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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

madison on bike

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Recon ~ a TOS review


Marie is a Sophomore this year and I realize she has just a few short years at home until college and her young adult years. Have we done enough up to this point? Have we modeled that she is to faithfully walk with Him even in the hardest of times? If there is one thing that I want to teach the girls in their journey called life is, to love and to serve God. The Lt. and I strive to provide a stable beginning and we make it a priority to attend church and to study the Bible everyday in our schooling. To help us in the Bible curriculum department we were privileged to receive a new Bible program from a company called Recon. Let me tell you a little more about it.

PhotobucketRECON is a comprehensive Christian worldview curriculum targeted for Junior (11th) and Senior (12th) grade students (it is possible to use this curriculum with Sophomore (10th) grade students), or college students and adults. There are many struggles and spiritual battles that our children will face as they go out into the world and this Bible curriculum was created to help guide them with the Holy Scripture.

 Recon’s mission is to help high school Juniors and Seniors become effective witnesses and disciples for the Lord as they go out into college campuses.

For this review we received the teachers guide ($21.95) and the Recon student workbook ($12.99). The Teacher’s guide is over 400 pages in a soft, coil bound text that includes everything you need to adequately teach the lessons.


  • Directions for each segment of each class and other resources are provided at the end of the manual.
  • Lessons are presented in outline form with  gray-toned highlights that indicate what is in the Student Workbook.
  • All charts, graphs and illustrations are provided.
  • Reduced copies of the Student Workbook pages.
  • Bold words indicating what students need to fill in blanks.

The curriculum is comprised of 72 lessons using the KJV for verse selections. (We used the NIV version with no problem). The “Boot Camp” portion starts on Day 10. It is recommended by the author to use the program at least 4 days a week, with 2 days being the bare minimum. If lessons are done 4 days a week then the program will take 18 weeks, or one semester to complete.Photobucket

Although Recon is designed for use in Christian Schools it is easily adapted for home schools and co-op settings. We initially started using this program 4 days a week but soon found that it was really intense and dropped to the bare minimum of 2 days a week. We have enjoyed the curriculum but I find it is truly geared towards the child who will be leaving for college soon or approaching adulthood.  It is very thorough but I feel we would get more out of it when Marie is a bit older. Do not let that stop you from checking it out even if you have a 10th grader. Every child is different and your child may be ready for this program. Please be sure to check out what my Crewmates thought of Recon by clicking the banner below.


Company / Product ~ Recon Bible Curriculum

Price ~ $200.00 Curriculum licenses and PDF sold HERE and here on Lulu 

Ages ~ High school Juniors and Seniors and up



Photobucket Recon is the first application of a generational model for college ministry conceived and developed by Bill Perry. Bill is Chief of Staff and Director of Training Materials for InterFACE Ministries and a homeschooling dad of 7. RECON is a solid Christian worldview Bible curriculum which will equip older students for the challenges they will face on the college campus.

                                                                                   ~from website

DISCLAIMER: I received the teachers guide and student workbook from RECON, 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 29, 2012

Beloved Books: Sugar Creek Gang ~ a TOS review

Sometimes this mama’s voice gets too tired from reading all these good books everyday. For that reason we are big fans here of audio books. Often it is a challenge to find good quality audio books, so imagine my surprise when a review slot came open for the Sugar Creek Gang Series by Beloved Books.


The Sugar Creek Gang series is a wholesome Christian adventure series that was penned by Paul Hutchens in the 1930s. After his career as a traveling evangelist was cut short by tuberculosis illness he wrote about the childhood adventures of Bill Collins and his friends Circus, Dragonfly, Poetry, Big Jim and Little Jim. This series will  bring you back to simpler times, when things were slower and your children could play outside relatively safely.


The stories are brought to life by Paul Ramseyer as he tells of the daily adventures of Bill Collins and his friends. The entire 36 book series equates to over 100 hours of wholesome, funny stories on 72 CDs. We were blessed to be able to add Volume 1 to our ever growing audio book collection. The stories included in the this volume contain the first six books on 12 CDs:

  • The Swamp Robber
  • The Killer Bear
  • The Winter Rescue
  • The Lost Campers
  • Chicago Adventure
  • The Secret Hideout

    These Sugar Creek Gang "Audio Adventures" are dramatically read straight from the original books. Christian families LOVE this series because the gospel message is presented in such a simple, easy-to-understand style. The whole series is, in fact, a discipleship journey... even parents who listen along witness the Holy Spirit working changes in their own hearts!

    Families also enjoy the delightfully interspersed segments of nature study, poetry, hymns, and even science lessons... all skillfully woven into the fabric of the stories.

                                                                                              ~ from website

    Each story is approximately two hours long and are perfect for those long days in the car with errands or for bedtime. Because this series follows a continuous story line that builds on a spiritual foundation throughout, it is recommended to listen to the stories in order, however, they can stand alone if needed. Pricing  for this volume is reasonably priced at $54.95 with free media rate shipping. For a limited time you can  use the following code, HSING3-20, to receive an extra 20% discount at checkout, a great deal especially with Christmas fast approaching!

    These stories are great for the whole family. While I know they would be perfect for families with little boys, my girls really enjoy listening to the antics and adventures of the Sugar Creek Gang. These audio series are a frequent request for bedtime stories at our house. I love how desirable character traits are woven into the stories and  I plan on adding to our collection with the other volumes and purchasing some of the other audio series available from Beloved Books.

    As a special treat from Beloved Books you may listen to the first FULL first episode, The Swamp Robber! When you are done with that be sure to check out what my Crewmates thought of this series by clicking on the banner below.


    Company ~ Beloved Books

    Product ~ Sugar Creek Gang Series

    Price ~ $54.95

    Ages ~ all


  • DISCLAIMER: I received Volume 1 of the Sugar Creek Gang Series from Beloved Books, 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.

    Sunday, October 28, 2012

    Mission accomplished

    World Class Housewarming meet 12182011 004ALet me just preface this by saying that Mikayla does not have a common first name. However, we do have another little girl in the gym that shares the same first name as her and whose last name also starts with a “C”. The girls in the gym refer to her as “little T” and my Mikayla as “big T” (hehe, that makes me laugh because she is not so big). So imagine our surprise when we went to check in at the gymnast table and find out that “little T” was the registered gymnast and not Mikayla, GULP!!!

    I learned a valuable lesson yesterday, always know your child’s USAG number. A simple mistake can lead to unnecessary worry for your gymnast and teammate, which can then lead to the mother of the said gymnast getting a slight headache for the remainder of the meet. No harm, no foul as the crisis was quickly adverted due to an awesome friend who just happens to be the treasurer of our Parents Association and a fast acting coach, thanks guys!!! Guess where the girls cards are now? Yes, right in my wallet with all the numbers stored in my phone too:-).

    This was a long meet! There were a lot of girls competing and only 4 judges, who lived up to the reputation that Level 6 is not for the faint at heart with scoring, so there was a lot of downtime between events. Mikayla and her training teammate, Miss. K  and the rest of our World Class teammates were in flight B, meaning we went second on each event. We started on vault and that went relatively well for both of the girls. Mikayla ended up scoring pretty average, but vault is not her best event(s).

    After a long wait the girls then moved on to the bars. Mikayla has been struggling with her flyaway dismount for the last few days but she was determined to do it by herself at this meet. Thankfully she does land on her feet first. The funny thing is, is that she can do a flyaway in a layout position, which is a harder skill with no problem.

    After bars I knew that Mikayla needed 14.600 more points or at least a 7.300 on each remaining event to make the qualifying score of 31.000. I admit I was super nervous and we had to get up and move around. At practice this week Mikayla has been ahead of the music during each practice run. Did I mention we were already told to put our non-refundable deposit down on the optional level Leo? Did I mention I was nervous?!? And yet, she sat on the sidelines with her friends cool, calm, and collected :-)

    Beam was last, she likes beam. However, with beam you just never know! We knew she needed at least a 6.100 to qualify. In the past she has performed quite well on beam but I was still nervous because of the back walkover and if you are not spot on, your OFF!

    BREATHE! I do not know if you have been keeping track of scores, but, SHE MADE IT!!!! Mikayla scored a 8.600 on the beam and officially moved up to Level 7.

    new lv 7's

    Here are her official scores and placements for the meet. I did not even realize she was in the 10 year old age bracket until awards started. (her birthday is not until Jan. but she will be 10 before State).

    All – American Level 6 Test Out Meet – 10yr olds  {10/27}

    Vault: 8.500 ~ dnp

    Bars: 7.900 ~ 4th place

    Beam: 8.600 ~ 5th place

    Floor: 8.500 ~ 2nd place

    All Around: 33.500 ~ 4th

    I was so happy for both her and her training mate, Miss. K who also moved up! We will be back in the gym tomorrow, barring any damage from the impending Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy and going full steam ahead with Level 7 routines.





    Saturday, October 27, 2012

    Samson’s Classroom ~ a TOS review

    The younger girls really love to play on the computer. Sometimes it is hard to find good quality educational games they can play, not so with Samson's Classroom.


    If you have not heard of Samson’s Classroom you should definitely head on over to their site. Samson’s Classroom is a new online “umbrella” approach to educational learning games. Meaning you automatically get access to any product in the umbrella after purchasing  any product they offer. What's even better is that once a new product is released and/or any current product is upgraded you get immediate access to those benefits! Currently there are three games within the Samson’s Classroom: Sight Words with Samson, Spelling with Samson, and Reading with Samson. Let me tell you a little about all three because with this program your child will not only be playing good quality games but they will also be learning at the same time, a total win-win!


    Sight Words with Samson was created for your beginner readers to help them to master the 224 most commonly used words in our English language. By building  a strong foundation with sight words, new readers are encouraged to reach for the stars and become successful readers by utilizing a 5-step process to learn the most common words.


    Sight Words with Samson is an absolute must for all beginning readers. Give students the necessary foundation they need to become successful readers.

                                                                                            ~ from website 



    The 5-step process exposes the child to hearing and seeing the word visually and also learning how the letters to spell the words line up through fun games. These games  include learning how to complete a sentence, spell a word, identify the word, or take a short quiz. Within the resource center is a scoreboard that helps the parent and student keep track of progress. Also included within the resource center are additional worksheets and even flashcards for further review. Once your child has completed a level the parent can print out a certificate and present it to your child.


    Spelling with Samson is similar to Sight Words with Samson as it also uses a multi-step process to instill confidence in your child’s ability to spell.


    With more than 5,000 words and counting, Spelling with Samson is the most comprehensive spelling product on the market.

    ~ from website


    Using a variety of games and drills Spelling with Samson is a comprehensive program with more than 5000 words to test your child’s knowledge. One of the best parts is that you can customize the spelling list to line up with words you are using in your curriculum for the week. With attention grabbing games your child will be asking to play over and over again.


    Reading with Samson offers a combination of reading comprehension and logical analysis. Your student will learn to draw out clues from what they have read to help answer comprehension questions.


    …a cutting edge software product that helps students analyze reading material and learn how to draw conclusions and answer questions based on that material.

                                                                                    ~ from website


    A variety of questions include those on context, cause and effect, discovering the main idea, and sequencing. Reading with Samson includes a new patented user instant feedback system. If a student answers incorrectly,the passage where the information is contained be highlighted and the child will be allowed a second chance at answering correctly.


    Samson’s Classroom is perfect for students in grades K-5 and will get your child on the road to being a strong successful reader. So,you’re probably thinking all that I described above will cost you an arm and a leg, right? Well, NO! There are numerous pricing options available ranging from large/small schools to home accounts. A home user account for one user costs just $30 a year ($2.50 a month). There is also a family account which retails for $50 ($4.16 a month) a year for up to 4 users.


    We are down to one computer for the girls to use since their desktop went kaput a few weeks ago, so we have used this program on the laptop. There are not a whole lot of online programs out there that I normally let the girls use. But, we had a great time using this  terrific program with Mikayla and Montana as a supplement. Once school work was done the girls were able to log on and play learn. Montana is our beginner reader and she has made great strides with learning her sight words and reading. Her favorite part was using her hammer points and taking a swing. Mikayla has taken advantage of Samson spelling and reading and it has definitely showed, especially in her spelling.

    Overall, we have enjoyed using Samson's Classroom and I can see us continuing to use the program for the rest of our year subscription even though our review period is over. Be sure to try Samson's Classroom out for yourself by playing demo versions of the games. Also, be sure to click the banner below and see what the rest of my Crewmates thought of this program.


    Company / Product ~ Samson's Classroom
    Price ~ $30 home account (1 user); $50 family account (up to 4 users)
    Ages ~ grades K-5Photobucket 

     DISCLAIMER: I received a family account 1-year subscription to Samson’s Classroom, 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 26, 2012

    Weekly Wrap Up ~ end of 1st quarter


    I can not believe we have 9 weeks in the books. Well, actually I can. The girls have worked so hard and we have gotten so much accomplished over the last 9 weeks! I am still finishing up report cards ( the girls like them and the Lt. likes them too for our records) for their files, but so far everyone is sitting pretty.

    1 2 3 6 

    I do have to say 9 weeks is hard on me to push hard so I am contemplating going back to our 6 weeks on, 1 week off schedule like we did last year. However, I do not want to have to do school in the summer because that is when the girls put in major training hours at the gym and it is was hard on the girls to come home after 5 hours practice do do school. Mikayla’s coach has big plans and ambitions for her, but school comes first so I need to really sit down and figure things out.


    Off the top of my head I am thinking about doing 6 weeks then one light week with just math, reading, and history. If I do this we would be able to deep clean the house and still have time to finish any projects we have on going. That is my thinking right now, but I am just brainstorming. Do you have any thoughts to share? What kind of schedule do you follow?


    Thursday, October 25, 2012

    Crossbow Education: Eye Level Reading Rulers ~ a TOS review


    Learning to read is hard work. And there can be so many distractions to make your child’s eyes jump across the page, not to mention if your child suffers from dyslexia or other learning difficulties. Today I want to tell you about a little handy reading ruler from Crossbow Education, called Eye Level Reading Rulers


    The Eye Level Reading Ruler is a colored overlay text highlighter about the size of a six-inch ruler. Discreet and portable, the reading ruler is made of a combination of opaque and transparent plastic that both underlines the text and highlights it in a coloured tint. Simply read the text through either of the tinted plastic strips of your selected color, and track down the page: broad strip for paragraphs; narrow strip for single lines.

                                                                                   ~ from websitePhotobucketWe received a package of 10 reading rulers in an array of colors that are specially designed to help promote student achievement. I used these with Montana specifically to help her track during daily reading time. Of course she choose the yellow tinted one because that is her favorite.


    I have seen great improvement in Montana being able to follow along in her reader without getting lost. The price is really nice too at $16.95 for 10 or you can get a 5-pack for $9.45. I really appreciate the quality of these rulers. In the past we have used others and they were flimsy and are now broken and trashed. The Crossbow Reading Rulers are made from sturdy plastic and we have not experienced any cracking. And the best part is they can withstand the grasp of a certain 3-year old without any major damage, a huge plus in my book!


    We love our Crossbow Reading Rulers and use them daily. They also make great bookmarks. I recommend these rulers to all who have kids learning to read and those with reading difficulties. Be sure to check out what my Crewmates thought of this product by clicking the banner below.


    Company ~ Crossbow Education

    Product ~ Eye Level Reading Rulers

    Price ~ $16.95 for a 10-pack

    Ages ~ beginning readers and up



    DISCLAIMER: I received a 10-pack of Eye Level Reading Rulers from Crossbow Education, 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 19, 2012

    Weekly Wrap Up ~ a well deserved “B” and the PSAT

    science 184Whew, what a week! We got a lot accomplished but I am glad that it is behind us. This week included Marie taking the PSAT at the local high school on Wednesday morning. She had to be at the school by 745AM and then we waited for 15 minutes before they even called her back. All in all she thinks it went well for her first time and she made sure she had time to fill in all the answers. Funny thing was when I went to pick her up from the high school I brought the girls with me and the truancy officer gave me the stink eye and just starred at us. I just smiled and waved, LOL!!! Results should be out sometime in early December so I will keep you posted on how she did.

    Marie also had her module 2 Test on Thursday.  We have spent the last 3 weeks working on the concepts and the math (significant figures) for this module and she finally has got it!


    Marie ended up scoring an 80% on her Module 2 Test and I was so happy. You do not want to know how many days I was second guessing myself about science these last few weeks.  She is not my science loving girl, but I am hopeful that she will start to enjoy it soon. You know what though, she is getting a really strong and solid program through Red Wagon Tutorials. She is not taking the online live class, rather the self-directed Honors Chemistry. In fact I am so please with Mr. Rosenoff’s thoroughness I am strongly considering having Madison start the self-directed Honors General Science for 7th grade.

    science 154

    Madison and I on the other hand love science. It is my favorite time of the week.  Mikayla enjoys it too but not as much as Madison. Right now we are on hiatus from our regularly scheduled science for the year as we complete Science Activity Bags for an upcoming review. This week we completed two activities, one on Feasting Yeast and another one Chemical Reactions using cabbage dye as our indicator. I can not wait to share our review with you in early November.

    science 121science 062

    So what else did we do all this week? Not much else was exciting happening here. Everyone completed math, grammar, and history assignments. Montana did have bouts of stubbornness while doing her Explode the Code lessons. She has picked up some bad habits, like talking back, from some of her teammates, which we are reigning in. We got through it though and she completed her lessons for this week along with her IEW PAL lessons.

    science 191 

    Next week marks the end of our first quarter of school. Wow! 9 weeks down next week. The girls are looking for to their progress reports and showing them to the Lt. My goal is to have everything entered and in the books by Friday morning as Mikayla has a private lesson at 2pm to polish up for Saturday’s test out meet. Plus, next Saturday is our Apple Fest pickup. This year we will be getting a bushel of Golden Delicious (our favorite) and a combined bushel of Golden Delicious, Fuji, Stayman, and Winesap that we are splitting with friends. Who’s ready for applesauce and apple pies? Yum!

    science 195

    So, how was your week?