Posted in family, Jacob, Joseph, Joy

Blogging A to Z – “J” is for…


So after another brief hiatus, I am back with my blogging a to z homeschooling challenge.  The letter is “J”, which for me stands for Jacob and Joseph – two of the reasons I love homeschooling and joy.

Our oldest son is about to turn 21 years old, and I can not figure out where the time has gone.  Jacob is the reason our family began homeschooling.  He was placed in a classroom with a teacher who did not care for our child in the least.  With only two fifth grade classes in the school, we did not have any options there.  Transferring him would mean transferring all of our children, which was not an option either.  Private school was an even more unreachable possibility due to finances.  So homeschooling became our choice.  Jacob began to love his siblings again versus the typical anti-sibling feelings of his friends.  He also developed an incredible bond with his baby sister, who was 4 at the time this homeschooling journey began, that continues to this day.  I have watched him excel in AWANAS, scouts (making the rank of Eagle Scout in 2012), and a heart for service that includes plans to become a Youth Pastor.  Homeschooling definitely helped this child in many ways.

Next, “J” is for Joseph, our second son.  This child began his homeschooling journey as he began the third grade, a year after we began homeschooling our oldest.  Joseph was one of those children who for the most part was a pleasure to teach.  He quickly decided he wanted to do the same things as his brother – this included receiving his rank of Eagle Scout the same day as his older brother (even though they are two years apart.  Joseph brings a lot of happiness to our home.

Finally, “J” is for the joy that comes from homeschooling.  I find great joy in being with my children each day.  I find joy in the ties that are between our four children.  Don’t get me wrong, they all have their moments, but let someone else mess with one of them and the other three will have their back.  Also, there is joy in knowing we don’t have to follow a traditional school calendar.  Instead, we tend to homeschool during the summer when it is too hot to be outside and can enjoy days off when the temperature is more pleasant.  Since we moved to Texas in 2016, this is definitely a plus.

So what does “J” bring to mind for you.  I would love to hear from you.

Posted in Electives, Homeschool Review Crew Posts, Homeschooling

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from The Typing Coach Review


We all need more typing practice at our house, especially considering I have three high school students, a college-aged student plus a husband whose job demands a lot of typing on his computer daily.  So I definitely wanted our family to try The Typing Coach Online Typing Course created by The Typing Coach.  This is an online course which includes a one-year subscription.


Do you have family members who use the “hunt and peck” method or the two-finger method for typing.  If so, this course will be perfect for that individual.  This course is designed to help the user become not only efficient at typing, but also to master the skill of typing well. The student works at their own pace, using audio, visual and written instructions.  I loved that the program stressed typing without looking at the keyboard.  Instead, the students learn to master where the keys are which helps increase speed and accuracy.  The student completes lessons as well as assessments to practice and demonstrate how well they are mastering the lessons.

Another thing I love about this course is that the assessments are basically self-scoring.  All the parent/teacher only needs to monitor what the student has done and what score they received for the assignment.  The one assessment that requires the parent/teacher’s input is determining if the student has good posture or not.  This was a fairly easy thing to determine.


Students learn everything from sitting properly, meaning using good posture, to learning the home row of keys, to the bottom rows of keys,  and the top row of keys.  The course is self-paced and helps the students to learn how to type accurately without teaching a dependence of looking at the screen.


As in any family, we have certain children that I know will take on particular reviews more so than other family members.  So for this review, I decided to have our 16-year-old son complete the program.  The idea is to complete a lesson a week; however, we did not achieve that objective.  He basically did the course one day a week during the review period.  I would have to say he was fairly ambivalent about the program.

He understands the need for a typing course and felt fairly pleased with how the manner in which the course was taught.  He experienced some frustration when he made more than one mistake that he would be locked out for two days.  But once I explained that the course emphasizes accuracy and practice, he was fine with that issue.


I love how The Typing Coach Online Course offers options for those with younger children.  Even though, we do not have younger children, I know from my children’s own past experiences, the younger children are when they learn to type, the better they will do.  I also love how the parent/teacher can receive emails showing the student’s progress in the course.  All in all, I can honestly say this course is worth the money and I plan on the rest of our family taking the course eventually.  After all,  no matter what a person does in life today typing will be part of their lives – both at work, at home and to interact socially.   So students will benefit from this course.



If you would like to read more reviews of The Typing Coach Online Course, click here or on the graphic below.

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Posted in Art, Homeschooling

Artwork from Our Daughter


For a number of years now, our daughter has had one real passion – to do art.  Her goal is to eventually write and draw her own graphic novels.  But I love seeing her create other pictures as well.  The picture above is flowers she drew using a product we reviewed for the Homeschool Review Crew.  See this link if you wold like to read that post.

I love seeing all the different pictures she creates.  The other day, we were sitting at a booth waiting on Dad to come back with drinks for us.  She whipped out her handy, dandy, always present sketch pad and started drawing.  As she drew, I noticed she kept looking up at me.  I was surprised to see she had drawn this picture of me.

Here are some of the other drawings she has done recently.

I always love seeing what she creates.  In addition to drawing by hand, she also enjoys working on the computer as well.  Here are some pictures she has done on the computer.


One of the most amazing things about my daughter’s artwork is that she has never really received any formal instruction. Instead, she has learned from books, looking online and just doing what she love.  I hope you have enjoyed seeing my daughter’s artwork.  I love sharing it.


Posted in Art, Homeschool Review Crew Posts, Homeschooling, Uncategorized

Review of Thin Stix 6 Pack of Classic Colors


Basic CMYK

I am always looking for new products to do mess free art with, so I was thrilled to receive Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc.   Our 14-year-old daughter was excited to receive this product and to try it out.

Thin Stix solid tempera paint sticks allow painting without the mess. No special items such as cups, smocks, or brushes are needed.  The quick-drying formula allows them to dry in around 90 seconds while providing a paint-like finish.  They come in a variety of vibrant colors.  They work great on poster paper, cardboard, wood and even canvas.

I love the lack of mess with this product.  Being a homeschooling family, Thin Stix products would travel nicely and could even be used in the vehicle while traveling without having to worry about what kind of a mess will be left behind.  We frequently travel to see family and attend various events.  This is a product that wold be perfect for traveling.  You simply uncap, twist and paint.  Then when finished, you just put the cap back on and put the Thin Stix away.  There is no extensive clean-up required.

Thin Stix will be a powerful asset to families with children of all ages.  Regardless of the ability of the children in a household, the possibilities for use are endless.
The Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors comes with the colors: black, brown, blue, yellow, green, and red.  The company also offers other sets in a larger variety of colors including neon and metallic packs.  I feel this product would be perfect for families with children of all ages.  This to me is a tremendous advantage to this product.  Traditional tempera paints would provide the potential for incredible messes with younger children.  But with Thin Stix, you can avoid those issues.  So this allows for no more messy art while also being toxic free.

My daughter enjoyed using these, but she had found two major issues.  She felt like the tips were too large to allow for detailed work.  She also wanted to use them in a mixed media environment, but when she drew her picture in pencil, again she found the tips were too bold for the detailed work she wished to do.

One of her first pictures was of flowers she created.  Here is a picture of her working on the picture and then another of the completed picture.

Working on her picture
Working on her picture

img_2312Here she is holding the finished work.  She sets very high standards for her artwork, and she felt like the wide tips did not let her complete the picture as well as she would have liked it to be.  I think if they offered sets with thin tips as well as the wide tips, it would allow for greater creativity.

Here is her working on another picture.

img_2307And here she is still working on it.



And here she is holding her finished picture.


All in all, I would say our daughter enjoyed using the Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc.  You can find these on The Pencil Grip, Inc website as well as on Amazon.  If you visit The Pencil Grip, Inc website, be sure to check all the other amazing products they offer including pencils grips, Kwik Stix, school and office supplies and more may be found.

You can find The Pencil Grip, Inc. on social media at:



If you would like to read more reviews on Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc., click here or on the graphic below.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Homeschool Review Crew Posts, Reading

Review for Focus on the Family’s “Captain Absolutely”




My children have enjoyed reading comic books for a while now, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to Captain Absolutely from Focus on the Family.  For this particular review, I decided to have our 16-year-old son read the book.  He was excited to begin reading it.  This comic book has action and deals with the issue of ethics.


Here is his summary of the book.  In Metropolitanville, ownership of a Bible is illegal.  Josiah King was working at the library when his friend, Darren Gray (who also works at the library). dropped a sunflower seed, his favorite snack, into the main computer.  This computer ran on nuclear power from the city’s main reactor.  Josiah gets flung into a room full of Bibles, which he reads while radioactive fumes fill the room.  Josiah is transformed into a superhero, Captain Absolutely, with the help of Hana, a teenage girl who owns a fire suit, he must battle evil villans and defend God’s truth.

My son felt the story was good, but the pacing seemed off in places.  He would have liked to have been told more background on some of the characters.  However, the background information that was provided he felt was done very well.  He also liked most of the characters.  The puns/jokes in the story were well-executed in his opinion.  He was impressed that the story was not too cliched.



His favorite character was Hana because she comes in around one-third of the way through the book.  She serves as Captain Absolutely‘s sidekick.  He felt like she was one of the most realistic characters in the book.  He also felt that Hana’s mom was a very likeable character.  When Hana’s mom went against Captain Absolutely, it was for understandable reasons, so you still liked her.

While he liked Captain Absolutely, my son felt he was almost “too good”.  But from listening to my older sons talk and watching some movies made from other comic books, I think that just goes with being a super hero.  After all, super heros as in comic books do not exist in our real world.  My son also declared there were times when Captain Absolutely felt real.

He felt that most of the villans felt fake with a few exceptions.  Again, I feel like this goes along with the comic book genre and the villans portrayed in them.  Since comic books are imaginary to begin with, a lot of leeway is found in these characters.  The two villans he liked the most were Fear Chemist and to a certain extent Dr. Relative.  He also liked Nurse Grudge, even though she was not a real nurse.  She seemed to really try to help people in trouble until real help could arrive.

One of the features I really liked about Captain Absolutely was found at the back of the book.  A list of many of the characters is provided with information about them.  This allows the reader to find out things about characters if they want to read a short blurb about them.


When I asked my son who he would recommend this book to, he listed several groups.  He felt this book would be good for either girls or guys.  He felt it suited pre-teens and teenagers.  He also felt it might be a good fit for someone who was strugglign with their faith.  He also felt it would be good for anyone who likes comic books.

All in all, I feel this is a book worth reading.  As fans of Focus on the Family, I am glad to see them introduce a comic book for those that like and connect with that format.

If you would like to read more reviews of Captain Absolutely by Focus on the Family, click here or on the image below.

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You can find Focus on the Family on social media at



Posted in 2017 Blogging A to Z Challenge, Blogging A to Z Challenge, family

#BloggingAtoZChallenge – “I” is for…


I am continuing my Blogging A to Z challenge posts.  Today’s letter is “I”, which is for incredible, interesting, and imagination.

First, I have incredible children.  Our three sons and one daughter never cease to amaze me with the things they come up with daily.  They have incredible ideas, incredible determination and incredible love for each other as well as Dennis and me.

Second, our children are interesting.   They come up with interesting things to share with us each day, whether it be from their lessons, things they discover or things they do.  I love hearing what they share with us.  Our daughter is studying trees right now using a set of books from Memoria Press (watch for our review in several weeks).  After she finishes her lesson, she shares what she learned that day.  My husband loves hearing what she has to say.

Finally, our children have incredible imaginations.  They come up with the most ingenious things.  I never know what to expect from one day to the next.  When our youngest two get together and begin using their imaginations, we are often amazed by what they come up with.

So what comes to mind for you when you see the letter “I”?  I would love to hear from you.

Posted in Homeschool Planning, Homeschool Review Crew Posts, Homeschooling

Review for Only Passionate Curiosity’s Homeschool Rescue


Even though I am a veteran homeschool mom of 11 years, I was blessed to work through Homeschool Rescue from Only Passionate Curiosity.  This is an online course designed for homeschooling mothers in mind.  No matter what the ages of the children in the home are, everyone can benefit from this program.  It is designed for moms who feel overwhelmed or inadequate in mind.  The course provides a refreshing breath of encouragement and the ability to uplift the spirits of the homeschooling mother.  One of the best parts of this program is that it includes lifetime access to the program, which I really find amazing.

As the mother of three teenagers and one son in his 20s, I found the assignments in this course relevant.  The course contains five modules that cover everything from dealing with your worst days to a curriculum check up to lesson supply organization to self-esteem and rewards, to teaching children through examples as well as teaching teens and study skills for older children.


My favorite lessons were the ones dealing with troubleshooting my homeschool.  This lets me examine our homeschool in a way that ensures the goals and ideas I have for my children are correct.  Also, the Time Management Systems and Organization section was extremely helpful.  Last March our family moved from Pennsylvania where we lived in a house that was approximately 3000 square feet to Texas where our home is less than 2000 square feet.  So organization is important.  Also, we are still trying to figure out exactly how we want to fit in our local homeschooling community.  So the lessons here provided some great suggestions and ideas.

There are several bonuses including a members-only Facebook Group where Heather of Only Passionate Curiosity interacts with the members on a personal level.  It is a great place to talk with other moms who are dealing with the same type of issues, problems or experiences that I am.

Each module contains videos to watch, transcripts to read, audio downloads, homework/workbooks, as well as resources and links for further information.  The videos were engaging and informative.  The homework was also manageable.  It is suggested to complete a module a week, but this may vary based on your own level of involvement and the details you need to include.  One of the best things I read on the Facebook members only group from Heather of Only Passionate Curiosity is the reminder this is a marathon rather than a sprint.  It is more important to complete it accurately and completely than to rush through it and not give it the attention each lesson deserves or requires.  Some lessons and homework assignments, I find would best be done with your spouse so both of you have input.


Homeschool Rescue will be for sale from now through June 1 and the next “live” class runs June through July.  Because Heather at Only Passionate Curiosity wants to be able to give individualized attention to those completing the course, Homeschool Rescue will only be open at certain times of the year.  There are two levels to choose from including the e-course and the VIP level.  The VIP level includes everything the e-course contains, but also provides for three personal one on one sessions with Heather of Only Passionate Curiosity.

Here are some pictures of some screen shots of some of the lessons.


Here is a picture of one of the homework sheets I completed.


I definitely recommend this program.  It is worth the money.  If you wish to read more reviews, either click here or on the image below.


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You can find Only Passionate Curiosity and Homeschool Rescue on social media at:

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Posted in Homeschool Review Crew Posts, Homeschooling, IEW

Review of Institute for Excellence in Writing’s High School Essay Intensive



High school writing can be overwhelming with preparing for SAT and college applications so I was excited to receive High School Essay Intensive from Institute for Excellence in Writing (or IEW as it is commonly known) for our family.  With three students in high school, a college-aged son and a husband who is planning on getting his Master’s degree, this program seemed like a perfect fit for our family.   We have used other programs from IEW, so I already knew my children would probably like it and it would be a good fit.  Since I already had plans for our children to do this program, I was excited for this opportunity to complete this review.  This course includes DVDs and handouts for the student use.  Ther are approximately 6.5 hours of video on the DVDs to watch.

The program consists of four different parts.  The first part, which makes up the majority of the program examines general strategies for essay writing.  This is very general in nature and goes over topics such as what an essay is, different types of essays, and other basic topics common to any type of essay a student may be called on to write.

The second part of the program goes over understanding and preparing for the NEW ACT Essay.  This section examines topics that are specific to the NEW ACT Essay.  It covers general guidelines from ACT, types of Essay prompts, deciding topics and details, and streamlined outlines.  Students and parents are encouraged to visit the NEW ACT Essay website to get additional topics for students to practice writing essays for the New ACT Essay.

The third part looks at understanding and preparing for the Redesigned SAT essay.  It examines general guidelines from the College Board, understanding a critical anaylsis essay, annotation, and templates for easy outlining.  Again, it is suggested to visit the SAT website to get additional topics for the students to practice.

The final section provides strategies for the Personal Essay.  This section includes general guidelines, types of essays and prompts, determining topics and details, along with standing out from the crowd.  This section is geared entirely towards the type of essay students may be called on to write for college applications that tells about themselves.  , The course concludes with final practice.

I decided it was best for our family to through these sections in order.  So we have been working on the General Strategies for Essay Writing.  The seminar begins with Mr. Andrew Pudewa providing some general information.  Then he goes over two different topics for the students to possibly write about for 20 minutes.  Once he reads the topics, the DVD is paused and students write for 20 minutes.  I felt this was good preparation for  timed essay writing.  My husband and oldest son finished before the 20 minutes was up.  However, my younger three could have all wrote longer.  My daughter even complained that she did not finish.

The seminar then moves into what an essay is as well as the different formats for essays. My one complaint with this part is that Mr. Pudewa is writing on a white board and I was unable to read what he wrote.  If a student has bad eyesight, this may prove problematic if watching on a television set from a distance.  I did like the fact that Mr. Pudewa encouraged notetaking.  I feel it might be helpful if students had some prior knowledge about how to take good notes, or if they may need to re-watch portions of the seminar to make sure they get everything.

This the first program from IEW my husband has done with us.  He was pleasantly surprised by how much the children enjoyed the program.  I think he was also somewhat astounded at how much our youngest (our only daughter) enjoyed writing and expressing her opinions.  He was impressed by how involved our children became in the seminar.  He also appreciated how Mr. Pudewa was able to keep the students and our children engaged.

The pictures below show what came in the kit the we received from IEW.  I like how the box keeps everything organized and is able to stand upright on my bookshelves.


These pictures show samples of the inital timed essay some of our family wrote.

The pictures below show some of the notes members of our family took during the seminar.

If you wish to read more reviews on High School Essay Intensive, click here or on the graphic below.

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Posted in Blogging A to Z Challenge, family, Homeschooling

#BloggingAtoZchallenge – “H” is for



So even though I fell behind with April’s Blogging A to Z challenge, I have decided to persevere and finish – even if it is at my own pace.  So the letter for today is “H”.  “H” for me is for hearts, helpful, and hard work.

First, homeschooling allows us to keep our childrens’ hearts close to ours.  We get to spend time with them and see the wonderful people they are becoming.

We also get to be helpful.  We can serve in our communities for organizations such as our Army Reserve unit’s Family Readiness group, programs at the Salvation Army and other things that come up in our community.

“H” is also for hard work.  It takes hard work and dedication to keep all of our children on track and to find curriculum choices that satisfy them.

So what does “H” bring to mind for you?  I would love to hear from you.

Posted in Book Reviews, Books, Homeschool Review Crew Posts, Homeschooling

Review for Lamplighter Publishing’s The Secret Bridge


I was so excited to receive my copy of  The Secret Bridge from Lamplighter Publishing and begin reading this one myself.  When we first began our homeschooling journey over 10 years ago, Lamplighter Publishing was one of the first companies I developed an extreme fondness for at our first homeschooling convention.  Their books look like they belong on the most beautiful bookcase shelves one can find.  So when I received my copy of The Secret Bridge, I immediately allotted time for me to read the book first.  I must say this book definitely does not disappoint.

The cover is a beautiful shade of blueish-green leather with rich embossing on the cover.  The gold background framing the cover is stunning.  The paper has a rich and luxurious feel.  It is a book definitely meant for display rather than one to be hidden away. Lamplighter Publishing aims to develop “Christlike character one story at a time, and this book definitely fulfills that aim.

The story opens with descriptions and observations of the male protagonist in the story.  Godfrey Bullingham who is on a ship observing the female protagonist Bridget Channing, who is traveling alone.  Immediately, I was drawn into the world of these two characters.  The descriptions and details made me feel as though I was actually present in the story.

Bridget Channing finds herself penniless and alone and determined to make it on her own. Godfrey Bullingham feels the need to care for Bridget.  Bridget has a determined and practical nature that will not let her accept the kindness of strangers.  But Godfrey perseveres and convinces Bridget to marry him.  Because Godfrey must go away, he tucks Bridget away with some kind strangers to her, who live near Godfrey’s parents.  He tells her to win the affections of his family and once he returns they will tell them of their marriage.  Secrets help to complicate what otherwise might have been a simple life.

This book contains twists and turns that keep the book interesting.  Some I wished to be the case, and others came as somewhat as a prize.  The one thing this book, like every other Lamplighter Publishing book I have read, include a robust and unmistakable Christian message.  In this case, Bridget learns about God and Jesus Christ and comes to lean on Him.  She eventually develops a genuine and meaningful relationship with God and Jesus Christ.  Because I do not wish to give the plot away further and spoil the book, I will leave the story line there.  I will say the chapters are reasonable in length.  I found nothing objectionable in the story or plot.  It was an easy and enjoyable book to read.

My second son who is 18-years-old also read the book.  It did not take him an unusually long time to read it either.   As he read the book, he frequently commented about how he was enjoying the book.  He found the plot twist and turns enjoyable as well.

In the future, I will have my 16-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter read this book as well.  It would also make an excellent book for reading aloud.  My one wish is for Lamplighter Publishing to eventually make this book one of their audio dramas.  It would definitely be fantastic to listen to while traveling.  I highly recommend this book.

If you wish to read more reviews on The Secret Bridge by Lamplighter Publishing, either click here or on the graphic below.

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