Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Happy Kids Songs- Schoolhouse Crew Review

Some reviews, honestly, I beg for.  And then there are some that just fall into my lap and end up being a big blessing in my life.  Happy Kids Songs is one of those blessings!

We recently had the opportunity to listen to the following music sets from Happy Kids Songs-

These songs are geared for kids ages 3-8, but I am pretty sure that once you listen to them, even the adults will be humming along.  Don't say I didn't warn you! ;)  Each set has five toe-tapping songs and can be bought as a set for $4.95 or downloaded as individual songs for .99 each.  You then have permission, of course, to burn them onto your own CD.  You will also receive a free download of all the song lyrics plus coloring and activity sheets, which we reviewed as the Happy Kids Songs Workbook.

macAbout the songs- Written by singer, songwriter and child and family psychologist, Dr. Don MacMannis, each album is packed with songs that teach children good life lessons such as sharing, caring for others, and being a friend.  "Dr. Mac" is joined by fellow songwriter Brian Mann and together they have produced some fun kid's music.  While he may not look familiar, I bet many of you parents out there know him already- he was the music director and songwriter for the hit TV show Jay Jay the Jet Plane!  Just as my olders could sing that theme song by heart, my 7 year old can now sing these all by heart as well.

How we used this- Originally, we just downloaded the songs on our laptop.  Quite honestly, I thought we would simply listen to them a few times and move on.  The best laid plans, so they say!  In reality, what happened was that CJ asked to listen to the songs every day during school time.  We finally compromised and let him pick 4-5 each morning.  But then he continued to ask to listen to them.  Instead of firing up the laptop several times a day, we finally burned the songs to a CD for him and he happily took it to his room to enjoy on his own. All. Day. Long.  Several times I have asked him if he would like to listen to something different.  "No, thank you" is the answer I get.  

I will tell you, he does have his favorites.  Sailing on the Seven Cs in set one is probably his top pick. Just guessing since it is the one that gets played over and over.  And over.  Hey, even I know all of the words now.  So do his siblings.  Let's face it though, there are worse things for a child to remember than the ingredients for being a good friend!  He would also tell you that he likes the song Quirks from set 6, that talks about how each person has certain "quirks".  He not only had fun identifying his own one day, but then everyone elses.  We did have to talk about how we did not necessarily need to point out people's quirks! ;)

Additional collections include-

Social Skills and Bullying
Feelings and Fears
Practice and Success
Talking and Listening
Respect and Responsibility

A quick word about the Happy Kids Songs Workbook.  You will love these downloads.  If you have crafty kids, they will enjoy the coloring sheets and projects included.  I can also see that these would be a GREAT resource for a small group setting such as Sunday School, or for a rainy day project in your own home.   There are activities from crossword puzzles and word searches to writing about your feelings.  In addition, each song then has a list of activities with instructions for group or individual play. While they are secular songs, the lessons taught could easily be tied to a Bible curriculum or any character training program you are using.

I have to tell you I realized during this review that because he is the youngest of four kids, CJ has not been exposed to as many "kid" songs as his older siblings were.  His love for these songs reminded me that kids need to be kids and have fun singing silly, "kid" songs.  When they can learn good lessons from the songs- even better!

We will be purchasing the rest of the set for sure!

If you want to find Happy Songs on Social Media here's how-
Twitter: @howsyourfam

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Q is for Quiet Time

Sometimes life gets a little crazy and we need to stop, be still, and reset.

Our family kind of hit that point this past week. There have been a lot of things going on in our lives, Not particularly bad things, but just lots of things- distractions that we allowed to take away our peace and our quiet.  

So we headed off last week to find it.  Quiet, that is!

In the past our family refuge has been the beach.  But, hey, times change and well, we are living in South Dakota now.  So off to the hills we headed!  The Black Hills.

This is our third trip there.  Our second staying with an old friend and her husband.  Darryl and Christy own and operate Spokane Creek Cabins and Campground.  Whether you tent, RV or are looking for a cute little cabin to rest your head at night, this is a place you will want to visit.  Thank you, Darryl and Christy, for once again giving us a place to reset and find some quiet!

Despite having to come home a day early due to one family member being sick, we managed to have a great time.  Good thing, because as of the writing of this post Sunday night (yes, I am a little behind) 4 out of six family members feel like death warmed over.  I think I need another vacation.

Day one was all about Custer State Park and the Wind Cave.  CJ's one mission was to see Bison and some wild burros!  Seriously, he is easily entertained.  Especially when the burros will eat out of your hand and, I am pretty sure, would climb in your car if you let them!

Saw some pronghorn antelope as well, just like the ones in our yard in Wyoming!

Salem just wanted to see a different cave.  This one did not disappoint.  Since the Wind cave is a mostly downhill journey with only 11 stairs up, even I got to enjoy it.  And the elevator ride back up!

The 7 year old was just a tad tired, can 'ya tell?  
Back at camp the boys played by the creek and that night we enjoyed s'mores by the campfire, of course.

Day two was spent at Sylvan Lake.  Oh. My. Word!  That could be one of my new favorite places.  Pictures just do not do it justice.  So beautiful!

Do the rocks look familiar to any of you?  Yes, that is the place where parts of National Treasure 2 was filmed.

In addition, one can climb 'til you that is what the olders did.  Have I mentioned these kids are slightly obsessed with rock climbing and bouldering?

Luckily, there is also a great little "beach" area where CJ could swim while we waited.

Day three- well, the drive home was not thrilling but necessary.  And still quiet, since everyone was worn out from our two quick days.

We enjoyed our quiet time, are laying low for the week recovering from illness and then forging ahead next week with our new school year.

I pray you have had a blessed weekend as well, my friends, and that you too will seek quiet time when you need it.

God will refresh our souls, if we will just allow Him to.  And He doesn't need the beach or the mountains to make that happen!


I never thought I would have so much fun Blogging Through the Alphabet!  Hope you will join my friend Marcy at Ben and Me, along with many others as we have 9 letters to go!

Ben and Me


Friday, August 15, 2014

Are You Going the Right Way? 52 weeks of family scripture memorization

Have you ever climbed a rock wall?  It has become a favorite thing to do for my family.  Well, not me.  Because of my recent injury, I stit and watch.  It gives me a lot of time to think.

This past week, I watched as the older kids challenged themselves by trying to follow a specific path that is marked with colored tape.  For each place you put your hands or feet for that particular path, the holds are marked.

How cool is that?  Don't you wish God would do that?

Yes, do that.  No, don't do that.

Telling my youngest to stay beside me in the grocery store or in a parking lot reminds me of the same thing.  Yes, hold on to my shirt and follow right beside.

I would like for God to do that for me.

You know what?

He has!  But just like the little kids of the world who are a little distracted, or the big kids who are just not quite listening, or the big people who just want to do their own thing- I miss the path of God.

Yes, I am good at taking my own path, but I know it is not the BEST path.

Do your kids know how to follow you?  Are we teaching them it is even more important to follow God?

Let's work on that this week.  Let's show them what the Bible says and teach them that when God directs our paths, we are always going the right way!

Missional Call

So Why Do We Do It?

Welcome back to our final day of the Back to Homeschool blog hop.  I hope you have had as much fun as we have and gotten a chance to visit some other blogs.  Here are a few of my favorites to get you started!
Marcy @ Ben and Me
Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures
Jenn @ Treasuring Life's Blessings
Dusty @ To the Moon and Back
Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning
Rebekah @ There Will Be a $5 Charge for Whining 
Gena @ I Choose Joy!

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop
It has been a fun week, but man am I tired!  Next week we will have a week off of school, not even our summer school, and then it is back to full time school!
So why do we do it?

I have mentioned it before, but it is worth repeating.  I did not grow up as a homeschooled kid.  I did not dream of being a homeschool mom. Nor did my husband dream of being a homeschool dad.
When we began homeschooling our first daughter at age 4, it was out of self-preservation.
My husband had a crazy work schedule that involved a lot of nights gone and a lot of short-notice trips.  We also had a new baby and I could not even get my preschooler to preschool on time.  Seriously!  I knew if I died unexpectedly, my last possible words to her could very well have been, "hurry up, we are late!"
I decided to buy us some time.  I thought we would homeschool the "easy" years and save up money to send the kids to a private school eventually.
God had different plans.  Doesn't He always?

I loved having my, then only, girls home.  I loved they were best friends despite the four year age difference. I loved that we could be together as a family even when my husband's schedule was unpredictable.  I loved that we did not feel rushed.  And believe it or not, I even loved teaching them.  Mostly!

Then, enter this guy and how could I not have him spend the days with his sisters?  How could they possibly miss him growing up?

And then we were blessed with this little guy!  He needed stability.  He needed family.  He needed to be around those that loved him best!

And so you see- every day, from 16 years ago until today, God has planted a little more in my heart each time that I needed it.  Just one more reason to continue on the path of homeschooling.
It is not about the books, or the test scores, or all that they learn.  Those things are important, but they are not IT for us.
IT for us is family!

How can you go wrong spending the day with this group?


Don't forget to enter the BIG GIVEAWAY! Only three days left to enter!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

You Want Me to Teach High School?

Welcome back!  Yesterday we talked about choices for our 2nd and 7th grader, so let's move right into 11th grade!
Back to Homeschool Blog Hop

High School

The name alone puts fear into many homeschooling moms, I know.

I understand.

It did for me at first.  And then I had one graduate, successfully getting into the college of her choice and make straight A's, except that B in the dreaded Greek class.  And who is going to graduate a semester early in December, after only 2.5 years of college.

I figured we did not mess her up too badly, and so surely I could do it again, and again two more times!

We also learned a few things along the way. About making college decisions, going away to college, going back again, and even about coming home.

We have said a lot of prayers and we have made a few changes along the way.

So here is what is going on in our current high schooler's life, Riley, currently in 11th grade-

History- Civics and American Government from Sonlight
             * We have it, it has worked for us in the past and so we will continue with it again.

Writing- Institute for Excellence in Writing -Advanced Communications Series and The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation.  She will also continue to use Wordly Wise for vocabulary

Math- Math U See's Stewardship (consumer math)
           * This is the only year we use Math U See, but I really like that this program teaches basic life math skills and uses a journal and devotional.

Bible- Apologia's I Don't Have Enough Strength to be an Atheist
           *I have been waiting to use this with a kiddo after reading it myself.

Science- Apologia's Marine Biology
               *We allow our child to choose what they will study for their fourth science.  Therefore our landlocked child is studying about the ocean.  Makes perfect sense, right?

And then here is where we get a bit crazy...

Our daughter just successfully completed her first online college class (dual credit) English Comp 2.  She had placed out of English Comp. 1.

In September she will be taking British Lit 1, Visual Communications and Speech all for dual credit.
She will take four additional dual credit classes in the spring as well as attempt to CLEP four classes, thus completing her freshman year of college as well as her junior year of high school.

For the record, and in case you were wondering if she ever had time for anything else outside of class, YES!  She loves theater and is quite a happy kiddo!

Riley is on the far left, in the bright green!
High school can be challenging, but it can be done!

Tomorrow is our last day together for this amazing Blog Hop!  Hope to see ya back, but until then, check out what some friends are chatting about...

Marcy @ Ben and Me
Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures
Jenn @ Treasuring Life's Blessings
Dusty @ To the Moon and Back
Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning
Rebekah @ There Will Be a $5 Charge for Whining 
Gena @ I Choose Joy!

And don't forget about the BIG GIVEAWAY!!