Friday, May 26, 2017

Project Garden: Year Two! (Part 1)

A much more organized approach this year! Yay!!

My mom actually purchased a little tiller that could be plugged in via extension cord. We also made a "path" around our garden with leaves that my mom saved to cover her rose bushes over the winter. 

We also made our garden a bit smaller then last year. This will minimize the weed growth and "extra space". However, we increased the number of plants we bought this year so we were really tight on space. We'll see how well we can navigate the garden in a month or so from now. 

Mom chilled with the kids while we tilled, planted, and put up the fence around our garden on a BEAUTIFUL sunny Sunday afternoon. The next week would be followed by 7 days of rain! Perfect for new seedlings!!

We also planted many herbs this year mostly for our business. So you'll be happy to know that a lot of the herbs we use in our creams and tinctures will be organically grown right from our own garden!! Yay! They'll be more potent, fresh, and we know exactly how they were handled. 

We did less cucumbers and other crawling plants this year so we'll see how this little trellis holds up. We also DIDN'T put the trellis against out outside fencing since we had mutant cucumbers growing into our fencing last year.

The kids didn't get to help as much with the planting process this year since we were on a time crunch once we got to this point. But, they'll help more with the weeding later on. 

We had to tie our tomato plants to steaks to ensure they'll stand up with the heavy rains we knew we'd be receiving. 

Overall, our garden is about 100 sq feet (maybe bigger?), and will hopefully feed our families and meet the needs of others! Yay!

Oh! We planted FAR LESS COLLARDS then our 40 some plants last year! 

Haven enjoyed playing in mom's fairy garden :)

Excited to share the lessons we learn this year from gardening, harvesting, canning and preserving!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors REVIEW & GIVEAWAY

Sometimes I dread art projects. Does that make me a bad mom? Does that make me a bad homeschool teacher? Maybe... The mess, the work, the spills, the stains, the clean up... it gets exhausting just thinking about it. However, I love the creativity the kids can have, the hours of healthy entertainment, the motivation for the kids to produce something from nothing... if only there was a way to make crafting easier... **CUE THE ATTENTION GRABBING POST-INTRODUCTION PHOTO THAT OFFERS AN INCREDIBLE SOLUTION TO THE ABOVE PREDICAMENT:

Our family had SO MUCH FUN trying out these Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Color solid tempera paint sticks by the Pencil Grip, Inc.! The kids loved being able to write words and letters and figures with ease using these sticks. I LOVED LOVED LOVED that they were so clean, take up little space, don't require water (which spills and mixes with other colors of paint), they're easy to use, and they dry fast!

These paint sticks work well on many different mediums too! Besides paper, they can paint on cardboard, wood and more. 

Here are some projects we did with these Thin Stix:

We were able to make cards for our friends and family. The pictures above were from a birthday card the kids made for their friend. 

I also had an "unschooling" day where I laid out all the craft stuff available. The kids immediately gravitated to the Thin Stix (which I was thankful for since the clean up was so much easier) as well as the construction paper and stickers.

The kids made their own story books! Yes that is my husband with dreadlocks and me pregnant in the above picture... sigh... I guess I'm forever viewed as pregnant to my kids. LOL!

Even Elias painted! Usually it is PULLING TEETH to get this kid to finish a coloring sheet! Even with traditional paints or water colors he doesn't ever sit and finish an entire drawing. 


Cool note about the Pencil Grip, Inc. ~ This company is known for their innovative and unique office, school and home supplies. This company started in 1992 with the invention of The Pencil Grip and now the company has expanded and offers hundreds of really cool products! I encourage you to check out their website!

I LOVE these Thin Stix and would absolutely purchase more of these!
I feel like after using these they are now a MUST HAVE in my craft supplies. 

No more spills, no more stress, no more hesitation. When the kids are bored or have a school project to accomplish, I simply pull out my ginormous box of a number of different dirty, mixed up, paint supplies, endless brushes, cups full of dirty water, paper towels, towels, heck let's just bring the shop vac! box of Thin Stix and paper or old cardboard and let the kids do as they please!

Check out some posts from my fellow Homeschool Review Crew Members about The Pencil Grip, Inc. Thin Stixs 6pk of Classic Colors:

The Pencil Grip, Inc. has kindly offered to sponsor a giveaway for your very OWN set of THIN STIX!! Simply enter the give away below! I will announce the winner on a future blog post as well as send the winner and email. Then The Pencil Grip, Inc. will send you your complementary set of these AWESOME paint sticks!

P.S. Just a suggestion from experience: These are nice to have on hand when you're out of town and leave the kids with a baby sitter or husband for more then a few days... trust me... save yourself from the horror that could be awaiting you if you choose not to:

Yes that's paint on my guitar case, my floor, my ... everything.
...This never would have happened with Thin Stix...

Friday, May 19, 2017

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Christian Comic Book Super Hero! *VIDEO REVIEW*

When I look for a good book for my kids I want it to be Biblically sound, spiritually encouraging and one that stirs my kids up to be heroes in the faith, as well as one that will draw them in...

This picture above speaks a thousand more words then this review could ever speak for what we thought about the book Captain Absolutely by Focus on the Family.

Here is a summery of this book done by four of my five kids:

I would probably assign this book a reading level of grades 2 or 3 to adult or ages 6 and older. Alex was all into this book reading it a few times through to the kids. Even I was anticipating what was going to happen next! Both Alex and I read this aloud as a family, but the kids have gone through it many times on their own as well.

The author has many humorous notes that he added throughout the book that I LOVE LOVE LOVE!

I guess this book correlates with a few Adventure in Odyssey episodes and those episodes are listed in the book. I am interested in investigating if there are mentions of this comic book in the Odyssey adventures since it appears Captain Absolutely was actually written by a character from Odyssey. This brings a whole new aspect to this book that is so very unique. It came from Odyssey! A character that is familiar to our children actually "wrote" this book. That's a lot of fun!

There are scripture references along side many one liners that both the hero and villains have. This is a great tool to pull out your Bible and read what the Bible says and discuss how we can use God's Word to battle the temptations we fall prey to every day as well as battle the unseen enemies of laziness, fear, procrastination, and gluttony like their hero Captain Absolutely did. 

The pages are incredibly colorful and detailed! There are different things through the book that you realize you missed the first 5 times through and you continue to discover them as you go through the book again and again such as the trail of sunflower seeds at several crime scenes that lead you back to the main villain.

For only $10 this is a book that you MUST add to your accessible reading material for your children. 
So so FUN and very edifying. 
Not your ordinary un-beneficial superhero book.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Homeschool Rescue Review!

When anyone wants to learn a certain skill, they study it in order to master it. One might go to school and learn from professors who have dedicated their lives to a certain area of life. One might go to the library or book store and collect books on their expertise and study away, marking up the margins, taking notes, and applying what is learned. One might surround themselves with people who are currently practicing the skill one is trying to acquire in order to attain a sort of internship on the matter. Now let's relate this to homeschooling: Are you studying how to be a better homeschool mom? Are you stuck? Discouraged? Unorganized? Frazzled? What resources are you studying?

I am talking about Homeschool Rescue by Only Passionate Curiosity today which I had the privilege of reviewing over the last month and a half or so. This is a course for parents to go through that THOROUGHLY equips them in EVERY SINGLE area that pertains to homeschooling. 

This course is multifaceted. It includes videos and slideshows, worksheets, social media support, printable lesson and home planners and more! Homeschool Rescue has modules that include lessons all broken down in topics that begin at the basis of your family and household and acquiring a fresh outlook and firm foundation that can be worked on and detailed in the later lessons. The flow of this course is truly genius. 

Homeschool Rescue seemed to encapsulated ALL the homeschooling and "how to run a home smoothly" books I have ever read all in ONE COURSE! It also touches on almost everything I have blogged about for years as far as tips and tricks to having the home running smoothly and getting everything done all while not failing to build my children UP. 

This course really encouraged me to continue doing what my family already does in our home.

Heres a snap shot of a part of the slide show with some resource links below.


- Sweet Calendar that you can follow and work through the course in a timely manner

- There is a social media aspect and support group that I, unfortunately, did NOT get to review since I do not have social media (besides a pinterest), so my review is based solely off the course content itself

- I loved the videos and slideshows! I was able to play them in the background, like I often do Bible teachings, and listen to them while I did my chores around the house. Once the lesson was over (usually about 7-20 minutes) I printed the worksheets and would work through some of them on my own, with my children, or with my husband. 

- These worksheets were short, practical, easily laid out with pretty paper, and equipped  you to actually take the very next step and apply what you listened to. For example, one of my favorite homework was the lists of the "Good, Great and 'Got to Go!'". I was able to list out everything we're involved in on a piece of paper and circle what the Lord has undoubtedly called us to then cross out the things that we're good, but not necessarily needed "at this time". This freed my husband and I up tremendously!

Some examples of the "homework" and "resource" section of a lesson

- Best of all, I loved how many things I have read in books on "Large Family Living and Homeschooling" was ALL in this course. It's truly PACKED FULL of useful and practical tips and things you can literally start applying right away.

** I also LOVED that there was a section encouraging you to look up the homeschooling laws in your state. I was equipped with how to find that information and what to do with it.**


- Sometimes the sound in the videos would get louder or quieter. I could tell that the lady recording it was using a mic on a stand, in an open room (echoey sound), and sometimes moved closer and further from the mic. I also noticed a popping sound when she annunciates "p" or "b" and probably needs a popping guard while talking. This might not bother other people, but it was a bit distracting to me since I do a lot of recording and music for our church radio station and am very aware of these things.

As a Christian, I disagree with the worldly or secular idea of self-esteem that is such a part psychology these days, so I was uncomfortable with Heather's use of the "self-esteem" in a few of the lessons. I was most uncomfortable with Module 4 Lesson 1 which is titled "Self-Esteem and Reward Systems."  I understand, I think, with what she was trying to say but I do have an issue with "self-esteem." 

Overall, would I recommend this course?
Yes. :)

Very informative. 

Equips the rookie homeschooler 
encourages the veterans. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

What They Say

*A car playing LOUD music drives by*
Alecia says,
"You hear that?! They MUST be Liberian!"

Elias' perception of child birth:
"Mom! No one is going to pull a baby out of my butt! I will kick them and punch them and they are NOT pulling a baby out of my butt!"

I Don't Drink Water
"Elias, go drink some water! You haven't drank anything today."
"But mom! Water makes me pee so I don't drink it 'cause I don't wanna go pee."

Friday, May 5, 2017

Training Your Children for Emergencies

I talk a lot about training on my blog.

Maybe it comes from my families history in the military, or maybe it comes from my lifestyle in applying God's word and being involved in the ministry, either way, it's what I'm about. 

I have a lot of kids.

Sometimes I get in situations that I realize if something were to happen, there's no way I'd be able to corral all my kids together to protect them. 

We live in a very dangerous neighborhood and often visit not so safe places... which I guess now-a-days is everywhere.

My husband and I have strived for years to set some safety precautions up for our kids so that they are equipped in emergency situations. 

Without spelling out exactly what we do, here are some situations we have currently trained them in:

(1) A word we call out and all our kids come running and place their hands on me (or dad) immediately. 

(2) A plan for if there was ever someone trying to break into our home while we were there 

(3) A plan for a fire in the house

(4) A password for when and if we ask someone to take our kids for us

(5) We also have family nights where they practice escaping from someone who is trying to kidnap them

Teaching your kids what to look for in "Tricky People" is also important.
Instead of teaching our kids not to talk to strangers we teach them that tricky people don't ask kids for help and how to identify a tricky person. An adult isn't going to ask a kid to help find their dog or for directions, for example, they're going to ask another adult. 

Now we have a LONG way to go before our kids are fully trained in these things and we are continuing to train them in different ways as we see areas that make us vulnerable. 

But this is important and not talked about much in the realm of most Christian families. 

Nana and Alecia 

So ask yourself:
Do you have safety precautions set up?
Do your kids abide by them and know what to do?
Have you literally practiced them in a situation that is as close to the real thing as possible?
Do the older ones watch out for the younger ones?
Do your kids know that there are bad people out there?
Do they understand that if they're taken or don't obey they could be taken and never seen again?
In what scenarios are you or your children especially vulnerable?
What can you do to make those scenarios safer?

What practices do you have set up?
Please share in the comments below!!