Friday, November 15, 2019

A Year in My Life- Colby Edition

We do a lot of reviews around here and many just naturally become a part of our daily school routine.  It makes this momma very happy, and grateful, but sometimes it can quickly overwhelm my 7th grader.  Our school assignment book is often filled to the brim with some pretty serious subjects and assignments.  When I saw A Year My the Life. in the Timberdoodle Co. catalog I know it would be the perfect addition for our busy day that would give us a fun break from the tedious.

My kiddo is left brain dominant.  He loves logic, and numbers, and sequences, and facts and organization.  I mean, REALLY loves those things; sometimes to the detriment of his creative side.  As a matter of fact, part of a program we are currently engaged in is helping us to work on developing his right brain with activities that are much more free flowing and creative.

Hence, my interest in A Year My the Life.
This little book has 365 prompts, one for every day of the year, to help you get your creative juices flowing.  Some prompts require more thought and time, others are quite simple and require very little work.  You may be asked to write out a few thoughts on something that happened in your day, or complete a drawing of a hot air balloon.  You could be asked to create a new magical creature or draw a picture of your favorite piece of art.  You can pretend you are a pirate and draw yourself on a ship , draw your favorite vegetables, or write down your most embarrassing moment.  The best part- you can do them in order or you can choose whatever prompt peaks your interest that particular day. 

It is so much fun!

How are we using this?
We had all intentions of doing one of the prompts every day, but we found ourselves forgetting on weekends, so we finally decided to just make it part of our daily school schedule.  Turns out it has been a great way to take a break between harder subjects like math and grammar.  It allows us to take a breath, regroup from frustration, and often laugh together for a few minutes.  AND- it is helping my analytical child have fun being creative.  So, yes, it will last us a bit over a true calendar year, but we are excited to be able to look back at our finished project when we are done.

Why we love this and why you will too!

Super creative! The prompts have such a wide range of subject matter and will appeal to both boys and girls.

Super flexible! Use this as a stocking stuffer or birthday present.  Pretend it is art for the day or give your kids something to do in the car while you run errands. 

Super inexpensive!  ($9.50) Price is great, in my opinion!  Hey, when you spend a fortune om curriculum, that's important to you!

Super quick!  Yes, you can spend a lot of time on each prompt if you choose or if you have a very detail oriented child, but most can be completed in just a few minutes.

Just plain SUPER!  And extremely imaginative.  So grab a copy and get those right sides of the brains working!  The fun will last an entire year.

A Year My the Life. is part of the Timberdoodle 8th Grade Curriculum Kit, but would be great for middle schoolers and up!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

What's in a Day?

There was a time in my life as a homeschooling mom that every day looked about the same.  I am a HUGE fan of calendars, charts, and checklists, and with four kiddos it has served us well.  I am a homebody who doesn't have time for field trips and lunch dates.

Until now!  Well, I still don't have time for field trips, but lunch dates have become more frequent now that the kids are older and I am officially only schooling our last one, who is capable of feeding himself.  It is a new season in our lives and I am trying to embrace it.

Here is my issue though- no one day looks the same.  Now I know that is not a big deal to most of you, but the organizing, control freak that lives in me cringes a bit every morning.  Try as I might, our days are not neat little packages any more.  The troops have seen the other side and they have rebelled!  Between a traveling husband, two adult children living with us currently, an almost 18 year old who is taking online college classes, and my sports loving, go-go go 12 year old, well, let's just say our days can be a bit crazy!

So what does our school schedule look like?

In theory we do school from 9-3, with a quick lunch break in there somewhere.

Reality?  HA

Several day a week my husband is home and plays havoc with our school schedule.  We love it so I am not complaining, but it DOES throw us off.  Let's face it, dad is more fun than school, especially when he is gone half of the week.

And my son goes to numerous sports practices now that he is older and attend an achievement center activity three afternoons a week.

And our girls both have jobs that are polar opposites in times.  As well as social lives.

And who added all the doctor, dentists, and eye appointments to my calendar?

And I just started PT that is supposed to be fit in three times a week.

And I have friends that I love and refuse to put on the back burner.

And...on and on and on!

Anyone relate?

And so it goes.  Our ever changing day.  The only thing that is a constant is meal time, but even that is only for those that are actually at home at that time and only because I refuse to let some old habits and traditions go.  I am stubborn like that!

Here is what I am learning.

  • The Lord reminds us to hold loosely to plans.  Proverbs 19:21- Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. (ESV)  That is a struggle for me, but one that I am trying hard to surrender to with less whining.  

  • All the time in our day is not nearly as important as all the people in our day.  Calendars are fun but family and friends are better.

  • While my day's schedule may not always look like I would like for it to, each day is a gift to be treasured.

Hard to believe, but some of my friends actually have my desired "normal" days!  Check out all of their posts on the Timberdoodle Blog Hop!


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Monday, October 21, 2019

Can Biology Be Friendly?

Can you believe that I am on my fourth child in homeschooling and I am still in search of the perfect science program?  Specifically, science at the high school level.  We have used a few we have liked, but man, we have also used a few that I just cannot bring myself to teach for a fourth time!  Biology is one of those subjects.  I am just NOT a science lover, but I do have a few science loving kiddos- one of which will be ready for Biology soon.  So yes, the search is on!

Enter Friendly Biology!  I have been keeping my eye on this program authored by Joey and Lisa Hajda for a while now.  Husband and wife team, both have extensive degrees, have taught at higher levels, and have homeschooled ten children.  They have a huge fan following and reviews are pretty impressive, so when I had the opportunity to see for myself what the excitement was about, I jumped at the chance!  Reviewing for Timberdoodle Co. is always a privilege and this time was no exception. This is the science listed in Timberdoodle's  9th Grade Curriculum kit.  

Let's talk about the program components!

First up- the text book. This hefty 457 page softbound book covers 28 chapters from Biology basics to Genetics and Animal Kingdoms.  Each chapter has key words and phrases in bold type and main ideas highlighted in yellow boxes throughout the text.  Full color pictures abound.  The chapters end with a quick review of the main points and then a lab activity is presented.  Sample chapters can be found here!

Labs- The labs included are simple yet well tied to the chapter lesson.  Supplies are listed at the beginning, and a complete supply list can be accessed online.  Procedures and any safety measures needed are listed clearly and there is a space to write results in the book if desired.  You can also download lab worksheets from the Friendly Biology website for your student to use. 

Student Workbook- In the consumable student workbook you will find two practice pages for each chapter.  The first is a fill in the blank- multiple choice format.  The second practice page is a word search or crossword puzzle.

Lessons Tests and Answer Keys- A multiple choice test is included for each lesson to give to your student.  Included are tests answer keys, as well as the practice pages answer keys.

 My thoughts- 
Though we have not started using this as a curriculum yet, I have spent a lot of time reading it on my own.  I have been in search for a Biology course that is rigorous and yet easy to use, so it is important to me to know what I am getting into before I start it.  In the past I have found science curriculum that either water things down too much or are so high and lofty that only a trained science teacher could understand it.  Yes, some of the concepts in Friendly Biology are pretty deep (enzymes and genetics, anyone?), but they are clearly explained and I believe student friendly.  While it is always my goal to work through subjects with my children, I do believe that my son could handle this course on his own with little extra help.

I love that there are experiments included for each chapter but do not require extensive and expensive lab equipment.  As Joey Hejda explains, often times to see what you really need to see via a microscope you would have to have one that costs hundreds of dollars.  Instead, they provide true life pictures that more clearly show anything you would see on your own.  One of the neat aspects of Friendly Biology is that you can purchase a video package that has live teaching for each chapter.  This is a perfect addition for those of us who have more visual or auditory learners!  A few examples are available for you to preview on the Friendly Biology website. 

I appreciate the practice pages are concise and not a bunch of busy work. The tests and answer keys are thorough and easy to use and an integral part of the program.  And one of the best parts- the customer service!  I have not used it first hand, YET, I hear over and over again what a joy the Hajda's are to work with, and they can even be reached by phone.  Fellow homeschool moms will join me in a hallelujah chorus, I am sure! Let's face it, sometimes you just need to have a student's question be answered by a professional.

Bottom line, I have found our new Biology and am eager to use it, possibly as early as next August!  After careful consideration , I am confident Friendly Biology will prepare my son for higher level sciences while allowing me to maintain my sanity!  It's a win- win for all!

The Hajdas have also authored Friendly Chemistry and Friendly Anatomy.



Thursday, October 17, 2019

Have School, Will Travel

I know, can you believe it?  Two posts in one week!  I am on a roll!  It is hard to imagine I am sure, but there was a time in the life of this blog that I posted every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  No matter what.  Yeah, those were the days.

Anyway, I digress...

You may remember that my sweet hubby took a job about two hours from where we live.  Typically he leaves on Sunday night or early Monday morning, and returns home Thursday about dinner time.  It could certainly be worse, but at this stage of our lives, and after spending much our married life apart, it is not what we would choose.  It is where God has us for now and we are grateful he is loving his job and settling in to teaching.

None the less, after a busy week prior and having to put down our 16 year old dog on Friday, I decided the boys and I could use a break.  Well, I am sure the girls could too, but hey, they have jobs!  Thankfully, as a homeschooler, and now that football is done, we have the freedom to come and go, and so GO we did!

Packed up school and a few clothes and headed out the door.

Very early!

We are currently enjoying the sweet Air BNB life my husband has during the week, exploring the area, and just being still!  I could get a tad spoiled!  I was even smart enough to bring along the crock pot since we have limited cooking capabilities here, and the place smells so good when we get back in the evening.  If you haven't tried that before, I highly recommend it!  Not only does it save money, but it is a warm welcome when you come home tired after a busy day.  Not sure what the maid service thinks about us when they come in to clean our rooms in a hotel, but oh well!

Here's praying you, too, can find moments of rest during your busy week!


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

The Kids In Our Life

Most of you know we have four kiddos.  Some of you even know said kids.  But some of you are newer here so I thought this would be a good time to reintroduce them and catch you up to some changes.  Plus, my fellow Timberdoodle Blogger Team members are all talking about their kids this week, so hey, I am joining the fun!

Our oldest is 25.  You may know her as the seamstress and quilt maker.  For over 6 or so years, she has run Ashton's Attic, making homemade t-shirt quilts.  Her father and I begged her to do one last move with us to Arizona and as it turns out, she has settled in nicely.  Loves our church, loves the warmer weather, and has a new job she adores.  Get this- working in the finance and mortgage world, of all things.  This is the same girls who used to cry whenever we did math.  Yep, the irony cracks me up.  But for some reason, Stewardship took a chance on her, and she loves what she does.

Our next daughter is 21 and recently graduated with a Musical Theater degree.  We thought she was headed to Disney when she got offered a job as...wait for it, A QUEEN, for the newly opened Medieval Times in Scottsdale, AZ.  Yep, went from the princess we always knew she was to Queen in one audition. She, too, works with an amazing group of people she adores and comes home from work daily singing, "I love my job!"

Our oldest son is a senior in high school and will soon be 18!  Where has time gone?  He is pretty much finished with high school and is dual-crediting college colleges at lightning speed.  Next fall he will be pursuing a Gunsmithing degree.  For those who know and love him, you know that knives and guns are his passion and we are excited to see where this opportunity leads him.  Turns out, we may be following HIM for a change to his new location.  (more of that to come as some point!)

And our youngest!  He is 12 and ready to rock the world!  He is still swimming and recently played flag football on a homeschool team.  They won all but one game, so suffice to say he was thrilled.  We are currently homeschooling in 7th grade and history is still his favorite subject!  He keeps me busy which is good since I don't see the older three as much these days!

As our life slowly transitions, I find myself contemplating shutting down the blog at times.  You may have noticed it's been a bit quiet around here.  BUT- there are some exciting changes coming in our lives and if nothing else, at least my family will be entertained! ;)  I also have a few fun ideas brewing- we will see if I can get myself going!

Thanks for visiting us in our little neck of the woods!


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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Chroma Cube Fun

Do you remember as a kid doing those puzzles that required you to actually think?  You know, "Mom had twelve sons, if the 3rd son sat beside the 8th son and the 2nd son sat two rows up..." type things.  And yes, I totally made that up.  I always was intrigued by them but never very good at it honestly.

As it would turn out years later, I have a few kids that not only like those kinds of puzzles but are actually pretty good at them.  They enjoy being challenged and can get in some pretty serious competitions at times.  I knew when we saw Chroma Cube in the newest Timberdoodle Co. catalog it was time to add a new puzzle to our growing list!

You can tell when something is a hit in our house when you always find it sitting out on the counter, and always on TOP of the other games.  (Did I mention games are big in our house?)

Chroma Cube is that kind of hit.  This brain teasing puzzle is made of 12 wooden blocks and a 3X4 wood grid base that holds them.  In a handy little cubbie on the side you will find the directions and 25 puzzle cards.  These cards go from simple to difficult, but unlike other puzzle games, need to be done in order.  They not only progress in difficulty, but some of the later puzzles rely on the earlier knowledge gained from the simpler cards.  No skipping around here.

Each card gives you a picture of how the grid should be set up before you begin.

Then following the clues at the bottom of the card, you begin to place the remaining colored cubes in the empty slots.  Once you think you have them all positioned correctly, you can check yourself with the answer key on the back of the card.

As with most new things that come into our house to review, we were eager to try this one out.  Our 12 year old who is our puzzle master had the first go at it.  He quickly went from "this is easy" to "oh, wow!"  After doing a few by himself he decided to challenge other family members to see who could also solve them.  That soon became a game of who could solve them the fastest.  While we have not completed all of the levels we are slowly working our way through them and recently even had our company in on the fun.

It is fun to see how different people process the information and solve the puzzles, especially at different ages and different learning styles.

Reasons to love Chroma Cube-
  •  Quick to set up
  • Challenging for all ages

  • Good for visual and hands on learners
  • Family fun
  • Sturdy construction
  • Easy to transport for on-the-go fun
  • Pretty enough to leave sitting out

Chroma Cube is part of Timerdoodle's 11th grade curriculun kit.  Have you seen these kits?  They are simply amazing and offer some of the best products out there in one simple kit.  You can also personalize them according to your specific needs.

Looking for a new challenge in your day?  Or maybe a quiet activity that will engage your child's mind and keep there fingers busy?  Of  a new addition to a Logic Basket, filled with logic activities for your older teens?  Chroma Cube may be your answer!

Monday, September 16, 2019

Who Knew?

Have you ever gotten the surprise of your life?

You know, like guess what, you are pregnant or, hey you won a million bucks?

No worries, me neither on either of those. But...

We, and by we I mean my husband, did get hired pretty quickly to teach college classes.  Like a week and a half notice.  And he hasn't taught in a few years.

And oh yeah, did I mention the University is out of town?  By two hours.

Yep, there is that!

I think I just heard God snicker!  Really!  You have to either trust and know He is up to something, or the whole situation, including us, is CRAZY!

We choose to believe that He is up to something big!

  • Otherwise, this job would have not come up out of the wood work.

  • And Clarke would not have passed an interview which involved teaching a mock class with a little over 12 hours notice.

  • And we would have not found him a place to live during the week that is owned by the most caring and kind Christian couple you could ever meet that we adore already!  In ONE day of looking.  Recommended by a friend of a friend.

Those things don't just happen, folks.

They are orchestrated by a God who loves us, who is in every detail, and who is the Master Planner.

OH, and who may even chuckle a bit!

So, if you think of us over the next few weeks, whisper a prayer for safe travels as our hero commutes up and back weekly, for the adjustment of our family, and for us to remain in wide-eyed awe and wonder of the Lord!

Because HE knew!


Thursday, September 12, 2019

True Stories of War

I wish I had paid more attention in History class as a kid.  Really, I do!  But all those names and dates went in one ear and out the other.  It didn't help that my cute boyfriend (now my husband) sat across the row from me in optimal note passing distance. Plus, I could never quite figure out how all those random facts were supposed to be important to me anyway.

Fast forward many years and I now know why those dates and names are important.  Now, as I am teaching my kids, I am trying to find better ways to show THEM why those things are important.  One of the ways I have found that works is by trying to make it more personal- let them see the stories and the people that often get lost behind just the facts.

Enter True Stories of War set from Timberdoodle!  This set of four books has been a hit already and have been read and re-read several times.  Each can be bought separately, but the set includes-

  • True Story of World War I
  • True Stories of World War II
  • True Stories of the Revolutionary Way
  • True Stories of the Civil War

Each full color, paperback book is seven chapters long.  The first chapter of each book covers "just the facts" of that particular war, to include an overview summary, key dates, and a map.  The following six chapters each tell a side of the story from a particular person's point of view.  A few names you will recognize, but many you may not.  They are ordinary people like you and me who happened to find themselves in the middle of the war.  From doctors, to wives, to spies, you get to hear their views of the events that happened.

The most engaging part of this series is the fact that they are graphic novels.  Honestly, that is not particularly my favorite genre, but my 7th grader loves it so it is a great fit for him.  Only a few pages long each, a simple scene is portrayed and you get a first hand account of a moment in history.

 These are NOT events you might read about in most History books.  Instead they are very personal, behind the scenes accounts.  They make you feel as if you are there, seeing it all first hand.  That being said, some are pretty intense and I would read them ahead of time if you have a child sensitive  to that type of thing.  I would say they are most appropriate for middle scoolers and above due to the nature of their content.

So how are we using these books for school?  Well, as soon as they arrived my son confiscated them and read them one after another.  Since then, they have been used for car trips and free time reading on multiple occasions.   I asked him which was his favorite and he said- "World War II was my favorite but the Civil War one was also really good.  The Flag Over Iwo Jima was my favorite story.  The picture of the flag being raised is so cool."

For the record, I finally got a hold of the set last week and read through them myself.  As we continue to study the specific wars in our history curriculum I intend to have him go back to each of the books, pick a story, and do some research to see if he can find out more about that person or event.  Yep, the learning never stops when you are a homeschooler!

Thankfully, books like True Stories from War makes learning a whole lot more fun while giving you a front row seat to the action!


Monday, September 9, 2019

Are You Organized?

Here at Family, Faith and Fridays we post about a lot of things, but if you have been around for a while you know that one of my passions is home organization.  Notice I said passions, not perfections!  There is no such thing when it comes to perfection in home organization- only passionate people doing the best they can.   And boy, do I like to do the best I can when it comes to my home.  Call it whatever you like, but it soothes my soul and gives me peace.

So on that note, I am joining some friends from Timberdoodle's review team in posting some of our favorite and "best" home organization tips.  Why not pick just one this week to apply to your life and see how you feel?  Just a few hours in one location of your home will make you feel like a million bucks!  Afraid or too overwhelmed to start? Grab a buddy that will be your teammate and hold you accountable.  I promise it will be worth it!

Two of my favorite series I have posted about household organization are-

Clearing Out the Clutter address clearing out your homes, heart, head, homeschool, and health.  It helps give you the "whys" behind cleaning and hopefully will motivate you to establish your own whys.

34 Weeks of Clean was birthed a few years ago while my husband was deployed to Afghanistan for a year.  It kept me sane, connected me with amazing women, and allowed me to organize and deep clean my house, one area at a time.  Since then we have repeated it each year and just ended a cycle last week.  BUT, there is no reason for you to wait until January.  Start NOW, you won't be sorry!

Need some help or just encouragement?  Feel free to leave me a message- I would be glad to be come alongside you and be your cheerleader!


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Friday, September 6, 2019

Let's Talk About...Electives

Wheeeeeeee, now you can have some fun and be creative!  Let's face it, electives are often our student's favorite part of the day!  Might as well have some fun with them right?

Once again, these are just some programs that our family has used and loved, and hopefully will give you some ideas to choose from or be a jumping off point to begin to explore new curriculum.  I have no affiliation with these companies, but if I have reviewed them in the past their name is linked for a more in depth opinion for you.

Dr. Aviation- This one semester class is a neat program for your flying fanatics.  Lots of info, lots of details, and a teacher that is experienced and excited about what he is teaching.

Art Achieve- Different levels for ages 5 and up, this art program will last you a long time!  No matter what your talent level is, you will learn about not only art techniques, but also things about where that specific art form originated.  Art and art history all in one!

Music- There are several good programs out there I am sure, but we tend to be one of those families that still seeks out live instructors for, in our case, piano.  A new program that has been recently brought to my attention is  Playground Sessions featuring Harry Connick Jr. and more as teachers.  Who wouldn't love to learn from Harry?!!

Typing- Ultrakey Online turns out to be one of our favorite online typing programs.  I have used more than several with my kids, but this one that we just finished using in January far outshines the others.  Colby learned how to type in a few weeks and is still going strong.  There are a few fun elements to the program, but it is not so "gamey" that you waste time.  Worth every penny!

Thinking Like an Architect- Another semester class for your STEM loving students.  This class has some neat features and could very well spark some interest in architect  careers.  If nothing else, it allows for creativity.

Computers, coding, cooking, home economics, theater, dance... the choices out there are endless.  Electives are just extra classes that provide information to make for a more well rounded student.  Talk to your children about their interests, engage them in the decision making process, and let them enjoy some new classes from time to time.

Oftentimes, it is an elective course that lights a fire in their heart to pursue a new hobby or even a career!

The skies the limit!


 Let's Talk about...Science
Let's Talk About...Math
Let's Talk About...History
Let's Talk About...Grammar and Spelling
Let's Talk About Foreign Languages 
Let's Talk About Literature