Monday, July 25, 2016

When Life Has You Down. Literally!

Yesterday, I snuck away from the heat and responsibilities of life and went to a friend's pool with my kiddos for an hour.  It was a much needed break from reality.

Unfortunately the reality was that I slipped getting into said pool and hurt my toe.  I thought my pride was what was hurt the worst, but nope, I think I broke my toe.  Though I kept ice on it most of last night, I woke up to a swollen, painful toe that I cannot put weight on despite my best efforts.  And it is a lovely shade of purple on top of that!

Since I refuse to go to the ER on a Sunday, I am icing it and staying off of it until I can get to the doctor on Monday.  Please pray that they do not laugh at me and that they can find a quick fix.  Ok, just not laughing would be good at this point.

I feel like an idiot! (I know, we do not use that word in our house) But really I do.

My pride hurts almost as bad as my toe.

My recent exercise goals have come to a halt and it is discouraging.  Thanks to a fit bit (more on that sometime) I have found my motivation again for exercising and watching what I eat.  The upcoming wedding helps a bit too! Haha.

I have a dear friend's wedding to attend in two weeks and new shoes to boot and now I am not sure how that is going to work out.

I have plans and ideals and expectations and right now a lot of self pity.  A lot.

Luckily, I also have a friend who just told me my pity party was over, to grab the computer, and write what God wanted me to write.

It took me a minute to think about that.  Just a minute.

I know what God wants me to say.

Pride is a bad thing.  It comes right before the fall.  Literally.

Unrealistic expectations, of ourselves and others, is a bad thing.  It only sets us up for failure.

Exercise is a good thing until it becomes obsessive and then it is a bad thing.  Anything done in excess or for the wrong reasons can be an idol.

Self pity and fear are also bad.  Those things are not founded on God's truth.  They are merely tools in the enemy's arsenal to keep us separated from God.

So what do we (go ahead, you can read I) need to do?

Take a breath and regroup.

Stop for a minute and pray.  Ask God to remind us of His promises and His purposes.

Ask Him to help us combat fear, and idolatry, and pride.

And thank Him daily for friends who love us and are bold enough to speak truth to us.

Thank you Dawn!

Linking up with Caroline at The Modest Mom!


Friday, July 22, 2016

Do You Play Favorites?

Let's face it, playing favorites in any part of life is not always fair, but it usually happens.  We are just naturally drawn to some things over others.  It is a reality of life.

That same reality holds true when it comes to homeschool curriculum.  Try as I might to be as unbiased as possible, I do end up with favorites on our shelves and in our storage.  As we age out of younger grades, those favorites get safely tucked away in storage boxes that I pray one day will school my grandchildren.  Each year as the boys move into older grades we also get to pull out some old favorites that I used with the girls.  It is something I actually look forward to each year.

Those favorites are also the ones I tend to point friends to who ask the question- "What did you use for...?"  We have used a lot and because I work as a curriculum reviewer, each year I find at least a few new favorites to add to the bunch.

If I have reviewed a subject, the name is linked to the review for your convenience.  Please note, this is NOT a sponsored post in any way.  I am telling you we love these things only because we do. Since it is easier to break it into stages, here you go!

Math- Saxon Math. I know, I know, you either love it or hate it, but for hands-on kids (and what Kindergartner doesn't like manipulatives) I still think it is the best for this age!  Learning should be fun, not drudgery!  When it comes time to learn multiplication facts, I cannot more highly recommend a program called Times Tales.  That little gem helped Colby learn math facts in two weeks!

Science- Although it is not from a creationist point of view, so I advise caution in certain areas of study, we really do still love Nancy Larson Science.  Everything you need is sold in the kit, the materials are well laid out, the pictures included are just beautiful, and Colby had a lot of fun with these courses.  It makes me think of the science I learned back in elementary school with fun activities and just a lot of joy!

History- Veritas Self Paced History- There are 5 levels in this program, all online.  Colby LOVES this program and we are excited to start our third cycle this year.  For auditory and visual learners, you will be blessed by the content.  As a Christian educator, you will love how the Bible and History are seamlessly woven together!

Grammar- All About Spelling is our favorite spelling program by far, and I would guess All About Reading is just as good.  Logic of English is another program that is all inclusive with spelling and grammar too and is taking the homeschool community by storm.

Writing- I am going against the grain a bit here, but the first thing I would say to you is just relax!  Do a journal together, write about your day, or make up fun stories.  Relax!  If you absolutely need something a bit more formal but still fun, the Write Shop series is cute and less regimented.

Literature- Read!  Just read!  And then read some more.  Take turns reading each page read aloud, and require alone reading, but whatever you do, read!  I have to say that the two programs we used that I am convinced taught Colby to read are PAL from IEW and ABeCeDarian.

Bible-  We have enjoyed Grapevine Studies and Bible Study Guide for All Ages immensely,

Foreign Language- Spanish- You cannot go wrong with Song School Spanish and Flip Flop Spanish, in that order.  Start early and have fun. you will be amazed at how much they will pick up!

Art- Homeschool Art Studio has a video for all grade levels and is fun and easy to use.

Music- This is still the age where you should have more time for fun!  A new program we have just been introduced to is from Zeezok Publishing and is called Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades.  I would not start it until 3rd or even 4th grade because there is a lot there, but man, is it amazing!!

Middle School-
Math- CTC Math and Teaching Textbooks are both good programs. I would recommend you find which one your child does best with and stick to it.

Science-  Science Shepherd- We have really enjoyed these video based lessons and hope that they will add additional levels in the future.

History- Notgrass History- There are now three levels for this age group I believe.  We have used two in the past and are excited to begin this once we are done with Veritas Press.  They are beautiful books with great information, and you can tie literature into your lessons as well.

Grammar- I do not like this subject at this age, just heads up.  It is just hard to find and most I find to be either way too deep for this age, or just plain busy work!  That being said, we fall back to ABeka workbooks for just the basics and I love using a program called Grammar Ace in 4th grade.  It uses the Schoolhouse Rock songs and is just fun to use.  We use Spelling Power to keep spelling up because I do not have time for more worksheets and busy work.

Writing- We just found Here to Help Learning and I love it!  The video teaching is excellent and Colby has to actually be told to stop writing at times.  He has surprised me with how creative he is and how much he enjoys Ms. Mora.

Literature- This the the age that I go a little crazy with reading.  My older girls did Sonlight all the way, and there are just so many books that they loved that I simply cannot fathom the boys not reading.  Unfortunately for them I also adore the Memoria Press Literature series and the corresponding workbooks they have, and so now we do those as well.

Bible- We have enjoyed all the books in the What We Believe Series from Apologia.

Foreign Language-  Spanish- Spanish for You and Classical Academic Press' Spanish for Children are the two we like the most, although if you need online learning, check out Middlebury for many languages!

Art- If you have not seen ArtAchieve before, you are in for a treat.  Again, online video instruction, but fun and easy to follow and each year focuses on a different theme.

High School

Math- Teaching Textbooks is still my top choice, but we also use Math U See's Stewardship program for a consumer math credit because I love the godly approach and practical lessons like budgeting, buying a car, and more.

Science- Apologia and Science Shephard are both strong programs and include labs for kiddos headed to college.

History- We have always used Sonlight curriculum for this level of work, as we feel it is a good lead in to college level classes.  Notgrass also has choices for high school, we just have not used them.

Grammar- We switch over to mostly vocabulary at this point, and use Wordly Wise and Vocabulary from the Classical Roots.  If your child needs refreshers on basic Grammar concepts, Daily Grams work well for us.

Writing- IEW, of course.  If you haven't used it, do!  Especially for college bound students, you just cannot go wrong.  Mr. Pudewa is a favorite at our house.

 Literature- Again, we use Sonlight for most of our literature at this level, but also LOVE Sharon Watson's curriculum which often combine Literature and writing.

Bible- Sonlight again! But I also add in a program from Apologia called I Don't have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

Foreign Language- UGH, another hard one for me.  I guess the easiest to use is Rosetta Stone, but I still don't love it.  It is just hard to find anything else that I feel is worthy of a high school foreign language credit.

Art- Ha!  Not so much at this level, but I do have all my kids complete a semester of Art Appreciation and a semester of Music Appreciation that I create.

Are there more?  Oh my, yes!  As I have said in the past, there are just not enough kiddos to school in our house or enough time to cover everything I want to cover.  Maybe I will have to just school my grandchildren some day.


Click on the button below to see what other curriculum rates among the Crew's favorites!

Favorite Curriculum 2016

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Pleasants Family Sayings, Part 2!

A few years back, we had a little fun sharing some family sayings we tend to use a lot in our house. Since that post, several friends have pointed out several more we use, so we thought we would share a few more.

No whoops!- Dad has started using this one a lot lately, and it started when Ashton and dad laid the floor in the laundry room. When little things go wrong, we tend to say "whoops!"   Hence dad saying- no whoops!

That's your last one!- There is actually a funny story to this one. The kids will tell you that, anytime we do s'mores, at some point dad will ask how many you have had.  No matter what the answer is, he will respond with "that's your last one." The kids will also tell you that their goal is to make sure they eat as many as they can before dad asks.  Because no matter what number they are at- 2 or 20, that's your last one!

Who has the plan?- We have two kiddos that like to know things in advance.  Details please.  Who? What?  When? Why?  How much?  How many?  Every. Single. Detail.  To stop the madness, the response is now "who has the plan?"  For the record, it is usually dad that has the plan!

You should only say 6 out of the 10 things that come to mind.- In this world where everyone has something to say and everyone has an opinion, and many speak before thinking, we encourage our kid to think before speaking.  Novel idea, right?

Nothing good ever happens after midnight.  We do not encourage our kids being out late at night. Stuff happens.  Ok, stuff happens all the time, but after midnight, according to daddy, more stuff! ;)

There are more, many more, but for now, I will leave you with these!  Do you find yourself saying the same things?


Monday, July 18, 2016

All Things Bright and Beautiful- Children's Book Review and Giveaway

All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things wise and wonderful
The Lord God made them all...

I have loved that hymn's verse, and the additional lines that follow it, since I was a child.   There is just something about lines that take the beauty of the world and point us back to God that warms my heart.

Even better, illustrator Katy Hudson has taken the words penned by author Cecil Frances Alexander in 1848 and combined them with her lovely drawings into a sweet children's book.

All Things Bright and Beautiful is beautiful hardback book, geared for ages 4 -7.  It is such a joy to read!  Each of the 32 illustrated pages is teamed with one line from the poem and reminds children that God and his touch can be seen everywhere.

What a better lesson to teach our children, even at a young age?

The brightly illustrated pages will hold the attention of younger children, but also capture the imagination of older readers.  Even our 9 year old said he liked the colors and has read it several times!  Here's his favorite page:

With each new quality children's book I have the priviledge to review, I grow more and more excited to one day be able to pass them on to the next generation of our family.  I love that our faith can be taught to our children and someday granchildren not only by what we say and do, but also in what we read to them.

If you would like to win a copy of this delightful children's book, just leave us a comment and make sure you let us know how we can get ahold of you if you win!

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”


Friday, July 15, 2016

When You Feel Like You Failed

Let's just be honest.  Sometimes things in our lives do not look like what we thought they would.  Or should.  Plans get derailed, our time is needed somewhere else, people change, emergencies arise- things just happen.

Unfortunately, the same thing can happen in homeschooling.  Sometimes, even multiple times in a day.  I think I have finally landed in the camp that feels that the "whys" of those changes, or even failures, are not as important as our solutions to them.  Yes, we need to avoid pitfalls and make sure that we are not the root of the issue, but sometimes the best solution lies in the changes we make.

In our own lives, we saw this play out this past year.  It is no secret that when my husband was unexpectedly deployed, our lives kind of crashed for a while.  We went into survival mode.  Daily life looked a lot differently than normal- it had to just to survive.  Meals changed, schedules changed, and even school changed.  Yes, we continued school, but some weeks were better than others, and mom's follow up was not as good as it should have been.


Some things fell through the crack and we are spending this summer reevaluating, regrouping, catching up and moving forward.  

A humbling lesson that even the best laid plans can change.  

So, how are we moving forward?

Ask yourself-

What REALLY happened?  Sometimes it is hard to see just the facts.  We get caught up in emotions and the many sides of the story.  Take time to sit down as a family and get to the facts.

How can this be avoided in the future?  Rather than dwelling on what happened, work on a solution.  Yes, mistakes may have been made, and people might be at fault, but how can we fix the problem from this day forward?

What can I learn from this?  There is always a lesson to be had from failure.  Or just mistakes.  Look for the lesson.  As parents, we are ultimately responsible for our kids while they are still young.  Each day I want to learn the lessons God wants to teach me, through my successes as well as my failures.

What do I want my child learn from this?  Again, what is the lesson we can teach our kids through this experience?  Sit down and talk about it.  Our times of brokeness are often the best times to reconnect as a family and draw closer together.  Use times of disappointment or failures to pull together as a team with a common goal- success!

How do we move forward?  Make a plan!  Now is not the time to "just do better."  Decide what specific changes need to be made and then formulate a specific plan to get to your desired goal.  You cannot hit a mark you have not made.

Forgive!  In most failures, there is plenty of blame to go around.  Forgive yourself, forgive others, and move forward.

Sometimes second chances are the best!