Friday, April 29, 2016

Weekly Wrap Up - The One With a Teenager!

It's hard to believe, but yes, we now have a teenager!   We celebrated with family on Saturday.   Olivia had her heart set on a store bought cake this year, so here's what she picked out.  Although I made cupcakes as well and she agreed that mine was better.   If only I could decorate!

Monday was her actual birthday, so the husband took a vacation day and we skipped piano and ballet.   I had planned to take the kids to the water park, but Olivia said she wasn't interested, and asked if we could all go to a movie and dinner.   I hope she's not just lulling me into a false sense of security, but hey if she wants to just do family time for her birthday, I'm good with that!!

We went to see Zootopia, and it was a cute movie, although the excessive pushing of  acceptance and tolerance was a bit much.    After the movie we ha to a had lunch at a local pizzeria that has some amazingly good, and HUGE pizza.   This is one slice, and it's not photo shopped.

We are quickly coming to an end of the school year, with only one more week of Latin, and a little math and spelling left.   I'm trying to work on a summer schedule, as I don't want to lose momentum, especially as we head into Algebra.   Hopefully I'll have something worked up to share in the next week.

On the blog this week:

If you're looking at your life and feeling stressed or overwhelmed, you may find encouragement in my post Blessings In Disguise.  I've shared a couple of product reviews this week.   If you have any issues with dry skin, be sure to check out my post about GREEMU (yes, really that's the name).    I also shared a review  YWAM Publishing, featuring a book about Douglas MacArthur, which we LOVED!!

Linking up with the Weekly Wrap Up.
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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Blessings in Disguise

When you think of blessings, you might think of things like a new car, a trip to Hawaii or having a housekeeper (and all the moms say “Amen”!).  While those things are blessings, our biggest and most important blessings are most often little things, wrapped up in the busy-ness of life, instead of colorful paper and a shiny bow.

For example, I give you the month of April, on my calendar.  At first glance, it can appear to be a stressful and expensive month. In addition to our normal life, each year this month contains my birthday, my sister-in-laws birthday, our wedding anniversary, my oldest daughter’s birthday, and my twin great nieces’ birthdays.  In all honesty, I could look at April as being too hectic, too expensive, and a burden; but, if I choose to look at each of the events as the blessing they are, then April becomes an incredible month. Let me show you what I mean.

I turned 48 this year.  F.O.R.T.Y.E.I.G.H.T.  ya’ll. That’s like…old. That’s also 48 years of laughing, crying, and experiencing life. I’ve seen and done things in those 48 years that some people will never see and do (and I’ve lived to tell about it).   Getting older isn’t something to get upset over, it’s a celebration of our lives…and the fact that God in His Mercy kept us safe even when we didn’t know we were in harm’s way.

My oldest daughter turned 13 this year.  Thirteen.  That’s like….old too, but in an “oh my gosh, where did those 13 years go?” type of  old.   She’s turned into a beautiful, thoughtful young lady…but she’s still a little girl, and those two worlds collide and I get to walk it out with her.  It’s hard, ya’ll.  It’s one of my greatest joys.   I didn’t get that opportunity with our first child, so I cherish this time with the ones I do get to see grow.

My twin great-nieces turned 3 this year.   They were born at 28 weeks along, (twenty-eight, that’s LITTLE) with little expectancy to live.  Yet these two beautiful, funny little girls are celebrating three years of life, a life they almost didn’t have.  They are perfectly healthy, strong and incredibly smart.  We celebrate their lives this month.

We were able to attend a first birthday party for another beautiful miracle baby.  The Momma had undergone years of  fertility treatments with no success.  The doctors finally told her that she cannot have children.  After finally giving up on having her own child, she and her husband began the long and expensive process of adoption.  In the midst of all this, she became really sick.  Thinking she had the flu, she went to the doctor to find that what she had was MORNING SICKNESS that lasted all day for weeks on end.   You’ve never seen anyone as happy to be sick in your life!

My husband and I celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary this year.  We’ve been through a lot in those 15 years.  We’ve gained family and friends, and lost family and friends.  We’ve built a life and a home together.  It’s not always been easy, but here we are still standing together.  We don’t look like any of those TV couples, and we’re ok with that.

Life if full of “stuff”.  Choosing to see the blessings, in the midst of the all the stuff is completely up to you.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2016


Today's featured review is GREEMU from Devonian.   GREEMU is a plant based emu oil replica, designed after two years of research into the properties of emu oil.  Devonian has developed GREEMU, a beauty oil that matches the composition and properties of Grade A emu oil....but it's made from plants, not emu's.  GREEMU contains five ingredients; macadamia oil, palm oil, shea butter, sunflower seed oil and rice bran oil.

I don't claim to know all the scientific mumbo jumbo behind this product, but you can read more about it here.  However, I do know it has absolutely no smell at all, SCORE!   While it is "oil" it's a bit thicker than most oils, so you don't accidentally dump the whole bottle in your hand on the first try, ahem. Another score!

My husband is a metal fabricator, and additionally he is prone to having eczema on his knuckles.   The combination of hard work and eczema typically leave his hands looking scaly and prone to cracking open (see below).

After day one of using GREEMU he could tell a big difference in the way his hands felt.  By the end of the week, his hands were visibly much better!    The photo below is after two weeks of using Greemu, see the difference?

I've also been using GREEMU as a facial moisturizer and love the satiny feel it gives to my skin. My elbows are loving this oil as well.  Admittedly, I have not used it on my feet as we have hardwood floors and I don't want to kill myself by slipping across the house.  Keeping it real folks.   Also, both my husband and I have noticed that missing a day or so of this product results in dry, scaly, itchy skin.  I don't know if that attests to how good it is, or if it's a negative side effect, but thought I'd throw it out there.

Lastly for those of you who are big into the use of  essential oils, this product would make a great carrier oil as well.

You can read more TOS Crew members' thoughts on this product here.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

YWAM Publishing (TOS Review)

This review features the book  HEROES OF HISTORY Douglas MacArthur: What Greater Honor, published by YWAM Publishing.   We also received the accompanying Unit Study via internet download.

While this 204 page book is full of facts and dates, it's written in an engaging way that truly helps the reader get a feel for the person Douglas MacArthur, not just the "legend", although the two are hard to separate.   MacArthur's faith played a huge role in his life and military career, however this Christian biography isn't written in a "preachy" way, but rather it shows Christianity being walked out through his life and the way he conducted himself.

We read the book together during our read aloud time, and then used the discussion questions from the study guide to delve deeper into the book, and to check for understanding (and paying attention, ahem).   We were fascinated by the leadership, heroism and loyalty this man walked in.    One thing I really liked was how the book gave glimpses of background information that tied together different events and time periods.  This allowed us to see how closely things in history happened.  

My history lover was enraptured listening to the stories of Douglas' military skill and bravery in the face of danger.  She was also on the edge of her seat listening to the exciting battle coverages.  My non-history lover was equally drawn in as she learned how he conducted himself and how he treated both his friends and enemies.  Vastly different than her sister, this child was able to enjoy the battles because they didn't contain gruesome, bone chilling depictions of the battlefield.  Kudos to the authors on that fete!

The unit study itself has several components.  The 84 page main unit study offers something for every kind of learning style, and can be used with either a group or individual setting.    Suggestions are given on way to enrich history, geography, essay and creative writing, reading comprehension, public speaking, art and even drama.   Prompts are provided for the various activities, with a great deal of wiggle room left for each student to be able to craft their study to reflect their own personality and educational strengths.   Translation, if they absolutely hate writing, then by all means use the other information given and let the student act out a skit, create a display or design a poster.    The smaller six page unit study component offers maps and informational sheets that are great for notebooking.

Also included are separate,  Homeschool, Classroom and Group overviews that give the instructor/parent information on how to best use the book/unit study combination to get the most out of your history studies, but also how to incorporate it into your social study and language arts lessons as well.   Schedules for weekly study, timeline study schedules and listings of other YWAM titles give the parent/instructor everything they need to build a complete history program, or to study individual time periods.

Admittedly, we did not do everything listed in this unit study.  Truthfully we barely skimmed the surface.   Yet, the children and I, each have a much broader understanding of both World War II and the Korean War.   

Lastly, any book that has my child picking it back up to re-read only minutes after finishing it gets my Mom seal of approval!

You can read more TOS Crew reviews of this and other titles here.

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Weekly Wrap Up - Anniversary Week

Here in Virginia, we do have to show some form of advancement in learning throughout the year (unless you file for religious exemption).   There are several options including submitting a portfolio, having a qualified person evaluate your child and give you a letter based on their evaluation, and then there's the standardized test.  Virginia only requires testing in math and language arts.  I'm a firm believer in not giving up any more information than necessary, so we use the CAT tests, as all it tests is math and language arts.    We spent part of a day getting those knocked out.  Yes really, all in one day.  It's not that hard.

Olivia worked at the museum  on Tuesday.  One of our local high schools' FFA (Future Farmer's of America) was hosting a "Farm to Food" event, so we dropped Olivia off at work and Lindsey and I headed out to join the countless County school bus loads full of prek and kindergarten kids.  It was pure madness, but still enjoyable.   There were pigs, goats, cows, sheep, chickens, turkeys and even quail!

Baby turkeys are a lot fussier than baby chickens, in case you ever wondered.

Homemade ice cream, yummy stuff!

Lindsey and her baby chick.  Her as in she had fun holding it, not as in we brought it home, just to clarify!

Thursday was our 15th wedding anniversary.   It's funny how long 15 years sounds, yet it doesn't seem like it's been that long at all.  Time is an odd thing.    We went out to a nice dinner to celebrate.   I thought you might get a kick out of an old wedding photo.

Earlier this week I shared my review of Apologia's Writers In Residence programs this week.   I also shared about our experience using A+ Interactive Math's new Mini-Courses. 

How was your week?

Linking up with the Weekly Wrap Up.
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