Today's Wisdom

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Review of The Ultimate Homeschool Planner

Apologia Ultimate Homeschool Planner

Hello, my name is Melissa and I am a planner junkie! I love planners! I don't know what it is but I find myself drawn to them and have used so many different ones over the years and honestly liked them all for one reason or another. I do know when I am feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, taking the time to put a plan on paper helps me to release that overwhelmed feeling even if those plans don't always go as planned.

So, when the chance came to review The Ultimate Homeschool Planner - Orange Cover from Apologia Educational Ministries I did not hesitate. I have drooled over this planner for a while and now it comes in three fun colors -  Blue, Orange, and Yellow!

You can purchase The Ultimate Homeschool Planner alone for $29.00 but it is designed to be a part of The Ultimate Homeschool Planning System which includes The Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens (for 7th-12th grades) and The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students (for 4th-8th grades). The whole concept is to gradually teach your student to take responsibility for their own schedules and planning.
We do not own the student or teen planners so I just dug into this one for moms by itself. It can stand alone as a mom planner too.
Apologia Ultimate Homeschool Planner
My first glance at this planner, I saw that the covers doubled as folders on the inside and it is bound together with a sturdy spiral coil. The covers were a little flimsy for my taste but it has held up well so far. I really like the vibrant color choices available for the cover. I have stuck basketball and CAP schedules in the folders and they have stayed in as I have transported my planner from place to place.

Inside you will find a full array of planning goodness including:
  • 4 years worth of yearly calendars at a glance
  • 12 full pages on suggestions and guides for how to use the planner (which I LOVE)
  • one year planning grid
  • student goal setting pages
  • pre-planning guides
  • monthly planning pages
  • weekly planning pages
  • records, grades, and activity pages
  • teaching tips
  • high school planning pages
  • year in review pages
Included also was a suggested planning schedule to help you plan for peace and it is pretty much exactly what I already do!  It gives times and suggestions for yearly planning, monthly planning, weekly planning, Monday morning tutorials (where you sit down and show your child the weekly plan), and Friday reviews.  Ms. Bell, author of the planner, gives great detail and suggestions on each one of those planning areas.

My favorite part of the planner and the one I utilized the most were the 4 weekly planning pages.  Each weekly plan begins with 2 pages of review from the previous week and planning for the upcoming week. Those 2 pages include an encouraging quote, a place to record areas that didn't work well the previous week and scripture verses to help you through, places to record the most memorable moments, and a place to record evidences of God's grace. 

After those 2 pages you begin your weekly 2 page spread and you can customize it to fit your needs. I gave each of my children a section, schedules and reviews a section, and my weekly cleaning goals a section. There is also lots of room to record notes, supplies, and appointments. 

Overall, I think this is a wonderful planner for any homeschool mom. A few things that I would love to see added or changed to this planner are tabs for the different sections to make finding my place easier. Each section is color coded and that helped but I think tabs would be a better option. I would also love to see a sturdier cover as an option. Check out these sample pages and the table of contents to find out more.

You can find out more on the many homeschool products Apologia offers by visting them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

2015 Homemaking Ministries Online Conference

I stumbled across this conference one day before it began and thought the price looked extremely affordable for what was included so I decided to join.  The cost is $34.95 for 12 video sessions with several bonuses as well.

Well, let me tell you, I just finished watching today's 4 sessions and I would highly recommend this if you are looking for a way to get your homemaking back under control and really just encouragement from other's who have been where you are!  Today's sessions were on bringing the focus back to why homemaking is important.  Here is a sneak peak of my favorite session from today.

This conference is for you IF:
  • You want to dive deeper into your greater purpose in cleaning toilets and doing laundry
  • You want to create a Gospel-Centered home but don't know where to start
  • You need some encouragement that what you do MATTERS
  • You need practical tips and advice for managing your home
  • You feel burnt-out and overwhelmed within your role as a homemaker
  • You've lost that joy and spark in your homemaking and so desperately want to get it back...
The great thing is all the sessions are there for you to go to at any time if you can't make them live. Go to Homemaking Ministries Online Conference 2015 to find out more about signing up.  (affiliate link)

Review of IEW's Phonetic Zoo - Level A

IEW Phonetic Zoo
Spelling, spelling, spelling. If you've been a reader here for a while you will already know that Spelling is our struggle subject. Not one, not two, but all three of my children struggle with spelling. We have tried just about every curriculum there is for spelling so why not one more, right? So keep reading for which one we tried this time.
Institute for Excellence in Writing also known as IEW offers a unique approach to spelling in their Phonetic Zoo courses. They come in three levels, A, B, or C and is recommended for grades 3 and up. After taking the placement test, I decided it would be best for Sarah to begin with the Phonetic Zoo Spelling Level A [Starter Set].

 IEW Phonetic Zoo

IEW approaches spelling in a sequential and phonics based manner. It also includes CD's for an auditory approach to learning as well as the visual approaches of flashcards.

Each level includes:
  • five audio CDs, labeled Disc One through Disc Five (Level C has six CDs.)
  • set of large flash cards
  • set of small Zoo Cards
  • link for a PDF teacher's ebook  (sample)
  • link to a streaming seminar of Spelling and the Brain
The printed materials sell for $99 or you can purchase downloadable materials for $79.  Once you purchase a level, you will be sent a link to download the teacher's ebook.  You will only need to add in a CD player, headphones, notebook paper (or the printable sheet included in the teacher ebook), and pen to begin.  If you are not familiar with IEW's philosophy on using pen, you can read more about that here. We are still rebels and use pencil most of the time.  

The flash cards include word lists for all three levels making them very versatile in using with multiple grades. Implementing this curriculum into your current schedule is extremely easy and we had it up and going quickly.  It takes Sarah no more than 15 minutes each day to complete and on average we complete a lesson per week.  There are 47 lessons and no time frame is given to complete them because the program is set up to completely master a lesson before moving on.

How We Used This In Our Homeschool

  • First step was to watch the Spelling and the Brain Seminar which explained a lot of the struggles I see often in my children.  It was such an informational seminar and eye opening.
  • I printed out the lesson pages from the teacher ebook and placed them in their own binder.  This step is not necessary because you can read it off of your computer but we are doing a lot of car schooling lately so I wanted to do it this way.  
  • I placed the little flashcards in baseball card protectors (from my couponing days!) and stuck them in a folder for Sarah.  That folder was for her to look back on and study the rules and animals that went with the rules. There is also an option in the appendix to make a Phonetic Zoo board or a lapbook which looked fun too!
  • I placed the large flashcards in a small notebook with half sheet page protectors.  You could also place them on a ring because they already have a hole punched in them for that purpose.
Day 1 - We would sit together and go over the words on the large flashcard along with the rule for the lesson.  There is an animal on the flashcards that correspond to the rule as well.  The teacher's ebook gives you information to help explain the rule further to your child.  We would go over spelling each word together on the white board the first day.  

Day 2 - She grabs the CD which tells her the spelling words in a sentence to write for the lesson.  She writes them on notebook paper and then checks them along with the CD too.  I always check her corrections to make sure she marks them correctly.  You can listen to a sample of the audio lesson here.

Day 3, 4... - She continues the same process as Day 2 until she gets all 15 words 100% correct two times in a row.  Once she accomplishes that, she moves on to the next lesson so you can see that a lesson might take 2 days or all week depending on the words and if she is familiar with them or not.

Every 5th lesson, there is an opportunity for review.  For this lesson, you will collect any words that were spelled with errors in the previous lessons and you can also include words from writing lessons in other subject areas as well. 

Sarah really enjoys the independence that this program gives her.  I like that aspect too because it frees me up to work with my high schoolers.  She likes checking and correcting her own work too.  The rules are repeated often on the CD during the practice so she's really picked those up pretty quickly and it gives us a hint we can use with one another if I notice a word misspelled on one of her papers.  For instance, I might say "what's the rule for i-e words?" and she can work through what she remembers about that rule.  

Find out more on IEW by visiting them on Facebook, Pinterest, Vimeo, Twitter, YouTube, Blog, Google+, and Instagram.

See more reviews and homeschool uses by clicking the banner below!
IEW Review

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, October 26, 2015

It's Monday Again!

Top 5 for the week
  1. set up cleaning plan in planner
  2. finish marking hubby's days off
  3. file bills
  4. work on next year's budget calendars
  5. work on large monthly grocery list and shop
Menu Plan 

Dinners: I changed the menu so much from the plan last week so I still have these on hand.

  • Tostados (from last week)
  • Pasta, salads
  • Cheeseburger steaks with onions and gravy, garden peas (from last week)
  • Meatball subs, chips, cut veggies (from last week)
  • dinner with Grandma       

Reading goals (affiliate links)      
  • try to get at least 5,000 steps daily  
New Habit for this Interval until 11/22/15
  • water, water, water (at least 32 oz per day)
Review of Last Weeek

Top 5 for the week
  1. update new planner - so excited about this one!  Here's the video of the new one I choose.  
  2. 3 reviews due this week!
  3. write to do list nightly
  4. reading plan to complete 2 books I'm reviewing.
  5. pick up items for Princess of the King on Friday, set up schedules
Menu Plan 

Dinners:  Totally changed this up most of the week!

  • Tostados
  • Chicken with stuffing and gravy, green beans
  • Cheeseburger steaks with onions and gravy, garden peas
  • Meatball subs, chips, cut veggies
  • Potato Soup and grilled cheese  (we had taco soup instead)     

Reading goals (affiliate links) completed the pages I set out to read     

Fitness goals        DONE!!  Goal met every day even hit 10,000 one day and could barely walk the next lol.
  • try to get at least 5,000 steps daily  
New Habit for this Interval until 11/22/15      Done - working on these goals for a while but they are finally becoming habits I think!
  • water, water, water (at least 32 oz per day)

On My Heart

Over and over again, God is placing on my heart to remember His Word first.  Along the lines of sharing your story or testimony as some may call it - do not forget to share His Word!!

I have heard some pretty powerful testimonies over the past few weeks and time and time again, the one thing I noticed most was they did not open their Bibles and share God's Word.  

He is first, His Word is enough, and He is all I need!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Review of Koru Naturals

Koru Naturals Review
Today's review product is a little different than most here on our blog. It is all about pampering and taking care of your body with Koru Naturals. They offer natural products with natural ingredients such as manuka honey, lanolin, tea tree, manuka oil, argan oil, and many more. This was my first experience using any of their products. We were sent the Skin Clear Cream, Manuka Honey Propolis Soap, and Argan Oil and Sandalwood Hair Tonic to try out. So keep reading to find out more!

Skin Clear Cream
 Koru Naturals Review

The basic ingredients include the raw unpasteurized form of Manuka Honey and the pure steam-distilled Manuka Oil. The 4oz tin currently sells for $19.20.

I gave my oldest son, who suffers from moderate acne, the Skin Clear Cream to try. We have tried several different products with him in the past with little improvement in his acne. Koru Naturals offers a blog with load of wonderful information on their products and the biggest advice I read was to exercise patience no matter what products you try. It can take anywhere from 4-8 weeks to see results. What I like most about this cream was the fact that it promotes skin elasticity through the action of the manuka honey which in turn clears up the skin. As you continue to use the cream, it restores the skin's natural moisture barrier which helps fight off acne. He says he likes the smell, feel, and the way his skin seems to soak it up. He has been using this for about 4 weeks now and we both have noticed some improvement with his skin. His breakouts are not gone but they do not seem to be as inflamed as before.

 Koru Naturals Review
Next up is the Manuka Honey Propolis Soap.  It comes packaged in this beautiful box, approx 4oz in size and sells for $7.90. It contains a combination of Manuka Honey and Propolis, from the hive of the bee.

I tried out the soap for myself. I have extremely dry skin. I need to put lotion on morning and night and still suffer from dry skin. I've used different oils and creams before trying to help but nothing has seemed to work long term in improvement. I've even been to a dermatologist who basically told me - "you have dry skin." Uhm yeah, I knew that. You can smell the honey and natural smells as soon as you remove the soap from it's package. You cannot really smell it on your body after you shower. It lathers well and doesn't leave any sort of film or residue behind on your skin. I still need to use my daily regiment of lotion so I feel like I need to keep using this one for a while before I can really give a great review of how it works on extremely dry skin. For average skin, I would think it would be a wonderful natural alternative to the harsh chemical soaps on the market today. 

I also think the Skin Clear Cream might work great for myself too and plan to purchase my own.

Argan Oil and Sandalwood Hair Tonic

Argan Oil and Sandalwood Hair Tonic contains argan oil with a blend of other essential oils. It comes a 4oz container with pump and sells for $12.20. It has the smell of sandalwood which has a woodsy smell that I didn't really like that much when sniffed from the dispenser. However, after placing it on my hair I found that I could not even really smell it and my hair tends to hold in smells. My hair is very thick, dry, and frizzy.  The amount of harsh chemicals, dyes, and heat I have used have not helped it all. So, using just a few pumps of this oil tames my crazy unruly hair instantly! I don't think the pictures do it justice but this stuff is awesome and a little goes a very long way making this a very long lasting product. Just a few pumps held my hair in tact for the day and I didn't have to reapply.

It also gave my hair an overall shine and more healthy look.  I usually straighten my hair but have worn it naturally a little more since trying this product. 

If you purchase $35, you qualify for free U.S. shipping. You can find out more about Koru Naturals by visiting Facebook and Pinterest.

Koru Naturals Review
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Review of Drawing Around the World:USA

 Brookdale House Review

There are so many fabulous homeschool curriculum products on the market today that it is hard to decide which to choose and many you may not have even heard of. That is the case for me with today's product. I had never heard of Brookdale House publishing company before signing up to review one of their products. The company was birthed to meet the need of the primary author's family. She could not find anything that contained copywork, narration, and dictation to teach elementary writing so she created her own! The company now offers many homeschool products including elementary writing, elementary Spanish, Geography, Bible memorization, and so much more!

The product I chose to review is from the The Geography Drawing Series called Drawing Around the World: USA. It is available in a printed book for $25.95 or ebook format for $22.95. We reviewed the ebook format which I think is perfect if you plan to use it with multiple children. Since we were already studying the United States and memorizing capitals as well, I thought this would be the perfect companion to complement our current curriculum.

 Brookdale House Review

The course is extremely simple to implement and has been a fun addition for my daughter who loves to draw!  I really think it has helped her to memorize more about the states we are learning as well. We were studying the states in order of statehood and we were on state 30 already before picking up this course.  It has served as a great review for some of the states we've already learned about.  This course teaches states starting with the top of the east coast then going south and working throughout the midwest and west- perfect when you are learning to draw the states and seeing how they connect.

There is a suggested weekly schedule to follow and that is how we approached the course. The schedule included daily tasks for different states and took less than 15 minutes to complete each day. There was also an option and instructions on how to add in timed drills to your schedule. We did not include this as the child I was working with stresses out with any sort of timed activity but I did try it out with my 9th grader who already has all the states and capitals mastered. He is also my competitive child so the drills were right up his alley!

The course is set up to complete in 27 weeks and covers anywhere from 1-4 states per week with the majority being 1 state per week.

Day 1: Students are introduced to the new state/states and complete the State Fact Table sheet. They suggest a couple of websites where you find the facts needed to complete the sheets and we also had some of the information on our previous state study sheets. Students will locate and label each new state onto the dashed, black and white map and draw all states studied so far.

Day 2 & Day 3: Students repeat the process of locating and labeling each new state onto the dashed, black and white map and drawing the states from memory. This is pretty easy at first but as states continue to be added, it becomes more difficult so the daily practice and repetition really helps!  I allowed Sarah to look back at the map if she became stuck at any point but most of the time she did great from memory!

Day 4: Students list the states studied so far from memory and use a blank text box to draw all of the states they have learned so far from memory.

The process is so simple but works so efficiently in helping students memorize the states and capitals plus Washington, DC. I am so glad to have been introduced to this curriculum and would highly recommend it if you are studying the USA. There is also a Drawing Around the World: Europe edition.

Find out more on Brookdale House by visiting Twitter , Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+.

Click the banner below to see what my fellow crew thought about this and other products available from Brookdale House.

 Brookdale House Review

Crew Disclaimer

Reformation Day Giveaway

October 31 commemorates what has become known as "Reformation Day." Martin Luther’s nailing of his ninety-five theses to a church door on October 31, 1517 in Wittenburg, Germany, provoked a debate that resulted in what we now call the Protestant Reformation. As the “Father of the Reformation”, Martin Luther is a vital figure in Church history. His sacrifice and willingness to wage battle against the spiritual, religious, and political powers of his medieval world allowed Christians throughout time to embrace the truth of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone as explained by Scripture alone. 

Author Danika Cooley has written Luther's story for young people in her new book, When Lightning Struck!: The Story of Martin Luther.  We are currently reading this book aloud as a family to celebrate this momentous occasion.  It is so powerful to reminisce and connect with this time period. I am so excited to share with you more about this book as we finish it up and even more excited to offer you the wonderful opportunity to win lots of great prizes as we celebrate Reformation Day!

  Reformation Day Giveaway

To celebrate Reformation Day and the release of When Lightning Struck!: The Story of Martin Luther, I've joined together with a team of blogger friends to host this wonderful giveaway, valued at over $500! One person will win ALL of the following: $100 Amazon Gift Card Fire 7-inch Tablet, WiFi 8GB ($49.99)  When Lightning Struck!: The Story of Martin Luther (hardcover $16.99) From, a $50 Gift Certificate From Nuremberg Tourist Board, a Playmobil Martin Luther figure ($9.99) From Thinking Kids Press, a curriculum bundle from When Lightning Struck! author, Danika Cooley:
From Fortress Press, a book bundle by author, Tim Dowley:
  1. Christian Music: A Global History  ($35)
  2. Introduction to the History of Christianity: Second Edition ($55) 
  3. The Student Bible Atlas: Revised Edition  ($12.99) 
  4. Atlas of the European Reformations ($24)
From Home School Adventure Co.:
  1. Philosophy Adventure: Pre-Socratics (digital $39.95)
  2. Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal (digital $18.95)
To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter below.  a Rafflecopter giveaway
Terms and Conditions:  This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.  Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no away associated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. No purchase necessary for entry. Odds are determined by the number of entries. Selected winners will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prizes or another winner will be drawn. Entry into this giveaway will subscribe you to the Thinking Kids Press email list. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

My Week!

Top 5 for the week
  1. update new planner - so excited about this one!  Here's the video of the new one I choose.  
  2. 3 reviews due this week!
  3. write to do list nightly
  4. reading plan to complete 2 books I'm reviewing.
  5. pick up items for Princess of the King on Friday, set up schedules
Menu Plan 

Dinners:  (I'm feeling the need for gravy, lol)

  • Tostados
  • Chicken with stuffing and gravy, green beans
  • Cheeseburger steaks with onions and gravy, garden peas
  • Meatball subs, chips, cut veggies
  • Potato Soup and grilled cheese       

Reading goals (affiliate links) 
Longing For Paris by Sarah Mae


Priscilla Shirer's Discerning the Voice of God

Mark study with Hellomornings

Fitness goals
  • try to get at least 5,000 steps daily  
New Habit for this Interval until 11/22/15
  • water, water, water (at least 32 oz per day)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

This is a new series where I am going to share with you what God is placing on my heart and in my mind at the moment. 

 As I'm typing these words right now, I'm not even sure what I want to call it so it is being left untitled for the moment.  When I think about it, "untitled" actually fits with what God has been revealing to me this week.  So often in this big old world, we feel all alone in our struggles when in reality none of us are.

Share your story is what God has laid on my heart and in my mind right now.  Only it might not be the stories that you are familiar with.  Yes, God uses every tragedy in our lives to draw us closer and closer to Him.  We've all felt sickness, death, and hurt in our lives but many of those come in varying degrees.  As I sat and listened to woman after woman share a portion of her story during a recent Women of Faith tour, overwhelming thoughts of my own children's stories came to my mind.  Testimonies of overcoming with the grace of God give us strength, courage, and inspiration to keep on keeping on.  Stories of consequences faced head on as the result of bad choices that have been made. Most of us in the world can relate to these testimonies because we have been there ourselves.  

But what if we can't relate? What if God has spared us from the hold of addictions, depression, teenage pregnancy, abuse, and any other form of darkness that often tries to seize us.  Well, friend, then that is your story!  Praise and Him and share with the world how He has spared you from those tragic events!  

Our stories often become comparisons when each of us has our own unique story to tell.  Maybe I'm wrong but I think those who don't have those tragic stories to tell often doubt how they can help others but God is writing His story in all of us.  I tell my children that their story is encouraging to young people especially that their life doesn't have to be filled with tragedy and consequences of bad choices.  Of course, this doesn't mean they won't make mistakes or have hurts in their lives.  Guaranteed they do and will continue but with their eyes on Jesus, He can save them from so much!  On the other hand, if they do have to follow the school of hard knocks, then my prayer is for them to share how God pulled them through that too!

To my children:  You are not like this post and untitled.  You belong to Jesus Christ so let Him write your story and then share of all the wonders He has done!  

Jeremiah 29:1- For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Write Your Story by Francesca Battistelli

Friday, October 16, 2015

Back To Life, Back To Reality - Week 8

The break ended and so did my weekend getaway so this week it was back to somewhat normal.  I did plan for Week 8 before I left but I started the week with nothing but that done so I really felt like I floundered my way through everything else.  It worked, we survived but this week I want to start out more prepared!

This was my greeting as I returned back home this week - so sweet!

We hit the road for more car schooling as well.

We're studying the Civil War period and it just floors me the information that I do not remember learning at all.  I know history was extremely boring to me during school which is probably why.  I also can't believe how much I love learning about history now!

I did take the time to snuggle, relax, and enjoy When Calls The Heart!

It was 80's week at dance this week - can you tell?

I hope you have a had wonderful week! What was your favorite part of the week? Breaks and getaways are so needed and refreshing but I also find that getting back into a routine is refreshing as well.  Is that the case for you?