Monday, June 24, 2019

As I sit at my dining room table, click-clacking away at my computer, I'm distracted by the heavy hum of a drilling rig about a mile away from our house.  When I think about it too long, I get angry.  One of my favorite memories of moving into this house on an acre further out of town was the blaring quiet we heard when we climbed into bed that first night.  There are reasons for the rig's existence, most of which I don't care for, but at the end of the day there isn't anything I can do about it, short of moving.  And we're not moving.

And that's so much of life, isn't it?  So much of our troubles and complaints come from situations that we either can't or won't go the distance to change.  So what then? Becoming a mother was a lifelong dream of mine.  The maternal instinct was strong since I was a child and even now I never would choose not to have children.  Yet, this life that I live mothering and educating and wife-ing is the most stress I have ever experienced over such a long period of time.  At times my ability to think has been severely weakened.  My ability to lose weight has been severely affected.  And my joy levels take so much work to keep them where they need to be.  Reason would say I need to get divorced if my husband is causing me stress.  Logic would say quit homeschooling if it is wearing me out.  Or better yet, get rid of a kid or all of them.  Just like we aren't moving from a great house and area, because the noises outside are different than we moved in, I'm not getting rid of my children or leaving my husband because life is stressful.

In an attempt to not crush our children's spirit, parents (myself included) are very tempted to allow our children to decide what they want to do when they want to do it.  As a piano teacher, I've had dozens of conversations with parents who inform me that Johnny has decided he doesn't want to play the piano any more (after 8 weeks).  Too often parents say, "I really think its important for Johnny to learn to play, but I just don't want him to hate it so we're going to take a break."  Now, I don't care if your kids learn to play any instrument or sport or skill necessarily.  This isn't a plea for rounding up business.  This is a plea for recognizing the importance of skill building and commitment.  Whether you are volunteering at an animal shelter or training to be champion horse rider, it is good for your character and transfer into adulthood to follow through with things.  Just because something gets hard should never be a prompting for quitting.  When it starts to get hard, that's a good sign you are about to learn something really important. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The Kingdom Code: A Review

The primary purpose of education is to prepare students for the future.  That future often involves college or trade school, but compared to the rest of their life, post-high school education usually only lasts a few years.  However, a student's relationship with money will continue with them their entire life.  As a person who has made several financial mistakes in my life, setting my children up with a well-rounded and Godly understanding of money is a priority.  Thankfully, there are others out there who feel the same!  Today I'm reviewing The Complete Starter Kitthe JR Budget Kit and The Kingdom Code Coloring Book from The Kingdom Code that not only teaches children about money, but equips them to pursue entrepreneurship now! 

What We Received:

The Complete Starter Kit includes a

  • Textbook - Spiral bound with good quality glossy sheet pages meant for multi-use 
  • Student Packet - loose, hole punched papers that are consumable and intended for one student that includes worksheets, activity sheets, forms, and Treasure Builder Ideas ( Business ideas for kids).  These can be purchased separately when you are teaching multiple students.
  • Teacher's Guide - loose, hole punched papers that includes a table of contents and walks the teacher through each lesson, day by day.
  • Receipt book
  • Treasure Map & Reward Stickers - This is used as a reward system to celebrate the completion of each lesson
  • Vocabulary Word (Card) Pages - These pages are thick cardstock designed to be cut up into individual cards.
  • Binder Inserts - These glossy colorful pages are to slide into the front/back plastic to distinguish the various binders
  • Budget Labels - The budget component of this program divides your money into Jesus, Others, Education, You, Savings and we received stickers to label containers for each part of your money.
  • Online access to various resources including KCK theme song, business ideas for kids, printable form pages (extra), Teacher's Guide for a Co-op setting, and much more.

The JR Budget Kit comes with another set of the Budget Labels, Binder Inserts and Coloring Sheets.

The Kingdom Code Coloring Book includes over 30 high quality pages of Knights, Bible Verses, and KCK Budget pages.

How It Works:

This money management and entrepreneur curriculum is a little overwhelming at first mostly because there are so many moving parts and aspects of getting it all set up.  The Teacher's manual does a great job of itemizing all the supplies required and things you must do to set the program up for Day 1.  Each lesson will include 8 primary sections:
  • Proclamation - Teaching of a Biblical principle
  • Check Your Path - Worksheet instructions
  • Quest for the Clue -Introduces theme and goal for the lesson
  • Code of Honor - Teaches target skill of the lesson through the Character Code
  • Treasure Seeking - Activities that reinforce the theme and goals
  • On Your Own - More activities that are typically done independently 
  • Kingdom Keys - A Review of the lesson
  • Bonus Code Work - Optional projects to supplement the lesson
The suggested schedule in order to cover this in 36 weeks (2 semesters) is two 45  minute days per week.

How We Used It:

My school age kids are 5 and 8 so starting a real business isn't quite on their radar yet, not realistically anyway.  What we did was begin with the Jr Budget kit and broke down the JOEYS principles with the kids.  It is recommended to use 5-6 zippered pencil pockets with clear fronts to divide up your money in, but I decided to use large envelopes instead for convenience/budget sake and they worked just fine.  Since they kids didn't have much money right now (birthday highs don't start until July through November), we used play money and play jobs/situations in our envelopes to try our hand at budgeting.  This turned into a game that the kids wanted to play where we would assign them different jobs and life circumstances (car owned, married, health, etc.).  It was most certainly a real practice of real life possibilities.

The Kingdom Code Coloring Book is a great addition to what the kids have learned simply because the verses and the pictures reinforce ideas presented in the materials.  They took turns picking out a page to color.

The Kingdom Code Curriculum was a little advanced in the activities and forms for my 8 and 5 year old mostly due to maturity.  My 8 year old is interested in making money, but he's still fighting with regular chores some days and certain elements of follow through.  Learning about all of the concepts wasn't a problem but much of the business based activities was a bit of a stretch for us.  I do believe learning about money and starting your own business is motivating to him to get to that point so I'm very grateful to have all of these resources that, in a year or two, when he is ready, we can start this from the beginning again and take full advantage of it.  What was very helpful were some of the activities that introduced the different types of work and business kids can be a part of.  Even though they can't utilize everything yet, I feel like they have an advantage with a foundation of money and business sense already in place before it's completely relevant in action.

The Kingdom Code has been very generous not only to give us so many extra resources related to this program, but they've also given my readers an extra 10% off anything you purchase with the use of this discount code: 10TKC03

The Kingdom Code on Social Media:


There were at least 50 families reviewing this program, many with older kids who were able to utilize more of this program.  If you would like a different perspective, check out the other reviews through the link below.

The Kingdom Code Complete Starter Kit {The Kingdom Code Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, June 17, 2019

Hiking: The Best Family Hobby

When someone says hiking, you might envision someone climbing a mountain or backpacking on a trail for a couple of days.  Both would be consider hiking, but not the entirety of what I'm talking about.  Most places you find yourself, whether living or on vacation, are within 30 minutes of a state park or wildlife refuge that contain trails meant to be used.  These trails are typically well-maintained and difficulty level well advertised.  Most parks are free admission and have bathroom access in the vicinity.  For a family of 5, free entertainment is the way to go any time you can get it!

A few of you have already written me off right now, because you feel hiking aka 'going outside and getting gross' isn't for you.  Why would you do that to yourself, right? Well, let me tell you why.

The Relationships.  Spending time - not staring at a screen - with people (especially your family) is invaluable.  Mr. Butler and I have learned a lot of life lessons together on hikes.  My family's personalities and tendencies have a habit of playing out on hikes.  We get to know each other and learn to work together while hiking.  Most relationships can sustain a walk on a trail so this is something they have done with friends, grandparents, cousins, etc.  Taking a walk together is bonding time!  There's nothing more fulfilling than to see your family's relationships grow and flourish.  Activities like this is exactly the type of memories we want to have!

Brothers resting together.

Health.  This is a fact and not something to be ignored or argued with.  Going outside in nature AND being physically active on a regular basis is good for your body and mind.  We are a disease-ridden and anxious society that needs more healthy activities.  Period. 

View from Mather Lodge, Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas

Perspective.  While the physical structures of man have much to appreciate sometimes, what God created and continues to cry out praises to the Living God - well that's a horse of a different  color, you might say.  When you stand next to a beautiful mountain or get lose in miles of forest, you begin to gain a perspective not available anywhere else.  It isn't the same watching it on a screen or taking a walk on the treadmill.  It can change you, if you'll let it.

This hike turned out to be longer and more strenuous than we expected so we were beat by the end.  This was our despair towards Mr. Butler for pushing us!  But we felt amazing once we cooled off.

Education.  There is a lot of history in some of these parks!  Between wildlife, horticulture and the beginnings of the individual place, there's a wealth of information to be gained when you read a historical marker or pick up a park guide.  This is certainly a big perk for homeschooling families!

We have taken our kids hiking since they were babies and its now their favorite vacation activity! If you or your family might be a resistant to this new hobby, my advice is to make it non-negotiable for the first 5 times.  Once you experience the positive effects and enjoyment that is available, it will be easier to maintain a good attitude.  Oh, and snacks! Always bring plenty of water and snacks for the complaint moments.  Usually, we're just tired and hungry.  :) 

The kids love having their own packs with water built in.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Grade 3 Lightning Lit Set: A Hewitt Homeschooling Resources Review

In school English class was definitely my sweet spot, mostly because in reading I had an abundance of empathy for the characters/authors experiences.  Sharing that love of literature with my children is a personal thrill in that way.  I'm thankful to be able to share with you this latest review Grade 3 Lightning Lit Set from Hewitt Homeschooling Resources that provides a full year curriculum based on some great literature! 

What We Received:
We were given two books, a (consumable) Student Workbook and a Teacher’s Manual.

How It Works:
Grade 3 Lightning Lit Set is a full year’s curriculum of Literature, Composition and Grammar that is divided into weeks.  How many days you spend on this curriculum each week is up to you and very adaptable.   Each week there is a variety of assignments that may include:
  • ·         Reading Journal
  • ·         Dictionary Pages
  • ·         Sentence Puzzles
  • ·         Diagramming Sentences
  • ·         Poet Biographies
  • ·         Discussion Questions

The teacher’s manual provides various schedules for you depending on how much time you want to spend on this subject per day and/or how many days per week you have to spend on it.  The curriculum allows for you to read aloud, the student to read portions at a time or to read the text all at once and then complete the activities.  The teacher's manual is very helpful in preparing ahead of time with the week at a glance that includes the language concepts that are covered.  It also does a great job in giving the parent a heads up about certain intense topics brought up in the books.  While the curriculum is very flexible, it is a complete program.  Using it as a supplement could be done, but it would require a lot of piecing on the parent's part.  It seems to me that you should use the entire program to really get the most benefit out of it.The different texts that are covered include:
  • ·         Sarah, Plain & Tall by Patricia Maclachlan
  • ·         Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins
  • ·         Charlie & the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • ·         Random House Book of Poetry for Children
  • ·         Ramona & Her Father by Beverly Cleary
  • ·         The Big Wave by Pearl S. Buck
  • ·         Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  • ·         The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong
  • ·         Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

How We Used It:

We decided to just start at the beginning with Sarah, Plain & Tall and we found a reading of it on YouTube so my son sat down and listened to that on morning while I took care of a few things.  After that we would do a couple of pages a couple of days a week in the Student Workbook.

What We Thought: 

We loved it! The variety of exercises was just right and the choice of literature was definitely engaging to me as an educator.  The grade level seemed on point and the containment to a student book and teacher's manual (aside from the literature books themselves that can be gotten at the library) was very easy to keep up with.  As is the case with most literature, the discussions could carry over into other ages very easily which makes it useful for more than just the grade level child.  Since this is our first time with this company and their products, now I'm interested to see what else they offer in other grades!  If you are interested in other grades, click on the Crew link below to see what other crew members reviewed and their experience.

Hewitt Homeschooling Resources on Social Media:


Since this is our first time with this company and their products, now I'm interested to see what else they offer in other grades!  If you are interested in other grades, click on the Crew link below to see what other crew members reviewed and their experience.
Lightning Literature, My First Reports, State History Notebook & Joy of Discovery {Hewitt Homeschooling Resources Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, June 10, 2019

A Trip to Arkansas

Simply Classical Writing - Step-by-Step Sentences: A Memoria Press Review

Our educational system is very compartmentalized simply because it is easier to evaluate that way.  Students are divided into grades and sorted by scores.  The reality of learning and development is that two people will never grow at the exact same rate in the same way.  We as parents get caught into the milestone game from day one where delay is bad word and a different approach is automatically called therapy.  We let other people's labels and schedules push us into corners that usually don't help and borderline hurt students.  This may seem like an odd introduction to a couple of writing books, but Memoria Press's books: Simply Classical Writing Book One: Step-by-Step Sentences (Bible Story Edition) and Simply Classical Writing Book Two: Step-by-Step Sentences (Bible Story Edition) with Teacher Key, taught me a very important lesson about the skewed perspective we are so often taught.  

When these books first arrived in the mail, I noticed Memoria Press Special-Needs at the top and immediately started worrying there had been a mistake.  My kids are not classified as special needs so I was afraid that I had misread something and committed to this review as if they were.  Turns out, Memoria Press offers books like this that simply go at a slower pace and break down the subject into smaller chunks than traditional methods might.  This approach seems very appropriate for those with learning difficulties, but what surprised me was how spot on this approach was for my son whose only learning disability is his gender! Ha!  My son loves to read and is great at the things he loves, like the piano and baseball and soccer and cooking.  Do you see a pattern? He loves things that comes naturally to him and he can accomplish them without hesitation!  Things like long division or writing more than a sentence or two are hard because they take time.  

So, while he is not behind or having a difficult time with his grade level work, he does drag his feet a lot in certain areas, sentence writing being one of them.  As it turns out, this gradual " Step-by-Step" process is exactly what a boy full of boundless energy can get behind!

What We Received:
We received 3 books in all: 
Teacher Key corresponding to the above Book Two

How They Work:
Each lesson has a theme taken from a passage of scripture where various skills are then practiced using words and phrases from that story.  Both books work towards improving students writing skills through combining copywork, grammar, composition, and artistic expression.  There is a large focus on rules about sentences in the beginning of the books that gets reinforced throughout the lessons. The Teacher Key provides all answers and  some nice resources in the Appendix like a template for extra practice, a theme outline of the entire scripture scope of the book and a certificate of merit.

How We Used It:
The intended grade level of this set is 1st-3rd grade, which happens to be where my kids are at so I was able to begin using both books.  My daughter (almost 6) has started first grade work so Book One was right on target for level.  My son (8 1/2) is about halfway through 3rd grade, but often loathes sentence writing perked right up and never complained when we started him in Book Two.  In the Teacher Notes it has a variety of teaching schedules, but we chose the One-Day Schedule where you cover the entire lesson in one day.  The reason for this was simply because they kids wanted to continue working in the books because they enjoyed it. Made my decision easy with that kind of attitude!

Since our society categorizes children so automatically, it becomes a negative thing to consider them to be in a transitional place academically.  The truth is, though, they are always in some kind of transition.  Just because we say 2nd grade ends on May 31st and 3rd grade begins on August 15th does not mean their education is somehow still.  Learning is always transitional and finding resources that honor that reality is a huge blessing! 

Memoria Press on Social Media:


Memoria Press contributes significantly to the homeschool curriculum community and the crew reviewed several of their products including Spelling and History.  Click on the link below to find out what the other texts are like and how families used them!

Classical Writing & Spelling, American History & Jewish Wars {Memoria Press Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer