Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thursday Throwdown

Today I thought I would just throw down some of the random things just to share and keep it real.  We have been pretty busy and there are a lot of things I want to blog about, but finding the time to get it all written has been challenging.  So here comes a random post of random things.  Ready?

  1. I am pretty sure I broke my toe this summer.  Remember this dresser makeover I did?  Well I was being silly and trying to flip the dresser up by myself and wearing flip flops to do the project which was not the best idea.  The dresser slipped when I was flipping it and hopped my flip flop, skinned my toe, and landed right on it.  I am pretty sure it was just a hairline fracture, but then we spent a week at church camp walking about 5 miles a day so that pretty much sealed the deal.  No, I never went to the doctor, but other than feeling extemely bruised at the time it didn't bother me too much.
    A Glimpse of Normal blog
    This is my toe the day I dropped the dresser on it.  It proceeded to turn beautiful colors after this.  :)
  2. We spent an AWESOME week at Family Camp this summer.  It has become a tradition for us to go to family church camp and it is always amazing.  This year was no exception.  It is a week of fun for the whole family and a week of fantastic sermons and soaking in the Word for me and hubby.  
    Hubby and I at family camp (photo credits to Buddy)
  3. Little Miss is taking horse lessons and has ridden in a couple of horse shows now.  She has one more horse show this year and we are really looking forward to it.  A post about this is coming soon, it is pretty cool how it all worked out.
    Little Miss on Shadow
  4. We have been camping more this year than any other year.  Yes we camp in a tent and cook over a fire.  It has been really fun.  I even created a printable list of items we take camping with us.  I am sure I left a few things off though, I always forget something when we are camping.
    A fun game of baseball while camping with friends
  5. We still have not completely finished our kitchen makeover yet.  There are just a handful of things left to do, but they are waiting until the weather is cooler and we have a little more time.  I also have to make a really tough decision about back splash.  I keep picking one and then changing my mind....hence part of the delay in finishing this project.
  6. I have already begun to plan our master bedroom and master bathroom makeover, but there is no start date for these projects yet.  Doesn't stop me from searching on Pinterest though and planning.  
  7. My Instant Pot that I purchased this summer has become my go to method for cooking lately.  We have been running out the door a little more than normal lately and my instant pot has become a life saver.  If you have one you know what I am talking about and if you don't have one, I recommend it.
  8. School is in full swing for us.  We are over 30 days into our school year and so far it is going very well.  I am excited about what each of my kids have been learning and excited to watch them learn new concepts.
  9. I ripped out a crochet project that I have been working on (off and on again) for about 8 months.  I am terrible about setting down projects and getting side tracked by new ones.  This project was a poncho for Little Miss.  I was pretty close to finishing it, but when she tried it on, she decided that it just wasn't what she wanted.  So now I have started over on a new project poncho and it is coming along nicely and both of us like it better.
  10. I have been menu planning for almost a year now.  I posted my first menu plan on here in November of 2015.  I am happy that I have stuck with this and soon I will just be able to add to my menu plan boards instead of creating new ones each month.
That is it.  That's all the randomness I can think of right now.  I hope I didn't bore you to death, I just wanted to share our glimpse of normal with you.  Are there topics you would like to see me write about?  Comment below with those and I will see what I can do. Sale!

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Cat of Bubastes–A Review of Heirloom Audio Productions

We had so much fun listening to the last Heirloom Audio Productions drama, that we couldn’t wait for them to come out with their next drama, The Cat of Bubastes.  We were very excited to receive a copy of this drama for us to review.  Little Miss was excited to listen to this audio drama because she thought it was going to be all about cats based on the title.  I was excited to listen to this drama because it fit with our study of Ancient Egypt that we are just getting into with Little Miss.  Buddy, well he was excited to just get to listen along and enjoy the audio drama since he has already studied some of ancient Egypt.
Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes, audio drama, audio theatre, audio theater, radio drama, radio theatre, radio theater, audio book, G.A. Henty, The Cat of Bubastes, henty alive, heirloom audio, Christian audio drama, Christian radio theatre, focus on the family radio theatre, homeschooling, Christian homeschooling, homeschooling curriculum, Moses, Egyptians, Egypt, Ancient Egypt
Since we have already had a chance to do a review for Heirloom Audio earlier this year, we knew we could expect a quality audio drama that would capture our attention and keep us on the edge of our seats.  As a homeschool parent, I have come to really appreciate this company because their priority is bringing real history to life for their listeners and they strive to tell the stories of true Christian heroes while teaching strong moral values.  Their audio dramas are based on the popular book series The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty.  His books are filled with themes of bravery, loyalty, family, and happy endings while featuring moral values like loyalty, courage, honesty, and perseverance.  Since Henty’s books are filled with such great themes and morals, you can see why Heirloom Audio would base their audio dramas on this series.  They make it easy to complete their mission which is “to engage the listener’s imagination by taking them back in time and immersing them in a great Christian story “  because their audio dramas captivated us from the opening lines of score to the ending credits.
The Cat of Bubastes is set during ancient Egypt.  It features Amuba, a young prince, and his mentor, Jethro.  They are captured by the Egyptians and enslaved  in the city of Thebes.  This is where their adventure begins and they will have to decide if they will be like the Egyptians and follow many gods or will they see God’s providence in their situation and follow the One True God.  In the story they get a chance to meet a man who had to make this choice and they learn what he decided.  I would tell you who this man is, but I don’t want to give away the story line.  I can tell you that this story is full of adventure, mystery, and unexpected twists and turns.  It kept us on the edge of our seats and both of my kids complained if I tried to stop the CD.  Just like their other productions, The Cat of Bubastes features a star-studded cast of actors that you may already know.
Not only did we receive a copy of The Cat of Bubastes which is a 2-CD Audio Adventure in a sturdy tri-fold case, we also received access to the downloadable bonus features that are included with the premium buying option of The Cat of Bubastes.  These downloadable bonuses include:
  • an MP3 copy of the audio drama
  • a copy of the E-Book
  • Official MP3 Soundtrack
  • Printable Cast Poster
  • A Study Guide with Discussion Points
  • Printable Inspirational Verse Poster
  • Unlimited Access to the Live the Adventure Website
  • Behind the Scenes Video
The bonuses that go along with the audio adventure are amazing.  I especially appreciated the study guide which is filled with information, questions for each part of the story, words to define, questions for deep thinking, historical background, and even some Bible study material among other things.   I used the E-Book to make sure I was catching the names of the characters and some of the dialogue.  I used the Study Guide to get some questions to ask Little Miss to see if she was really listening to the story.  We also used the study guide to learn a little more about Hieroglyphs and to create an activity for Little Miss where she created her own set of Hieroglyphs.  She had a lot of fun with this.  I also liked having so many options with the study guide because I could pick questions that I thought were appropriate for a 3rd grade level so that Little Miss could answer them.  Even though I was using this audio drama mainly with Little Miss, I did ask Buddy a few questions from the study guide because I knew he had been listening in.  He couldn’t help stopping his work to listen because the drama captured his attention.  
Little Miss creating her Hieroglyphs
Her message decoded from her Hieroglyphs
We listened to this audio drama twice and the kids have already asked if we can take it with us on our next long car trip so that Dad can hear it too because they think he will really enjoy it.  Little Miss really enjoyed this audio drama and was excited that there were cats in the story.  She thought it was very exciting and she said that she could picture what they were talking about and felt like she was really there.  Buddy liked the story and really enjoyed the mysteriousness of this story.  Both of them and I really liked character that Amuba ended up meeting.  Again I can’t tell you who this character is without giving away the story, but I hope you will like this character like we did.  Little Miss and I also had some good discussions about what the Egyptians believed versus what we believe and why we believe what we believe.  We all enjoy the fact that Christianity is present in this story and how it is presented.  It gave us a real feel for what being a Christian in that time period was like.  Both kids already asked which audio drama we will listen to next and they can’t wait to hear another one.  Truth be told, I want to listen to more audio dramas from Heirloom Audio too.

You can find out more about Heirloom Audio Productions and all of the products they offer on their website.  You can also find out more about them on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Instagram.  You can find The Cat of Bubastes like we received, here.  Please be sure to check out all that Heirloom Audio Productions has to offer.  I know we will be checking them out as I have already planned to use another one of their series this year for school.  My friends on the Homeschool Review Crew have also been reviewing this audio drama, so make sure you read their reviews by clicking the banner below.
Heirloom Audio Productions ~Cat of Bubastes

Friday, September 23, 2016

Choosing Encouragement Over Discouragement

I so wanted to post something fun here on Fridays, but today I am choosing to put off my normal Friday Fun and be very real and honest with you.  I even had a video blog ready, a cupcake tutorial, and a couple of other fun things to choose from for my normal Friday Fun, but I am choosing to go in a different direction today.  God has really laid it on my heart lately that I need to be real, genuine, and transparent in my daily life and today I am letting that flow over to my blog.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog
We have been really busy lately as we just have a lot going on, a lot coming up, and a lot of things we need to get done for life, school, blogging, and around the house.  Right now the list just seems never ending and when I get one thing crossed off, I am adding another and it rolls through my brain constantly.  Add that to gardening and canning, roof leaks, getting vehicles fixed, church activities, horse lessons, piano lessons, housework, and so on....   I am not complaining about doing any of these things because I do love doing them.  My brain gets so overwhelmed that I just go into Super Girl mode which isn't very effective because even though I try to get it all done, I just end up with a bunch of unfinished things, lost sleep, and fires to put out.  Who's with me?  It's a vicious cycle once I let it start because then I start figuring out what parts of my routine I can skip.  Unfortunately all too often when I am in Super Girl mode, my devotions get cut short and instead of spending 20-30 minutes soaking in God's word, I spend 5-10 and just grab a glimpse of what God is saying.  This leads to the devil trying to get in and throw me off which is exactly what I was feeling last night and early this morning.  The devil kept trying to tell me I was too busy to study God's word, I was too busy to even think about getting everything done, give up, quit trying, people are too busy to spend time with you, you are lonely, and on and on and on....  Normally I would fall into a pity party and just start feeling terrible, but not this time.  This time instead of listening to the discouragement and wallowing in it, I really started thinking about it.  Is that what I want to listen to?  NO!  The more I told myself I didn't want to hear these lies from the devil, the more encouraging things that popped into my head from Bible verses to songs to just knowing how much God loves me and knowing that while life is really busy right now, I have plenty of time.  I can't do it on my own but I can get everything done with Jesus' help.

It still blows my mind that I went to bed last night feeling discouraged, but before I fell asleep I prayed for help and prayed that I wouldn't feel so discouraged.  I woke up with the lyrics to Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus running through my head.  The chorus says;

 "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face.  And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace."  

What hope and promise!!!  It filled my heart.  Then as I prayed this morning, I just kept having verses pop in my head to encourage me today.  

Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatsover things are true, whatsover things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."  

This verse has filled my heart today.  NOTHING the devil tells me is true, pure, honest, or lovely so I don't need to listen to them.  I just need to turn my eyes upward and tune my ears to what God is saying.  I am choosing to think on the truths of God's word and not the lies the devil wants to deceive me with.  In every situation today, I am choosing to be encouraged and see the good rather than focus on the things I can't fix, the things I won't get finished today, and the circumstances that are beyond my control.  I am choosing to see joy in every step of my day.  Since making this declaration, my heart has been light and my worries are in God's hands.

What will you choose today?  My prayer is that you will also choose encouragement and God's truths over all the devil will try and stop you will.  May you be blessed today instead of stressed.

Thursday, September 22, 2016 Annual Subscription Review

As my kids get older I want to introduce them to the Internet, but I also want the ability to control what they access and see to help keep them safe in a world where inappropriate things are always lurking around the corner .  This is why I was very excited to receive an Annual Subscription from to review.  I felt like this was a good way to introduce both of my kids to email, but in a safe setting where I have control of what they view. Annual Subscription, Kids email, email for kids is an online site designed specifically to be a safe email service for kids and families.  Their site allows children to have their own email while giving parents the ability to set the controls on the account and know exactly what messages are coming into and going out of your child’s email.   This product is designed to protect your kids while giving them freedom.  Kids Email has the following features and settings:
  • Mail Monitoring
  • Time Restriction
  • The Mail Queue 
  • Block Senders 
  • Contact Manager 
  • Custom Mailbox Folders
  • No Ads
  • GPS Tracker
  • Removing Links and Images 
  • Controlling Attachment Types
  • Offensive Word Filters
  • Spam Filtering 
  • Template Options
  • Activity Log
All of these features made me very excited to try this product with Buddy and Little Miss.  I thought that they would have fun having the ability to email family and friends, but this would be a safe way to teach them the responsibility of emailing.  The accounts were very easy to set up once I got my parent account set up.  I really, really like that the parent login and dashboard is separate from the child email accounts.  Buddy liked that we got to set him up with a teen email account which still has all the safety features and parental controls, but it has"kmail" address rather than "kidsemail" address.   He also really likes being able to email family and friends when he thinks of things that he wants to tell them.  Little Miss just loved the idea of being able to write to people and get messages back.
These are the backgrounds my kids chose for their inboxes. I did block out their email name.
The first email contact I set up for them was their dad.  When I set it up, I forgot to check the box to say it was okay that they received email from him too.  So I got an email from my hubby very soon after the kids each sent an email that said "Prettycool mail service!"  As I read what it was, it was an email from Kids Email telling him that his email to each of the kids would have to be approved.  My hubby was very excited about this because he thought this was a great safety feature, just like I do.  Now that I have the settings right, both kids can email back and forth with their dad at work and they do this all the time.  As parents we feel like this safety feature is invaluable because we can choose who gets to email our kids.  I have also been using this email program to email school assignments to the kids.  They can click on the assignment links (once I have approved the email from the parent mail queue) and complete the assignment.  Little Miss has also been using her email to be a pen pal with other kids from Homeschool Review crew.  This has been giving her lots of practice writing.  Both kids are continuing to use their email and they really like being able to email others.  Hubby and I really appreciate all the parental controls of this site so we can keep an eye on what they are emailing.  We feel it is a safe way to give them some privileges and start teaching them responsibility on the Internet.
Mail Queue Settings
This is the preview of the emails I am sent to my email so I can see what is going to the kids.  I blocked out email addresses.
This is the email I got from my hubby about his email getting blocked until approvral.
These are the safety settings I can control.  I blocked out email addresses.
 We will definitely continue to use this email product while we have access to it and it is something we will definitely consider purchasing for our children once our subscription is up so that they continue using a safe email and we can continue monitoring it until we feel our children are ready for the responsibility and accountability of an un-monitored email.  You can learn more about on their website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram.  You can find out more about the Annual Subscription we received by clicking here.  You can also see what my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew think of this product by clicking the banner below. Annual Subscription
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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Review of The Pray-ers/Book 1 Troubles from CTM Publishing Atlanta

I am a book lover so you can imagine how excited I was when we were presented with the opportunity to review The Pray-ers/Book 1 Troubles by Mark S. Mirza from CTM Publishing Atlanta.  Any chance I get to read, makes me very happy, but I was extra intrigued about this book because of its subject matter.  This book is about Christianity, prayer, angels, and demons that try to stop Christians.
The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles, Christian Historical Fiction, The Pray-ers, CTM Publishing Atlanta
Mark S. Mirza is not only the author of this book, but he is also the founder of Common Thread Ministries.  He also previously lead a Men’s Prayer Ministry for a well-known preacher.  His passion for prayer and teaching others to pray, led him to write this book.  While this book does include Biblical references and some people from the Bible, it is still a work of fiction.  Mr. Mirza does a great job of explaining about this and his choice of subject matter in preface of the book.

The Pray-ers/Book 1 Troubles by Mark S. Mirza features 3 main characters and many supporting characters.  The book follows the story of Epaphras from the first century, Alexander Rich from the 19th century, and Dale Riley from present day.  It is the story of the troubles that each of these men face in their life and how they choose to respond to them in faith.  Each of these characters not only had a heavenly angel assigned to them to help guide them in their faith, but they also had a demon assigned to them that tried to plant seeds that would destroy them and their faith.  It was interesting to see the ways in which the praying men would chose to respond when situations arose that could cause them to stumble in their faith because not only were these Chrisitian men praying men, but they were also responsible for leading others in their Christian walk.  Their decisions affect not only them, but those around them and even those in different eras.  The author does a clever job of tying all of the eras and the people together in surprising ways. 

Like I already mentioned this book intrigued me because of its subject matter.  I know angels exist and demons exist, you can find both in the Bible.  I know that demons will try to use your weaknesses and doubts against you so this part of the book felt very real to me.  I wasn’t shocked by how the author used the angels and demons and I thought he did a good representing both throughout the book.  I felt that for a Christian fiction book, the author did a good job of representing everyone in this book, Christians and non-Christians.  It did feature more Christians than non-Christians, but I didn’t feel it was over the top given the subject matter.  I liked the different eras represented in the book and the way the author ended up tying them together eventually.  I did find the book a little hard to get into at first because each chapter did feature a different era, but about 100-125 pages in is where it finally felt like the stories were starting to tie together and the overall book felt more cohesive at that point.  I will say that typically I would not read that far into a book to find the cohesiveness if I wasn’t doing a review for the book, but once this book did start feeling cohesive it got better and better. 

I wondered what this book would say about prayer and how it would present prayer since the title is The Pray-ers.  Since the main characters are praying men (Pray-ers) this book spent much of the time showing how they prayed and telling what they prayed.  They prayed Scripture from the Bible.  Sometimes they prayed it just as written and other times they applied it specifically to themselves or to those they were praying for.  This really challenged me because it made me think:  Do I pray Scripture enough?   Do I pray for others enough?  and Do I pray believing that God is already at work in the situation?  If I am honest, very, very honest, the answers for me to these questions is no.  That was quite a gut check for me and because of it this book has helped me see that I need to do these 3 things more and I appreciated getting that revelation from this book.
When we were chosen for this review, my plan was for my son and I to read this book and discuss it as part of his school for Bible class.  He has read through 15 chapters of the book.  I have read ahead because I wanted to finish the book so that I knew what would be coming up and could come up with topics to discuss from the book.  Now that I have finished the book, I am not sure that I will have Buddy continue to read this book as it deals with some more mature topics such as abortion and rape toward the end of the book.  These topics are not dealt with in-depth, more just in mentioning what some of the characters in the book have dealt with, but I am not sure that they are topics that are appropriate for my 8th grader right now.  For the chapters he has read, we have had some good discussions about angels, about how demons will try to use your weaknesses to attack you and separate you from God, and conversations about prayer and what it looks like to him versus how it is presented in the book.  Buddy says what he has read is okay and interesting, but it is hard for him to follow because it jumps to the different time periods. 

Overall, once I got far enough into this book I ended up liking it.  Like I said I felt it was a little bit of a slow, hard read at first, but I am curious about reading the next book in The Pray-ers Series.  I will say that this book is maybe more for mature Christians rather than new Christians as the topic of angels and demons can be confusing to new Christians.  I also think this book may be more for older teens and adults rather than young teens because of mature topics that are mentioned towards the end of the book.  I really appreciated that book did have footnotes with Bible references so I could look up related verses as I read.  That was a nice feature of this 363 page book that is available both in print form (as I received it) and digital form. 

You can read more about The Pray-ers/Book 1 Troubles by clicking here.  You can also find out more about it on Facebook and Twitter.  I think this is a book you might want to learn more about before you read it to see if it is a book for you.  My friends on the Homeschool Review Crew have been reading this book too.  You can read their thoughts on it by clicking the banner below.
The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles
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Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday Fun - Birthday Party Edition

It has been a fun, but very busy few weeks for us.  We go camping over Labor Day weekend and this year it included Little Miss’ birthday!  Don’t worry she wanted to go camping for her birthday!  It is a tradition she loves.  Our Labor Day camping doesn’t always fall on her birthday, but this year it happened to.  So this girl was able to get not 1 birthday party from us, not just 2 birthday parties from us, but 3 birthday parties and a birthday lunch, wait no she ended up getting 2 birthday lunches.  She totally lucked out this year because of how the calendar fell.  We do make birthdays a HUGE deal in our house.  They are an unofficial national holiday and they are the day we get to celebrate whoever’s birthday it is.  We don’t spoil our kids every single year with big parties, but every couple of years and on milestone birthdays they do get to have a party with friends.  We learned years ago it was easier to have the family party one day and a friend birthday party another day so that neither friends nor family get ignored during the party.  So that is part of the reason that Little Miss ended up with so many parties this year.  Her first party was really not much of a party.  It really just consisted of cake I made and took camping with us and all of our friends who were there where we camp sang Happy Birthday to her.  It got dark very fast on the day of her birthday because it also happened to be the day most of the families came up camping so they were busy setting up late so she got to open a couple of presents from us the next morning.  On her birthday, we also went over to a neighboring town near where we camp and she got to have birthday lunch #1.  When we got home from camping we went to lunch with Grandma and Grandpa and we got to celebrate her birthday with them just a little so that is how she got birthday lunch #2.  So how did she get parties 2 and 3?  They were scheduled.  We knew we would be gone over her birthday, but she hasn’t had a birthday party with friends for a few years now so we decided this year was a good year for a friend birthday party.  We had the family birthday party the day after the friend party because Sundays work for the family to get together.  As I share some pictures of the birthday fun, I will also give you some tips of how we made it all work (this year it was definitely a “we” effort as hubby helped me tons!).

1.  Keep birthday parties with friends small  -  We let Little Miss only invite 4 friends.  This kept the party small, kept the cost down, and it allowed her to focus on each of the friends that came to the party.
A Glimpse of Normal Blog, Friday Fun, Birthday, Jungle, Monkey, Cake, Cupcakes, friends,
Cupcakes and snacks for the friend party.  They got to decorate the bottom row of cupcakes as one of the party activities.

2.  Plan ahead  -  Little Miss chose her jungle theme since she loves monkeys and then from there I planned out party snacks, decorations, and party favors.
3.  Decorate simply  -  I like for Little Miss to pick a birthday theme and then I can base my decorations on that theme.  This year I truly lucked out when she picked monkeys and the jungle because as soon as I started searching Pinterest (of course I had to search there) I found vines were the common party theme for jungles and monkeys.  I created paper bag vines by cutting paper bags in strips, taping the strips together and then twisting the vines.  Then I just added in streamers and balloons from the dollar store.  I also found a cute flower garland on Amazon that matched my jungle theme.  Since I was making the vines and getting the other things from the dollar store, I felt I could splurge for the garland that was around $5.  Little Miss loved her jungle and the girls thought it was pretty cool (family also loved it the next day at the family party).
We turned the living room and dining room into a jungle
4.  Keep the party simple  -  For the friends party, we knew we had only a couple of hours.  So we planned out 3 activities plus eating cupcakes and opening gifts.  This was just the right amount of time and activities.  The girls really seemed to have fun.  For the family party we did lunch, presents, and then cake and ice cream.  Lunch for 20ish family members (I didn’t do an exact count that day) was taco salads.  Taco salads are cost effective and fill people up.  I love to feed people without breaking the budget. 
Party favors!
5.  Have fun!!!  The day is all about the birthday person so make them feel special and loved.
This is her cake for her family party.  She liked the thin frosting look.  I added the monkey stickers to block out her name.

What do you do for birthday parties?  Do you go all out?  I would love to hear how your family celebrates.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Help Teaching Pro Subscription (Elementary Focus) - Review of

Sometimes as a homeschool parent it is hard to find just the resource you are looking for to supplement your school.  It seems like when you do a general search you find things you don’t want, sites you have to pay per page for, or sites that have limited free resources, but this is not the case with the Help Teaching Pro Subscription from that we have been reviewing lately. is not only full of worksheets, quizzes, and tests for a multitude of school subjects and grades, but you can even create your own tests, quizzes, and worksheets on their, o online site.  We have found this site, once again, to be a valuable resource for our school.
Help Teaching Pro Subscription {}, Printable worksheets, elementary printables, elementary worksheets, elementary practice worksheets, ELA/Math/Science worksheets
Little Miss checking the answers she got right. has worksheets, quizzes, and tests for every grade level, K-12, but this time we focused on the content for elementary grades, specifically for 3rd grade for Little Miss.  Since we already had the opportunity this year to review the content available for older grades (you can read that review here), I really wanted to see what they had available for younger students.  Once you sign up for your subscription you can get your student(s) signed up for their accounts.  You can link their accounts by email so you can send them their scheduled assignments, but don't worry they don't have to have an email to work on the site.  Currently Little Miss does have a safe email account so I was able to try out sending her scheduled assignments.  When I sent her a lesson or test, an email was sent to her email account that contained a link for the lesson or test.  Then she could click on the link to complete whatever I sent her.  After she finished her work, while I was grading, I could log onto my account at HelpTeaching and check out the results.  I remembered from the last review that you can’t just always look at the grade the task report says because sometimes there are parts the teacher has to check to  see if the student put in the right answer (usually only when they had to type in an answer).  So I always made sure to check the “Results by Question” when I was checking out the grade she received on her work. 
Here you can see some of the worksheets and lessons we tried (you will also see a couple I assigned my son)
Some of the Language Arts options for worksheets
Looking around this site I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to use first for Little Miss.  For 3rd grade, they have worksheets, lessons, and quizzes ready to use for several areas of English/Language Arts, Math,  Science, Seasonal and Holidays, and Graphic Organizers.  I also looked in 2nd grade since that is the grade she just completed to see what was offered in that grade for a little review for her.  Anyway, within each subject there are a lot of categories that Little Miss could work on.  I chose to use a few of the English resources for her first.  I chose some worksheets that would be like a review for her because they were concepts we touched on last year and then I chose some that I knew would be a challenge for her because we haven’t learned the concepts that the worksheet is checking yet.  I really just wanted to see what she knew and what she had picked up just from the amount of reading we do.  The worksheets that featured concepts Little Miss knew, she enjoyed working on.  The worksheets that featured new material really challenged her and I found that she really didn’t know the concept.  One particular lesson that she struggled on was writing the date.  We briefly covered this last year, but she didn’t remember any of it which was clearly evident in her answers.  So now I have added that concept to my list of things to teach her.  I also had her work on some “Informational Stories and Texts” worksheets.  These lessons had her read a story and then answer questions based on the story.  I like having her complete these because they help her pick out the details when reading which is something I have really been working on with her.  She likes completing these because they are much shorter than her daily reading and she is usually pretty good at picking out the important details.  She also worked on some of the spelling lessons on the site.  She is a girl after my own heart and thought the spelling lessons were really fun.  I asked her why she thought they were fun and she said, “Spelling is just fun!”    I also had her try a 3rd grade Grammar review.  I knew there was a lot on this review that she wouldn’t know about because we had not covered all the grammar covered in this review yet, but I wanted her to try it just to get an idea of where she is at with grammar.  We haven’t focused a lot on grammar in the past, but are focusing more on it this year.  She didn’t do too bad, but she was really frustrated that she didn’t know the material yet even though we haven’t covered it yet.  I have had her work on a couple of math worksheets and she has asked if she can work on some of the holiday stuff on an upcoming trip.  Once again I feel like there are so many resources that even though we have been using worksheets from the Pro Plan regularly, we have barely scratched the surface of the elementary levels in the review time period.  I guess that isn’t a bad thing because we were given a year long subscription so I can continue using this site and work our way through all of their great resources.
There are a lot of Seasonal Lessons that are available for use
Overall I continue to be very impressed with the selection of quizzes, tests, worksheets, and lessons included with the Pro Plan from  I still feel like they are a good supplement to any curriculum, but they would probably not work as the entire curriculum for the elementary grades unless you were creating a LOT of your own content. My daughter also liked using the site and has asked to do many more of the worksheets and lessons on this site.  She likes having her assignment emailed to her and then when it is her turn to use the computer she can get from her email to the assignment.  She also enjoyed the times I printed off the worksheets for her.  The Pro Plan subscription includes unlimited access to their online Test Maker to create custom tests and worksheets, unlimited access to their online tests and worksheets, the ability to make and save your own tests and worksheets on their site, pre-made premium content, and more for a very reasonable price of $24.95 per year which I think is worth the money.
This is where I would go back in and check to make sure Little Miss' answers were right for the ones I had to grade.
You can connect with on their website, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.  You can find out more about the Help Teaching Pro Subscription here.  Please go and check out all they have to offer.  You can also check out what my friends on the Homeschool Review Crew think about this product by clicking the banner below. 
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Friday, September 9, 2016

Friday Fun: Fondant Edition

A couple of weeks ago I showed you how I make cakes.  I really do have a lot of fun making them and I love to see what the person they are made for thinks of them.  Over the years I continue to try new techniques and methods to challenge myself and sharpen my skills.  I am not a professional by far.  I have a LOOOONNNNG way to go before I ever get close to being a professional with cakes, but I keep playing and trying.  I learn by doing so I just keep doing.  A couple of years ago on Pinterest I found this recipe for fondant from Cookies and Cups and I knew I wanted to try it.  Why?  I have bought the boxed fondant from a craft store in the past for little projects and I can tell you, it tastes terrible.  So when I found the recipe for marshmallow fondant on Pinterest I knew I wanted to try it.  It is inexpensive to make and you would be amazed how much it makes.  I have used this recipe for fondant a few times over the years and it is super easy to work with and super moldable.  Coming back to this week, I am in the process of making my daughter's birthday cake.  Last night as I was making my fondant and rolling out what I wanted I thought I would share the process with you in pictures.  You will have to come back next week to see the finished cake....

1.  I made my fondant according to the recipe, but I cut it in half  because I don't need a ton of fondant for this cake.  It turns out white so you can color it whatever color you want.

2.  I colored my fondant.  I used Wilton Icing Colors and Gel Icing Coloring.  I am not brand loyal at this point, it is whatever color I pick up at whatever craft shop I am at that matches the color I picture in my head.  (Probably one reason I am not a professional yet).  To color the fondant, I put in a few drops of coloring and rub in more shortening and a touch of powdered sugar.  This helps it mix in evenly.  Please note on my purple fondant I left it looking tie-dyed on purpose.

3.  I got ready to cut out my shapes.  I bought this nestled cookie cutter set the other day at the store.  The center flower was the perfect size for the project I am doing and it was cheap.  I think I picked up this whole set for less than $3.

4.  I rolled out my fondant pretty thin so it would be extra moldable.  It was about 1/8" thick.  Then I just started cutting out flowers.  Make sure you have some powdered sugar on your counter before rolling out the fondant or you end up with a mess stuck to your counter....not telling how I know this.  :)

5.  I shaped the flowers how I wanted them and set them in my mini muffin pan to help them dry into shape and store them until they go on the finished cake.  

I made 4 different colors of flowers although the colors aren't showing up great in the pictures.  My camera was not cooperating with getting the true colors.  I have hot pink, violet, blue violet, and pale pink flowers.  What do you think?  Is this a project you would tackle?   Come back next week and see the finished cake!!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

CHSH Download Club from Review

If you are like me and you teach 2 completely different grades, you are always looking for products that you can use for both students while not breaking the bank.  This is exactly what I found when I was recently given an Annual Subscription to the CHSH Download Club from to review.  I was super excited to start digging through this website because it is truly jam packed full of great content to download for subscribers.
Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}, homeschool, education, teach, curriculum. worksheets, lapbooking, notebooking is an online site that offers over 50,000 downloadable pages of educational material for their subscribers.  This site was started by Lynda Ackert who is an experienced public school teacher and a veteran homeschooler.  She has created the majority of the downloads on the site.  It has content for students from Preschool through 12th grade in a multitude of subjects.  There is really something for every homeschool student on this site.  Once you become a Download Club subscriber, not only can you download the content already on the site, you can also upload your personally created units.  CHSH is frequently adds new content for its members and not only do they have their annual subscription, they also have a lifetime subscription. 

I am so excited for these Literature Studies, I can't wait to use them later this year!
I was very excited to receive access to my Annual Subscription because I found many resources that I thought I could use in our school for each of my kids and I was right.  CHSH is filled with downloads for just about every subject.  I found ones I wanted to check out for Geography, Social Studies, Math, Literature studies, Health, Character studies, Science, and Spanish just to name a few.  I found resources that will work for Buddy for 8th grade and ones that will work for Little Miss for 3rd grade.  I was blown away by the amount of materials I found.

This year for Buddy we are studying the Civil War for History.  We have also been working on learning about the Election process since it is a current event and it is receiving so much attention.  So once I logged in, I headed right to the Social Studies subject area.  I knew I wanted to look and see what was available for Buddy’s history classes since we are not using a boxed curriculum.  I was very excited to find several resources for the Civil War and I promptly downloaded the Student Textbook resource.  We have read through a couple random sections in this book that go along with the Civil War subjects we have started studying (it is an enormous topic that we are breaking down into small, manageable bits).  I love the lessons it has planned out to go along with the reading and the teaching prompts for the lessons.  They might be designed for more than just one student, but I found them easily adaptable.  I also marked in our school planner when we will use the other resources for the Civil War that CHSH has available because they are on very specific topics that we will be covering later on in the year.  The next area I checked out for Buddy was also in Social Studies and it is all about Elections.  We have been using the resource on the Electoral College because it is more in depth than the resource I originally planned to have him use to study this topic.  Buddy has been reading through this resource and answering the questions I created for him from the reading.  We also have been working through the “Election Analysis” resource which has him paying more attention to the candidates, their campaigns, and the advertising they do.  This one we work on about once a week because I want him to see how the campaigns change as it gets closer to the election.  I have also printed off a couple of fun review packets for him.  They are for grade levels below him, but it never really hurts to review past concepts in my opinion.  I have also been searching through the worksheets for ones that I can print off and take with us on an upcoming trip so that we can still work on school, but not have to carry extra books with us.
Elementary Grammar Workbook Page
This year for Little Miss we are using a boxed curriculum, but there are some parts of it that I feel that they don’t go in depth enough with like Grammar.  I downloaded the Elementary Grammar workbook for her to work through.  Using this resource I can easily break it down into quick parts for each day, teach her the Grammar concept for the day and then let her write out her answers.  She is doing very well on the Grammar book and it is better for her to just work on one concept at a time.  I also love the Character Studies resource on this site.  I downloaded it and printed it out.  It took quite a few pieces of paper, but I feel that it is well worth it.  Little Miss has already worked through the first character trait presented in this study which is “Grateful.”  We discussed what the trait was and looked for it in our daily reading.   Through the worksheets on this trait she looked for it being demonstrated at home, at church, and just in general.  It lead to some good conversations and there was one particular day she was having a grouchy day and all I had to do was ask her if she was showing her character trait and she changed her attitude.  I love that what she is learning is sticking with her and she is focusing on showing it to others.   I also printed off one of the second grade review packets for her to do on our first day of school just to see what she remembered.  She had so much fun completing the packet that she wrote me a note at the end of it begging me to print off more packets like this.  So I have printed off more of the second grade review packets and a couple of the third grade review packets for her to work through on our upcoming trip.  I am also very excited about the Literature Studies on this site because they match some of the books we will be reading later this year so I put sticky notes in my curriculum to remind myself to print them off at the appropriate time.

I can honestly tell you that every time I look through the resources available for members I find something else I want to use.  I also find this site to be very helpful and encouraging as there are also resources for organization, classroom helps, an active forum where you can chat with other members and homeschoolers, and it links to their Facebook Group where you can also interact and ask questions you may have about homeschooling and the resources CHSH offers.  I feel like this site is an amazing price for what you get and once my annual subscription is up, I am highly considering purchasing the lifetime membership.  You definitely get a lot for very little money.  They do have free resources available for you to download on their website and  if you subscribe to their newsletter, she sends out more freebies.

You can find out all about by visiting their website.  There are also several places you can find them on Social Media – Facebook Group, Facebook Page, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ Group, Google+ Business Page, Linked-In, and Tumblr.  You can learn more about the CHSH Download Club here.  I hope that you check out this resource for yourself and see if it works for your family.  My friends on the Schoolhouse Review Crew have been checking out this membership too so please go and find out what they found by clicking the banner below.
Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}