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.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hewitt Homeschooling: Lightning Literature, Grade 8 ~ a TOS Review

Hewitt Homeschooling Review

If you have been reading this blog for long you know that we are a book loving family. We are blessed to have many overflowing bookshelves and a library that fills in most of the time when we don’t have a specific book. During the summer i like the girls to complete some type of summer reading project to keep their knowledge going. Hewitt Homeschooling fits the bill for what I was looking for; a literature curriculum that uses classic books and poems to teach writing skills and literacy analysis. I was thrilled to be offered the Lightning Literature and Composition: Grade 8 Student's Guide, Grade 8 Student's Workbook, and Grade 8 Teacher's Guide to use with Madison.

Hewitt Homeschooling has been around for many years in the homeschooling circle. They strive to serve parents with students from kindergarten through high school with an emphasis on combining excellent academics with character development, by instilling a strong work ethic, and to develop a spirit of community service within the next generation. The company firmly believes that reading great literature and then writing about it goes hand in hand in preparing students for college-level reading and writing.


We have had the opportunity to use the Eighth grade set for the last six weeks. This set includes a student guide, a teacher guide, and a consumable student workbook. Lightning Lit exposes your child to several different genres of short stories and books and helps your child dig a little deeper into the context. Your child will also practice several writing techniques that are presented in a variety of methods and exercises.


This set covers the following stories and books:

  • Selections from Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children
  • Treasure Island by R. L. Stevenson
  • A Day of Pleasure by Isaac B. Singer
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
  • My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

    Books are available in a package with Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children and in a pack without Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children. For this review we were to supply our own books and lucky for us we had a majority of the literature works at home already.

  • ll3

    The Teachers Guide contains complete answers to everything in the student workbook as well as discussion questions to check for comprehension. It also includes a helpful  planning schedule for 36 weeks of learning.  It retails for $20.00.

    ll5 The student guide breaks each literature  piece or short story down into manageable sections including:

    • an introduction to what is being read
    • while you read
    • a vocabulary list
    • comprehension questions
    • literary lesson
    • a variety of mini-lessons
    • writing exercises

    The vocabulary list could take the place of your separate spelling list as it contains words needed to know.  This guide contains  no space for writing. Rather, your child will complete the different exercises in a notebook or on lined paper. The student guide retails for $25.00.


    The student workbook is a consumable workbook and retails for $25.00. Your child will complete grammar exercises, analyze parts of the book or short story, complete crossword puzzles and complete short writing exercises. To keep from being so repetitive, Lightening Lit varies the activities for each book/short story.

    I used this literature set with Madison, who is an avid reader and rising 8th grader. Since I was using this as a summer enrichment for her I had her work through the exercises 3 times a week and we used a different order for the literature. Because Madison has previously read Treasure Island  we skimmed through this section as a review and completed most of this section aloud. She was able to recall the story and answer the comprehension questions to my satisfaction.  So we focused on to A Christmas Carol and The Hobbit for this review. I did however, have her read through the section on taking notes as I think this is an important skill to know.


    I will say that even though Madison is a strong reader she was challenged by this program. She really had to think about some of the questions and for completing the exercises. I should note that even though this course is listed for eight graders, a seventh grader who is a strong reader and likes writing may also be able to do well with this course as well as a ninth grader who needs a little more instruction on the foundations of composition. Overall I am completely pleased with this set and would recommend it to anyone looking for a thorough all encompassing Literature program. Be sure to check out what my Crewmates thought of this program and the other products offered from  Hewitt Homeschooling by clicking on the banner below.

    Click to read Crew Reviews

    Company ~ Hewitt Homeschooling

    Products ~

    Lightning Literature and Composition: Grade 8 Student's Guide
    Lightning Literature and Composition: Grade 8 Student's Workbook
    Lightning Literature and Composition: Grade 8 Teacher's Guide

    Price ~ Student Guide $25.00, Student Workbook $25.00, Teachers Guide $20.00

    Ages ~Recommended for 8th graders, but will work for 7th and 9th graders as well.


    Hewitt Homeschooling Review




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    Monday, July 28, 2014

    beauty captured {94/365}


    It’s good to have all my babies back home again!


    Friday, July 25, 2014

    Random 5 on Friday ~ July 25th

    1 ~ we picked up Marie last Friday in Michigan. Its so great to have her home again. She was so tired after the graduation ceremony that she slept the entire 3 hours back to our hotel in Ohio.

    2 ~ my two middle girls are at STEM camp this week at George Mason University. They are having a blast learning and spending some bonding time with Aunt Joyce.

    3 ~ we went to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the way home. the Lt is still on cloud 9. I will share more next week.

    SP trophy

    4 ~ we officially will not be attending co-op this school year. After much prayer and listening to God’s voice we are staying home. Instead we are having a group of girls over to join us in our Earth Science studies. I am really excited about it! Also, Marie will be attending a small group class for US Government.

    5 ~ I am trying to find a planner and I’m not having any luck. Normally I make the girls their own but this year I would like one already made. I have narrowed down my options but can you suggest one?

    Be sure to check out others randomness over at The Pebble Pond


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    Thursday, July 24, 2014

    beauty captured {93/365}

    Pro Football Hall of Fame 004

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    Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms ~ a TOS review

    Flourish Book Review
    Are you a busy mom who struggles with time management, prioritizing and accomplishing goals? I am so glad to share a special book review with you from Apologia Educational Ministries called Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms written by Mary Jo Tate that will show you how to flourish instead of flounder in your day to day activities.
    Flourish Book Review
    When most people hear Apologia’s name mentioned they immediately think of their award winning science programs. But did you know that they also offer an excellent array of books to encourage homeschoolers as well? The new book, Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms offers moms practical, real-life tips to get your family life back in balance.
    Flourish Book ReviewMary Jo Tate is a homeschooling mom and also a small business owner. She has been schooling her four boys at home since 1997. In addition to teaching her own boys she also teaches high school literature at a homeschool co-op. You can find her blogging at
    Now just because the title say Homeschool Moms, don’t for a minute think this book is only for a selective group. It’s not! This book is written for all kinds of moms from the stay-at-home moms to the working moms, and even the single moms out there. With this book you can evaluate how you are spending your time throughout the day and help you set goals and deal with life’s many interruptions. Helping you, the Mom find balance in your everyday interactions and to start enjoying the journey you are on is the overall message of this book.
    “We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and mystery.”
    ~ H.G. Wells {pg.69}
    Flourish is economically priced and can fit in just about everybody's budget at just $15.00. With 16 chapters and includes several appendices full of planning forms and tools.
    1. An Invitation to Flourish
    2. Change Your Mind to Change Your Time
    3. The FREEDOM Toolbox
    4. Where Did My Time Go?
    5. Aim High: Setting Goals
    6. What Do I Do Next? Seven Essential Planning Tools
    7. We Interrupt This Program
    8. It's Time for an Attitude Adjustment
    9. Oxygen Masks and Monkey Bread Days
    10. Training Your Children
    11. Making Memories
    12. Managing Your Home
    13. All of Life is Learning
    14. Solo Act: Flourishing as a Single Mom
    15. Home Business
    16. Moving Ahead
    I received a physical copy of this book in the nick of time. Normally, I am up to date and on track with everything it takes to run our little family. However, after having Micah, I have struggled a bit to find the balance of doing everything I had before plus caring for a new baby. This book has helped me see that it’s all in the timing and planning. I am a list maker. In all truth, I like to make lists for my lists. The biggest thing I learned is that it’s okay if I don’t get it all done.
    “Organized people don’t trust their memory – they trust their lists.” {pg.86}
    ~ Eileen Roth : Organizing for Dummies
    Overall, I feel this book is a great read for any mom out there, regardless of whether or not your homeschool. I would recommend this book to any mother who is feeling exhausted, overloaded, or on the brink of burnout if they homeschool. The valuable information presented in this book will help every mom stop the juggling act and find the perfect balance needed in their life. Apologia has done it again with this book so be sure to check out what my fellow Crewmates thought of this book by clicking the banner below and read 99 other viewpoints.
    Click to read Crew Reviews
    Price ~ $15.00
    Ages ~ For Moms
    Flourish Book Review

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

    beauty captured {92/365}

    eNTRADA hALL OF fAME 725

    2 months

    weight ~11 lbs, 1 oz.

    height ~ 23 inches

    head ~ 15.75 inches


    HomeSchoolPiano ~ a TOS Review

    My girl, Montana has always wanted to play the piano. For her 6th birthday she received a full size keyboard from her Auntie and we dabbled here and there with beginner piano books. However, she could not play a lick of music; it was just noise. Imagine my surprise when we were offered a lifetime subscription from HomeSchoolPiano for five students to use and review the HomeSchoolPiano - Complete Set of Books program. Wowzers! Not only could Montana finally learn to play the piano, so could McKenzie and anyone else in the family.
    Homeschool Piano Review
    HomeSchoolPiano is the brainchild of Willie Mylette who is a graduate of the renowned Berklee College of Music. Willie has studied in both New York and Boston and has been featured on over 90 radio stations nationwide.
    Homeschool Piano Review
    HomeSchoolPiano - Complete Set of Books is perfectly suited for students of all ages. Yes, even the youngest and oldest students including Grandma can get in on this piano action. Each Unit is split up into seven lessons with lessons generally lasting up to ten minutes. Normally, there is practice time following the lessons to master the concepts and for just a little more practice time. Some students may need to repeat a lessons to gain mastery. But you know what, it’s OKAY!
    Homeschool Piano Review
    Each lesson begins with a screenshot of Willie at a keyboard along with a digital keyboard so that the student can see what keys are being pressed. Willie’s piano lessons help you or your student to become a fully expressive player who is not only comfortable reading music, but creating it too.
    I am sure you are thinking you need thousands of dollars of special equipment, right? Nope! You just need a full size keyboard or a piano and a way to access the internet. Instant online access is readily at hand whether you wish to view the lessons on a computer, tablet, or even your phone.
    Homeschool Piano Review
    The four books are broken down as follows:
    CorePiano ~ is for absolute beginners and includes six original songs to practice and play.
    Book 1 ~ beginner, may be the student brushing the dust off and coming back to piano after a break.
    Book 2 ~ beginner to intermediate. This level starts incorporating more complicated concepts, songs and improvisation ideas.
    Book 3 ~ intermediate. Towards the end of this book, students are exposed to concepts like syncopation, voice leading and more advanced scales for improvisation.
    Homeschool Piano Review
    Each book includes a printable E-book with printable songs. Books are separated into 6 different units and further broken down into different steps including:
    • Technique
    • Rhythm
    • Ear Training
    • Reading Music
    • Song
    • Improvisation
    • Bonus - contains review of concepts learned
    So, I am pretty sure you are thinking that all this is going to cost you a pretty penny, right? Nope. Homeschool Piano is actually quite economically priced for all that you get and for the amount of students you may register {remember you get up to 5}.
    HomeSchoolPiano has two payment packages with the following pricing:
    1. Success Package (One payment of $299) ~ Unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students.
    2. Payment Plan (Payments of $99.97 per month for three months) ~
    Unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students.
    In our house I used this product with Montana, my 7 year old and my 4 year old McKenzie. We started in the first book, Core Piano. I got so interested in the lessons that I took quite a few turns while showing the girls correct finger placement or proper technique. While I do not have any prior piano playing background it was fun learning right alongside my girls.
    Montana was so happy to be able to start formal lessons. She eagerly practiced even when it was not time to play. McKenzie too enjoyed the piano instruction. However, I thought the program moved a bit too fast for her, I was thankful for the rewind and pause features. Montana wants to play songs so she is getting a bit impatient but really enjoyed playing the scales.
    Overall, we give HomeSchoolPiano 6 thumbs up! We love it and I could 20140723_084026not have asked for a better program to learn piano. I love that my girls are so interested in wanting to learn because Willie makes it fun. Be sure to check out what my Crewmates thought about HomeSchoolPiano by clicking on the banner below.
    Click to read Crew Reviews
    Company ~ HomeSchoolPiano
    Price ~ Success Package: One payment of $299 or Payment Plan: 3 payments of $99.97 for 3 months
    Ages ~ for use with all ages
    Homeschool Piano Review

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

    2014–2015 Plan of Study

    It’s that time of the year again. When homeschool moms start planning and researching curriculum for the upcoming school year. I am proud to say we are heading into our sixth year and we will graduate our first daughter, Marie, next spring.
    These past few years have taught me so much about my children and how they learn. Yes, we have had our ups and downs as we have found which curriculum works for us, but that is the beauty of homeschooling. Finding what works for your individual student or your family as a whole.
    pos 2014-2015
    As we travel along on this Classical educational journey I am truly amazed by my children each and every day. The best part is that I get to {re}learn right along with them!
    *none of the links are affiliate links, just for reference.* photo credit
    Rhetoric Stage: Marie ~ 12th
    *Marie has decided to major in a BA in Computer Science and minor in studio art {graphic design}, so we have added pre-calculus to her studies in preparation for college.
    Bible History, 1 cr          
    ~ Sonlight Bible and Worldview 510 
    British Literature, 1cr
    ~ Survey of British Literature 530                                     
    History and Geography, 2cr                   
    ~ Sonlight World History and Worldview 520                         
    ~ US Government: A Noble Experiment                           
    Math, 1 cr
    ~ Teaching Textbooks Pre-Calculus
    Psychology, 1 cr *AP exam in May                                  
    Home Ec, .5 cr (1st semester) ~ Christian Light Press Home Economics I, books 6-10         
    PE, .5 cr
    ~ PiYo, 3X's a week Total: 7 credits
    Logic Stage: Madison & Mikayla
    Madison ~ 8th grade
    * Madison desires to go into a Science field, Astrophysics, so she will start accumulating high school credit this year .
    ~ Sonlight Biblical Studies 110
    ~ The Picture Smart Bible
    ~Westminster Shorter Catechism, questions 1-36    
    ~ Westminster Shorter Catechism Songs
    Language Arts
    ~ Rod & Staff 8: Preparing for Usefulness
    ~ Writing With Skill, Level 2 
    ~ Wordlists Spelling / Vocabulary, Lists 1-18 {each list of 25 words will be spread over a two week period}                           
    ~ Sonlight Literature 130    
    Math, 1 cr.           
    ~ Chalk Dust Algebra 1    
    History/Geography, 1 cr
    ~ Sonlight 120 ~ American History In-Depth
    Science, 1 cr
    ~ Apologia Physical Science with Red Wagon Tutorials
    ~ Fallacy Detectives
    Foreign Language, 1 cr  *National Latin Exam         
    ~ Latin Alive, Book 1
    Art / Composer Study
    ~ Composer study (2 X’s a month)
    ~ Tennis team {Spring}
    Total: 4 credits
    Mikayla ~ 6th grade
    ~ Sonlight Core G Bible                                              
    ~ The Picture Smart Bible
    ~ Westminster Shorter Catechism, questions 1-36                              
    ~ Westminster Shorter Catechism Songs
    Language Arts
    ~ Rod & Staff 6: Progressing with Courage     
    ~ WriteShop, Book E
    ~ Rod & Staff Spelling 7
    Fix It! Grammar: Frog Prince, or Just Deserts   *review coming late Sept.               
    ~ Sonlight Readers G / Read Alouds G                             
    ~ Unjournaling
    ~ Saxon 7/6                                                      
    ~ Sonlight Core G: World History, part 1
    ~ Elemental Science Classic: Earth Science for the Logic Stage
    ~ BrainBogglers
    ~ Detective Club Mysteries
    Foreign Language
    ~ Latin for Children A / Latin for Children B
    Memory Work / Composer Study
    ~ Foundations memory
    ~ Composer study (2 X’s a month)                                                         
    ~Level 8/9 competitive gymnastics team {26+ hours per week}

    Grammar Stage: Montana & McKenzie
    Montana ~ 2nd
    ~ Sonlight Core B                                      
    ~ Buck Denver asks… What’s in the Bible? DVDs & Coloring Book   
    ~ Westminster Shorter Catechism,questions 1-36
    ~ Westminster Shorter Catechism Songs
    Language Arts / Phonics
    ~ Rod & Staff 2: Preparing to Build     
    ~ WriteShop, Book B
    ~ Rod & Staff Spelling 2/3                     
    ~ Sonlight Readers 2 *minus LA / Read Alouds B                  
    ~A Reason For Handwritting, Level T  
    ~ Explode the Code, books 4,5,6
    ~Saxon 2 / 3                   
    Sonlight Core B: Intro to World History, part 1
    ~ Story of the World {Vol.1} Audio / activity guide
    ~ Elemental Science Classic: Earth Science for Grammar Stage
    Foreign Language
    ~ Song School Latin, book 1
    Memory Work / Composer Study
    ~ Foundations memory
    ~ Composer study (2 X’s a month)                                                         
    ~Softball team {Fall & Spring Ball}

    McKenzie ~ JrK *
    * We are Opting her out of Kindergarten for our city’s school records, however, she will be doing Kindergarten work spread over two years.
    ~ Buck Denver asks… What’s in the Bible? DVDs & Coloring Book
    ~ Sonlight Core PreK
    ~ Horizons Kindergarten Phonics & Reading Set *review coming early Sept.
    ~ Moving Beyond the Page, Age 4-5, {letter reinforcement, yr 2/2}
    ~ Ready2Read Level 1
    ~ Saxon K {2nd half} / Touch Math K, Units A & B
    ~ Foundations Memory
    ~ Hot Shots Gymnastics, 12 hours a month

    Micah ~ Tiny Tot School
    ~ playing and exploring
    ~ Tot School {starting in January 2015}

     Be sure to head check out what others will be using this year at the "Not" Back To Homeschool Curriculum week. Come back next week to see our classroom{s}.

    Saturday, July 12, 2014

    Friday, July 11, 2014

    Random 5 on Friday ~ July 11th


    photo credit

    1. I finally have all my thank you cards written out from Micah’s baby shower. I am glad to have them finished.

    2. Lately procrastination has been my middle name, I need to change it ASAP!


    3. Today is 7/11 so that means free Slurpee’s.

    4. It took me 45 minutes to get to Mikayla’s carpool house this afternoon because of traffic on the main pass through. It normally takes 10 minutes…

    Entrada graduation class

    5. We go to Marie’s graduation ceremony next Friday and bring her home. Everyone is excited to see her again! {can you find her?}

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