which makes me smile each time I open it up. Now for a girl who has decidedly unplanned her blog having a blog planner was an interesting concept. I guess my biggest surprise about this product is that I actually enjoy planning my blog now. She has a few layout styles to choose from.  The layout style I chose of the planner is such that I can see in a quick glance how long it has been since I last blogged. Lots of blank lines means I need to upload some pictures and get writing. You can see evidence of that in the picture below!  I can pencil in when my review posts are due and plan around those too. It also offers space to jot some information about my reviews on the facing page making the whole month available at once. It has handy check boxes that allow you to record whether you posted to Facebook, twitter, etc. There are also checkboxes to help you keep track of which posts are giveaways or reviews.

The best part of this blog planner is that it is free! I printed the 15 double sided pages at home. I spent $3 having it spiral bound with plastic covers at my local office supply store. So for a fraction of cost this unplanning blogger has turned her ways to a planning blogger thanks to this planner.

If you would like to browse other reviews for free blog planners head over to mosaic reviews.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chips, Chicks, and Cars

We spent a weekend chipping up all the branch piles we had accumulated on the property.  We laid the chips on the road to help even it out so that the new car wouldn't have issues with the ruts.

This is our new all electric vehicle.  A 2012 Nissan Leaf.  This vehicle is in stark contrast to our diesel hog 2003 Excursion.  We are loving this peppy little car.

With the chicks coming in a week we started the coop.