Today's Wisdom

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Summer Is On The Way!

We are winding up the majority of our major studies and looking forward to some down time during the summer days ahead!  We will still continue some of our studies because often it's just too hot to do anything else!

Another season of soccer is complete.  It was a tough season as this team lost every game but came up with a win on the final game! 

We already have a few summer plans that we're looking forward too.  We might not end up doing them all but it's fun to plan anyway.  Basketball camp, Mother/Daughter trip, beach trip, camping trip, plus all the normal of VBS, lazy days, and swimming!  

Spending summer studies focusing on piano, reading, writing, Bible, and vocabulary is the plan for now.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review of Exploring Ephesus Review is an online website full of Christian and family movies. There mission is to honor God through their work.  If you are looking for wholesome movies for your family to enjoy, you now have a one stop shop where you can find most of what you are looking for including the Veggie Tales series, The Bible - The Epic History Channel Miniseries, Apologetics and Creation, and so many more.  They also offer free shipping on orders of $35 or more.

We were given the opportunity to review the DVD,  Exploring Ephesus.This DVD is currently available for $11.99. Review

It is a documentary style film taking you on a tour of the important Biblical city of Ephesus which is located on the western portion of modern day Turkey.  The film is approximately 58 minutes long.  You will follow along with Dr. Mark Wilson and Dr. Andy Jackson as their share their historical and Biblical knowledge of what is left behind in the ancient city.  

If a real life field trip overseas doesn't fit your schedule or pocket book, this is a great alternative!  How exciting to have the opportunity to follow along the same path of the Apostles without even leaving your chair. 

You will follow in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul as he traveled on his missionary journeys in Ephesus.  Some of the historical artifacts scene during your tour include the one last standing pillar of The Temple of Artemis, the Library of Celsus which includes an imprint of a menorah, the theatre where the mob gathered mentioned in Acts 19:23-41, what many believe to be the tomb of the apostle John, the Isle of Patmos where John was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the book of Revelation, a cave containing Paul's name and picture, and so many more places.

I watched this DVD myself but I intend to have my high schooler watch it as well to aid in his Biblical history studies of the New Testament. I did notice at the end of my DVD, the mouths did not match up with the sound but it was not like that in the beginning.  

Overall, I found this to be an extremely interesting DVD and I learned a lot of which I did not know before. I especially found the scenic tours fascinating to watch.  Another favorite part was when the tour guides were explaining a place they were visiting and would pull out their Bibles and read straight from Scripture.  I also liked the subtitles given of the artifacts making the visual connection between the place and it's name.

There is a bonus feature included with the DVD that contains discussion on the book of Ephesians, the seven churches mentioned in Revelation, and lessons we can learn today.

You can find out more about this DVD and many other Christian and family friendly films by visiting their website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, or YouTube.

My fellow crew mates had the opportunity to review these other films from - Torchlighters: The John Wesley StoryPrivileged SpeciesUnbroken Legacy of Faith Edition, Flight, and Metamorphosis.  Be sure to click the banner below to see what they thought! Review

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Review of We the People: Getting to Know Your Constitution

Homeschool Legacy Review

As my children grow, I am facing the reality that our school time together is drawing to close. Each one of my children have always loved hands on learning and always wanted to continue that no matter their age. There is often a stigma that hands on learning can't happen during middle and high school years and often that is hard to do with the curriculum available today with most being designed with the elementary grades in mind. If your children love hands on learning and unit studies, then you will definitely want to check out today's review product.

Homeschool Legacy has designed a variety of unit studies to aid families who have this same desire as our family. We had the opportunity to try the digital version of We the People: Getting to Know Your Constitution.

Homeschool Legacy Review

We the People: Getting to Know Your Constitution is a Biblically centered curriculum designed as a once a week unit study for grades 4-12.  There is no preparation that needs to be done ahead of time as you are provided with a supply list, daily schedule, and list of library books including the call numbers.

This unit study will take you through 8 weeks of exploring documents and policies of our Founding Fathers and government. Topics covered include the Constitution, our Bill of Rights, the three branches of government, the voting process, the amendments, and our national symbols.
Subjects tackled in this unit study:
  • Bible including memorization 
  • History including timeline 
  • Current Events/Social Studies 
  • Geography 
  • Art including Art Appreciation 
  • Language Arts including research, writing, and vocabulary, independent reading, and read alouds 
  • Music 
  • Life Skills 
  • Drama 
  • Also included are many ideas for games including printable sheets to help you make them, documentary suggestions, YouTube links, field trip ideas including virtual field trip ideas with links, and recommended family movies. 
As you can see, this can totally be used as a comprehensive curriculum for history. You can also just use it as an addition to your current curriculum. I always love that flexibility in a homeschool curriculum!

Another bonus - if your children are a part of Boy Scouts or American Heritage Girls, they will also be able to earn several of their badge requirements which are clearly marked for you during the lessons.

How We Use This In Our Homeschool

Each year, we try to focus on a history cycle so for us this year's focus was American History. For this school year, we have tried a new 4 days of regular school approach with 1 day off - Fridays. We call this day Fun Fridays and would save any projects or science experiments for Fridays. Well, that's pretty much how We the People: Getting to Know Your Constitution is set up too! So, we decided to incorporate this unit study on our Fun Fridays. I have had a difficult time coming up with activities to bring our studies together on Fridays so this unit study was the perfect cure for that. The suggested read alouds and literature were added to our daily activities as the schedule suggested. There was no work for me except making sure the necessary supplies and books were in place. All three of my children did this study together - grades 6th, 8th, and 11th and none of them complained about any age or grade inappropriateness but all of my children really enjoy hands on activities. I know some students do not but mine beg for more.

There are so many fun activities included in this unit study and our family had a wonderful time of learning together! I really enjoyed having the digital version because it made it so simple for me to print out what I needed for our family. It also made it so simple just to click the links provided and be taken to the correct page immediately. 

I've included just a few of our favorites below.

Visiting the library and bringing home lots of books for our weekly topic.  All of the books were not necessary to bring home and often I substituted with a different book on the same topic.  I loved the fact that call numbers were included because that made it extremely easy to substitute a book when necessary.  Having different levels of books to read throughout the week helped us to look forward to Friday even more.

Starting our time off in God's Word.

Playing the Preamble Scramble

Taking the naturalization test and seeing how we scored.

Studying the voting process

Hands on activities bring learning to life for our family and help the pages of a history book feel more real. I've found that often as my children have grown older, each child would be in a different room doing their own studies. While I certainly want them to gain some independence in their studies, I still find that learning together provides us with a great balance. We the People: Getting to Know Your Constitution is a great way to bring families back to learning together. There is even part of the curriculum that includes Dad called, Stump Your Dad Trivia, and the suggested field trip ideas can be saved for a time when Dad is off too. We are planning a summer field trip by train to Washington, D.C. and now we are even more excited to tour our Nation's Capitol. Since we are all learning together, it makes it so much easier to discuss topics together as well.

Homeschool Legacy has many unit studies you can choose from including Weather On The Move, Horsing Around, Native America, and many more.

Homeschool Legacy Review

You can find out more about these unit studies by visiting there website, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. Click the banner below to find out what my fellow crew mates thought.

Homeschool Legacy Review
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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Catching Up

Wow, the weeks are just flying by around here lately and we're celebrating milestone after milestone!

First up - we celebrated out 18th wedding anniversary!  Just look at those babies!!

Next up - we have a 17 year old!!  How in the world did that happen?  He's still cracking me up!

Happy 17th birthday, Jonathan!

My sister got married at the beach during Tropical Storm Ana.  :)  We all survived and ended up poolside!

Right now, I am currently fighting off what I thought was a cold but was accompanied by fever and chills.  I am feeling much more human today, Praise God!  

School is winding down and we're pretty much just working on our review items and preparing for our end of year tests. You can look forward to some upcoming review products on writing, piano, history, more Circle C adventures, vocabulary and more!  

I have also taken on a part time job so that's keeping me pretty busy as well!  Life is good.  :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Review of Successful Homeschooling Made Easy

Are you new to homeschooling? Feeling burned out? Overwhelmed with your current schedule? Longing for the big yellow bus to make a stop at your house? Well, I can tell you that you are not alone. Many homeschoolers have felt that way at some time or another but you do not have to face those fearful decisions and questions alone these days.

Veteran homeschool moms are there to help you and that's where today's review, Successful Homeschooling Made Easy comes to the rescue! Stephanie Walmsley has designed a practical online course, Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Course, to guide new and burned out homeschoolers to success.

Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Review
When you sign up for the Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Course, you will be sent weekly emails for 26 weeks that contain step by step instructions in PDF format on how to get your schedule, homeschool, and housekeeping back to where you desire it to be. Ms. Walmsley recommends printing the lessons and placing them in a binder for future reference as well.

The cost of the course can be broken down into monthly payments of $10 for six months or you can pay $48 for the entire course at once to save.

Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Review
In each of the weekly lessons, you will be given an assignment that is due by the next week. The assignments are for your benefit and do not have to be turned in any where but each lesson adds a little more to the previous one. For instance, in Lesson 1, you will decide on what day and time each week you will focus on this course. The only homeschool component for week 1 is a literacy hour where you and your child will sit, read, and write for one hour. This allows you time to focus on the weekly lessons ahead. You will also make a simple schedule focused on your family and your homeschool answering such questions as: What time do you get up each morning? What morning chores work best for your family? Does your family work best in the morning or afternoon? When you find the answers to these questions, you will then incorporate them into your new schedule. Each lesson thereafter, you will add in another detail until you finish the course and have your homeschool back up and running for success.

How I Used This Course
I have been homeschooling for 7 years now so I'm not exactly a newbie but I have had my fair share of funks. I've also had my share of what I "thought" our homeschool should look like. To be successful, I "thought" we should begin our day early but my husband works 2nd shift so starting early doesn't really work for us right now. The Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Course gave me permission to do what works for us and not to compare with others. I'm pretty good about not comparing with others but I often fail when it comes to comparing with my own thoughts of what I think things should look like.

As the lessons came in I read through them and completed the homework as appropriate to our homeschool.  I made a separate folder on my computer titled SHME and filed all the PDF documents in there for future reference. I printed out any worksheets that I wanted to work through or checklist pages.  Some things we already have a good groove working in so it did not make sense to disrupt those areas.  

One great idea that I did incorporate was to add housekeeping chores as a part of our homeschool day and count that as school.  Another one of the lessons included asking yourself some hard questions about your children's outside activities.  That was another eye opener for me. We have scaled back in that area already but I have found that we can easily slip in this area so it was a great reminder. We have found many times that being away from home too often disrupts our routine and often is the cause of a spiral of crankiness and overwhelmed feelings.  One of my favorite quotes from the course was -  "And to remember, in these days of frantic activity, that it's good to sometimes just be “human beings” and not always “humans doing.”

We have received 9 weeks so far and I continue to look forward to each weekly lesson. It's like having a friend come into your home to encourage, guide, and direct you. I think any homeschool mom could gain insight from this course. It's especially great for first time homeschoolers and those who are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed with their current efforts. Successful Homeschooling Made Easy is a perfect name because it makes it so easy to go back to the basics of why we began homeschooling to begin with.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Homeschool ABC's Collab - Letters P-R

It's time for the next letter round up in our Homeschool ABC's Collab!

Topics for Letter P include Pets, Puzzles, and Puzzle Organization.

Topics for Letter Q include Quilting, Quick Tips, and Quiet Time.

Topics for Letter R include Rod and Staff.

Review of The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide To Daylight

Real Life Press Review

My oldest son turned 17 this week! The days are truly flying by and like all moms I sit back sometimes and wonder where have they all gone. When given the chance to review The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight by Real Life Press, I was so excited to start reading it right away. 

I was sent the physical book to review but it also available in digital formats. I still love to have the feel of physical book in my hands while I'm reading. 

I am always in learning mode. Any time I read a homeschool blog, watch a homeschool video, or read a book on homeschool anything it is always for inspiration for our own homeschool. That is exactly what you will find in The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight

Author, Heidi St. John, has been homeschooling since 1984 so to say she's been there and done that is an understatement. In her book she encourages homeschooling mom's with her experience, knowledge, humor, and wit as she reminds us every step of the way that when we are weak, God is strong. If you have ever wanted to shadow a homeschooling mom, this is the book for you. She opens up her life and shares everything from her failures of wasted time which we ALL can relate to her simple strategies to get dinner on the table. She also shares some sample daily schedules from herself and others.

Real Life Press Review

I found myself relating to many of the words on the page as I read them and it is so freeing just to know that you are not alone. She shares many Scripture verses through out the book as well to encourage us to keep our focus on God and He will work out the details.  From the beginning chapter I was drawn in as she shared her order of priorities - God, marriage, and then children.  All too often as homeschool moms, we put our relationship with God and our relationship with our husbands on the back burner after the other things on the to do list.  In The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight, Heidi shares simple practical steps to guide you to turning that challenge around.

One of my favorite quotes came from Chapter 6, "To Daylight": 

" Do you want to get your child excited about learning? Then teach him to be amazed." 

She goes on to say that in a world surrounded by such beauty and creation, no one really takes the time to just simply take it all in and be amazed by how easily we can see God's creativity right before us. 

The Busy Homeschool Mom's Guide to Daylight can be purchased for $12.95 or in ebook digital formats for $10. I would highly recommend this book for all homeschool moms whether you are just starting out, in the middle, or even nearing the end of your homeschooling journey. Her encouragement and real life attitude is something we all need!

Heidi shares that her hope with this book is that by the end, you will feel more confident  in "He who has begun a good work in you will see it through to completion." (Philippians 1:6) Those words are still resonating with me even after putting the book down.  This book is one that will remain on my bookshelf in my "need a lift" section!

Real Life Press offers many resources to homeschooling families. Be sure to click the banner below where fellow cremates will be sharing their thoughts on the following:

Real Life Press Review

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Review of A+ Interactive Math

Math. I have found that when people hear that word, they immediately think of another four letter word. They either LOVE it or HATE it. For most that I've talked with there is not much ground in between. I am one of those who loves math. I have 1 child out of 3 who loves math along with me. The other 2 pretty much hate it. I am certain they hate it because they struggle with it and have learning gaps.

So, when the opportunity came along for us to review the Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan by A+ Interactive Math, I was excited to see how it worked.

Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan is an online curriculum that can be used with multiple students. It is a simple program to use and has a simple concept. Your student takes a mini test on a major math concept like fractions, addition, multiplication, etc.

If they pass the mini test, then they do not have to do any further lessons. A great feature included are summary reports for both the student and the parent to visually see their progress.

If they do not pass the mini test, an individual lesson plan is then automatically set up for them based on the problems they answered incorrectly. Your student will then follow the lesson plan to help them close in on any learning gaps they may have. Simple! The lessons are also automatically graded for you. The lessons mainly include multiple choice but had some where you type in the correct answer.

Here is what the lesson plan section looks like while a lesson being taught. At the end of the lesson is the Interactive question and answer section.

There were also online worksheets available that you could complete for even more reinforcement of a concept. The worksheets allowed you the option of completing at your own time and allowed you to see the solutions for each problem.

The cost is currently $29.99 for a 3 month subscription for 1 student and goes up $10 for each additional student.

How it worked for us

I was able to set all 3 of my children up and had them each go through the entire set of mini tests for their level. What we found in the results was pretty much what I had suspected. Each one of them had gaps in different levels. So, I had them work through the lesson plan that was designed for them. Stephen finished one set of lessons but when retaking the concept test, he still didn't pass so he's continuing the lessons with the worksheets this time around. The other 2 are still currently working through their lessons.

Here is our list of pros and cons for the Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan:


  • multiple student discount
  • simple to use
  • automatic grading
  • love the concept of closing in on learning gaps
  • you can easily change your child's grade level if needed
  • very reasonably priced
  • solutions given for incorrect answers
  • lessons are not time consuming to complete
  • Response time when you have a technical problem is fast


I emailed A+ Interactive Math to see if there was any way to change the settings concerning my first two cons and I am happy to say that they will be updating these so you can in 4-5 weeks! There Family Math Packages already have this feature.

  • After a student gets an answer incorrect the first time in the lesson, the correct answer is automatically given to them with the solution. My children really wanted a second chance.
  • The online worksheets contained a check answer button and the student could easily hit that, find out the correct answer, type it in and get credit for getting the right answer when in reality they did not solve the problem themselves. So, if you have a sneaky student or one who will cut corners just to "finish" this will definitely not help them. I speak from experience on that one!
  • I also wish there was a way to update the lesson without having to hit an update button at the end. I understand that might be difficult to achieve but having to do that each time was a bit of a nuisance. Currently, you have to do that because there is no way for the program to know if you are done with the worksheets or not if you don't.
  • It was also hard to know exactly where you were in the lesson plan for my children. They had to remember what lessons they had completed already. Once you clicked on the lesson, it did tell you whether or not it had been completed. It would be awesome if some sort of check mark, change or color font, or shading could be added so you know when you are done with a lesson at first glance.
Overall, the program is simple to use and will give you an idea what math concepts your child may have learning gaps in and I know that is always a concern for homeschool mamas.

Starting May 4th, 2015 through May 18, 2015 there will be a 2-week sale going on. You can save 40% to 50% off on the Family Math Packages and the Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan programs.

A+ Interactive Math offers lots of freebies for homeschool families to try to see if their program is a good fit for them before they make a purchase. I love that! Here are two of their most popular:

Free Math Placement Test
Free Family Math Packages

Other places to find out more about A+ Interactive Math