This blog is my attempt to document our busy but BLESSED lives raising and educating our children for His glory. A child of God, wife to one, and mom to 6 fabulous kids. We are in our 15th year of homeschooling using a Classical ~ Literature based approach.

Come along for the good, the bad & the ugly.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Love All The Way ~ CD review & Giveaway

Remember Jump 5, a fun teen dance band from years Brittany-LATWago?  If so, then you might recognize Brittany Hargest.  Well now she has her own debut album release called “Love All The Way” that is an upbeat, get up and go  CD filled with songs in which she shares her heart in Christ. Think Christian Rock only a little more toned down.  Have a listen to a song right here!

“Brittany’s debut release combines club beats with lyrics that communicate the hope, love and acceptance that are found in knowing Christ. Recognized for her high energy and soaring vocals, Brittany delivers the same vocal ability, and influence on a more mature record. Infectious rhythms and irresistibly catchy hooks gravitate toward a grand finally ending! These 10 dance/pop driven tracks, are exuberant examples of fiery rhythms, which collectively serve up a variety of interesting tempos. From tracks like, “Slow Motion” to “Love All The Way” to “Miracle” and “You Met Me”, the music’s drive comes from its pervasive grooves, exquisite arrangements and passionate singing. This release ranks right up at the top with any feel-good, dance- driven album in the industry! It’s one of the best Christian dance albums ever made and it’s just so easy to get caught up in the music that at the end, it’s hard not to rewind the record and start it over again! Hargest’s self-titled, debut album demonstrates, what good music is supposed to do by providing a positive escape.”

Brittany’s CD is available on I Tunes, Buy the CD on Amazon, or download the MP3 album at Amazon.  Want your own copy?  Leave me a comment and let me know you were here.  The giveaway is open to anyone, even if you know me IRL (in real life).  This giveaway will be open until 10 P.M. Thursday, Nov. 3rd.  Leave a comment and win a CD, easy peasy!


"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services 
mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I 
only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: 
"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TOS Review ~ Wits & Wagers Family


If your family enjoys playing games consider adding Wits & Wagers Family to your collection.  Wits & Wagers is made by North Star Games and has been said to be “the most award-winning party game in history.”  I would agree with that description 100% for this fun and exciting family trivia game.

“Wits & Wagers Family simplifies the rules and scoring system of the popular Wits & Wagers. Now families and kids can get into the Wits & Wagers action! First, every player writes down a guess to a fun question. Then players try to score points by choosing which guess is closest to the right answer without going over. That is it!

The game features 300 new family-friendly questions. And even better than that, Wits & Wagers Family includes Meeples-- fun, cute, human shaped wooden pieces that the players use to select which answers they think are correct. Meeples have been a hallmark in European style strategy games for years, but this is the first time they have made an appearance in a party game.

So check out Wits & Wagers Family, the game that combines laughter and learning in a way that all ages can enjoy together!” ~ from website




         Wits and Wagers Family contains:

  • 150 question cards
  • 5 dry erase answer boards
  • 5 dry erase pens
  • 5 large Meeples
  • 5 small Meeples
  • 1 dry erase score board
  • 1 full color rules

It’s always fun to be able to include everyone in on game play and Wits & Wagers Family does just that.  We had a great time playing this game and I see it becoming a family game night favorite! If your family likes playing games then check out this fun game.  See what my crewmates thought of this great game by clicking here.


Company ~ North Star Games

Product ~ Wits & Wagers Family 

Price ~ $19.99

Ages ~ 8 and up, for 3-10 players

Where to purchase ~ Amazon or  Target 


I received a copy of Wits & Wagers Family from North Star Games, in exchange for a thorough and honest review.  Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews.  The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but are not influenced by the company or the free product provided.

Monday, October 24, 2011

TOS Review ~ Apologia - Educating the WholeHearted Child

Educating the WholeHearted Child is 372 pages of pure goodness for the heart, mind, and soul.  I love Apologia products and was so pleased when I found out I was on the review crew for the Educating the EducatingtheWholeHeartedChildApologiaWholeHearted Child book.  This awesome reference book is divided into 4 sections; Home, Learning, Methods, and Living and gives you Godly guidance through each part.  I found myself referring to this book over and over again when we had a sticky part of our homeschool year a few weeks ago.  This book and the advice of Godly women helped me so much!

Since 1994, Educating the WholeHearted Child has been a trusted guide for thousands of homeschooling families.  This extensively revised and expanded third edition provides a solid biblical foundation for educating and nurturing your children’s hearts, minds, and souls.

You will discover how to:

  • Make your home and family the heart of your children’s education
  • Train your children to become creative, self-directed learners
  • Enrich life and education with living books
  • Identify and work with each child’s learning style
  • Help your children love to learn as naturally as they love to play
  • Gain confidence to teach with practical, commonsense methods

Whether you are a first-time homeschooler or a long-term veteran, this comprehensive guide will equip and empower you for your journey of faith as a family.  Discover the joy of bringing relationship-based, book-centered learning back into the natural daily life of your home.”

                                                     ~from the back cover

The book is large, 8.5 x 11, and is filled with quotes, bible verses and little encouraging stories in the margins of each page.  One of my favorite parts of the book included a section called “In Our Home”.  In this section Clay and Sally shared stories of their personal experiences in their own home.  One of my favorite passages from the book is this:

“Home education, then, is the natural outgrowth of home nurture and home discipleship. our goal is not just an educated child, good SAT score, and college or even a career with a good salary.  Those may be fruits of your efforts, but your overriding goal should be to raise spiritually mature children who have both the will and the skill to learn and the desire and ability to keep learning.  That is the goal of WholeHearted Learning. Your goal in home education should be to raise well-rounded, spiritually grounded, truth-founded Christian children whose goal in life is to make a difference for the kingdom of  God, whatever life path they choose.  You’re actually raising future Christian adults.” ~ pg. 21

This book would bless anyone, whether you are just thinking about homeschooling or you are one of those veterans who could use some encouragement. Read a sample chapter here.  I strongly encourage you to get your hands on a copy and be blessed by the wisdom the Clark’s offer.  I enjoyed this book and I know I will be referring to it for years to come.  Check out what my Crewmates thought of this wonderful book by clicking here.

 ApologiaCompany ~Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc.

Product ~ Educating the WholeHearted Child

Price ~  $22.00

Where to buy ~ Apologia Press, Amazon

My other Apologia reviews ~ Good Morning, God., Who is God?, How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. for your Kids


I received a copy of Educating the WholeHearted Child from Apologia , in exchange for a thorough and honest review.  Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews.  The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but are not influenced by the company or the free product provided.

Friday, October 21, 2011

TOS Review ~ E-mealz

Have you heard the E-mealz buzz?  If not, then let me tell you what a wonderful 14Oct Misc 008company this is!  I mean really, I decreased my weekly grocery bill down from $225.00  to $130.00.  That’s a $95.00 savings a week for my family of 7 for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks!  And how can you go wrong when your company has the endorsement from a trusted name in debt relief and money management?  Dave Ramsey has his photo on E-mealz website and his endorsement so I knew I wanted to try this company out.  Let me tell you how it works.


With our busy sports schedule during the week it has always been complicated for me to figure out a way to feed the girls a healthy meal before practice.  A fellow sports mom introduced me to the idea of having Supper for the lunch time meal.  That way I know they have a filling dinner and are not eating a full meal at 830 PM and the Lt. has a warm plate of dinner when he arrives home from work.  E-mealz makes this possible for me!


I struggle in the area of food planning and grocery shopping.  I always have, but now with E-mealz I have help.  E-mealz is an internet service that was created by two moms who understand that sometimes there is just enough hours in the day to plan healthy, balanced meals for our families.  With E-mealz you get weekly menu plans for 7 days, complete with recipes and a shopping list tailored to your supermarket choice and based on the number of people in your family.  There is a plan for family's of 4-6 or an option for a 5 day two person plan. E-mealz also caters to those with special dietary concerns, such as gluten free, vegetarian, portion control, low fat or low-carb.  There are several stores to choose from including:  Kroger, Publix, WalMart, Aldi, Ralphs, or the Any Store option.  They have it all covered!  I choose the regular family plan for WalMart.

emealz 003

Each week,Thursdays for WalMart plan,  a new menu is posted.  You open it up, download and print out. The menu is laid out in a grid form making it easy to read and to plan which day you will eat what meal.  The ingredients and the recipe are listed  right next to the meal plan making it easy to read and follow.

emalz 004

On the second page is your customized shopping list with prices planned around the sales at the grocery store.  It lists ALL the items needed for the weeks meal including staple items like salt, flour, and oil.  My weekly menus for dinner ran on average about $85.00 per week. I did find that not every item on the shopping list was the listed price, but I was told by other Crewmates that it was because food prices range from region to region.  But you know what?  I am OK with that for the amount I am saving!

I know your probably thinking that the meals could not be that delicious for that price, right? WRONG!  We had some really yummy meals and even my picky eater enjoyed them with some clever disguise.   Over the last 8 weeks we have enjoyed meals like:

Oct misc 024

Chicken Dijonnaise with wild rice, and homemade bread          

* a family favorite!

Oct misc 028

Incredible Baked Ziti

emealz 001

Calico Corn & Turkey Bacon Pie

14Oct Misc 008

Mango Tilapia with white rice and green beans

CandF 004

Pasta e Fagioli

What I liked about E-mealz

  • ALL the planning work is done for you.
  • You are automatically billed for 3 months.  You can go into the website and cancel at any time.
  • The recipes are nutritious with good variety and are simple to follow. You do not have to spend all day in the kitchen to make a delicious meal.
  • There are Crockpot meals, slow bake, and do ahead meals scheduled.
  • The E-Mealz program is budget friendly and inexpensive - it works out to $5 per month or $1.25 a week.

I will recommend and sing the praises of E-mealz to anyone who will listen!  This company's service is a great tool that takes the chore out of meal planning and grocery shopping, making it as easy as 1-2-3!  For that I am especially appreciative.  I will be continuing my subscription to E-mealz when my trial runs out.  Head on over and check out a sample full meal plan and shopping plan by clicking here.  Interested in hearing more reviews of E-meals, click on over to see what my fellow Crewmates had to say.


Product ~ E-mealz

Price ~ $15.00 for a 3 month subscription


I received a 3 month subscription to E-mealz , in exchange for a thorough and honest review.  Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews.  The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but are not influenced by the company or the free product provided.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

2011 – 2012 School pictures

My talented friend Debbie shot these fabulous photos of the girls last week.  I love the way they turned out!

Saige RSAFaith RSA   Raven RSA Cadie RSATrinity RSA  girls-school-pic-1

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

TOS Review ~ Always Icecream


So, just what does ice cream have to do with the internet? Well, let me tell you about a great site for girls aged 7-12 called Always Icecream.  It is a social media site just for girls that brings “A scoop full of laughter, A scoop full of learning!” plus a whole lot of fun playing educational games.  Always Icecream was co-founded by  parents of five children, Swenja and Johannes Ziegler.


This great website rewards your daughter with scoops of virtual ice cream for all their learning accomplishments, while allowing them to play, learn and interact in a safe environment.  Now, I know what your thinking? Social media for my young impressionable daughter, no way!  Honestly, I thought the same thing when I was chosen for this review.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this site gives the parents full control of everything that happens in your child's virtual world.  Also, content on Always Icecream is subject to moderation, is blocked to search engines, and contains no advertising.


Dr. Johannes Ziegler came up with the idea for Always Icecream when he was looking for an appropriate internet website for his three daughters. In search of a site that combines safety, fun, educational value and online networking he was unhappy with the existing sites. That’s how the idea for Always Icecream was born.”

Always Icecream has been certified by the Privo Privacy Assurance Program to be in compliance with the rigorous standards defined in the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Want to know what else? This site has committed to not teaching on the touchy subject of evolution.  You get to teach your daughters  what you believe about the origin of life.  I for one appreciate that and give them a high five for that!!!

So, just what do you get with your membership to Always Icecream?

  • Learning Games and Rewards
  • Educational Videos
  • Shops and Games to Spend Rewards
  • Weekly Progress Report to Parents
  • Friends and Profiles
  • Comments and Messages
  • Entertaining Games and Videos as Rewards
  • Social Games like Pet Sitting and Arts Shop
  • Moderation prior to being visible to other members

The Games

example_games_on_always_ice_creamYou will get your fill of games in a fun educational way.  There are different levels of learning so you daughter will be continually challenged. The following subject categories available:

Language Arts

Math Drills

Math Quizzes

Advanced Math (such as exponents, fractions and square numbers)

Religious Education (Christian)

Geography & History


Music & Arts

Computer Skills

Foreign Languages



Another great aspect of Always IceCream that I appreciate is that they site provides the girls with praise and recognition. While the girls play they earn “$coops,” an in-game currency. Medals and awards for achievements in games that can be use the $coops to take care of pets or decorate homes. The girls also get to redeem their $coops for any fun game or activities, such as purchasing items in their mini world or purchasing fun stuff for their pets in the Pet World. There is also the  social aspect of chatting with other girls about how they liked a game or lesson, but that option is completely up to the parent to allow that feature or not.

Our Thoughts

We liked Always IceCream  and we give them 5 $coops for the fun, educational, and  safe site that can be moderated  to parents desires. I especially enjoyed the fact that everything is educational and if I found something that I didn’t like (which I rarely did) I could disable that feature.  Because I used this review with Madison, Mikayla, and Montana sharing an account I did not feel comfortable having them access the Learning Community as we don’t know anyone in “real life” that uses this feature.  However, in the future if this should change I would allow them to.  If you are looking for a safe, educational, online environment for your daughter definitely check out Always IceCream!  It works for our family of girls and it may just work for you too! Try it for yourself right here.

Check out what my crewmates experienced with Always Icecream, HERE.


Company~ Always Icecream

Product ~Always Icecream

Price ~$4.99 per month or $29.99 per year. Life-time membership $99.99

Ages~ geared towards girls aged 7-12


I received a membership to Always Icecream , in exchange for a thorough and honest review.  Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews.  The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but are not influenced by the company or the free product provided.

Monday, October 17, 2011

TOS Review ~ Visual Latin

We began journeying visuallatindvdsinto the world of “Classical” education this year and a part of that involves the study of Latin.  No, it not a dead language, it’s just frozen according to Dwane of Visual Latin.

We received a Visual Latin 1 DVD a few weeks ago to try out and it has been going well.  I used it with Marie to give her a little reprieve from the current Latin Program she is using. 

 R. Visual Latin 004

We had great results in the few lessons she has been through!  We received the DVD version with lessons 1-10. Each DVD has 10 complete lessons with included worksheets in PDF files form for the worksheets that accompany the lessons.  The setup of  was simple,  just pop it into your CD drive and your off on a fun filled lesson of Latin. The Lessons are broken down into 3 simple steps.


Step 1 ~ Grammar.  Latin teacher Dwane Thomas introduces the lesson in an engaging, fun, and quirky way. After the lesson is finished your child will then complete the corresponding worksheet.


Step 2 ~ Sentences. Again, Dwane will give a short lesson with sentences using the Grammar from step 1. A short worksheet will be completed.


Step 3 ~ Reading.  Dwane  reads a passage from an abridged Latin Vulgate. Again there is a worksheet for the child to translate the passage they just reviewed in the video.

Yes, Latin can be fun!  A you want to know a great part?  This program makes it feel like you have your very own Latin tutor right in the comfort of your own home.

“Add that to Dwane’s ability to address your children directly and your kids have their own personal Latin tutor right in your home.  They will smile, chuckle and even laugh at him as he teaches, whether it’s making a pun or making a mistake.

That’s right – we let the camera roll so every now and then Dwane slips up and corrects himself. It happens in a real class, right?  And kids make mistakes themselves, right?  This is something kids can relate to that builds great rapport. Furthermore, it relaxes them”

Visual Latin is a great program and I whole heartedly recommend it for anyone just starting to learn Latin or just needing a different approach to learning this great language.  The lessons are short and you find yourself laughing at Dwane’s humor.  You can try 6 introductory lessons for yourself by clicking HERE.  Check out what my Crewmates had to say about Visual Latin by clicking HERE.


Company: Compass Classroom

Product:Visual Latin 1, DVD

Price: DVD $30.00, Download $25.00, Complete  series 1-3 $90.00 (on sale for $80.00)

Ages: 9 and up

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~   I received a copy of Visual Latin 1 DVD, in exchange for a thorough and honest review.  Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews.  The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but are not influenced by the company or the free product provided.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up, Wk 7 ~ The one where Montana Reads!!!

14Oct Misc 011

Montana read her first 3 words this week, I. am. Sam.  Yipee!!!  I have another reader in the house.  She was so excited today she did a little happy dance.  Let me share it with you.

We switched Phonics/Reading programs for an upcoming review I am doing, and let me tell you it is going so good!  Montana is so excited to learn to read and ready every morning for me, even if it is at 630am.  I am so glad I was chosen for this review and can’t wait to share it with you in a few weeks.

Oct misc 037

It was a smooth week for the older girls. Marie is doing excellent with the Sonlight switch, which makes this Mama happy.  She finished up Module 3 this week in Biology and scored an “86” a “B” on her test.  I ended up restructuring the way we are learning with Tapestry of Grace.  Don’t know if I mentioned it last week but I ended up combining Madison & Mikayla and doing the History portion as a read-aloud instead of individual readings.  It’s going well and everything was completed this week.  McKenzie has been working on stringing her beads this week. I love the concentration on her face.(Yep, even the baby wears leos on gymnastic days and baby legs for leg warmers).                                                                   

14Oct Misc 036 14Oct Misc 068

Gymnastics and cheerleading are going fantastic!  Madison was able to ring the bell because she got her skill (the Kip) she needed last Saturday, so we are hopeful this will solidify her a spot on the Level 5 team. I attached the video clip so that family will see what I am talking about, Hi Grandma!!!  Marie’s cheer teams (she is on the Junior 2 and Senior 4) are sharpening up there skills because competition season begins December 4th.  Upon matching up cheer and gymnastics schedules we have a few conflicts but won’t know for sure how much we overlap until 1-2 weeks before the event.  I am looking on the bright side though because at least we are conflict free for the Nationals and State finals and for that I am thankful.  Especially since the Level 5 gymnastics meet is near West Virginia this year.

So, that was our week in a nutshell.  How was your week?

weekly-wrap-up_thumb2 I am linking up the Weekly Wrap Up over at WUHS. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Review & Giveaway~ Carlito C. Caterpillar’s Math House Games


Carlito C. Caterpillar’s Math House Games is a great set of 20 laminated cards with large, toddler proof durable activity cards all stored on a convenient O-ring for easy totting and use.  The card set showcases 20 easy steps to help kids learn math in a fun, hands-on way.  Math can be FUN and Caterpillar Math House helps to make it fun.  Each of the 20 steps includes 2 activities, which are further broken down into 3 different stages that increase in difficulty as your child progresses.  Any materials for the games are available right on the c3pla site, how great is that?!

“Domenico Marcario, M.S. – The creator of Carlito C. Caterpillar’s MathHouseTM Sensory Math Teaching System, is a retired high school mathematics teacher and full-time passionate grandparent!

The Carlito C. Caterpillar’s Sensory Math Teaching System is the outgrowth of years of research and development. It utilizes the natural way children learn.

From birth, children discover facts through sensory experiences. Fueled by curiosity and imagination, children use their eyes, hands, ears, noses, and mouths to learn about their world. They gain understanding by doing rather than by sitting passively and watching someone else do the thinking for them.”

The younger girls really enjoyed playing and learning with these cards.  I especially liked that whenever I needed a specific  worksheet, I could just go to the site and print as many as I needed.  I recommend this set of cards to anyone who wants to supplement their math program and to think out of the box a bit.mathHouseLogo

Company ~ c3pla

Product ~ Carlito C. Caterpillar Math House Games

Price ~$23.95 includes free shipping

Ages ~K – 5th

Want to give it a try yourself?  I have a copy to give away to one lucky reader.  That could be YOU!  All you have to do is leave a comment about your least favorite concept to teach in math.  Giveaway will close on Friday, October 14th @ 12Noon and the winner will be announced Friday, October 14th @ 3PM.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I received a copy of Carlito C. Caterpillar Math House Games , in exchange for a thorough and honest review.  Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews.  The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but are not influenced by the company or the free product provided.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up, Wk 7 ~ A refreshing break and changes


We had a great, relaxing week this week.  It was our first break after six sustained weeks of learning, not just in books but life.  We found out that our current History curriculum was not a good fit for Marie.  It makes me sad a bit, and not because I spent a small fortune on books and curricula, but because I was hoping to have all the girls in one History period. However, I am not up for long, tedious battles of getting work done.  So, we are moving back to Sonlight for Marie.  My friend, Michele, who has been there, done that for High School has graciously offered to lend us her Core 100. Jan misc. 2011-265 056 THANK YOU MICHELE, You are such a blessing!!!  

So, for now Madison & Mikayla will be staying with TOG but I may be tweaking it in the next few months as Madison has already expressed that she wants to go back to Sonlight also, sigh!  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Sonlight, we still use there readers, etc. but I had a plan for something different, and God is gently, yet firmly letting me know that is not the path we need to be on.  I am listening, just a little bit stubbornly.  I am a Taurus after all :-)

Oct misc 023

So, just what did we do with our week off?  Not a whole lot of anything.  Just the way I like it.  So, besides gymnastics and cheer practices and co-op we stayed home.  I did have to make a trip to Patient First on Monday when I was having flank pain that turns out I had a bladder infection that spread to my kidneys.  Fun, by Monday evening I was in so much pain I had to break down and take a 800Mg Motrin.  I normally don’t take any meds, so this knocked me out Monday night.  I do remember the Lt. going to pick the girls up at practice but not much after that.  I was o-u-t!

Oct misc 052 I didn’t pick up my camera hardly at all this week, so I am using archived photos.  Sometimes those can be the best kind, right?  The girls did have school photos at co-op on Thursday.  McKenzie would not smile for anything so hers should be interesting.  We also got a group photo of them, I can’t wait to see how they turned out. 

Ton beam 07012011

Mikayla started her TOPs training in gymnastics on Wednesday evening.  She had fun, but said it was too easy.  I told her if they made it hard the first day she would not want to come back.   She was asked to practice with the level 7/8 girls two times a week and last night she connected a back walk-over with a back-handspring on the balance beam.  Madison is making great strides too, she is so close to getting her Kip on the bars.  Not that there’s pressure or anything but she has 22 days left to get that skill before the routines clinic happens on the 30 Oct.  I know she will get it and I really hope it’s on a Wednesday (the day I stay at the gym for all 4 hours of practice) so I can see her ring the bell.  That will be a Kodak moment.  Oh, we also got our Meet schedule {jumping for joy}.  I am a planner and I have been pestering asking ever so sweetly  when it would be out so that I could match up gymnastic meet with cheerleading competitions.  So far, we only have 1 or 2 that conflict but depending on times we may be able to make it work out.  There is an optional meet listed in Chicago in February that Mikayla wants to go to so she can get her picture in front of this:


So, that was our week in a nutshell. How was yours?  I am looking forward to getting back at the in-depth learning next week.  I am linking this post up with the Weekly Wrap Up over at WUHS.  Stop by and link up too!