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.

Monday, September 29, 2014

beauty captured {116/365}

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Mesmerized at Frozen on Ice.


Horizons: Kindergarten Phonics & Reading ~ a review

AOP collage

A few weeks ago I was in the final preparation phases before we started up our sixth year of homeschooling, when I was blessed to be asked to be apart of the Alpha Omega Publications Promotion Team!

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This came at a perfect time as I was trying to figure out a phonics program for McKenzie to use. McKenzie, who just turned 5,  has always been stronger in math skills and a little weaker in the phonics area so I decided to focus on a program that would provide a solid phonics instruction. To help me do that I was able to choose Horizons Kindergarten Phonics & Reading Set.


Alpha Omega Publications (AOP) is a Christian curriculum company who has been around for over 30 years helping to  meet the needs of homeschooling parents and students all over the world. In the past we have also used products in their LIFEPAC and Switched-On Schoolhouse lines for Spanish and Health with great success. With this opportunity I was able to choose any curriculum published by Alpha Omega Publications from one of their product lines including Monarch, Switched-On Schoolhouse, LIFEPAC, and Horizons. AOP has covered all the bases in home education from electronic-based or print-based curriculum to hands-on unit studies, there is truly something to fit the needs of everyone!

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The Horizons Phonics & Reading program uses a spiral learning approach to help students master concepts taught through introduction, review, and reinforcement in 160 lessons. The highly colorful workbook format of Horizons Kindergarten Phonics & Reading Set retails for $159.95 and includes:

~ four student workbooks

~ four teacher’s guides

~ four brightly illustrated readers

~ an alphabet floor puzzle

~ a wipe-off tablet


In the four teacher’s guides you will find a daily lesson planner with clearly written instructions for the days work along with specific goals to work on and supplies needed for engaging hands-on activities. Also included within the guides are helpful teaching tips, duplication masters of the pages inside the student workbook, answer keys, and additional worksheets to make learning more fun.


Horizons Kindergarten Phonics & Reading is a phonics-based curriculum and uses a consonant-vowel approach (ex. ba, be, bi, bo, bu) to systemically teach consonant beginnings and endings sounds, along with vowel sounds, syllables, diphthongs, digraphs, and non-phonetic sounds. The four student workbooks contain four to six fun-filled work pages per lesson and are easily removable. In addition, the four colorful readers correspond to each workbook feature easy-to-read stories that pertain to the primary concepts taught in each lesson.



We were able to jump right in with book one on our first day of school and do lessons 4 days a week, spending anywhere between 30 – 40 minutes on each lesson. To prepare myself for the lessons, I make sure to read the teacher’s guide lessons and prep any supplies needed. McKenzie is an eager learner so I had no trouble getting her to complete a lesson. In fact some days I needed to curb her eagerness when she would have to wait for me to finish lessons with her older siblings.

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McKenzie loves workbook  pages so this is right up her alley. I like the approach this curriculum presents and the brightly colored pages hold her attention.  However, I believe the program moves a tad bit fast for her and we have hit a wall on lesson 27 because I am not fully confident that she knows all the letter sounds to begin the blending process. Since McKenzie is a young Kindergartener and this is technically her Junior Kindergarten year, next week we will be going back through lessons 1-26 that teach the beginning alphabet sounds again. I am fully confident that this approach will help her get the firm foundation needed to be a successful reader.

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McKenzie and I have enjoyed using this Phonics & Reading Set so much that we will continue to use it the rest of her Jr Kindergarten year and into her true Kindergarten year. It provides a strong foundation for her learning style and I am truly grateful to be able to use it with her. My goal is to raise strong readers and I feel this curriculum will help my daughter be just that!


Be sure click the banner below to enter the amazing giveaway from Alpha Omega Publications Homeschool Division for the choice of one subject from each of the main product lines, plus a $50.00 Amazon gift card! With so many levels and subjects to choose from you are sure to find one that is just right for your child! Also, be sure to scroll down and read the reviews of the other 24 members of the promotion team.


Alpha Omega Publications is proud to partner with members of the U.S. Armed Forces and serve families like yours throughout the world and are offering a 30% discount for military families. Click the image below to find out more details.




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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Four months

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This little guy had his 4 month checkup and is doing great! Micah is such a happy baby and loves to play and see what is going on around him. He just started rolling over from his stomach to his back and can sit pretty well unassisted.

Here are his official 4 month stats:

weight ~ 13lbs, 12.5 oz

height ~ 25 inches

head circumference ~ 16 inches

Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Student Logbook ~ a TOS review

My Student Logbook Review

This school year I wanted to try and have all the girls using a planner to keep track of their schoolwork. I knew what I was looking for for the older three girls and was on the search to find something for Montana to use. I was so excited when I came across the My Student Logbook and equally excited when I found it their My Student Logbook were going to be reviewed!

My Student Logbook Review

My Student Logbook is the brainchild of the Abbott family in Oregon who, like me were trying to keep their kids on task and accountable in their studies. We received a Northern hemisphere dated logbook with the  rainforest cover that Montana had picked out.

My Student Logbooks are ideal for children in 2nd grade and up. Starting so young is a great way to teach children to take responsibility for items like extra curricular activities, chores and more. The logbook also includes pages specifically for recording personal information such as an "About Me" page, prayers and goals, Scripture memorized, books read, test scores, projects and fieldtrips, and favorite memories from the school year too.

The logbooks are 8.5 x 11 spiral bound book and include a clear plastic protective sheet over the cover and a sturdy black plastic back cover. With10 different covers to choose from there is sure to be one that catches your son or daughters eye. They retail for just $15.00 plus $5.00 shipping within the United States. Two PDF versions available if that is more your style but the do not include a cover - a single copy license which is $10.00 and  a family use license which costs $20.00. PDF versions are available for Internationals  only.

My Student Logbook Review

Three formats are available for the 53 weekly pages to choose from including:

~Dated: for the Northern hemisphere school year (August 1 – July 31)
~Dated: for the calendar year (January 1 – December 31)
~Undated: if you want to fill in dates yourself

Other pages  included in the back of the logbook are:

   All About Me page
    Prayers and Goals page
Bible Verses Memorized page
      pages to record the books read
     Events, Projects, Field Trips, Presentations, Activities pages
      Test Records pages
      My Favorite Memories page

Once we received our planner I followed the easy directions to set up the book to use for our school year that was a week under way. Set up was easy, but if you need visual instructions you can watch the video below.


Instead of using the logbook as a school subject check off list for Montana I choose to use it as a guide to help her complete her daily chores/activities. I am trying to instill in her and McKenzie the importance of getting their chores done in a timely fashion each day. I love that this logbook is versatile that I can adapt it to fit our needs at this time.


Montana uses a highlighter to mark off when she has completed each task. I like this idea because it gives me a chance to see visually what has or has not be done. All I have to say is, “did you check everything off your morning / evening list”?

Finding the perfect planner to fit the bill is a chore in and of itself. Even though my initial plan was to use this as a school planner for Montana didn't work out the way I planned, I am glad to have used the My Student Logbook and made it work for our needs at the current time. Do I recommend you looking into this product for your child, YES I do! Will I try this planner again, Yes! In fact I am going to order McKenzie a logbook of her own.

This logbook has become an essential part of our day and I am thrilled we have had the opportunity to use it! Be sure to check out what my Crewmates thought of the My Student Logbook by clicking the banner below.

Click to read Crew Reviews

Company ~ My Student Logbook

Product ~ My Student Logbook

Price ~ $15.00 plus $5.00 shipping within the United States; PDF single copy license, $10.00; Family use license, $20.00

Ages ~ 2nd grade and up

My Student Logbook Review


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beauty captured {112/365}



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner ~ a TOS review

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review
I wear many hats in this family. From taxi, to cook, to school teacher and nurse there are a lot of things to get down every given day to help our family run like a smooth oiled machine. To help me prioritize all that we have going on I was given the opportunity to use the The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner from the The 7 Minute Life for the last six weeks. I love paper planners so this was right up my alley.
7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

The The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner was created by Allyson Lewis after having a major health scare and she realized that every moment is a precious gift. With the goal of helping people make the most of their time in just seven minutes a day, this planner is meant to help busy adults who work inside or outside of the home focus on a 90 day period.

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

The compactness of this 7.3″ by 8.5″ physical planner appeals to me because I can carry it on the go. With 271 pages this planner is jam packed with lots of helpful information and pages to help get you organized and headed in the right direction.

Including items such as:

  • mental clutter – write down the info that is filling your brain
  • 90 Day goals – for work and personal life
  • Unfinished work and home tasks
  • Home repair
  • Grocery List
  • Connections
  • Annual Calendar at a glance
  • Annual Projects and Tasks
  • 90-Day Calendar Worksheets
  • Monthly Calendar at a Glance
  • Meeting Planner
7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

What I liked:

~ compactness and bright cover

~ ease of use

~ 5 before 11 really helped me schedule things that needed to be done first and within a time frame since I am a procrastinator.

~ video instructions and the free printable tools to help you get the most from this planner.

Overall, I think this is a great planner for busy people. For just $24.95, with the help of this planner you get to become the designer and contractor of your life and dreams and not just an active participant. There are many ways to organize your life and help manage the time you have each day.

While I am not a huge fan of the planner being scheduled out in 90 day increments, I do understand the principle of the “seasons of life” reasoning for it. However, I would prefer to have a chunkier planner that lasts for the year or better yet, the option to have 4 different color-coded planners sold as a set. Although a few of the planner sections did not pertain to my life I could see it working great for a business person and I am glad to have had a chance to use it over the last six weeks.

Be sure to check out what my CrewMates thought of this planner by clicking on the banner below.

Click to read Crew Reviews

Company ~ The 7 Minute Life

Product ~ The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner

Price ~ $24.95

Ages ~ for adults

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up: Random 5 on Friday style ~ 12 September

1 ~ Yes! We have finished four weeks of school! It feels so good to say that. Things are going well as we have worked out the kinks and made a few changes to the curriculum line up.

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2  ~ I learned I was pushing Mikayla too hard in her Sonlight subjects. I just assumed that she would be able to complete Core G like her older sisters did. But I was wrong! She is not a strong reader, yet, and pushing her into this Core was a mistake on my part. So, after researching reading levels of books, by Monday evening I was able to find a replacement Core for her that would fit her reading level.


3 ~ I ended up going with Core E. Yes, the very same Core that I sent back last year. Funny how things like that work. I am praying this is a better fit for her and extra thankful that I was able to find a complete set on Ebay for a decent price.

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4 ~ The girls started Girl Scouts again on Tuesday. We are apart of a homeschool troop that meets during the day, which is great! This year I have a Daisy, a Brownie, and two Cadettes. We were apart of this same troop a few years ago, so its nice to be back and still see some familiar faces and make some new friends too.


5 ~ Tomorrow is Montana’s 8th birthday, she is so excited! She is having an ice cream sundae party. I still have not posted McKenzie’s party pictures. I need to ASAP, but there is only so many hours in a day :)

That’s a little of what has been going on in our house this week. I am linking up with these linkies. Check the out!

The Pebble Pond
Weekly Wrap-Up