Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Beautiful Blog


I follow  a lot of different blogs. Every morning, I skim through the posts on Google Readers, occasionally clicking through to the actual blogs to leave a comment.

I found a new blog this week. Frankly, one  that took my breath away with the beauty of the words and photographs.

Two years ago, we used A Child’s  Geography: Explore His Earth, by Ann Voskamp. We loved it. It was a thorough course that is written in a conversational style similar to that of Hillyer’s Child’s History of the World. This year, we will be using Ann Voskamp and Tonya Peckover’s A Child’s History: Explore the Holy Land.  I did a web search, hoping to find out when more volumes in the series would be coming out. In doing so, I came across Ann Voskamp’s blog.

Ann’s blog, Holy Experience, is a series of beautiful reflections on life, faith, and love. Visit it—you will be blessed!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Planning for Next Year

This week, I am going to do some serious planning for our next homeschool year. Emily will be in the fifth grade. Our focus for the year will be  world geography and cultures. This will be primarily a social studies focus, but I plan to include art, writing, and science as much as possible.  My plan for this is to inventory all the resources we already have and to organize them into a coherent schedule. I did Sonlight 5th year with my older kids many years ago, so I have many of those resources to include. I have several Currclick books and studies about different continents.

I’d love to hear about any other world geography resources that you think are great and that I should take a look at.

Some of the other resources for other subjects that we will use are:

Math: Singapore Primary Math 5


Bible: Finish NT Grapevine Study

Language Arts: Word Roots (Critical Thinking Press)

            All About Spelling

             Easy Grammar

              Igniting Your Writing (currclick)

               Write With the Best

Science:  Nutrition 101

                  TOPS Electricity and Magnetism

Other:  Building Thinking Skills (Critical Thinking Press)

              Artistic Pursuits


I’ve linked to the items that I reviewed last year for the TOS Crew and that we are continuing to use as a significant part of our curriculum.


16 Wishes for a Perfect Disney Vacation!


This week’s Destination Disney assignment is to list my 16 wishes for a perfect Disney vacation.

1. The trip would include the whole family. Now that Chris lives in Korea and the older kids are in college and/or working, it is nearly impossible for us all to take a vacation together. Our last Disney trip was just me and the two younger girls. Fun, but not the same.

2. Perfect weather…sunny, but not too hot.

3. No lines! We have actually had some fall trips in the past with very small crowd levels.

4. Staying on site. I love staying in the Fort Wilderness campground. We once stayed at the Yacht Club—It was great fun to walk into Epcot through the back entrance! We are generally “budget hotel” kind of people, so this was a splurge!

5. A five to 7 day trip—plenty of time to see everything without rushing.

6. Mickey Mouse bars or other treats every afternoon.

7. Christmas season—I love Disney decorated for Christmas!

8. Walking a half-empty Magic Kingdom late at night.

9. Riding the monorail.

10. Eating around the “world.” (Epcot)

11.Nighttime at Epcot—the fountains all lit up, the sparkles in the sidewalks—magical!

12. A day at a waterpark. 


(Emily’s ideas)

13. Meeting Mickey Mouse

14. Going on lots of fast roller coasters.

15. Riding Goofy’s Barnstormer

16.Visiting the Coca Cola place at Epcot with the free drinks!

Comment here or visit the Destination Disney Blog Hop to add your own wishes for a perfect Disney vacation!

Monday, June 28, 2010

“White Coat” Ceremony

Allison has just completed her first two years of medical school at the Univ. of South Alabama. Her first two years were spent in rigorous classroom study. The next two will be spent doing rotations. This past weekend, we drove down to Mobile to attend her “White Coat” Ceremony, when she  and her 70 classmates were officially awarded the white coats they will wear while learning to practice medicine.



Sunday, June 27, 2010

I Love Giveaways!

Here are a few great giveaways going on right now:

In the Sky With Diamonds is giving away a $60  gift certificate to CSN Stores. I love CSN Stores—They sell everything!

Kiddie’s Corner Deals is giving away a great Febreze prize package.

Mom Goin’ Crazy has a Costco/ Nature Valley/ Fruit Roll-ups giveaway.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Suitcase review (CSN Stores)

CSN stores gave me the opportunity to review a product from one of their stores. I have been wishing for some more luggage—somehow all our large suitcases have ended up in Korea with Chris, or have had the wheels broken by airline travel, leaving us only small carry-ons. So, I headed to the CSNstores Shoes, Bags, and Luggage department to look around. A search for “suitcases” yielded 1633 results!  Of course, my options dwindled somewhat when I limited the search by price. I spent several hours browsing the site before I decided on the CalPak Gator 2 piece luggage set. This set retails for $349.99, but was on clearance for only $53.99!  The larger suitcase is not as large as I would have liked --only 22”, but it does expand to 13” deep, so it should hold significantly more than a 25”  x 8” deep suitcase that we already own.

The shipping was quick and the suitcases arrived in just a few days.  The quality appears to be very good. They feel very sturdy and are made of heavier fabric than the cheap luggage that we usually buy. The rolling mechanism seems very smooth.



There are two not-very-roomy outside pockets on each suitcase. The inside of each suitcase has zippered extra section and a zippered mesh pocket to help organize your gear. These suitcases are very deep and are expandable for even more depth.


I just used the smaller 18” suitcase for a weekend trip. It looked tiny, but was plenty big enough for a weekend.

If you are in need of luggage, I suggest you check out this set at before this great clearance deal sells out!


Outdoor Challenge #2

Emily and I continued our nature study today by participating in the Outdoor Challenge #2 at the Handbook of Nature Study blog.

We are in Mobile for the weekend visiting my oldest daughter, so we took a stroll around her apartment complex to see what we could find.

We found a sandy area that was swarming with some type of bee—I wasn’t able to get a picture. They were going in and out of these holes in the sand. I even saw one digging a hole with the sand flying out behind him.


We observed this Virginia Creeper crawling up a tree. Emily noted that it had 5 leaves and we observed the tendrils that held it tightly to the bark. Emily also made note of the rough bark texture of the pine tree.


Emily’s assignment was to come up with some descriptive phrases:

She heard: Crunching.

She saw: Sneaky squirrel.

She felt: A spiny pinecone.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Teaching the F and V Sounds

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Does your child have trouble producing the F and V sounds? I posted some tips for teaching these sound to your child on my Super Star Speech blog.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil (Review)

Tropical Traditions recently sent me a 32 oz jar of their Gold Label Coconut Oil to review. Coconut oil is a very good cooking oil and is said to be a very healthy food. The best thing about this virgin coconut oil is the wonderful flavor! I’ve tried it in shortbread and in peanut butter cookies and in chocolate chip cookies. I really think they are the best cookies I’ve ever made. The coconut oil gave them a wonderful flavor and texture.

Then I tried a recipe from the Tropical Traditions website—Coconut-Lime Rice Pilaf. It, too, was delicious.


Tropical Traditions also makes an expeller pressed coconut oil that is flavorless and useful for dishes when you don’t want a coconut flavor.

A 32 oz jar Tropical Traditions Gold Label Coconut Oil sells for $37.50. However, this item and many of Tropical Tradition’s other products are frequently on sale. I recommend subscribing to the Sales Newsletter to keep up with the latest bargains!

If you make an order from Tropical Traditions and choose, “referred by a friend” with my user ID: 5336900, Tropical Traditions will send you a free copy of the book, Virgin Coconut Oil: How It Has Changed Lives, and How It Can Change Yours!!  (I will also earn a free product when you make a purchase.)

This is a video about the origins of Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil:

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review in return for the free product. 

I Love Flowers!

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of 1-800-Flowers. All opinions are 100% mine.

My sweet oldest daughter, Allison,  brought these flowers home for me a few days ago. I love the way they are brightening up my kitchen table!  This arrangement had 8 different flower varieties in it. It has a different look however I turn the vase around!   Nothing brightens up a home like fresh flowers!

DSC08194 Katie received a couple of bouquets at her senior recital a few weeks ago that just reached the “throw out” point last week, so I've really been enjoying having fresh flowers around this month. That is a rare treat for me!

Do you know someone that would enjoy some flowers this week? Your husband? A friend you haven’t seen in a while? A loved one who is far from home? I have a good friend that has gone through a lot of family drama lately…. She is currently out of state taking care of her elderly mother. I think she would love a flower delivery to brighten up her day.

Take a look at these arrangements from   Aren’t they beautiful?  The site has hundreds of arrangements to choose from and offers same day delivery.

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Visit my sponsor: Who are you thinking about?

Monday, June 21, 2010

What Causes an Articulation Disorder?

What causes an articulation disorder? Why do some children have perfect speech at age three while others are difficult to understand at age seven?

Read more on this topic at my Super Star Speech blog.


The Critical Thinking Co. Balance Benders

Balance Benders

I recently reviewed Balance Benders (beginning level), which is  published by the Critical Thinking Company.

We have used my Critical Thinking Co. products over the years and loved them all, so I was eager to get a look at Balance Benders.

Balance Benders are fun logic problems that use algebraic principles. The students must analyze each balance scale, then solve equations using the information from the balance. Only shapes are used on the scale and in the exercises.

Emily really enjoyed using this book. At 10 years old, the beginning level was just right for her. I suspect that it would be too difficult for most second graders (the recommended lowest age for this product). She is moving through it quickly, but we were both glad that the problems started out fairly easy for her. We did the puzzles together orally so that we could talk through them and so that I could make sure that she wasn’t just guessing the answers. I wanted to make sure she thoroughly understood the concepts before she got to the more difficult pages. I think these puzzles will really help her understand algebraic concepts before she ever uses them with numbers!

Balance Benders comes in four levels, covering grades 2 through 12. Each level sells for $9.99. We look forward to trying out more of them!


The Critical Thinking Co. has asked me to mention their Critical Thinking Heroes Award. Do you know someone who inspires a thinking approach to teaching? Nominate them for this award, which features a $500 prize and national recognition. Visit here for the details.

Would you like to win $500 of Critical Thinking Co. products? The company is running a video contest—submit a short video of a learning experience using a Critical Thinking Co. product. Every participant will win all three levels of Dr. Funster’s Word Benders!

This is a Mama Buzz review. The product was provided by The Critical Thinking Company  for this review.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday’s Fave 5


Happy Friday! Here are some of this weeks blessings:

1. I love the lazy days of summer. We’re still busy, but not quite so much. I’m finding lots of time to just sit and read, which is wonderful!

2. Emily and I are having fun doing nature study this week. We’ve been journaling, blogging, and photographing as well as researching what we find out in our yard and neighborhood. I hope to make this a regular part of our schedule.

3. Allison is home for a week and a half. She finished her “Step One” boards last week and will be starting year 3 of med school next week. I’m really proud of her and look forward to hearing some good stories as she begins doing rotations this summer.

4. Lots of exciting changes around here….Today I took Katie for her college orientation. I think she’s getting excited about this new experience and of course had to buy a t-shirt to show off her new school!

5. John Michael closes on his house on Monday. He was busy this week getting insurance, arranging for utilities, and fun “grown up stuff” like that! Pretty amazing to be buying a house at 20 years old!

Friday’s Fave 5 is sponsored by “Living to Tell the Story.” Write your own post and link up!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bed Shopping

My 20 year old son moved out on his own last year and the first thing I did was fix up the room. Let me tell you, it needed some major fixing up! I patched the holes in the walls, pulled off the raggedy wallpaper, scrubbed the carpet, and repainted. I moved a desk from our bedroom into the room and the room has since served as a guest room, sewing room, and even an office for dh  when he was here for a month last summer.

The one thing I have yet to replace is the bed. The one in there now is a captain’s bed—useful for extra storage, but very scratched up. The drawer supports are broken, leaving the drawer sticking out at an odd angle when closed. (John Michael is actually back home for a couple of months right now, thus the trashed appearance of the room—I’m anticipating getting my sewing/guest room back in a couple of weeks.)


So, I’ve been looking around at the  twin beds at Here are some that I really like—all in the $3-500 range, which seems very reasonable. There are 760 twin beds to choose from at the site! Actually, I want the second one in a queen size for my own room!

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Family Driven Faith (Review)


Family Driven Faith—Doing What it Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk With God, by Voddie Baucham, Jr., is a call for parents to intentionally nurture their children in the Lord.

The author and his spouse were both raised in single parent, non-Christian homes, but have made a conscious effort to teach and model for their children a Godly, loving, family-centered lifestyle. Mr. Baucham is very concerned with the large percentage of children who graduate high school without a personal faith and a Biblical worldview.  In Family Driven Faith, he suggests changes for both families and churches to make to ensure that children remain in the Christian faith and pass it on to the next generation.

I have read a lot of Christian parenting books and am very impressed with this one. It is full of practical information and ideas for teaching children a Christian worldview and implementing a family worship time. He also addresses the shortfalls of the typical churches that segregate family members into groups and discourage parents from being the primary mentors of their children. I felt that the book was written more for the father of the family than the mother, partly because the author is writing from his perspective as a dad and partly because he is calling men to step up to the plate to fulfill their calling as the spiritual leader of the home. As a single mom, however, I still found it very helpful. This is a book that will be kept and referred to over and over again.

I received a free review copy of this book from Crossway.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Molly’s Money Saving Digest--June


This month’s Molly’s Digest is just a little bit different. It still includes the great recipes, kid’s pages, and creative decorating ideas, but this issue focuses less on saving money and more on making money. The theme is “Home Sweet Business” and the feature article discusses ways to make a little extra money working from home. If you have thought about earning a little cash for extras or even providing a full second income (or full support) for your family, you will find inspiration here. Interviews with several men and women provide ideas and details about businesses as varied as lawn care, bread baking, and affiliate marketing. Other articles provide ideas for home businesses for kids. I know Emily will enjoy this!

Another brand new feature in the Digest is “Something Old, Something New.” I love this! The author provides plans for turning trash into treasure. These are not your typical scouts/ Sunday school crafts that you keep only because your kids made them. These are beautiful items that you will enjoy using in your home. A swimming bag crocheted from plastic bags and margerine lids! Coasters and purses made from old wool sweaters! I am amazed by the creativity here!

You can purchase Molly’s Digest for $4.95 at the Schoolhouse Store. But don’t!  Instead, buy the Molly’s Membership for only $3.95. It includes free online resources and free e-books each month and will continue only as long as you want to subscribe.

Don’t forget to check out the Econobusters blog, which is loaded with frugal tips, decorating ideas, and freebies!

I received a free copy of Molly’s Digest to write this review. There are affiliate links in this post, so I will profit from any purchases. This did not affect the opinions expressed in any way.

Nature Study—Outdoor Challenge #1

We plan to start doing regular nature study this summer. We started with the Outdoor Hour Challenge #1 from the Handbook of Nature Study Blog.  I’ve had Anna Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study on my shelf for years, but haven’t used it much. I hope to start a pattern of regular nature study with Emily, using this book, a journal, and the challenges from the “Handbook of Nature Study Blog.”

Our first assignment was to look for some things we found interesting and to pick two things to investigate further. This is what we found:

This tree has interesting peeling bark.


We found several trees with lichen on them and noticed that the lichen was most prolific on the north side of the tree.


We thought the spiky stems where the flowers had previously been on this tree were interesting.


We found this spider in the vinca. Emily drew this and wrote about it in her nature notebook.


We also observed some roly polies and listened to some birds calling to each other.

When we were finished, Emily went for a walk around the neighborhood to do some more nature observation on her own. She saw a raccoon and an yellow garden spider that  she was eager to tell me about when she arrived home.

Destination Disney—Summer Treats

image   This week’s Destination Disney question is: "What is your favorite summertime treat at Disney?”

One of our Disney World traditions is to take a break each afternoon for a Disney frozen treat (year round, not just summer?) My usual choice is a Mickey Mouse bar. YUM!  If we are in the vicinity of Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom, though, we all love the Dole Whips—pineapple and vanilla swirled ice cream. Mmmm.  Which Disney treats are your favorite?

Join in the Destination Disney blog hop at Reviews and Reflections!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Katie’s Senior Recital

Kate gave a senior recital last Saturday at our church. She played both the piano and violin and the final piece (for piano and violin) was one that she composed herself. Her friend, Christy, accompanied her on the piano. Katie plans to major in music composition in college.





Friday, June 4, 2010

Emily’s Birthday Party

Emily had a small birthday swimming/slumber party for her birthday last week. The  weather Friday night didn’t cooperate for swimming, but we took the girls  over to my parents’ house for an early Saturday morning swim.




Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Cool Moth

We noticed this moth outside our kitchen window last night—the wingspan was about 6 inches across! The photo was taken from inside the house, so this is his underside view. A quick look at our Butterfly and Moth guide indentified it as a Cecropia moth, one of the largest moths in the US. The caterpillar of this species can be 4 inches long!