Thursday, March 31, 2016

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents: Support

The simple definition of support from Merriam Webster is to agree with or approve of (someone or something), to show that you approve of (someone or something) by doing something, and/or to give help or assistance to (someone or something).  Support from our family and friends is extremely important in our daily life and I believe that it is critical to our homeschool journey.  It is possible to homeschool without good support, but it makes for a long, lonely journey.  There are plenty of people out there that will not understand or back your homeschool choices which is why I highly recommend finding family, friends, and other homeschool families that can offer you their full support throughout your homeschool journey.  Support doesn't mean that everyone in your circle will agree with every individual homeschool decision you make as we all have to make the decisions that work best for our family, but overall they support your decision to homeschool and teach your child with the method you have chosen.

So who is your support system when it comes to homeschooling?  I pray that first and foremost you turn to God and ask for His wisdom and pray about your school days.  God does care about you, your family, and your school.  I know sometimes it seems silly to ask Him for guidance in your day when so many big things are happening in the world, but I promise you He cares and He wants to hear your worries, fears, successes, and prayers about school.

Next I hope that your spouse is a support for you.   My hubby has supported our homeschooling before I was even on board with it.  He is actually the one that got me thinking about homeschooling and he has encouraged me every step of the way.  Hubby has been a sounding board for me, a substitute teacher when I am sick or need a day off, and he has taught concepts in minutes that we have spent days on and my kids were struggling to understand.  He is my go to person and I know with out a doubt that he supports me, our schooling, and he is available to assist whenever we need it.  He also loves to do the science experiments with the kids.

Another place that I hope you can get support from is your family.  Now I have to be real with you here, even at the risk of hurting my family's feelings, but not all of them were on board with our decision to homeschool our children in the beginning years.  If they were being honest (which they are) they would tell you the same thing.  I think the main reason they weren't on board was because they didn't understand what homeschooling was all about.  It really wasn't as popular when I started as it is now and they just couldn't see how it would work.  I did have some family that supported our journey from the beginning and that gave me the courage to keep going on the hard days.  Fast forward to 7 years later and I believe that all my family is supportive of our homeschool.  Let your family know that you are homeschooling your children and ask them for their support.  Ask them what they might be willing to teach your child - it could be a craft, a skill, or if you are lucky enough to see your family every day they could teach a subject for you. In my experience, the more I get my family involved, the more supportive they are.

Friends, especially friends that also homeschool are great sources of support.  They will help you keep your sanity, give you ideas, and many times sympathize with your journey.  Our church has been a fantastic fountain of support for us.  There are many members of our church that have kids that have been homeschool graduates and they are SO encouraging.  Our pastor's wife has also researched and offered up many of the church resources for our homeschool families.  The biggest way our church has showed support is by supporting our homeschool group that meets there.  It started out as a gym time group, but morphed into a group that taught more when a local private school had to shut down.  Today our church homeschool group has 40+ kids in and grows all the time.  Another resource for support is your library, specifically the children's librarian.  Ask her about books, library programs, and maybe even about putting you in contact with other homeschool families.  

Finally don't forget to check the Schoolhouse Review Crew for support.  It is made up of homeschool families from around the world at every different grade level.  I have only been a part of this crew for just a little while, but I can't tell you how much support, encouragement, and wisdom I have gotten from the crew.  You can find the website for the Review Crew by clicking here.  We are also on many social media platforms that you can follow us on from the website.

This week I am participating in a blog hop with my Schoolhouse Review Crew friends.  We are all sharing all kinds of tips for you on all kinds of different subjects.  Each day I will be leaving you links to different Schoolhouse Review Crew blogs.  Please go and check them out.  The Crew is AMAZING and they have great tips to share with you this week.  Today you should check out the following blogs:

Dawn @ Double O Farms
Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool
Debbie @ Debbie's Homeschool Corner
Desiree @ Our Homeschool Notebook
Diana @ Busy Homeschool Days
Diana @ Homeschool Review
Elyse @ Oiralinde: Eternal Song
Emilee @ Pea of Sweetness
Erin @ For Him and My Family
Jen @ Chestnut Grove Academy

Also you can check out more tips at our Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog by clicking on this picture:
5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents: Scheduling

Scheduling is a major part of my life and our homeschool.  We have our school schedule, our menu schedule, our activities schedules, our church schedules, our social schedules, and our appointment schedules.  Keeping track of it all can be maddening if you don't have some good systems in place. I truly believe that if you have good systems in place for your scheduling, you can add flexibility to your schedule that others can not.

The first place I start with for scheduling is a REALLY, REALLY good planner.  I like my planner to be for at least a year at a time.  I also like it to have a month at a glance calendar and a daily calendar.  This is just what works best for me.  This is where I keep track of all my schedules.  My family knows that they can flip open mom's planner and find everything they need to know concerning up coming activities, events, meals, birthdays, anniversaries, appointments, and more.

The next area of my life I have a schedule in is our homeschool.  This year I am teaching my kids 7th grade and 2nd grade.  If we didn't have a schedule for our school, my kids would find a way to get out of school each day (what kid wouldn't?) and we would never complete our required work for the year.  Obviously school for my 7th grader takes longer than school for my 2nd grader.  I used a few days at the beginning of the school year to figure out how long each day would take us.  Once I knew approximately how long each school day would take for each student, I scheduled a start time for our school.  It works out great in our home because my early riser is my 7th grader.  My 7th grader has always been a morning person and would be up before the sun if he was allowed to be.  So his school day starts first.  This does two things in our school.  One - it allows me time to work one on one with him and get the subjects we work through together done right away (we use Sonlight and they have readers that the teacher reads to the student and readers the student reads to the teacher).  Two - it gives my second grader time to get up, wake up, and take a slower approach to her morning which she really needs.  She is my night owl and just doesn't wake up well if she is rushed (she has earned her nickname Beast when she is forced awake).

Yes I do have a schedule for our school which is a good thing.  My schedule includes 180 days of school, which is what my state requires, and it also includes daily schedules which is scheduled for me in my curriculum.  Wait!  You said you have more flexibility when it comes to your scheduling.  I do!  We have our scheduled days and our scheduled work, but I am flexible about the order we do the work in and I also adjust our school when I need to for field trips, homeschool group, appointments, days off, or sickness.  I am very realistic and know that not every day will go as planned and I will need to adjust according, but I am also prepared from the start by having a schedule in place.  Also the great thing about homeschooling and scheduling is that you can pick the schedule that works for you.  We do our school in the mornings so that we can have our afternoons free, but there have been days we have worked in the afternoons because there was something we had to do in the morning.  Maybe in your family someone works second shift so homeschooling at night would be better, that works too.  That is the beauty of homeschooling you can pick what time you start school.

Our scheduled curriculum
Another area in my life that I keep a schedule in is our evening meal.  I set aside time each month so that I can sit down and plan our dinner menu for the next month.  This saves me so much time when you get that question: "What's for dinner?"  I do have a schedule for it that I do try to stick to, but I am also flexible.  I switch around meals in a week if I need to or sometimes I scrap a meal from our menu schedule altogether because of unexpected circumstances.  Flexibility with the meal plan has been key for me lately as we have been remodeling our kitchen and I never knew which days I would have access to my stove.  The key is that I do schedule the meals, but I am flexible with them.

We also have our scheduled appointments, activities, and events.  Many of these things I have no choice when they happen and I can not be flexible with them.  I just have to add them to the schedule and deal with them as they come up.  One way we deal with appointments is to let whoever I am scheduling the appointment with know that we homeschool.  What does that have to do with anything?  Well homeschooling means we don't have to have our appointments at the prime times - right after school, on school holidays, etc.  We can take the "odd" times that parents of non-homeschooled kids have to turn down.  We can be flexible with our appointment times and it won't count against our attendance.

Schedules are necessary, but I hope that you can find a way to gain flexibility in your schedules.  I have and I hope something that I shared works for you.  This week I am participating in a blog hop with my Schoolhouse Review Crew friends.  We are all sharing all kinds of tips for you on all kinds of different subjects.  Each day I will be leaving you links to different Schoolhouse Review Crew blogs.  Please go and check them out.  The Crew is AMAZING and they have great tips to share with you this week.  Today you should check out the following blogs:

Jennifer @ Thou Shall Not Whine
Jennifer @ A Peace of Mind
Jennifer @ Faithful Homestead
Joelle @ homeschooling for His Glory
Joesette @ Learning Curve
Kari @ Random Acts of Boyhood
Katie @ Katie's Daily Life
Kemi @ Homemaking Organized
Kim @ Homestead Acres
Kylie @ Our Worldwide Classroom

Also you can check out more tips at our Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog by clicking on this picture:
5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Logic of English - Essentials 2nd Edition Review

Spelling, Grammar, Reading, and Vocabulary, it seems these are subjects that is either loved or hated without a lot of middle ground.  I personally love words and spelling, but I know it isn't the case for everyone and so does Logic of English which is why they have developed their Essentials 2nd Edition curriculum.  We have recently received Essentials 2nd Edition from Logic of English to review and I am very impressed with their curriculum and the results my daughter has been getting.

Logic of English Review

Essentials 2nd Edition from Logic of English is a complete multi-level reading, spelling, grammar, and vocabulary curriculum.  This curriculum is recommended for grades 2 through 5 because of its multiple levels - there is a Level A, Level B, and Level C included in each lesson for the appropriate grades.  The complete Essentials 2nd Edition arrived packed full of everything we needed to begin work.  It included a teacher's guide, a student workbook, spelling journal, morpheme cards, basic and advanced phonogram flash cards, spelling rule flash cards, grammar flash cards, phonogram game cards, game tiles, a spelling analysis card and a quick reference chart.  The workbooks come in both manuscript and cursive formats.

Look at everything that comes in the Essentials 2nd Edition!  It is packed full!
We were very excited to receive the Essentials 2nd Edition to review.  I chose the workbook in the cursive format for my daughter because she learned to write in cursive this year.  I was not at all familiar with this curriculum when it arrived so I opened up my teacher's guide and started reading.  This guide is truly amazing and it walks you through the curriculum step by step.  It tells you what to do and why you are doing it which is something I truly enjoy because I like to know the theory behind teaching what I am teaching.  I worked my way through the Spelling Analysis, Creating Your Schedule, Teacher Tips, and Assessments sections of the Teacher's Guide.  This sounds like a lot, but it was quick reading once I understood the method of teaching they were presenting.  Up next was the Placement Test.  The Placement Test was very informative to me.  My daughter can read and write well, but she tends to struggle with some spelling and grammar.  There are a few sounds and vowels that she mixes up and she tends to rush through some of her reading and mispronounce words.  So I was very curious to see how she would do on the Placement Test.  It tested her Phonics Awareness, Phonemic Awareness, sounds of the letters, handwriting, writing the letters when you hear the sounds, reading, reading words, and spelling.  The Placement Test results told me whether I should start with the Pre-Lessons in the book or jump right in at lesson one of the book.  My daughter did well on the Placement Test and we could have just started with lesson one, but because we have never worked with Essentials 2nd Edition I chose to work through some of the Pre-Lessons.  I chose to do this so that we could get a clear idea of how the lessons would go before jumping into the regular lessons.  A little extra practice never hurt anyone in my opinion.

My second grade daughter and I worked through several Pre-Lessons so that we got the hang of working with the phonograms and the Phonogram Flash Cards.  These lessons also helped us practice our blending techniques, phonemic awareness, and our segmenting among other techniques.  After several days of the Pre-Lessons, we moved on to Lesson 1.  The lessons are broken down into manageable parts and designed for a 5 day week which works for us because that is what we use.  I think you could also easily convert it to a four day week and be just fine.  As we worked through each day's lessons my daughter quickly caught on to the lessons as was able to get through them without any difficulty.  She understood the grammar and spelling rules presented and she was able to remember them from day to day.  They stuck in her head and I noticed that she was using them in her other school work.  After we completed the first lesson, she couldn't wait to see what she would learn in lesson 2.  We have continued working in the Essentials 2nd Edition and she is doing really well with it.  We are a few lesson in now and I can really tell a difference in her spelling and grammar work.  I see the difference in her other language arts work that she does.  I have heard her repeating the rules she learned from Logic of English in her daily language arts work from our regular curriculum.  I have also seen her writing improve and I look forward to what else she will learn as we continue to move through this curriculum.

The Placement Test and my daughter hard at work on a lesson.  
Our overall opinion about Essentials 2nd Edition from Logic of English is that it is an excellent, well thought out curriculum for spelling, grammar, reading, and vocabulary.  We did not use their readers for this review, but by learning the grammar and spelling rules as well as learning the phonograms and phonemic awareness presented in this curriculum, I have seen an improvement in my daughter's reading.  She is able to sound out words more quickly and efficiently.  She has also improved her spelling and she hasn't been struggling as much with her grammar work.  Like I stated in the previous paragraph, I hear her repeating the spelling and grammar rules as she is working on other subjects that involve writing.  She has not been asking me to spell so many words lately because she has been using phonograms to sound them out herself.  So we definitely plan to continue using this curriculum so that she continues learning the rules and improving in all these subjects.  This curriculum does take more one on one work than her normal spelling book, but she is learning way more than just spelling with it so it is definitely worth the extra minutes it takes.

I highly encourage you to go and check out Logic of English and the curriculum they offer, especially the Essentials 2nd Edition.  It has been a blessing to us and it is definitely worth the cost of the curriculum as you can use it with multiple students for multiple levels.  I did not have my 7th grade son working on this material at all, but I do know that he was listening as I worked with his sister.  I heard him repeating one of the spelling rules the other day as he was making words plural for a paper.

Check out Logic of English at their website, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Please check out what my friends on the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of this product and some other products from Logic of English by clicking the banner:

Logic of English Review

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents: Don't Compare

One of my biggest regrets of homeschooling is all the time I wasted in the beginning of our journey, over 7 years ago, comparing how my son was doing to my friends' children that weren't homeschooled.  What a total waste of time that was on my part, but I can tell you in my defense I was new to homeschooling and I was so worried that I was doing it all wrong.  I only wanted to make sure that my son was learning the same kinds of things they were learning in regular school because I didn't completely understand homeschooling.  When I first started, I worried so much about what people thought about us homeschooling and honestly my support system was very small back then.  These things left me feeling very unsure and the more people questioned me about our homeschooling, the more I started to compare what I was teaching our son to what was being learned in public schools.  I used to tell myself that I was just making sure that if I had to put my son in school, I wanted to make sure he was performing on grade level.  The truth was I was unsure and insecure in my ability to teach my child which was crazy because I have a teaching background.  So all this background is to tip for you today is don't waste your time comparing.

In my opinion, when it comes to homeschooling, comparison can be a very dangerous thing.  Comparing usually starts with something little, but then it tends to snowball and you start comparing more and more things.  Honestly it can be maddening.  For me, when my son was young and I was just starting out homeschooling, the conversations between friends and I started out simply and innocently.  Many times I didn't even realize that I was comparing how my son was doing to how their child in private school or public school was doing until the conversation was finished and I would walk away questioning myself and my choices on homeschooling.  I didn't question myself because of what they said, I questioned myself because I thought I couldn't do this which again I will tell you is completely absurd.  I had been teaching my son since the day he was born as we all do with our kids.  I just had to really adjust my thinking about my abilities and stop questioning myself.  Good grief, I graduated college with a teaching degree.  Not only was I qualified to teach my own child (and eventually children), but I was qualified to teach other people's children.  I just had to stop comparing what I was teaching to what was being taught in local schools because the bottom line was that we decided to homeschool because we wanted to be the ones that decided what was taught at each age and grade level.  I just had to own our decision and be confident in it.  The more confident I became in our decision to homeschool the less I compared what we were doing in our school to what was happening in local schools.

Comparison can also be dangerous between your own students within your own homeschool.  I learned years ago when babysitting kids as a teenager that no two kids are alike and they certainly don't all learn the same.  This was reinforced over and over throughout my college years when I was working on my education degree.  It is certainly true today as a mom who homeschools.  My kids are night and day.  They really are.  I do my best not to compare them and how they learn because they each learn differently.  Many times what has worked for one of them just confuses and baffles the other child.  They learn concepts and subjects at completely different paces and completely different styles and that is perfectly fine with me.  They keep this mama on her toes.  If I started comparing them, I would just destroy their self esteem and ultimately it would pit them against each other so I focus on telling each of them where they excel and helping them in subjects they struggle with.  It is my job to build them up, not tear them down.

Comparison can also be dangerous for us moms.  When we compare ourselves to other moms we open the door to the devil who will quickly take advantage of an open door and fill us with doubts, insecurities, and irrational fears.  We can be so quick to look at that mom over there who looks like she has it all together and wish we could be like her.  We wish we could have it all together and not only get school done, but the house would be immaculate like hers, our kids would sparkle like hers do, and dinner complete with dessert would be ready and waiting on the table just like we are sure she serves her family every night.  See how quickly we compared ourselves?  The reality is that mom that looks so put together, she has real struggles too and by looking put together she is probably hiding the struggles she has because she sees you and in her eyes you are so put together and you manage to do it all.

So my whole point today is this...don't compare.  It's not worth the doubts, fears, and insecurities it will produce.  Remember when you compare, you teach your children to compare too.  That is one habit I don't want to teach my children.  I work all the time to stomp out comparison and make sure I am not teaching my children to compare.  I am still a work in progress and sometimes I do better at it than others because I am a real person, but I have learned I don't need the negativity that comparison brings and neither do you.  Accept who you are, what stage of life and homeschooling you are in, and know you are doing a great job!

This week I am participating in a blog hop with my Schoolhouse Review Crew friends.  We are all sharing all kinds of tips for you on all kinds of different subjects.  Each day I will be leaving you links to different Schoolhouse Review Crew blogs.  Please go and check them out.  The Crew is AMAZING and they have great tips to share with you this week.  Today you should check out the following blogs:

Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Latonya @ Joy in the Ordinary
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures
Lori @ At Home: where life happens
Meg @ Adventures with Jude
Megan @ My Full Heart
Melanie (Wren) @ finchnwren
Melissa @ Mom's Plans

Also you can check out more tips at our Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog by clicking on this picture:
5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Monday, March 28, 2016

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents: Be Flexible!

When I tell people that we homeschool I get many different reactions.  These range from "that is awesome" to "don't you live in a good school district" to "oh" and everything else in between.  The main comment I get repeated over and over to me is "That is great that you homeschool, but I could never do it because I am not a patient person."  Can I let you in on a couple of secrets?  #1 - I am not a patient person either.  #2 - I never dreamed I would homeschool my children.  #3 - Sometimes our days do not go according to how I have planned and they fall completely apart.  You know what?  All of this is okay.  I am gong to tell you a key tip to our homeschool and how we make it all work and honestly without this key tip, I think I would have lost my mind years ago.

The key tip for me to being able to successfully homeschool my kids is:  BE FLEXIBLE!!!!

I will admit that years ago when I first started homeschooling my son, I was rigid and inflexible.  I was on a mission to accomplish tasks and worksheets each day and when that didn't happen, my days were terrible.  I knew that something wasn't working, something had to change, and that something was me.  I had to change my attitude and my level of flexibility if this whole homeschooling thing was going to work.  So how do you become more flexible?

I started watching years ago for what really worked for our school and what didn't.  Being flexible means being aware and being willing to change what isn't working.  For us that meant even though I have a teaching background and I can do lesson planning, I had to switch to a curriculum that had lessons planned out for us.  I had to be flexible enough to admit that lesson planning was taking up too much of my time, I was using materials we didn't love, and it would be wiser for us to switch to a pre-planned curriculum.  It also means that I assess our pre-planned curriculum and see what is working for each child and make changes where we need to.  Dictation was driving one of my children crazy and it really became a dreaded, frustrating thing for that child.  I made the decision that even though it is a part of our curriculum, it isn't working for that child and I replaced it with a different subject for that child to work on.  At times being flexible has meant putting the lesson plans away for the day and working on something completely different because sometimes school is just frustrating and you and/or your kids are at your wits end with a subject.  Being flexible means you can make a science or math lesson out of baking cookies, a trip to the grocery store turns into a math and budgeting lesson, a walk at the park can become a science lesson, and so much more.  Being flexible means you are assessing what is working and what isn't and you can choose to fix what needs to be fixed without stressing out about it - at least that is what it means to me.  The best tip I can give you for successfully homeschooling your kids is to be flexible.  It will truly make homeschooling so much easier, it really has for me and my kids.

This week I am participating in a blog hop with my Schoolhouse Review Crew friends.  We are all sharing all kinds of tips for you on all kinds of different subjects.  Each day I will be leaving you links to different Schoolhouse Review Crew blogs.  Please go and check them out.  The Crew is AMAZING and they have great tips to share with you this week.  Today you should check out the following blogs:
Melissa @ Grace Christian School
Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Missica @ Through the Open Window
Monique @ Mountain of Grace Homeschooling
Rebekah @ There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining
Renita @ Krazy Kuehner Days
Sarah @ Renaissance Mama
Sasha @ Such a Time as This
Tawnee @ Adventures in Homeschooling
Tiffany @ The Crafty Home
Tina @ Desperate Homeschoolers

Also you can check out more tips at our Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog by clicking on this picture:
5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Sunday, March 27, 2016

So It Begins...Part 4

We are still in the process of remodeling our kitchen.  It has been a much bigger project than we ever thought that it would be, but much of that is because we made the really, really good decision to go with custom base cabinets.  It has taken longer because we decided on custom base cabinets, but we are SO, SO, SO happy we did.  This has allowed me to design my kitchen around what works best for me.  It is truly designed to be my dream kitchen.  You can read about what we have done so far in these posts:  Part 1Part 2, and Part 3.  This past week much of the work has been focused on finishing things and getting the island in and customized.  Can I tell you how much I love my new kitchen island?  Oh my, it is AWESOME!!!!  Our old kitchen island had 2 levels and I never realized how much space that wasted.  My new island is just one level and H-U-G-E.  My hubby and the contractor asked me more than once - are you sure you want an island that big - and my answer was always yes, the bigger the better.  I got to try it out yesterday as we hosted Easter dinner for 28 people and we had more than enough counter space.  It was great.  Anyway, the island will be awesome for my baking addiction, canning in the fall, and parties/events we host.  In the old kitchen we were forever running out of room, but I think we may have finally solved that problem.  My island will house my pots and pans in 2 drawers, pizza pans in another drawer, and I also have 2 shelves that pull out for canned goods.  My island has room for 4 seats and it also has my customized, special drawer.  What goes in my customized, special drawer you ask?  This drawer was built specifically for my cake decorating supplies.  They will no longer be kept in several tiny bins in several spots, but all my cake decorating supplies will now have a home in my special request, completely customized drawer - can you tell I am totally geeked about this drawer?  I also got some other special features in my other base cabinets around the wall.  I got pull out bins for potatoes and onions, pullout drawers for my utensils (in the pictures this week this drawer may not make sense at all, but when it gets finished it will), a slide out drawer for the trash can, and a lazy susan.  The header is completely finished and the counter tops came in and were installed.  They are awesome!  One other little feature I forgot to mention on the island, is our really cool pop up electrical and USB plug.  It is cool!  So now for the pictures...
Week 1: The before picture
Week 2: The floor was in and base cabinets started
Week 3:  Cabinet work, sink is in, and kitchen is painted.
The finished header area.
The base wall cabinets
Base wall cabinets - see my potato and onion bins
This end cabinet will be where the trash can is hidden.
This will be where my utensils are when it is completely done.
The New Island!!!
The 2 bottom drawers are for pots and pans.  The top drawer is my cake decorator drawer.
Pizza pan drawer
Shelves for canned goods
A top view of the island
It is HUGE!!!  :)
Here is our pop up plug with USB ports
I already got to make a cake using my island, I spread out while making it and still had tons of room.
We still need doors and a few other little things, but my new kitchen is awesome and I love it!!!  What do you think so far?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday

I wrote this post a few years ago, but it is still true today....

Today is Good Friday.  It is the day that my Savior died on the cross for me and my sins.  It is the day Jesus Christ willingly gave His life in exchange for my sin.  He shed His blood to pay the ultimate price for sin.  Jesus died because it was His Father's will for Him.

Luke 22:41-43 And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done."  And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.

It was not an easy death.  It was brutal.  Jesus was accused, beaten, whipped, tortured, mocked, spit on, and ultimately He was unrecognizable as he made His way to Golgotha to be put upon the cross.  He was even so weak that Simon of Cyrene was pulled from the crowd to carry Jesus' cross.

Matthew 27:26-31  Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.  Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him.  And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!"  And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head.  And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him. 

Jesus was laid upon the cross and nailed to it.  He, who was innocent, was crucified between two robbers who were not innocent.  He suffered upon the cross as the soldiers cast lots for His clothes, the crowd mocked Him, and even one of the robbers being crucified with Him mocked Him.  Ultimately at just the right moment, Jesus breathed His last breath and committed His Spirit to God.

Luke 23:44-46  It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.  Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!" And having said this he breathed his last. 

It was after Jesus was dead that some people realized that He was indeed innocent (other people already knew) .

Luke 23:47  Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, "Certainly this man was innocent!" 

The wonderful news is that it didn't end there.  Jesus did die on the cross and was laid in a tomb, but three days later the tomb was empty.  Jesus had risen!  He is alive!  We serve a risen Savior!

Luke 24:1-7  But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.  And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel.  And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise." 

Today as I go through my day, I will be thinking of how Jesus died on the cross for me.  He paid the debt for my sin so that I can join Him one day in Heaven.  I am not worthy of the suffering He endured for me, but He did it anyway because He loves me.  He loves me that much and so much more.  It is an awesome thing to know, to accept, and to believe.  I gave my life to Christ a long time ago, but I continue giving my life to Him every day by living for Him.  I am so glad that I serve a risen Savior and I am an heiress to the King.  I know that Jesus is the only way for me and while His death was tragic, it was necessary and I am so happy that He died to save me.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 The Gospel of John Review

If you are anything like our family, you do your best to make sure that your family is watching safe, quality, family friendly movies and television.  This is exactly what you can find at  We were given a DVD of The Gospel of John from to review as a family.  Knowing that it came from a Christian Movie Store website, I knew that it would be safe for the whole family to watch. Review

The Gospel of John is a biblically accurate movie version of the book of John from the Bible because it is based on the American Bible Society's Good News Bible.  This movie tells the life story of Jesus Christ from before he walked on the earth until after his resurrection just like the Bible does.  Our whole family really enjoyed watching this movie.  We loved watching John's Gospel come to life right before our eyes.  We watched vivid scenes like the wedding feast where Jesus turned the water into wine, Jesus in the temple courts finding the people selling animals, Lazarus rising from the dead, Jesus feeding the people on the mountainside with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, the Last Supper, Jesus' trial, Jesus' resurrection, and so many more come to life with this movie.  I am a visual learner so for me watching the movie gave me pictures to go with the Bible verses I really love.  We also really loved the fact this movie is biblically accurate and based right on the Bible verses.  This came in handy when my son was questioning the part of the movie where Jesus wept (sorry for the spoiler alert if you have not read the Bible yet).  My son knows the Bible said Jesus wept, but he thought that Jesus wept over the people's unbelief yet The Gospel of John showed Jesus weeping over Lazarus' death.  So we paused the movie, opened the Bible to the book of John and read about Lazarus' death.  Jesus did weep over Lazarus.  It was right there in the Bible and I was ecstatic knowing that this movie did not deviate from the Bible or interpret it in some strange way to fit the movie.  The only other part of the movie that we were concerned with how it would be shown was Jesus' trial, the beatings he received before his crucifixion and the crucifixion scene itself.  This is a very violent part of the Bible, but a real part of it and other movies have portrayed this event in a very graphic, gruesome way as I am sure it truly was, but these movies have produced these scenes in a way that make them so that they are too violent for my children to watch in my opinion.  I was very happy that The Gospel of John had these scenes, but they were not as violent as other movies while they did accurately portray what happened.  We felt that it was safe for my second grade daughter to watch and she understood exactly what was going on and she wasn't scared by these scenes.  Overall we were blessed by The Gospel of John movie.  The only complaint my kids had was that it was 3 hours long (it didn't feel that long to me so I was surprised that it was that long). Review is a fantastic source for Christian DVDs and Blue-Ray movies and television shows.  They started out as a small company to promote just one Christian film and before you knew it the company has grown into what it is today, a leading source for family friendly Christian movies and television shows.  They carry not only new release Christian movies and television shows like War Room and When Calls the Heart, but they also a fantastic selection of older movies and television shows as well.  I love how easy it is to find what you are looking for at because they have their selections broken down into easy to pick from categories and genres.  Their website is VERY user friendly and family friendly.  In my opinion their prices are unbeatable and they have fantastic sales.   You can find movies and television shows starting at just $5.00. is my new go-to site for family friendly Christian entertainment.  We feel very blessed to have been introduced to this site and blessed to have received The Gospel of John movie from them to review.

You can find not only at their website, but also on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.  They are also having a special drawing for Review Crew Blog Readers if you join their mailing list.  This giveaway is completely sponsored and ran by, I am only giving you the link to go to so you can find the giveaway.  Click here to go to the giveaway.
Like always you can check out the movies that my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew received and reviewed by clicking on the banner below.  I highly recommend this as there were several movies up for review this time. Review

Friday, March 18, 2016

So It Begins...Part 3

We are still in the middle of our kitchen remodeling project and it is going well.  It has been crazy, busy, and awesome to see it all start coming together.  You can read about what has happened in our kitchen so far by reading Part 1 and Part 2 of my "So It Begins" series.  There have been big changes this week that have made a huge difference and little changes this week that I didn't think would make a huge difference, but they did.  It seems every little part that goes in or gets finished makes such a difference.  So let's see what all has changed this week?  The cabinet designs are finalized and the frames of the base cabinets are built and in.  The island cabinet frame is built.  We have ordered the counter tops.  We ordered all the drawer and cabinet handles, hinges, and drawer slides and they just came as I typed (thank you Amazon Prime).  I had the trim all primed, but hubby painted on the final color which is Oatmeal Beige.  Hubby also started trimming the wall with paint for me (please read this sentence as I am not talented on a later and I know it) and he ended up blessing me by painting most of the kitchen for me.  I finished up the painting on Monday night as we to do some patching on the wall before it could be painted (it was formerly a wall full of pictures).  We made a quick trip to an Ikea store to buy my sink and the faucet I wanted.  One of my main requests for my kitchen was for a Farmhouse Sink.  I know not everyone likes them, but I LOVE it.  I love the look of it, I love the size of it, and I really started my kitchen planning with the sink.  It was the first thing I knew I had to have in my new kitchen.  It sounds silly and it probably is, but it makes me happy.  Moving on, we also had a bulkhead put in to give a definite "end" to our kitchen.  It still needs another coat of mud and sanding so it can be painted, but it gives the kitchen a whole new look.  It amazes me how much this one little bulkhead changed the look of our kitchen in an awesome way.  I have been telling hubby for years I didn't want one because I didn't think it would look good.  I had to take those words back and tell him that he was absolutely right and we should have put in the bulkhead years ago.  Today our contractor, Dave, is putting some more of the cabinets together and he is going to start painting our cabinets.  I am very excited about the color and how it will change the look of our cabinets (remember we only replaced the bottom cabinets, the top cabinets are still fine) and how it will change the look of our kitchen.  Decisions that still need to be made: lighting, lighting, and more lighting.  We have looked at some lighting, but so far we have not made any definite decisions on it.  So I know you have all been waiting for the pictures.  I bet some of you didn't even read this and just scrolled down to the pictures...cheaters.  :)

My kitchen before the remodeling.
The new floor and the beginning of the framing of the new base cabinets.
The new color of the walls and trim.
The bottom cabinets are framed and the dishwasher is back in.
A close up of the colors. 
The island outline...RIP old island, Hello new island
Before the bulkhead (over the hallway)
A preview of the new cabinet color
Framing for the new island to anchor it to the floor or a hockey goal :) 
Prepping for painting the cabinets.
My pretty new sink and new faucet...don't mind all the stuff on it (I forgot to get the picture before the contractor arrived).
The new bulkhead (looking down the hallway).
Check back next week to see the progress!  It is really coming together and I can't wait to see it all finished.  What do you think?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Rainforest Journey - EdTechLens Review

My second grader loves monkeys.  She is seriously obsessed with them so when I got a chance to review Rainforest Journey from EdTechLens, I jumped at it.  I knew that if the rainforest was involved in this online science program, there would be a monkey in it and she would definitely want to learn more.    I was right!

Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review

EdTechLens is an online science enrichment curriculum.  Their first program is Rainforest Journey and it is designed to be a one-year e-learning course for grades K-5.  Each lesson of the Rainforest Journey is full of pictures, information to read and/or listen to, and worksheets that go along with the material taught.  You can also find hands on activities to work through with your student in the teacher resource area of the website when you are logged in as the teacher.

Just getting started
We received Grade 2 of Rainforest Journey to work through.   The material is broken down into 5 units and then each unit is broken into chapters and lessons.  Each unit also has a review area and assessments.  It is visually stunning and very quickly captured my daughter's attention.  She loved studying the pictures, reading about what was in the pictures, and then hearing about the extra items each lesson discussed.  She quickly learned the rainforest vocabulary that is presented in each lesson and could easily tell me all about what she had worked on.  She was even excited to show what she had learned by working on her rainforest drawing and answering the worksheets I printed off.  It was not at all hard for me to get my daughter to work on this program because she wanted to work on it and couldn't wait to see what she would be learning next in her Rainforest Journey.

My daughter's drawing of the rainforest.
So I bet you are wondering what kinds of things we learned about from EdTechLens.  My daughter studied the different parts of the rainforest - the floor, understory, canopy, emergent layer.  She also learned about different types of rainforests, how water and light affect the rainforest, and even more.  I really can't wait for her to dig into the next unit and see what else she will learn in it.

She is showing you the progress indicator (this was taken at the beginning of the review period, she is further along now)
We really liked how the website is set up.  You create an account for the parent/teacher and then in that account you can set up your student's account.  From the teacher account you can check the progress that your student has made on the units and lessons, grade their online assessments, and find the teacher resources you need for the hands-on activities and worksheets to print with answer keys.  They also have resources for lesson planning for the units and an explanation on the pedagogy (theory of the methods of teaching) of the Rainforest Journey, which I really appreciated because I like finding out the why of teaching.  You can also access the student lessons from the teacher account, but it does not record your student's progress if you access the lessons from here.  From the student account, the student can access the units, lessons, assessments, and the worksheets for the lessons.  They have a progress indicator bar that shows them their progress through the program.  Each lesson is full of pictures they can study and then click on and to learn more.  My daughter really enjoyed reading the information and then clicking the sound icon to have the selection read to her.  It reinforced whether or not she was pronouncing terms right as she read.  She also liked clicking the "Enrichment" light bulb icon to learn more about the topics.  Of course, she loved the pictures of monkeys she found too!
Here are those monkeys she found!
What did we think of this Rainforest Journey from EdTechLens?  We really enjoyed this online science program.  My daughter loved the pictures, clicking on them, and learning more about the rainforest.  I loved that she understood the information they were presenting and she was able to easily tell me what her lessons were about.  She loved drawing out the rainforest (this was part of the assignments for unit 1) in parts and adding to her picture as she learned more.    She also really liked being able to go back to parts and re-read it and look through the pictures again.  I think she found something new every time she looked at and studied each picture.  I really liked the worksheets that went with each lesson and that it gave me a chance to review with her what she learned.  We both liked the progress indicators on the site that allowed us to quickly check and see where she was at.  The only thing I would change to make it easier is the log in process.  I would make it easier to switch from the teacher level to the student level, but I did appreciate that the site remembered the passwords to make it quicker to switch between the two of us.  

In the teacher level I was able to leave feedback on the assessments and then this is what my daughter would see on her level.

An example of one of the worksheets

You should definitely check out EdTechLens and their Rainforest Journey for your students.  They have several pricing plans available depending on the number of students you have and the number of levels you are using of their program.  We have loved checking out their program and plan to work our way through the rest of the Rainforest Journey.

You can find EdTechLens at their website and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and LinkedIn.

Please check out what my friends on the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of this product by clicking the banner:

Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review