Monday, December 10, 2018

Christmas in Arizona

While I admit to loving the sunny Arizona weather, I also admit that it has been a bit hard for me to get into the holiday mood with the 70 degree temperatures.  After all, the last few places we have lived have been blanketed in snow quite often, and while I do NOT like being cold, I LOVE SNOW!

And just for the record, there is no snow in Arizona.  Well, at least none here in the greater Phoenix area.

But it IS December and time to decorate.  I have been dragging my feet a bit this year.  In my defense, I DID just decorate this house a mere 3 months ago when we moved in.  Every time I thought about bringing out the boxes of Christmas decorations I got a bit overwhelmed.  Not with the volume, per se thanks to 34 Weeks of Clean, but just to the idea of moving things around again.

Luckily for my kiddos I have pulled up my boots straps and set a few things out.  Things are a bit simpler this year, but I did get our trees up.

The Cross tree is still my favorite I think-

But the Americana tree grips my heart every time I look at it, reminding me of the 26 years of our lives as a proud Air Force family.

The kids' tree hold memories of my childhood as well as of our kids

We always out out the ceramic tree that my aunt made years ago.  I love pulling it out each year- reminds me of the love of family!

And of course our family tree which is waiting to be decorated on Wednesday after our college girl gets home!  We can't wait.

This year we put our white nativity out.  It is one that I grew up watching my grandmother put out each year.  It is still one I love because of the memories it holds.

The other nativity we pulled out this year is one from Guatemala, to celebrate Colby's heritage.

And of course, Ashton decorated the mantle again.  Because she is talented and I am not!

A few extra touches-

A sweet treat from a friend!

 This year we join our sweet neighborhood in decorating with outside lights in addition to wreaths and such.  Several streets here have lit arches lining the sidewalks and rumor has it our street is next.

Regardless of what decorations go up or not, my prayer is that we keep the main thing, the main thing.  The decorations are beautiful, and my heart may still long for snow, but none would be needed if we weren't celebrating the birth of our Savior.  If we strip all the extras away, I pray we are still as joyous and content- knowing that the Savior's birth, his death to save us, and our salvation are the REAL reasons for us to celebrate!

May you have a blessed Christmas!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Our Favorite Blue Ribbon Winners

Each year The Homeschool Review Crew gives out Blue Ribbon Awards for their favorite review products of the year.  It is a much anticipated event among the Crew and sometimes the competition is fierce.  This year was no exception, as we were blessed by so many amazing vendors and curriculum this year.

The voting is finished and the results are in! Though it was a close race in several categories, 22 companies rose to the top out of the 66 total reviews the Crew did for the year.  That is over 4,500 review, you guys!

Favorite Reading Curriculum – Reading Eggs
Favorite Writing Curriculum – Memoria Press
Favorite Grammar Program- GrammarPlanet
Favorite Vocabulary Resource- Roman Roads Media

Favorite Penmanship Program- CursiveLogic
Favorite Literature Curriculum –Homeschool Navigator
Favorite History Curriculum- Drive Thru History Adventures
Favorite History Supplement – Home School in the Woods: Á La Carte Projects

Favorite Science Curriculum – Apologia: Anatomy
Favorite Math Curriculum – Whizz Education
Favorite Foreign Language Program – Roman Roads
Favorite Fine Arts Program – ARTistic Pursuits

Favorite Elective Curriculum – Code for Teens
Favorite Christian Education Curriculum – Bible Study Guide for All Ages
Favorite Christian Education Supplement – Planet 316
Favorite Preschool Product- Starfall Education Foundation

Favorite Elementary Product – Branch Out World
Favorite Middle School Product- The Critical Thinking Co.™
Favorite High School Product- The Master and His Apprentices
Favorite Parent Product – Great Waters Press

Best Resource I Didn’t Know I Needed – Lisa Tanner Writing
Best Online Resource – Drive Thru History Adventures
Best e-Product – Home School in the Woods
Favorite Book –YWAM
Favorite Audiobook or Audio Drama – Heirloom Audio: Wulf the Saxon
Kids’ Choice –Reading Eggs
Teens’ Choice –Drive Thru History Adventures

I am not going to tell you all which ones I voted for, but I will share the reviews I did for some of the winners!   As Product Manager for the Crew, let me tell you that all our vendors are winners in my book.  One of the cool things about homeschooling curriculum is what doesn't work for one family may be perfect for another.  That is why I always give you an honest opinion of what we have used and then encourage you to check it out for yourself.  Our kids are all unique and have different likes and needs.

As you explore these vendors, keep in mind that many have gone before you in using the products and the reviews out there are to help you navigate your decisions.

The Homeschool Crew may be fairly quiet for a few months, but have no doubt we are getting ready for another big year of more vendors and more products.  Get ready to be blessed in 2019!

Congratulations to all of the winners!

Our reviews you may want to check out-
 Drive Through History Adventures


Monday, December 3, 2018

Maze Craze

Sometimes you just need something fun to do with your child, right?  Not school, not running errands, not going to appointments- and certainly not spending money!  We are all so busy these days, so sometimes it is just nice to snuggle up together and have a little quiet fun!

Usborne Around the World Mazes to the rescue!

I always loved doing mazes as a child so I was excited to review Usborne Around the World Mazes, for ages 6 plus, from Timberdoodle with Colby.  He is 11, currently in 6th grade, and loves mazes as much as I do!  Score!

This beautiful, full color maze book has 45 mazes in it.  They begin fairly easy and get harder as you work through them.  Some are only one page, while others branch across a double page spread.  Each has a different travel theme, introducing new places and things to see.

Armed with a pencil in case we made mistakes, Colby and I have tackled the mazes a few at a time together.  He usually traces the path with his finger first and then once we get it figured out, he goes back and draws the line in.  The first few were indeed pretty simple, but they quickly got more challenging as we went along.  Two that we have done we ended up going to the end of the puzzle and working our way backwards.  Is that considered cheating?

Don't worry, there is an answer key in the back for each puzzle in case you get stumped!

Why mazes?
  • Great way to relax
  • Great fine motor skill practice
  • Employ problem solving skills
  • Make fun gifts for people
  • Allow you to have some one on one time with your child
  • Allows a child to have some quiet time
  • Can keep a young child occupied while waiting
  • Can encourage cooperation when done with others
  • Can be used by multiple ages

And best of all- they are just plain fun!

I love just about everything that Timberdoodle carries, whether a stand alone product or one that is part of their curriculum kits!   Usborne Around the World Mazes is no exception.  There is still time to order a copy for a special child on your Christmas list!