Thursday, January 7, 2021

SchoolhouseTeachers.com: A Homeschool PreK-12 Curriculum Review


DISCLOSURE: I received this product FREE through the Homeschool Review Crew.  I also receive commissions for items purchased through links in this post.



So, here we are.  Diving into 2021, ready or not.  When it comes to lesson planning and curriculum, things don't always work out the way we plan.  And clearly, our plans for 2020 in general didn't exactly pan out, right? Sometimes there are gaps we don't anticipate.  Other times a good idea completely fails due to learning differences.  If you're in need of options and alternatives, then keep reading for my review of Ultimate PreK-12 Annual Membership from SchoolhouseTeachers.com.  


SchoolhouseTeachers.com Logo

Review Product:

This membership provides complete access to their entire digital curriculum offerings and resources for all grades.  


Who Is This Product For?

Any family with access to a computer and printer can find useful content for home education.  It is especially great for families with multiple children.

How SchoolhouseTeachers.com Works:

With the Annual Membership, parents can build an education for multiple children however they see fit.  There are multiple ways to search - by grade, by subject or simply browse collections.   One of their latest additions is boxed curriculum for every grade level, which provides a complete program for an entire grade level complete with lesson plans, electives and a host of optional further research suggestions. They also offer planning tools, a robust video library, access to World Book online encyclopedia, a members forum, and a seasonal content corner.  SchoolhouseTeachers.com is the ultimate buffet of educational content while also letting the cook choose your meal if you would like!


My Family's Experience:

I have been working with SchoolhouseTeachers.com for 4-5 years, as long as I have been associated with the Homeschool Review Crew, and it has been amazing to see the continual growth and expansion of what they make available to their members.  Since the landscape of our homeschool regularly shifts with review products, SchoolhouseTeachers.com is a constant backup and resource library.  When I need copywork pages or some math facts help, I can dig up something pretty quickly.  If there is a subject we've overlooked, I can find something to fill that gap easily.  For this review, we took a look at their new boxed curriculum for 4th grade for my oldest. While I didn't need an entire curriculum, especially over a holiday break, trying out a 4th grade Health curriculum worked well.  




If you're a regular reader, you know healthy living and how we care for our bodies is a big priority in my family.  Health principles are kind of ingrained in our daily life anyway so it hasn't necessarily been on my radar to include it in curriculum.  That being said, I LOVE the approach this class takes by infusing scripture into every lesson.  One of the main reasons I healthy living is important to me is because God has given us an amazing earth that is full of solutions for staying healthy if we'll just look for them.  So why wouldn't you teach health on the basis of scripture first?



Each class comes with a curriculum guide that shows you what to expect and plan for by the week.  In this class the authors incorporated reading from other courses as well with links provided and pdfs available.  For the well prepared parent, you have the ability to print out all elements from day one.  But as for those of us who might forget something or lose other things, you can always come back for more or have the option to save contents to your device.



In addition to building the content on religious principles, I loved the incorporation of World Book resources, including games like the one pictured below.  Digital (printable) content can sometimes feel a little boring to this ADHD brain of mine - even though the subject matter may not be - but with a variety of elements (like World Book, videos, etc.) the learning experience is good for all kinds of learners!  



As usual, SchoolhouseTeachers.com continues to surpass expectations in making home education easy, rich and full of possibilities!  If you're in the market for alternatives and options, consider trying SchoolhouseTeachers.com with your family.



Check out what other families used and their reviews through the link below:
SchoolhouseTeachers.com - Every Subject - Every Grade - Every Student {SchoolhouseTeachers.com Reviews 2021}

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Feel What You Feel. Give Others the Same Privilege.

Throughout my life's education, one of the biggest concepts that always resonated with me has been how one size just doesn't ever fit all.  We don't learn at the same rates, we don't grow at the same rates, and a cure for one might be poison for another.  As a young mother, that was always evident when babies are starting to talk and walk.  We act as though it's a race or a competition, but it's really not.  This year has given us a concentrated dose of other people's lives (while ironically being cut off directly) and too often we still aren't getting the message that we're all different.  Many celebrating holidays this week and are coming from entirely different places emotionally.  We should never buy into the idea that everyone needs to (or has to) experience it the same way.

I have loved ones who have suffered great tragic losses this year.  There are friends who have gone through massive changes in their lives.  I also know those who are suffering financially.  Some families and relationships have experienced beautiful healing and growth this year.  There are those who are simply sick themselves.  Some of us are struggling with anxiety and depression.  New babies, sad divorces, exciting marriages, new homes, job changes, and great losses.  All of these and more have happened all around us this year.  

My little brother and his beautiful family moved back to our area after spending their whole married life out of state.  The past several days I've gotten to spend time with my niece and nephews that I've not really every been able to before and it has been wonderful! There were moments yesterday when I started to feel guilty for my joy simply because I know others who struggled to enjoy the days because of personal loss or struggles.  I know it is right to be content and joyful with my circumstances  when it arises, but I have to admit the pit of guilt I had to fight off just the same.  As I thought about that, I realized how often we strive for others to experience the world like we are, but usually fail miserably.  The loss anyone is feeling right now needs to be honored by those that feel it most.  The joy of reunion and family needs to be celebrated by those that feel it most.  Our lot of celebration or mourning will undoubtedly change from what it is today so there is no need to force it somewhere it doesn't belong.  We will all celebrate and we will all mourn in due time.  


Good deeds and painful trials both deserve honor.

As we live in a free country that recognizes our freedom to live a quiet and peaceful life as suits our needs, we should honor those in our life with a similar respect to engage the world as they need to.  When we start expecting everyone to adhere the same way in holidays, in circumstances or just feeling the way we feel, we are trying to argue with the beautiful design of man.  We are made in the image of God, but as we see the complex differences between one person to the next, it is clear His image manifests itself in a variety of ways at a variety of times.

If you're mourning, honor it with everything you have.  If you are celebrating, do not let it go without great joy.  If you are growing, lean in to it to get where you are going.  If you are broken and struggling, honor it and let others lift you up.  I would never expect an essay out of my 3 year old the way I might with my 10 year old.  Even two 10 year old kids side by side can't be expected to know/perform/think the same.  Let's quit treating each other with such ignorance, but far more mercy and support.  So, as you are closing out this perpetual circus of a year, feel what you feel, but give those around you that same privilege. We are not all in this together in the same way and that has to be understood and it has to be okay.  

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

The Ace Up Their Sleeve Homeschool Parents Forget About

Every mom worries about their kids and whether or not they are doing a good job.  Homeschool moms have a special extended version of worry about doing 'enough' for their children's education and preparation for adulthood.  When the job comes down to you most days, it's a lot to carry around.  If you're feeling the weight of that responsibility right now, I want to remind you to remember this.  As a homeschooling family, you have twice as many days to accomplish what public schools set out to do.  That means you can relax a bit!  



Here in Oklahoma, students are required to participate in school 180 days  a year, which leaves 185 more to catch up (or forge ahead) on whatever you may have missed or not gotten to.  We take a year-round schooling approach which allows us to take breaks and vacations when we want to, rather than stay attached to someone else's schedule.  I know some families are attached to other homeschooling organizations (like Epic here in OK)  that require certain deadlines, but specifically in the realm of "What if I missed something?" we have so much freedom and opportunity.  It's easy to get caught up in what others are doing that we miss the flexibility we actually hold in our own hand.  

In case you forget (because I need this reminder daily sometimes), the purpose of a child's education is to ignite abilities and desires to learn.   That learning will treat them well throughout their life.  The rest is just details and gravy. With COVID hitting our house around Thanksgiving, some things were certainly put off for a while and now with the end of the year facing us, I can see what's behind and what's not..  This week is a holiday week, but we'll still be trying to fit in some school to do our best to keep a steady pace, but wherever they are in any particular subject isn't nearly as important as if they are continuing to learn and grow in their skills.  

At the lunch table, Mr. Butler was quizzing us on math problems he was devising from a large tub of mayo. (He's an engineer - what do you expect?)  My eldest was hanging with him just fine, but after getting a little weary of it, my daughter piped up with a correct answer that was impressive, which made my son a little sulky.  The girl is good at math and her older brother doesn't exactly love that fact.  She's got a reasoning brain like her dad, but getting her to use utensils at the table or cleaning up after herself is a nightmare.  As we all are, she is brilliant and a giant work in progress. Same as her brothers.  The point is to keep working, not to fret about where we aren't.

So much has gone wrong this year that we're all expecting to complain about things before they've even happened yet.  Let's not let that seep into our homeschooling expectations.  Celebrate the victories and encourage the work that is left to be done.  Love and be loved.  We have much to be thankful for.


Saturday, December 12, 2020

Walking Together: One of 2020's BEST Gifts



Before Mr. Butler was forced to telework, he had a 30 minute commute to and from work every day.  In order to make it to the gym before work, he would leave before everyone was up most days and make it home just before dinner.  We talked on the phone often, but his new position had him in meetings more than before which meant less time to chat during work hours.  But it was our normal and that was fine.  Like the rest of the world, it was hard to see how anything could be different, even if you could argue that it should be different.  Jobs have to be tended to in order to pay the bills in order to keep families fed and protected.  Luxuries, whether in time or money, are often not an option.  So when he finally got the word to start working from home, like the rest of the world, we really didn't know what to think.  He immediately started projects he had been putting off.  I tackled things around the house to attempt better organization.  Since we homeschooled, life wasn't all that different.


Then the world went crazy and it hasn't stopped embarrassing itself yet.  Still, we spent more time talking and growing through this peculiar cocoon of life we had.  At some point over the summer, we started going on lunchtime walks with the kids around our neighborhood pond. We knew the extra vitamin D was becoming really important and the extra exercise was always welcome after being stuck inside for a bit.  Before shutdowns, I had often complained of my stuck situation of not wanting to drag kids anywhere in order for me to exercise with someone, but desperately wanted the encouragement of spending time moving with someone else.  After being a witness to the ebb and flow of homeschooling over a couple of months, Mr. Butler began to grow in perspective of what worked well and what didn't.  My sweet husband began making it a priority most days of the week to walk with us, in a large part to give us uninterrupted time to talk and walk.  The kids would occupy themselves playing so it became like a miniature lunch date.  


I would like to tell you that it single-handedly purified us of all our marital disagreements and subsequently perfected our children as well.  Sadly, that is not the case.  After about 6 months of walking together, we still hash out many an argument or end up more upset by the end than the beginning some days.  But, I'll tell you what it has done for us.  We have grown closer, empathy is getting more effective, and we enjoy each other more than ever.  Not without bouts of maddening fury because an engineer and a highly sensitive creative type are not going to sync up well without a lot of work.  However, spending most days taking about 45 minutes to process life together is teaching us to truly walk together in our marriage.  I know from a female - gotta release 40,000 words or I'm going to explode - perspective, just having time to talk and process is SO important to my mental health.  Mr. Butler's job has grown more complex and I know having the chance to just process his stuff in a non-work setting has been helpful to him as well.  This time helps us stay on the same page better simply because we're talking about it all regularly.


Now I realize that just my husband working from home still is a luxury in many regards that most couples may not have available to them.  Maybe it's not the time, but an appropriate walking space.  It is December and maybe you don't live in Oklahoma like I do where it was 75 today.  Whatever the case, I realize that my solution may not help you.  What I want you to take from this is that if something is important enough, we can find a way.  We can and should make our marriages a priority even if we don't think there is any urgency in it. Mr. Butler and I weren't setting out to make drastic changes anywhere, but through all the madness it certainly has become so.  


We know that the world will likely calm down eventually and he will have to return to work to some extent.  I'm not looking forward to that day, but we've discussed taking a remote walk together by phone which can largely have the same effect.  The encouragement is that spending extra time or rearranging certain things in your life to nurture your relationship is absolutely worth it.  And honestly, this can be applied to any relationship, not just a marriage.  If we want better friends, better parent/child, sibling or neighbor relationships, there are extra steps we can take.  Just because you can convince yourself that don't have to doesn't mean you don't need to.  Whoever you need to be better with, look for ways you can 'walk together' with them.  2020 has taught and demonstrated to us that isolation is not healthy and does not produce better lives.  Let's take that information and use it wisely in the circles we can influence.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

We Want Mail!

 


When you're a kid, there is a lot of life that you don't notice much until things drastically change.  In some ways, that is the blessing of a healthy child, I guess.  As life changes, certain staples suddenly become centerpieces.  The wall-hanging below has become one of my favorite holiday decorations that I once barely noticed as a kid.  My paternal grandparents lived a couple of hours away so visiting them was often memorable.  Christmastime was often the pinnacle of visits with all kinds of holiday baking my Grandma had done, the house fully decorated, presents and of course seeing lots of family.  On their back door as you entered into the dining room and kitchen, this wall hanging for cards and letters always hung there.  Always.  I honestly don't think it was ever spoken of or the focus of any situation I was ever a part of.  Never.  Now that my grandparents are gone, this random decoration is a time-warp for my heart and a beautiful tradition for my children.



With so much uncertainty, I'm searching for ways to fill up hearts anyway.  If you're sending out cards this month, we would LOVE to receive one from you.  Send me a message on social media and I'll send you our address.  Include your address if you'd like to receive something from us as well.  

I miss so many things about the years spent at my grandparents house, but certainly this year has made me think about all the years they saw of struggles and burdens.  This is not the first time the world has become a place none of us recognize and seeing this piece of my grandmother is such a funny comfort to me.  If our parents and grandparents before us can weather wars and depressions, we can find a way to walk through the smoke here.  So, help me life a spirit or two with some holiday mail!

Monday, November 23, 2020

Lost Perspective: What Happens When the Volume Gets Left Up High

 This past week, I pulled out some soup bones from the freezer to make a batch of bone broth.  I hadn't tried to make any for years, since we had moved and since Miss Z was little.  It's not hard, but it is a 24-48 hour process, which can be a little tiresome to the instant gratification-style attention span our culture carries with it.  At one point, I was straining the unnecessary bits out to leave a rich golden brown broth to be put in containers and I was reminded just how spoiled and foolish our society has grown.  This drawn-out process I was feeling impatient with was something my grandparents and great-grandparents would have done regularly without a thought.  In the past 150 years, so much has happened that put the world in fast forward mode in some ways.  Cars, the assembly line, electricity, telephones. Our entire concept of time has been changed. And then wars and horrible evils being played out that my generation has only read about.  The delicate nature of our health has ebbed and flowed a hundred times over.  



As I was cooking in my kitchen of modern convenience, I thought of how a woman 150 years ago might have passed her time as she prepared the evening meal.  She would not have had wireless headphones and a mobile phone to watch or even the latest news to ignore in the background.  It's humorous to watch a favorite sitcom and observe how time can be counted by the size of a cell phone or just the advancement of technology.  It's funny, but doesn't that show you just how quickly life has sped up and extremely different our modern age is?  As teenagers forget that money doesn't grow on trees, we forget that the world has not always been this fast.

As you witness all the passive aggressive - and sometimes flat out aggressive - language being shoved around about elections, masks, evils and champions, remind yourself to breathe.  Just because we can participate in something doesn't always mean we should.  Our advancements of technology and invention have brought many wonderful things to our world and for that I am grateful.  That doesn't mean that every advancement is good for me. In this fast-paced modern society, I can drive to whatever fast-food chain I want and get dinner made for me for a nominal fee, but life is better for my family when I cook dinner.  If I want to declare on social media that every person who does not agree with me on any particular issue of the day (including the one that is backed by science or affirmed by scripture and my favorite preacher) is not only moronic but doomed for societal failure, I can certainly do that.  But that doesn't mean I will change your mind and in fact it's possible that my aggression might cause more aggression.  Just because I can doesn't mean I should.

We've all felt the exhaustion 2020 has brought about largely because it has felt like so much has happened.  And, of course, a lot has happened, even in ways that have nothing to do with a virus or politics or social issues.  Still, isn't a lot of it due to the loudness of our speakers?  In a kitchen 150 years ago, a woman might sing a tune or listen to the birds outside her window.  Today, we can pipe in any music we like while also watching something on television as we mull over the post someone just made and stirred the pot on social media.  Life isn't exactly harder than it used to be, but it sure is faster and louder.  And that's a problem.

People were dying years and years before us.  Politicians were lying years and years before us.  Freedom and equality have always been up for debate. God's people have suffered and strayed.  There is nothing new under the sun.  Still, we have left the volume turned up so loudly in every room on every voice that we're losing the ability to think straight.  As much as you might demand it, not everyone agrees with your mask policy.  No matter how many scriptures I might recommend, there will still be violence to the innocent.  All the judging in the world of that mom doing her job NOT the way you think she ought to isn't going to somehow make it all better.  I'm proud to live in a relatively free country where I can raise my babies the way I believe God wants me to, but I do not believe the lie that Americans will ever agree completely on anything.  My question to you and aimed back at myself is why are we so shocked when people disagree with us?  

There is nothing in this life that truly supports the idea of one size fits all.  Even Jesus spoke in a parable about workers coming at different hours.  The gospel is designed to meet us where we are and grow us up into Him.  No conversion was exactly the same except for the gospel itself! In education, in health, in relationships, in emotional needs, we are all different and require different things at different times.  As such, we are going to disagree or at best see the world differently at first.  In our microwave lifestyle, we've gotten used to being told what we want to hear by the messages of media.  You are worth it.  You deserve it.  Eat this,  Buy that.  Listen to this.  Snub your nose at that.  We don't like being told to wait.  We don't accept that it's going to require harder work than we would like.  We resist those who would disagree with us because we can't cope with harsh realities of the world sometimes. 

I'm thankful for modern convenience and advancement, but I don't like the price tag of perspective.   When we lose our perspective, we are likely to believe anything that comes down the pike.  Giving up perspective dupes us into thinking the world has never seen struggles like this before, that we don't already have solutions for the world's troubles, and that God isn't working as we speak. So many of our complaints are first world problems - things that you complain about when you're used to life being real easy.  In reality, we have a great deal of power over the choices we make and too often complain about situations we ultimately created.  The truth is that life isn't always fair, we can't control other people and the choices we make matter.  Instead of being snarky on social media, dive into the depths of improving your circle.  Is your complaint truly a complaint or is it impatience and ungratefulness? I confess that my complaints usually consist of both.  

As we head into the final stretch of this year, let's seek perspective and wisdom, rather than blame and foolish arguments.  Our government might be in disarray and our plans might be different, but how many other countries around the world have been here before?  God is good and as Christians we need to set the bar in living that way boldly.


Friday, November 20, 2020

Name Meaning Gifts: A CrossTimber Review

I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.



When I was a kid, I remember being given a small plaque with my name and it's meaning on it.  It wasn't anything fancy, but it certainly meant a lot to me, even helped define me sometimes when I was upset.  The names we give our children might seem random sometimes, but history and my personal experience would support that a name is a powerful thing.  All three of my children embody the meaning of their names in some way, which I honestly didn't expect at the onset of motherhood.  My final review as part of the Homeschool Review Crew is of a company that is in the business of name meanings!  We're talking about CrossTimber and their variety of name meaning gifts like Name Bookmarks and AmazingName Print Activity Sheets.



What We Received:

We were given the choice between an 8x10 Name Plaque print with a printable activity set or five NameCards or Name Bookmarks with a printable activity set.  We chose five Name Bookmarks and an AmazingName Activity Set



How It Works:

Once I decided on the bookmarks, I began searching through all of the images available.  They have a wide variety of images which made it possible to choose a completely different one for every member of my family.  For example, my oldest son loves horses and I had several horse images to choose from.  Once you choose an image, then you choose what type of quote you would like at the bottom.  You can choose from a Presidential quote, a Famous Author Quote, a Bible Verse, Character Quality Definitions, or a custom quote option.  put in the name and they provide the meaning and corresponding scripture.  I chose scriptures for all of mine.  Finally, you enter the name and add the order to your shopping cart.  


The AmazingName Activity Sets are even easier to order because it simply requires entering a name.  Each set comes with 28 pages of different activities that involve the child's name.  There is everything from learning the letter your child's name starts with all the way to cursive handwriting practice.  Crossword puzzles, mazes, coloring pages, word searches, and even a craft that can be displayed on the child's desk.  It's definitely an educational, entertaining and personalized set!



What We Thought:

When I ordered the bookmarks, I really wasn't sure what my kids would think. The big kids are avid readers so at minimum a bookmark would be useful.  However, when we received them they were very impressed and excited.  There is something about having your name - and the meaning of your name- laid out and made especially for you that makes you feel extra special.  I was happy with the images and felt like they were really nice.  The one disclaimer I would make comes from my 3 year old's antics.  He loved his and I let him use it on a car ride, but before it came to an end he had pulled off the top layer of plastic.  It wasn't ruined because I could then re-laminate it with my own laminator, but it is something to beware of.  Still, it's not a shock that a 3 year old could be destructive!  The name activity set I gave to my 7 year old daughter, knowing that my 3 year old wasn't quite ready for it.  She LOVED it.  Some of it was easy, some of it was challenging.  She raved about it either way.

Both the bookmarks and the name activity sets are GREAT holiday gifts, especially for kids!  It's a really meaningful way to give a unique gift that can make the recipient feel special and loved.


Follow CrossTimber on Social Media:

Facebook: http://www.fb.com/meaning.name

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/crosstimber


Are you interested in the Name Cards or the 8x10 Plaques?  Check out reviews from the rest of the crew to see what those are like by clicking on the link below.

Name Cards, Bookcards, Activity Sheets & Plaque Personalised Gifts {CrossTimber Reviews}

Sunday, November 15, 2020

What 10 Years Can Do: A Reflection

Every one of my children's births was amazing for completely different reasons.  Ask me about them when I see you next because (like most other mothers on the planet) I love to talk about it. But there is something about that first one, no matter how perfect or broken the whole affair was, that moments from it are frozen into your heart so deeply that they almost don't feel real.  



Crunchy leaves outside beneath the huge pecan tree in our yard.  Learning to remember all the baby things for a simple trip to the store.  Agony of learning to breastfeed and the surreal joy of getting him to laugh.  Our living room was quite long, but kind of narrow with only one window in it.  In the early days after Jude was born, we rearranged furniture a bit so that his bed could be put in there during the day and he could soak up the sun to fight off a little jaundice.  There was a moment when I looked at him across the room sleeping away, the sun shining down on his sweet face, and I wanted to know who he was going to be so desperately.  What was he going to be like?  


Little did I know, much of who he was I could already see.  In that same living room, I had looked into his eyes for the first time and I saw this old soul who looked straight into my heart. He was taking me in almost as much as I was him.  My oldest son has always been an observer with a deep heart.  That little tree frog who loved to cuddle onto my shoulder as an infant still tries to sit in my lap and hug me more than all the others.  Being born in November in Oklahoma, you would expect a lot of bundling up throughout the winter, but he hated socks and hats caused him to get too hot.  He is still much more comfortable in shorts regardless of the weather.



What I didn't know was how naturally athletic he would be.  He loves playing ball of just about any kind and picks things up so quick, which makes his dad a tad envious!  I didn't know how easy and hard it would be to have a boy.  I also didn't know how I was going to royally mess things up while still getting some important things really right.  I didn't expect 10 to be here yet.  I guess that happens when you have a 3rd child that looks just like the oldest one and you get busy.  So here I am, with a 3 year old miniature version of my first one except he acts nothing like him, and a 10 year old that is learning to become a man, piece by piece. And suddenly I realize I could start really taking notes in church now.  I haven't been able to maintain that for over 10 years!


More than anything, I never imagined how much he would be like me and how much that would challenge me to grow.  I'm not the same person I was the moment he was finally born and I was in shock that he was a boy.  That naïve and idealistic girl has gotten more wake up calls than I'd like to admit, but I've also been given much more than I deserve.  I've always been really sensitive to the state of mind other people are carrying around and (for better and worse) he is the same.  If he could, he would just live on a farm and take care of animals all day, or go hiking or go fishing or just be outside. He loves with his WHOLE heart and feels despair deep.  It's a beautiful thing, but, as I know all too well, it can spin out of control really fast.  And If I am to expect him to manage himself, then I need to do the same.  That is something I'm still working on, but we're all growing together.  And for that I'm very thankful.



When other people's children have turned 10, it really wasn't that big of a deal to me because socially I think we fixate on 13, 16 and 18.  But let me tell you, 10 is a DECADE! To the mom, it's a big deal and it has brought me to this place where I'm evaluating my entire motherhood journey because of the milestone and where everyone is at right now.  Who I thought I would be or even wanted to be is, well. complicated at best.  My baby is still really cute and a lot of fun.  My daughter is still snuggly but becoming a a really good helper when she stays on task.  And my oldest is a doing really ok - not perfect, not done growing - but doing okay. Considering what I mess I feel half the time, I think it's really important to say that out loud!  When Jude was born, the spotlights of my mind shifted drastically and seem to have been twirling around ever since.  This year, for all of its hassles and heartaches, has brought some really powerful blessings.  I turned 40, my son turns 10, I like my husband more than I did last year, and I'm learning to cope with myself in ways I've never thought possible.  I miss that sweet cuddle bug and wish I could give that brand new mom a hug and some better advice than what she was telling herself.  But I'm in awe of some of the things we have navigated and bounced back from.  Even though it's complicated, my momma heart is so full.  Happy 10th Birthday!






Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Adventures of Rooney Cruz RINGLEADERS: A Truth Becomes Her Review

I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Growing up I had two brothers and no sisters.  In college I was a nanny for two little boys.  Since my experience was dominated by boys, having a little girl of my own was an entirely new affair.  Even today as the boys are 10 and 3 and my girl is 7, the difference between girls and boys are striking.  And my girl is a tomboy and keeps up with the best of them!  Still, her heart is just an entirely different thing.  The beauty of that also offers a challenge of encouraging her with the right combination of sensitivity and adventure.  Today I have the pleasure of reviewing a group of items that strives to touch that tenacious spirit through some great examples in the Bible.  We are talking about The Adventures of Rooney Cruz RINGLEADERS and a collection of books from Truth Becomes Her.




What We Received:

We received 4 separate items:

-The Adventures of Rooney Cruz RINGLEADERS, a hardback book written by Erin Weidemann.

-RINGLEADERS: Journal for Mothers and Daughters, a paperback book full of writing prompts for mothers and daughters to explore together.

-Ringleaders: A Devotional for Girls, a paperback book for girls to read on their own.

-Ringleaders Coloring Book, a coloring book featuring scenes from the story and scriptures.




How It Works:

RINGLEADERS is a fictional story about Rooney who gets a visit from Mari, a small angel who has the ability to peek in to stories in the Bible and take Rooney with her.  Throughout the book, Rooney is taught helpful truths from women of the Bible and the obstacles they had to overcome along side her own circumstances she finds herself in.  Depending on the age of your girl, this book can be read aloud or she can read it on her own.  My daughter is 7 and she read it on her own just fine.  Along with the story book, the devotional book includes illustrations from the storybook and daily devotions, scriptures and activities.  It can be read on its own, but would lend itself to great discussions if read together between adult and child. The Journal for Mothers and Daughters gives even more space for mom and daughter to respond to each other and to ideas presented in scripture and the book.  Finally, there is a beautiful coloring book that is an anytime anywhere element to remind the girls of scenes and scriptures as they color.



What We Thought:

Because my 10 year old is the oldest in our family, he has gotten more than his fair share of review items over the years.  So when my daughter found out she was getting items only for her, she was really motivated!  Then to discover it was for me to do along with her, she was so happy!  She immediately sat down and started reading.  While she could read all of it on her own, the various different ways I could engage with her on it was really good for her as well as our relationship.  She can get lost in the shuffle sometimes as the middle child and only girl, but this offers a great opportunity for me to focus entirely on her. So much of our culture offers empty or shallow stories and concepts that when we discover something so rich, it's important to dig in! We had never heard of the Bible Belles series, but after this we will certainly look up other books!

Overall, we loved these products and would recommend them for an upcoming holiday or birthday gift for your favorite girl!




Follow Truth Becomes Her on Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BibleBelles

Instagram: https://www.instagram/truthbecomesher/


Do you have a daughter older than 7 and wondering if these books would still be a good fit?  Check out other family's reviews below for an older perspective.

The Adventures of Rooney Cruz RINGLEADERS {Truth Becomes Her Reviews}

Friday, November 6, 2020

Bible Unearthed: A Drive Thru History® Adventures Review

I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.



As much as technology creates a complicated world, our advanced society makes some amazing things possible.  The ability to access historical sites and far away places through our computers and television is an amazing blessing!  The product I am talking about today takes us to some significant places and evidences that my family might never get to see in person, but we are blessed with understanding thanks to technology.  A few years ago, we were first introduced to David Stotts and the Drive Thru History® Adventures through The Gospels collection.  This time we are reviewing a brand new adventure called Bible Unearthed that focuses on archeology and it's importance to the Bible.  


What We Received:

We received lifetime access to the digital course Bible Unearthed.  



How It Works:

Bible Unearthed is a digital 12-part series featuring David Stotts, the host of Drive Thru History, Titus Kennedy, PhD, an archaeology expert, and Randall Niles, a Drive Thru History writer.  Within each lesson or part, there is an accompanying article, activities for deeper understanding and worksheets with answer guides.



With this program being a digital course, it is very versatile and can be used in a variety of ways.  A straightforward way to use this course is to watch the video, read through the companion article, complete the optional activities and worksheet.  This approach can be done as a family or assigned to  individual students.  The videos alone are an awesome resource for groups especially in an educational setting.  Since the course covers archeology, history and the Bible, it is a great supplement to unit studies in any of these areas.  The focus on archaeology allows viewers to understand what being an the archaeologist profession truly looks like.  I can imagine doing a survey of different professions in middle school or high school and certainly including this program. With archaeology and history overlapping so much, there are so many ways to intertwine Bible Unearthed with History curriculum in any given semester.  The provided worksheets included scripture reading that often ties in people or places of the Bible that archaeology has proved to be true. This can support a family's Bible study in all kinds of ways, especially faith building.


What We Thought:

My children are 9, 7 and 3 so it made the most sense to use this program as a family.  The video episodes are generally between 13 and 20 minutes long so they were happy to watch several videos in a row if we let them.  The worksheets for us were best used as a discussion tool and prompt, but as they get older could be utilized as comprehension and further study.

I don't know that any of my kids show great interest in archaeology as a profession so far, but understanding the great artifacts that have been discovered that confirm different parts of the Bible is a huge value to me!  It is so easy to feel disconnected with the Biblical world and our modern day world, to the point that we can unconsciously start thinking much of it is made up! Understanding the history and significance of archaeological finds is convicting and reinforces our faith. As a parent of young children who is trying to navigate our evil world, it is so important to have resources like this that they can grow up around to support a Biblical worldview.



Follow Drive Thru History on Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drivethruhistory

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drivethruhistory

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/drivethruhistory


Do you have teenage students?  There are several families that reviewed this product with different aged children.  Click the link below to read about different perspectives.

Bible Unearthed {Drive Thru History® Adventures Reviews}

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