Thursday, June 30, 2016

Notebooking Pages (A REVIEW)

Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews

I have this dream that one day my boys will like writing. Someday. But, for now we do notebook pages from With a Notebooking Pages Lifetime membership they can freely write about topics that we are studying or that interest them without the confines of a worksheet or essays. They can have the freedom they want in writing or drawing what they want.

Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews

What is notebooking exactly? It is a method used by many homeschoolers where information is written down in some way in a collection of pictures and words. Sometimes it's all words, sometimes it's all pictures. Sometimes there are special little flaps and books to include on the page. I have tried many different resources for notebooking pages over the years, and nothing has been quite as spectacular as

I actually already had a lifetime membership with NotebookingPages, but wanted the opportunity to try it out again, and I'm so glad I did. Since I had already used the website for a few years, and not really used it much during that time, I decided to take this as an opportunity to rekindle the notebooking fire that I hope to start in my children because I think it is a great way to get them to like writing. I decided to start from the beginning.

My reference notebooking notebook. I use this to keep all the catalogs and extra pages in as suggested by is all online, and accessible to me on any computer with internet. I can log in and download any pages I need. But, since I was starting over with this website, I decided to start with the reading. Yes, there is a lot of useful information that I missed before! I didn't realize it was more than just notebooking pages. I decided to click on the "easy start guide" to see if I could figure out how to "do" notebooking better in our homeschool. I found out that I had some homework to do before I started! As suggested, I had to get a teacher's reference notebook together. Boy did this help with organization! I feel like I have a much better handle on all the pages with that nice 3-ring binder.


After getting the 3-ring binder, it was suggested to print the catalogs so that we could find quickly any notebooking page we were looking for. I was amazed at this information. I hadn't even realized there were catalogs and tables of contents before. It is so much easier to have those on hand in the binder than to have to search through all the pages online to decide what to print. This is a wonderful way to make getting to the notebooking pages so much easier! It also doesn't seem quite as overwhelming with these reference pages. I think that was my problem before was that I just felt overwhelmed and didn't know where to start. I highly suggest reading what she has to say about notebooking and how it can change your homeschooling.


After I finished the reading, and the homework for myself it was time to get some notebooking pages done. We used some for science, nature study, holidays, and language arts. The picture up above is an example of what some of the mammals pages look like. We had the Brown Bear pages because we were learning about them, but all the other mammals would have these same pages and more with just a different animal and title pictured. There are many different layouts for each mammal.


One of our notebook sessions was outside for a little nature study. I really enjoyed the different layouts that I could print for each child. I was able to print a more blank page for my little guys, and some with lines for me and the older kids. I let them pick. That's one key thing about notebooking is that they should get the choice of which page they want to notebook on. That's one of the nice things about the reference guide. They can look at the catalog, and quickly see which page layout they'd like.


Overall I love It is a great resource with many different subjects of notebooking pages. You have access to thousands of pages for your use, and you don't have to download them all right away with a lifetime membership. There are a lot of great reasons why notebooking works so well including freedom to write how and what they want, more internalized knowledge of the subject being learned, and less pressure to produce the "right answer." Not to mention they make some great keepsakes because it's fun to see your child create their own page of drawings and writings. If you're wanting to get started with notebooking, and aren't sure how or why I'd suggest investing in the Lifetime membership at

To see what others had to say about this great resource click on the banner below.

Notebooking Pages Lifetime Membership Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Cut all the bushes down?

Yesterday was a hard day in many ways. It seemed like everything I did had some sort of obstacle, and I was beginning to wonder by dinner time if I should just go hide in a cave before anything else could go wrong.

One of our many mishaps this day. Alex falling down on our walk. Aric fell down too, and was covered with dirt!

While at the park in Wilsonville we were waiting for April to finish her violin lessons, and Aric decided to throw my keys to me. But between me and him was a big patch of bushes. Apparently he was aiming for the bushes, and missed me.

Well, it wouldn't be so bad except these were thick bushes and shrubs. Great. The keys were lost. I was hoping that he would see the urgency in this, and start looking immediately for them. He didn't, so I had to start jumping in and looking.

As I started looking myself and not finding them I started getting a little more worried. A lady arrived at the park with her son as we were looking. She asked what we were doing, and she immediately started looking too. These bushes were terrible and thick.

We were looking and sweeping through most of them. It was hot and we were getting frustrated. She suggested talking to the park city workers to see if they could help. Not a bad idea. I walked a little ways over to the barn where they often are, but no one was there. I decided to just keep looking.

Then, she says I think I'm going to drive and see if I can find someone, they can just pull all these bushes. What?! I am all for finding the keys, but I'm not sure I want them to pull them all. I am not sure I want to pay for all those bushes, and really pull all the bushes for a wad of keys? She was pretty serious too. So, she left to find someone in her car, and I kept looking.

Finally, there they were! Not even really under a bush, almost to the other edge that was closest to me. I was so thankful because we were late to pick up April at that point, and I didn't want them to have to cut all the bushes down. I couldn't wait around for the other lady to come back, but I did try to find her on our way out, and went to look at the other park parking lot to tell her that I found them and to thank her for her help.  I never found her. Hope she didn't think I was crazy and made it all up!

What do you think? Would you cut all the bushes down for some keys?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

My Homeschool Mother's weekly Journal: summer begins

Life this week... April was off on her first pioneer trek for most of the week. She left Tuesday and we picked her up yesterday (Friday) evening. She had some fun stories to share when she got home, and it sounds like it was a great experience. Her Dad sewed her a cute little pioneer skirt and shirt just before she left. I was amazed that he did that without any patterns. All of it! Great job Daddy!

Daddy sewing the skirt.

The makings of the shirt.

April the morning she left
And, she's home! This is the outfit that Dad made for her. 


She and her friend Emma. They had fun being together a lot of the week, but they weren't in the same family. So cool for her to reconnect with an old friend that she doesn't see very often.


Our summer fun this week...  We went bowling twice. The second time was just a last minute decision. We drove up to Wilsonville to see the bird man at the library, but saw the line to get in and decided we'd probably not make it in. It was raining, so the boys asked to go bowling! We got to the bowling alley and it was super busy. We almost didn't go in, but the boys really wanted to see how busy it was. On Mondays when we usually go, it's not very busy, so they were surprised to see the place packed. Luckily they had one lane open just for us! We didn't have to wait. The boys are really starting to like bowling, but I'm wondering about shoes. It'd be nice to buy some used shoes for them then we could make this an almost free activity. I tried Goodwill, but nothing.


We also went swimming twice, but I didn't get any pictures of it.

Learning this week... We received a new review product. It's an app on the ipad, and Aric was the first to try it out. I have taken on few less reviews this summer so I am down to about 2 at a time. I was having 5-6 reviews going at one time. That's a little too much for me, especially in the summer. I am trying to find balance in the reviewing world.


Accomplishments this week... I mopped my floor. Yes, I won't even say how long it had been. Or, the fact that I had this new mop in the box for a really long time before I finally cracked it open. I am happy to say that I still love a freshly mopped floor! It felt so good. Also, this new mop system I picked up at Costco is awesome (a Mother's day treat for myself :) The kids had a great time with the spinner part (it spins the mop to wring it out). How often do you mop your floor?



I am thankful for... A Dr. who is helpful, and in tune with how I am feeling. I saw her this week, and finally got some supplements that will help me. I am thankful for all this stuff that helps me feel better. Sometimes it feels like I'm taking a ton of stuff everyday, but some of it is very worth it. Some I could do without, but I'm still thankful it's there for the time being.


That about wraps up the week! 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

LearnBop math (A review)

LearnBop for Families Review

We had the opportunity try out an online math program through LearnBop, and we received a year subscription to LearnBop for families so I was able to have multiple children use it, but they also offer a single student plan as well.

LearnBop for Families Review

What is LearnBop? It is an online math program for children in grades 3-12. Although they do have a road map for younger ages that includes some early concepts, so I was able to have my 2nd grader work on it as well. This is a math program that will walk your child through problems step-by-step if they get it wrong. It doesn't just give the answer! As the child works through each math concept they have to master it through "bops" before it is completed. If they try to go ahead it is suggested they complete the current unit before moving on. It is nice that you have the ability to move through and change units if desired though.

Here's how it works... Once an account is made for you or any of your children you then do a warm-up for the level chosen. The questions can seem hard, but I told my boys to do their best, and just guess if they didn't know. After the warm-up the child is then taken to their dashboard where they see what their road map looks like. The first thing for them to start with is laid out in a nice little box. It has videos they can/should watch first that teach the concept, some are required, some are optional. I encouraged my boys to at least watch the first one, then they could try the bop if they felt they understood the concept. When they finish the videos it shows a little check mark next to it so they know they've watched it. Then they can complete the "bops" for that subject (usually 5).

How do I switch between users? It is really simple. I made a student account for all 3 of my older children, and there is a drop down menu where I click on their name to log in for them, and it asks if I want to switch over from mine to theirs. I also have an account which means I can do it too. Yes, I tried out the Algebra 1 a few times. It gave me a feel for how the program worked, and I have to say it's intense. It keeps you moving, and can be awesome or very frustrating. More on that later.

What did my kids think? Mostly they didn't like this program. They would get very frustrated when they got something wrong, worked through the steps to see why, and then still get it wrong because of the way the problem was worded (I have noticed the wording of these is sometimes very different than how we usually think). It was a good challenge for them sometimes, but mostly I had to help them a lot in understanding what the question was asking or how to proceed.

What did I think? I really liked it as a homeschool Mom. I enjoyed working through some of it, and it was very easy to follow. I think it was a great way to get the kids thinking more about math through word problems because that is pretty much what the "bops" consist of. The fact that my kids didn't like it isn't necessarily a reflection of this program. I really like the step-by-step approach to fixing mistakes, but I can see how it could get tedious. I was thinking it would be nice to opt out of the steps, but I just looked and you can! You get 2 tries to restart the problem. Maybe I should show my boys that feature.

I wish I had more pictures to show of this program in action, but never got around to taking any. If you'd like to see more reviews about this program click on the banner below. I saw a lot of other great reviews with some more detailed pictures.

LearnBop for Families Review

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Score!

The library is all decked out for the summer reading program. Had to stop for some photo ops!




Thursday, June 16, 2016

Progeny Press (A review)

I just love study guides, so the opportunity to review The Drinking Gourd E-guide from Progeny Press was perfect for us. It gave us the opportunity to read a book that we already had on our shelf, but hadn't explored yet. I was excited to get my 2nd grader reading this for part of his school work.

Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}

At the beginning of this school year I had picked up a pack of some I can read books planning to incorporate them into my 2nd graders reading throughout the year. I was excited to find out that one of the study guides we could review for Progeny Press would use one of the books that was in that pack. We hadn't gotten around to reading it yet because I just wasn't quite sure how to go about it. This e-guide was a perfect solution! The study guide came in an electronic format, and I downloaded it to print it off.  It includes:

  • Notes to Instructor
  • A synopsis
  • Background Information
  • About the Author
  • Before-you-read Activities
  • Vocabulary
  • Looking at the story: Chapters 1 and 2 (questions(
  • Looking at the story: Chapters 3, 4, and 5
  • Looking at the story: Chapter 6
  • A hidden Message
  • After-you-read activities
  • Suggestions for further reading
  • Answer Key
  • It is also written from a Christian perspective, so it has many scriptures to tie into the story.
When I took this book out and put it with the study guide I expected to read right along with Aric, but he was excited and read the whole thing. After that we just went through the study guide together. We did some before activities, read some other books, answered the questions, mapping, and vocabulary. Since he isn't big on writing we mainly discussed the answers to the questions. He did however do the map page, and I plan to have him do the puzzles. We didn't quite finish it, so I'll definitely be including this in some of Aric's summer work.

I guess I should say a little about what this book is about. In this story a little boy learns about the underground railroad that helps free people from slavery. He sees it in action as his own family is part of this underground railroad, and gets to meet a real family escaping slavery. They tell him about The Drinking Gourd, and all they have to fear for running away. This story is all about the journey of helping the slave family escape, and this boy named Tommy and his family helping them.

This was a beautiful story, but if it doesn't interest you there are many more choices to choose from over at Progeny Press. I was looking through some of the other choices, as they are split up into Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary, Middle School, and High School. There are many other great titles like Charlotte's Web, Farmer Boy, The Hunger Games, The Josefina Story Quilt, and Miss Rumphius. I am looking forward to trying some others for our curriculum next year. Also, the many of the crew reviewed different titles, so you can see what their studies were like by clicking on the banner below.

Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

It's a concrete deal

We have talked about getting our patio extended in the backyard for a very long time. Probably for a few years it has been mentioned and dreamed of, but we've never taken any steps to do it because we just weren't sure if we'd be staying in this house. Well, we finally decided that we'll probably be staying here for at least a few more years so we might as well fix things up how we want!

Time to extend the patio with another slab of concrete!

The boys watching the forms being put in.

We had a great friend from our ward who made this happen. His name is Peni F., and he offered to do this for us, all we had to do was pay for the concrete and supplies. We were both surprised by his offer since we only asked him who he knew for us to conctact since his brother does concrete for a living. He started by coming out one evening last week and put in the forms so it would be ready for a Saturday morning pour.

The backyard seemed a really good place to start since it's summer and all. I've had a lot of dreams for this backyard, and this has been the first step in making this a place for us to enjoy hanging out as a family.

We had to bring in a yard of gravel for  more fill. This is Sat. morning before everyone arrived.
The Saturday morning pour was scheduled for 8am. All of this came together beautifully. We had 3 extra men to help wheel concrete back, Peni and his brother smoothing out the concrete, and lots of kids watching all the excitement. It was amazing, and both Mike and I are so happy with how smoothly everything went. All the help was amazing. We love missionaries, and home teachers! The only problem we encountered through the whole thing was the concrete truck. They called just after 8 to say that a tire had blown. They were sending another truck out, but it would be a little bit. I think it got there about 9ish finally. In the mean time it was like a party in the backyard. I wish I would have gotten some pictures of it all! There were haircuts, donuts, and a little football throwing. What better way to kill time?!

This was the most intense part because time is of the essence once that concrete is mixed! I could tell that hubby was a little stressed! This mobil mix place truck is great because they mix exactly what you need.

 When it was all poured they spent a few hours smoothing it over, and waiting for it to harden a little more. Everyone was finally able to leave at about 12pm. It looks beautiful! We are so excited to have this extra patio space! I was beat after it all, and I didn't even have to move any concrete. It was a lot of mental exhaustion though.


Friday, June 10, 2016

The Glass Castle (A Book Review)

The Glass Castle {Shiloh Run Press Review}

I am excited to be sharing with you a middle school fiction book called The Glass Castle by Trisha White Priebe & Jerry B. Jenkins. from Shiloh Run Press. I thought this looked interesting for my daughter who is just a 9th grader (age 14), but she read one chapter and didn't seem thrilled. I asked her why, and she said that it was too captivating at the beginning. What!? I think that's the point, right? Well, what I really think is that it is an age thing. She feels like it is written for the younger crowd, so she couldn't get into it. So, I had the opportunity to read it because I couldn't see my 10 year old boy being interested in it right now(castles aren't his thing, maybe soon though). I did ask him, and he said "nah."
The Glass Castle {Shiloh Run Press Review}

We received a hard back copy of The Glass Castle. I really enjoyed reading it! I actually thought it was pretty intriguing at the beginning, and wanted to read more. I found myself wanting to mark some great quotes throughout the book. It is very well written and thought provoking for a middle school book.

Here is what it is about...

It starts out with a girl named Avery and her brother walking through the woods. Avery is pretty sure they are being followed, and is trying to protect her little brother. Next thing she knows she is being captured, and her brother is gone. She ends up at a castle with other captured 13 year olds, but they are all hidden in the King's castle because the new Queen wants them all gone. Avery wants to go home, but first she has to figure out why she is there. She joins with a few of the others to help take charge of the underground network of children, and... that is where I am at in the book. Since Avery was captured she has had to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. What at first seemed like a terrible situation where nobody could be trusted had turned into a mystery that seems she is somehow involved in. I loved how the character Avery quickly adapted and rose to the challenge to figure out where she is, why she is there, who is her friend and enemy, and most of all what she could do to help.  I also loved how the theme of the family runs throughout this book. Avery wants nothing more than to be back with her Dad and her brother. There was a great quote from Avery about her family that I wish I could find now, I knew I should have marked it! What a great example to this age group of the importance of family, and working together for good.

I could see this book leading to some great discussions and lessons. If I were reading this aloud to my children, which I may do with my boys someday when they are older, I would love to take the part where she has to make a crest for the "family" of children, and she in turn thinks about her own family and what her own family crest would look like. I think that would be a great opportunity to make a "family crest" with my boys for our own family, something I've wanted to do for a while. I might even do it myself first!

Personally, I loved this book. I am not done, but I am looking forward to finishing it. I have even recommended that my daughter give it another try. I think she could really like it if she would just give it more of a chance. I would highly recommend this for a  middle school age child, and think it would be a great literature to include in a reading list for the school year. I'd love to see a study guide to go along with it too. Also, there are more books! This is the first in a new series. There will be another book coming in October 2016 called Ruby Moon: Thirteen book 2. I may have to continue to find out what happens!

To read more reviews from other crew members click on the banner below.

The Glass Castle {Shiloh Run Press Review}

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, June 6, 2016

52 lists: My favorite snacks (week 21)

Any list involving food should be super simple right?  Especially when it comes to snacking. I am looking forward to listing my favorite snacks!

  • Salt and pepper pistachios
  • Veggies/chips and hummus 
  • Cookies
  • Chocolate
  • Any kind of bread item
  • Bagels
  • Caramel and chocolate popcorn
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Brownies
  • Fruit (mostly berries)
52 lists with Chasing Slow

52 lists: Things that keep me up at night (week 22)

What keeps me up at night? That list might be too long. Maybe I should just make a list of what doesn't keep me up at night. Note that I am also typing this post when I should be in bed :)

  • Computer--Blogging, planning for school, bills, catching up, etc.
  • Allergies--I can't sleep when I'm sneezing and coughing like crazy. 
  • My children--Not as much now that they are older, but I still have at least one crawl into bed with me everynight.
  • Worries/fears--Everything under the sun becomes a worry when I'm supposed to be sleeping!
  • Stormy weather--I always love to hear and see the storms. Too exciting to sleep
  • Too hot/cold--Cold is worse for me than hot. I get shivery at night sometimes.
  • Sickness-- Me or any of my family. I am usually up with the sick kids.
  • Hunger--this one doesn't happen very often because I'm not usually hungry in the evening, but once in a while.
  • Too much to do--sometimes I wish I didn't have to pause to sleep!
  • Reading books--not as often though because I don't like to turn on the lights.
  • Hotels--I often don't sleep well in different places
  • Editing pictures--back when I actually took pictures, that is.
  • Strange noises--This is a given
  • Bad dreams--
  • Exciting trips or plans--If something exciting is coming up I will keep thinking about packing or planning or whatever is involved.
  • Laundry--I will stay up to get ahead on the laundry sometimes. Or maybe it's that I'm awake so I figure I might as well switch a few loads.
52 lists with Chasing Slow

Friday, June 3, 2016

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner (A REVIEW)

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 Review

I love planners. I always have, ever since high school (and maybe even before that). I have used many over the years, and they have much of the same features. But, as a homeschool Mama, having a special one for homeschooling planning has been necessary and very helpful. I have been using planners especially for homeschoolers for the past 3 or 4 years, but I received a different one to review this year. It's the Hey Mama! Print Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 from The Old Schoolhouse

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 Review

I was happy to find a special gift with my planner, a bag, but this doesn't usually come with the planner it can be purchased separately. Getting my hands on a new planner is always exciting for me. I love to imagine all the possibilities of what I can fill its pages with.


So, what's inside this planner?  I won't list everything out individually because the picture of the table of contents below will give you a complete list, but I will point out a few things for the general flow of this planner.


The first part of this planner is the month in view calendars. It has 2-page layouts of each month beginning in July. With homeschooling it's nice to have calendars that start in July as we get ready for the new school year. My old planner ends in June so this works out perfectly.


Then after the month in view it moves onto the Weekly, or "Week of" pages. There are many pages of these, probably 52 but I didn't count. Tucked in these weekly pages are some pages with inspirational thoughts, reminders, scriptures, quotes, and educational tidbits about old things to go along with the "old schoolhouse" feel.


Also along with each month in view layout there is a notes page for each month along with a "Hey Mama" page that has some thoughts for the Mama. I love this. Having a whole note page for a month is nice. I always have a lot of random thoughts for the month, or things that need to get done.


Following the weekly layout there are many other useful pages for a Homeschool Mama to use throughout the year such as yearly goals (for each child), attendance charts, writing prompts, curriculum planning pages, timelines, a homeschool contact list, and more. That's what's in this planner in a nutshell!

How am I going to use this? Since it doesn't start until July I have used it to start planning for next school year. I have started listing out some of the goals for each child. I've filled in a bit of July, and I will probably start putting in important dates for each month. And, I really need to get to curriculum planning, but just haven't had the desire yet.

Overall, I think this planner is very useful and simple. I do wish that the weeks weren't separate from the months, I'm used to having them all intertwined with the months. But, it is a nice feature to be able to fill it all in for each week. I may or may not use it for this school year, I am not sure yet as I'm still exploring it.

If you want to see how others use this planner, and what they have to say about it click the banner below.

Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 Review
Crew Disclaimer

Edit: Almost forgot about this!  A coupon for $10 off the Print Planner...

Coupon Code Hey Mama Planner 2016 2017
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