Word for 2014

Trying to come up for a word for 2014 was kind of easy for me this year. Last year, I started on a lifestyle change journey, but about mid-year, I gave up. For the past couple of months, I have kept hearing Mandisa's song Overcomer. I knew the words, but didn't really listen to them until about a month ago.

This verse and the chorus is what really got my attention:

"Everybody's been down
Hit the bottom, hit the ground
Oh, you're not alone
Just take a breath, don't forget
Hang on to His promises
He wants You to know

You're an overcomer
Stay in the fight ‘til the final round
You're not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it's hopeless
That's when He reminds You
That you're an overcomer
You're an overcomer"

This year I pledge to stay in the fight and become an overcomer, with God's help.

What I really want in 2014 is:

  • Put my trust in God
  • Have a healthy relationship with God
  • Become an overcomer

What I really need in 2014 is:

  • To focus on my Lord
  • To focus on myself
  • To focus on our homeschooling
  • To focus on my housekeeping

In 2014, I will succeed at:

  • Becoming a healthier person
  • Prioritizing 
  • Spending less time on computer when kids are awake
I am looking forward to having an awesome 2014 and can't wait to see my results at the end of the year.

Word for 2014


A Look Back at 2013

Wow, another year is coming to an end. This year has gone by so fast. Here are a few highlights from this past year.

It was my 1st year on the Schoolhouse Review Crew. We reviewed some great products and we are looking forward to many great reviews again in 2014.

My oldest turned 11 and my youngest turned 2.

We took many wonderful field trips. We visited the aquarium, the beach, an old fort, the battleship, and some museums.

We took a trip to Oklahoma in July to see my nephew get married. Sara was one of the flower girls.

Met Nicholas Sparks for the first time.

Went to the fair. And had a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas.


Wordless Wednesday

Puppies are four weeks old:


What's For Dinner?

I use to make a menu plan a few years ago and it helped me out so much. I haven't really been planning my dinners out lately, just kind of picking something the day of and it is getting tough. I decided to go ahead and plan out about 5 meals for this week. We eat leftovers at least once. I don't assign a certain day to the meal, so that way, I can change it around if I need to. Here is what we will be eating this week:

  • Spaghetti, bread, salad
  • Chicken fajitas
  • Hamburger steak and veggies
  • BBQ Chicken
  • Veggie beef soup

Here is a bonus. Last week I was looking for a good white chocolate chip cookie recipe and found a great one on allrecipes.com. These cookies are so moist and so delicious.


Reminiscing ~ Wordless Wednesday

A few days ago, as I was looking at my soon to be 12 year old, I felt a need to go look at some older pictures. I miss my little boy. How did he grow up so fast? Even though the toddler years (for my older three) were not easy having 3 children, 3 and under, I really do miss it.

This is what I miss:


Christmas Carols

I love this time of year! I love when we start singing Christmas Carols in church. I just wanted to share some of my favorites with you.

O Come all Ye Faithful is my most favorite Christmas carol of all:

Another favorite that we sing in church is Joy to the World:

One more of my favorites is Silent Night:

And here is a free printable I made last year (click on the image):



Our dog, Liberty, who will be 9 years old on January 7, decided it was time to run away and have some puppies. She got out in September and was missing for 3 or 4 days. We thought for sure she was gone for good. We live on a busy highway, but didn't see her anywhere where she could have been run over. We live next to some woods and thought maybe she went back there and a wild animal attacked her. Much to our surprise she returned on a rainy day and stunk very badly. I bathed her and got her cleaned up. 

A couple of weeks later, we noticed she was starting to get a little bigger. That's when we figured out where she must have been those 4 days in September. 

So, at almost 9 years old, Liberty had her first litter of puppies. They were born on November 18, 2013. She had one black boy, one brown and black girl, two black girls, and one golden girl. She also had a black and white boy who was stillborn.


A Season of Thanksgiving ~ Part 4

My final post for my ABC's of Thanksgiving.

U ~ umbrellas on rainy days

V ~ velvet throw, especially on these cold days and nights

W ~ water

X ~ eXceeding joy

Y ~ yellow sun that gives us light and warmth

Z ~ zucchini :)


Our Favorite Homeschool Resources from 2013

My first year on the Schoolhouse Review Crew has come to an end. We were blessed with so much curriculum to review. The crew voted for all of their favorite items and the results have been posted.


Here are some of our favorites from this past year:

For science, we really enjoyed Apologia's Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics. My boys enjoyed all of the experiments that we were able to do with this science curriculum. A nice change from what we had been using.

Another of my boys favorites would be God's World Magazine. They still look forward to receiving this in the mail and sit down for an hour or two and read through every article.

My favorite resource would have to be the Homeschool Mom's Bible. I love it. It is so easy to get a devotional done in 5-10 minutes.

One of my daughter's favorites is Knowledge Quest's Sacagawea book. She enjoyed listening to me read and loved learning about Sacagawea and her life.

And one more of my daughter's favorites would have to be Handwriting Without Tears. She was having a little trouble with our current curriculum, but this was a lot easier and less stressful for her. She looked forward to penmanship class every day when we were using this.

Really, we had a lot more favorites, but I have just listed the top ones. Click here to see all of my reviews from the past year.

Also, be sure to check out the results over on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.


A Season of Thanksgiving ~ Part 3

I was busy yesterday helping my dog deliver puppies. Here is the next set of my ABC's of Thanksgiving:

N ~ Night (Especially once the kids are all in bed and it is quiet)

O ~ Ocean, I am so thankful we live so close to the ocean.

P ~ Puppies (will make a separate post about our new puppies)

Q ~ Quietness, rarely happens, but I am so thankful for the times it is quiet in the house. Unless, it is quiet because they are being bad.

R ~ Rain, even though we had too much to grow a garden this year, I am still thankful it rains.

S ~ Sara, my joyous 2 yr old

T ~ Thanksgiving, a time to get together with family and thank God for the blessing from the past year


At Home In Dogwood Mudhole ~ Book Review

When I was deciding if I would like a chance to review At Home In Dogwood Mudhole, I really didn't know what to expect. I read what the website said about the book and it sounded interesting. This is actually the first volume in a three volume collection by Franklin Sanders from At Home In Dogwood Mudhole.

Synopsis: At Home In Dogwood Mudhole Volume One: Nothing That Eats is a collection of letters by Sanders that cover a 17 year period (June 1995 to September 2002). These letters were actually compiled from a newsletter, The Moneychanger, by Franklin Sanders every month. Sanders and his family move to the country (Dogwood Mudhole, Tennessee) when Y2K is on the horizon. Not knowing what to expect, he wanted his family to be able to farm and be self-sufficient. This book is filled with humor and serious life lessons. 

What I thought: I enjoyed reading this book. At first, it was hard to get into it, but after a while it was easy to pick it up every day and read a few chapters. The chapters are not very long, but the book is 379 pages total. Being a Civil War junkie, I enjoyed hearing about the family’s involvement in Civil War re-enactments.  Sanders also tells about his time spent in jail, Y2K coming, and the family’s pets and animals. I give this book a 3 (out of 5 stars) star rating.

Who is this book for: This book is for adults, but I would probably let my children read it when they are in high school.

Click here to read a sample chapter.

At Home In Dogwood Mudhole Volume One: Nothing That Eats is available for $22.95 for paperback and $16.95 for Kindle/ePUB/PDF.

Click here to see what other Schoolhouse Reviewers thought about this book.



A Season of Thanksgiving- Part 2

It is already the second week of November! Wow, time sure is going by so quickly. 

Here is the next set of things I am thankful for this year:

G ~ God 

H ~ Health 

I ~ Ice Cream :)

J ~ Josiah, my 2nd son

K ~ Kevin, my 1st son

L ~ Laughter (it sometimes gets me through my rough days)

M ~ Many friends


Apologia: Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics ~ Review

My children love science, but the science curriculum we have been using for the past 7 years was starting to get too repetitive and not challenging enough for my boys. I was hoping to be able to review a science curriculum this year. I am so glad we were able to review Apologia Educational Ministries newest science curriculum, “Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics.” We were also able to review each of the journals that go along with this curriculum. My 3rd grade daughter used the Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Junior Notebooking Journal and my 5th and 6th grade boys shared the Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics Notebooking Journal.


About Apologia:

Apologia is a Christian homeschool company that was started by just a few families who wanted a good, solid Christian based science curriculum. Apologia means to defend. Apologia science is designed to help the student “make a reasoned defense of the Christian Faith.”

About Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics textbook:

This textbook is part of the Young Explorers Series and is written by Jeannie Fulbright. The elementary science is designed for children in grades K-6th. Apologia homeschool science curriculum follows a Charlotte Mason approach.

The textbook is a hard cover, full color book that is 272 pages long (lessons, supply list, and index). There are 14 lessons filled with so much information and many experiments. Each lesson can be taken at your own pace. You are able to spend as little (or as much) time as you would like. The accompanying notebook journals give a suggested schedule.

iPod Pictures 013

The lesson topics are as follows:
  • Chemistry and Physics Matter
  • Moving Matter
  • Building Blocks of Creation
  • Compound Matter
  • Multitude of Mixtures
  • Mechanics in Motion
  • Dynamics of Motion
  • Work in the World
  • Sound of Energy
  • Light of the World
  • Thermal Energy
  • Electrifying Our World
  • Mysterious Magnetism
  • Simple Machines
Each lesson includes many “Try This” experiments that use everyday around the house items. These mini experiments help the child understand the concept that is being taught.

iPod Pictures 014

The textbook includes a great introduction that explains the notebooking activities, projects and experiments, and how to use the book. Each lesson gives the child a chance to explain what they have learned so far. The end of the lesson gives the child the notebooking activities they are to complete.

About the Notebook Journals:


These Notebooking Journals are filled with many activities, copywork pages, “test it out” experiments, and end of lesson questions. The junior notebook, designed for younger students, also has coloring pages throughout the book.

How we used the curriculum:

I read the lesson pages to my children and when we got to a “try this” section, we would read it and decide if we wanted to do it. We did not do all of the”try this” experiments, but we did do several of them. We followed the lesson plans in the notebooking journal. It gives a guide of doing each lesson in two weeks. I went with the suggested daily schedule since I was using this with my 3rd, 5th, and 6th graders. My 3rd grader likes to go at a slower pace than the boys. My daughter worked in the junior notebooking journal while my boys shared the regular notebooking journal. Both of the boys dislike doing any copywork, so I had them take turns doing it.

What we thought:

My 5th and 6th grade boys are really enjoying this science curriculum. It is such a change to what we have been doing. They love all of the hands on experiments. My 6th grader wants to be a scientist when he grows up and this curriculum is right up his alley. He kind of wouldn’t listen while I was reading because he “already knows all of it.” He has learned some new things and cannot wait to do the many more experiments in the book. My 5th grader also loves science. He said he learned some new things and liked all of the experiments we did. My 3rd grade daughter said she was bored during the lesson, but liked to work in her notebooking journal. :)

I have really enjoyed using this curriculum and will definitely be looking into the other titles in this series for next year (or when we finish this book).

My favorite things were :
  • A Christian curriculum
  • Has many hands on experiments
  • Can be used with multiple grades
  • Is easy to understand

The textbook can be purchased for $39. The Notebooking Journal is $24 as well as the Junior Notebooking Journal.

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.



A Season of Thanksgiving

This month, in America, is a time to reflect back over the year and list what we are thankful for. Last year, I tried to write a post a day, but that didn't work out. This year, I am going to try to write a post a week on what I am thankful for this year. I have decided to do an ABC's type thankful posts. I will post 6-7 letters per week  until Thanksgiving.

A ~ All of God's blessings on my family

B ~ Blogging. Thankful to be on the Schoolhouse Review Crew this year.

C ~ Comfort (my word for the year)

D ~ Daily hugs and kisses from my family :)

E ~ Extended family (in-laws)

F ~ Food. God provides even when we are down to almost bare cupboards.


If You Were Me and Lived In... ~ Book Review

We reviewed four books by Carole P. Roman. The books we reviewed are as follows:

About the books:


If You Were Me and Lived In…Mexico, South Korea, France, and Norway all talk about the capital of the country, where you would take people to visit when they visit the country, what your name may be, and some of the foods you may eat.

All four of these books introduce children to culture around the world.

How we used the books:

These books arrived the same day we were headed to a fundraiser for some friends who are adopting a little boy from South Korea. We read the South Korea book before heading to the fundraiser to learn more about the culture. Our friends have already adopted one little boy from South Korea who is a year older than my two year old daughter. She loves her friend and really loved looking at the book. I explained to her how this book was about the same area that “L” was born. I also explained that his baby brother was there waiting for him and his parents to go get him. My older children (11,10, and 8) also enjoyed learning more about the place that our friends had (and are) adopting from.

I read through the rest of the books with my 2 year old during the following week. My other children read these books to themselves. We would discuss the different countries that they read about and I would answer any questions they had about the country.

What we thought about the books:

Even though the target age group for these books is Pre-K to under 10, my boys who are 10 and 11 really enjoyed reading these books. They are really easy to read and understand. My 2 year old loved the colorful pictures in the books. My 8 year old girl said she liked reading about how people in different countries live and what they eat. My boys said they just liked reading books and needed something to read, but the books are interesting too.

One thing I really liked about the books was on the last page each book has a pronunciation page of the words that are used in the book. It made it easier to read the book when you could see how the word is suppose to be pronounced. I also liked the picture on the front of each book shows Earth with the country highlighted on the planet so the child can see exactly where the country is located.

These books are geared to younger children, but are enjoyed by all ages. You can purchase the books (South Korea, Mexico, Norway,and France) for under $9.00 each for the paperback version.  They are all also available for Kindle and Nook.

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.



Vocabulary Spelling City ~ Review

Having used the free (basic) version of VocabularySpellingCity, I was excited to try out the premium membership. My kids really didn’t do much with the free version, so I never made the jump to purchase the premium. Being able to review it, I was hoping it would get my kids to like playing it more often. We were given a one year premium membership for up to 5 children to try out. This program is offered to public, private, and homeschools.

What is it? VocabularySpellingCity is an “award winning game-based learning tool for vocabulary, spelling, writing, and language arts.” 

What is the difference between the basic and the premium? First of all, in the basic version, you are only given access to a few items, such as the teacher homepage, importing lists, and any free games. With the premium membership, you are given access to more games, individual student log-ins, record keeping, progress tracking, and so much more.

VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership Features

How does it work? It is very easy to set up a teacher account. Once you are logged in as the teacher, you can set up your student accounts and import or create spelling lists. After setting up your students accounts and importing or creating a list, you are then able to create an assignment list for each student to complete. You, the teacher, can decide what games and assignments you want your student to complete. They are also able to play any of the other games while working on their assignment list. When you create an assignment list for your student, you can go back into the teacher account and check on their progress.

One of the more useful areas is the teacher resources area. They have many areas that are linked to games and other resources. For instance, if you are working on parts of speech for the week, you are able to click on the parts of speech link and it will pull up video lessons, games, sample word lists, and enrichment strategies.

teacher resources

Okay, so now that you know what it is and what the website has to offer, you may be wondering how I used it with my children. After setting up my children’s accounts, I went ahead and created an assignment list for my 3rd grade daughter. For her assignments, I was able to import a 3rd grade Abeka spelling list. I gave her about six different things for her to work on, such as speedy speller, parts of speech, and flash cards (see below).

Having an old Windows XP computer combined with living in the country and being at the end of the line for internet, we did run into problems with the games loading slowly. I have an iPod touch, so I was able to get the free app so the kids wouldn’t get frustrated with the computer. The app works great and it did speed up the games a bit when the kids played on the app versus the computer.  Just a note ~ not all of the games are available on the app.

For my 5th grade son, I created a spelling word list that we were currently working on. I created an assignment list for him and he was working on his list when we ran into problems with one of the games (Letter Fall). The game is not available on the app and our computer ran so slow that he was not able to play the game. One of the features that I would love to see is to be able to go into the assignment list and edit the games/activities you have chosen for the student. You are able to delete the assignments, but then the student has to start all over with their progress.

What we thought? My kids didn’t like having to play on the computer. They loved playing on the app, though. I would love to see more of the games added to the app and, as I mentioned above, edit game feature to the assignments. Overall, we liked what the premium membership has to offer and will most likely continue to use the program.

VocabularySpellingCity premium membership is available for $29.99 for up to 5 students and can be used with children in grades K-12.

Click here to see more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.



Fair Time

We went to the NC State Fair this past Saturday and had a great time.

My youngest daughter is obsessed with horses and was so excited to ride a real live pony. 

My sons had their first ever roller coaster ride. My oldest also rode the super shot- the ride takes you way up and then it drops you and you feel like you are falling. He had a great time. 

I rode the tea cups with my youngest son and daughter and they both had a blast. My older daughter went on the train and boat rides with her sister. She likes the calm rides. 

We had a great time. We can't wait for next year. 


God's World News ~ Review of News Current

 photo godsworldnewslogo_zpsbc5c7163.png

Having not been familiar with God's World News, I was excited to be able to review the News Current edition which is geared for students in 5th and 6th grades. Both of my boys love getting mail. They both love reading. This was a great review for them. And they were excited when the first issue came in the mail.

 photo newscurrent28_zps24cff5ea.jpg

Our television broke earlier this summer and we have not had the resources to replace it. We do run a Christian radio station at all times (mainly for music) and my boys are hearing some news (during the news breaks every hour) from the radio. My oldest son, who is in 6th grade, will mention something that he heard about some of the current events. Sometimes he understands what it means and sometimes I have to explain what the newscaster meant. I try to not give him too much information unless he keeps asking. Sometimes, we sit down at the computer to look something up that he has heard in the news and learn about it. I have to be careful what websites to go to when I do that.

God's World News magazines are geared to children from pre-k all the way through the high school years. Each magazine has articles that are age appropriate. As a parent, it is great that I can hand my child a news magazine and not have to worry about any vulgar message being delivered by the magazine.

The edition we received, News Current, "emphasizes news, knowledge, and wisdom." Each magazine contains the following:

  • Editorials
  • Lessons
  • Map-It
  • News Graphics
  • Weeding Words
  • Quizzes
  • Web Content

When the first issue arrived, I did read through the magazine before handing to my son(s). Since, I had never seen an issue, I wanted to be able to read it through and see what the magazine was like. I also wanted to read it to be able to answer any questions that my sons may have after reading it themselves. The articles are well written and my boys did not have any trouble understanding them.

We also received a large wall map with our subscription. This map was created especially for the magazine. In the articles in the magazine, when a location is mentioned, it gives you the coordinates that matches the map so your child is able to find the location on the map.

After I read through the magazine, I had each of my boys, 5th and 6th grade, read through the magazine. We then were able to discuss a few of the articles during our regular history time. We have received three magazines (and the map) so far and they have enjoyed reading (and discussing) each one. They look forward to receiving the next magazine in the mail next month. They have said their favorite thing in the magazine is the cartoons. :) I liked the articles that had a little clip called Bible 2 Life next to the article. It gives a Bible verse and a little story about how we should react to different scenarios in our life.

When you subscribe, there are some extra resources available:

A subscription to the magazine is available for $28 per year on the God's News World website. You will receive 10 magazines, one every month except May and December.

Click here to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.


Raleigh North Carolina Free Field Trip

Back in August, I wrote this post about free and almost free field trips in and around Eastern North Carolina. I failed to mention that there are two great museums in Raleigh that are free to visit (during the week, you do have to pay for parking).

My boys love to visit the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Their favorite subject is science. We have visited this museum a few times in the past year. There is evolution posted on many of the exhibits, but since we are a Christian family, my boys have learned that evolution is not true and we are able to discuss the different view points in each exhibit.

 The science museum is huge and you could spend hours looking through all of the exhibits. The building is four stories tall and also has many animals to look at, including a butterfly exhibit you can walk through. Attached to the science center is the Nature Research Center. Here you can find many hands on science research activities and also watch some scientists at work. Here is a map of the Museum of Natural Sciences and Nature Research Center.

Another free museum that is right next to the science museum is the North Carolina Museum of History. This is another place that one could spend hours visiting. We usually visit one museum in the morning, have lunch, and visit the other museum in the afternoon. There are only two stories that are accessible to visitors, but there is so much information on the history of North Carolina. This is a great place to visit when your child is learning about North Carolina history. The main exhibit on the first floor, tells about the history from the beginning (Native Americans) through the 20th century. There are a lot of hands on activities throughout the exhibit. One of the other exhibits that my kids like to visit is the sports hall of fameHere is a map of the exhibits.

Both of these museums are open from 9-5 Monday through Saturday and noon-5 on Sundays. Parking is only free on the weekends.

A couple more places to visit in the Raleigh area would be the State Capitol and also Marbles Museum which offers a discount to homeschool families.



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