Monday, March 27, 2017

Cub scout blue and gold banquet

Here's another edition of missed that post Monday!

This actually happened last month in February, but just didn't finish it to get it up on the blog.

From February 23...
We had our blue and gold banquet this week. It was kind of a big deal for our family because both boys advanced in their rank. Aaron received his Webelos and arrow of light, and Aric received his Wolf badge. He was very excited, although you wouldn't think that was the case with this picture!


The blue and gold banquet is like a birthday celebration for cub scouts, so it was fun to have such a big event for both boys happen to fall on a big pack meeting.


This arrow of light ceremony was different than usual. The Webelos leader arranged for the "order of the arrow" to come and perform it since there were so many boys receiving theirs. It was really special.


All the boys who received their arrow of light awards that night.


Aaron proudly displaying his arrow. He sure felt good that night.


Aric received his wolf badge, which is his first rank in cub scouts. He worked hard, and sure does love passing off adventures.


A short video I made of the Order of the Arrow ceremony.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

J is for Jenga


This week's abc blog post is the letter J, so I picked Jenga for our family game of the week. We love a good game of Jenga over here. We have played it many different ways, some just plain old fun, and some for learning.

One time we played to practice multiplication...


We play and talk about books with our special edition of Jenga for "booklovers"... (I love playing this one)...

June 8, 2015~ played while camping
We have played a giant version at a farmer's market during the summer...

July 16, 2015
And, we play together for any ol' game night just for fun...


Our Jenga game is well loved, and I believe we've had it since we got married. It doesn't even have the box anymore.


It has been used for building towers, counting, even one block has a smiley face because we used it for a baby Jesus one Christmas. They are handy little blocks, and make for a fun family game.


I am linking this up with:

A Net In Time Schooling

Here are my other abc posts:

A is for aggravation
B is for Bingo
C is for Chess
D is for Derby
E is for Evening of Games
 F is for Face
H is for Hullabaloo  
I is for It

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bessie's Pillow (A REVIEW)

Strong Learning, Inc.

Today I am sharing a book I received for review called Bessie's Pillow. It is a historical story about a young girl who travels to America for a better life to escape the persecution of the Jews in Glubokoye, Lithuania in the early 1900's. The author, Linda Bress Silbert, is the granddaughter of that young girl, she along with her husband own Strong Learning, Inc. a well known tutoring company and the publisher of this book.

Bessie's Pillow

With all that is happening in the United States right now with immagration, I thought this would be a fitting read to get a feel for what being an immigrant is really like. To see it from their perspective, and feel what they feel. Reading this book for myself helped me to do just that. I didn't give it to any of my children to read, but will save it for when they are a little older. I think this would be a great read for older children, and will probably ask my oldest (who is 15) if she would like to read it. I think she is old enough to understand some of the hard parts, like the reasons that Jews are trying to get out of Lithuania during that time, and she might also enjoy seeing life from the perspective of an 18 year old immigrant.


This beautiful story begins with Young Boshka at age 18 getting ready to board a train in Vilna, Lithuania. She is saying goodbye to her mother Mamaleh, her father Tateh, and her little brothers. Before she gets on the train she is stopped by a mother whose son is already in America, and wants to deliver a special pillow to him. Boshka takes the pillow in hopes that she can find the boy whom the pillow goes to. She makes the long journey to America, arrives, and starts learning how different things are as soon as she lands. She is immediately worried that she will not be accepted and sent back. She passes inspection, and receives a new name Elizabeth. But, then it changes again because her friend thinks she should have a more Jewish sounding name, so she becomes Bessie.

Bessie gets settled in America and decides to live with her friend Miriam, and Miriam's brother Lou. She finds work, first in a sweatshop down in the bad part of town where there are a lot of Jews who live in poverty and filth. She has that job for 2 days before she decides never again. She goes on to find better jobs. After much time she finally decides to find the boy whom she needs to deliver the pillow to, and the rest is history (I don't want to spoil any of the story!). Up until that point the pillow had been a great comfort to her during her journey to America, and the things she must face when she gets to America. She had pulled the pillow out often for comfort during her journey to America, and throughout the first year or so after she arrived. When she finds the owner of the pillow she starts a new adventure in America. She faces many trials still, but goes on to help others in big ways, and raises 4 children. I won't say who she marries because that might be a spoiler if you decide to read it, but she does marry, and she does become a widow while her children are all very young.


I found some great quotes throughout the book, but one that I want to share is how she feels after she first arrives, and is starting to learn about things. I can only imagine what it must be like to be in a new country with all new people, and ways. I imagine I'd feel the same way...

"I feel silly. It has never occurred to me that there are Europeans who came to America so long ago--I still have much to learn about this country, especially if I want to become a citizen." ~Bessie
Now, she says this after she meets a man whose ancestors are from Europe, but he himself has been in America his whole life, so English is his native language, but wants to learn German so he can communicate better with his customers. But, it is a feeling I think she felt very often. There were many new things for her to learn, including the English language, and she often found herself needing to learn new things and ways. I'm sure she felt "silly" pretty often.

I enjoyed this book very much. It was an easy read, with many twists and turns that I didn't expect. I would often start reading, and couldn't put it down because I just wanted to know what would happen next on Bessie's journey. It also inspired me to be a greater help to those around me. Bessie met and helped so many people in her lifetime. What a great legacy to leave behind.

As I was reading I also found myself wanting to find out more information about things that I didn't know about. There is a resource to find out more related to this book at this Bessie's America website. It also could be used as a study guide with all kinds of fun things to do relating to that time period. I didn't use it in that way because it was just me reading, but I did refer to it with my questions.

If you'd like to read more reviews about this book you can click on the banner below.

Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Apple Pi Pie on 3.14

Book: Nerdy Nummies by Rosanna Pansino


Apple numbers!

Lotsa cinnamon apple numbers!
Apple Pi Pie complete!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Creating a Masterpiece (A REVIEW)

Creating a Masterpiece

I have often caught myself thinking "if I could just do art all day with my kids, I'd be a happy homeschooling mama." Well, I had the opportunity to try out some new art projects for myself and with the kids. We had the opportunity to try our hand at Creating A Masterpiece. We were able to access all the projects offered through the online Monthly Plan, so we had many interesting ideas and mediums to choose from. We could use watercolors, and oil pastels for one project, or gouache and acrylic for another. There were colored pencil art pieces to work on, and there was even a woodburning section! Some lessons require more unusual supplies than we are used to, but we loved it because we were able to try out some new techniques that we'd never even done before.

Creating a Masterpiece

At first I was a little overwhelmed at the different supplies I needed to chase down for each art lesson. There were things I had never even heard of before, like White Gesso, but Creating a Masterpiece has this wonderful feature within each art project. You can access a supply list for each and every art lesson, click on order materials, and order the supplies directly from Blick. It opens up a separate window, and you can add exactly what you need to the cart. Of course, if you already have something, you can just take it off too.

All of the art lessons are only accessible online, and the lessons are taught through videos. Some lessons have only one video, while many of the higher level projects have several videos that are split up into lessons. To get started we would log in to find a page called "Desiree's Art Studio." It has a visual library split up into levels: Beginner, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4, Level 5, and Art in History. We can pick any art project from any level, but the higher leveled projects are a lot more involved. Requiring several steps, and they take several sessions to complete. For our first project we chose a beginner Lesson in Mixed Media: Candlelight.

Our Candlelight project: Mine is on the left, Aric's (8) on the right.

I did this one with my 8-year-old since it was a beginner project, and he really wanted to try it out. He was able to follow the video very well, and was able to create something that he is very proud of. With each project we completed I could see why this art program is called Creating a Masterpiece because you really feel like you are both during and after the project is completed. These are very detailed, and intricate lessons that really bring out the artist in anyone.


The supplies needed for this project were oil pastels, bristol paper, watercolors, 1/2" watercolor brush, and a pencil. We had most of those supplies already, so we only had to pick up some bristol paper. This lesson was only one video long, so we were able to complete it in less than an hour.

We had fun trying out some new art mediums and techniques. If you'd like to give this a try for yourself, Creating a Masterpiece offers a Sample project. But, I have to say if you'd like some quality art lessons these are well worth it.

If you'd like to see what others had to say about this art program you can click on this banner below.

Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews}

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

A new horse lovin' book series (A REVIEW)

Kregel Publications

We have enjoyed many horse books over the years. My daughter, who is now 15, loves horses. Since she was about 7 years old she would come home with every horse book from the library she could find. Unfortunately, she never found a good series that she liked. Oh how I wish she had this new series, Circle C Stepping Stones, back then! She would have gobbled them up! I received in two physical soft backed copies, the first two books in this series to review, Andi Saddles Up and Andi Under the Big Top. These books are published by Kregel Publications.

When I first saw that these books were about a horse loving girl I wasn't sure if it would appeal to my boys who are the right age for this book right now. These books written by Susan K. Marlow, are recommended for the 7-10 age range. Well, my boys fit that age range, they are ages 10, 8, and 6. Also, one of my boys does like horses a bit, and the stories seemed like they would be enjoyable by both boys and girls, so I decided to try them out. I chose to do these as a read aloud, and we all ended up enjoying them!

Andi Saddles Up
Add caption

The first book, Andi Saddles Up, starts off with a birthday wish and takes us back to those childhood days when we wished for something so bad. I remember feeling that way as a child, hoping that a birthday surprise might be waiting somewhere. Well, that is how Andi is feeling as this book starts. She is wishing for a new saddle to use on her filly that she can ride whenever she wants now that she is nine. My boys and I enjoyed the suspense in seeing if she got that new saddle in the first few chapters. Then, the adventures she goes on now that she can be out with her horse on her own. This story made us all want to go out and start riding lessons again, so we could enjoy the horses too as much as Andi and her brothers get to. 

Andi Under the Big Top

Andi under the big top is the second book in the series. It's about how excited Andi is when the circus comes to town. She can't wait to go see it. While at the circus she meets a boy at the concession stand, and thinks his job looks fun. She soon learns more about him, and decides she needs to help him.

There are some great things to go along with these books at the book's website. There is an activity study guide with 56 pages of various learning activities to go along with both books. There are also beautiful coloring pages that are the illustrations straight from the book. There is also a link to a lapbook that can be purchased. So much great stuff to help with reading comprehension! Also, both books have a "new words" section at the front of the book. This was great! It helped my boys understand some of the horse lingo, and new vocabulary before we started.

Overall I think these are fun, beautifully written and illustrated books. I love that they have good family values and stories. 

If you want to see what the other review crew members had to say, you can click on the banner below.

Andi Series {Kregel Publications and Susan K. Marlow Reviews}

 Susan K. Marlow and Kregel Books can be found here also:
Twitter (Kregel Books): 
Twitter (Susan K Marlow):
Facebook (Kregel Books):
Facebook (Susan K Marlow):

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Monday, March 13, 2017

I is for It

Our family favorite game for this week is Spot It. We have a few versions of this game, both regular and Frozen (the movie).


We pulled it out today to play for a break in school today, so Alex is sporting our St. Patrick's day. We also started studying Ireland today.  This is the regular version. The boys are always excited to play this, and it's a fun game to just quickly pull out and start, it's so easy! The object of the game is to find a matching picture with the card that is on top of the deck. You take a card when you find the match. There are a few other variations in the instructions too, I believe.


It can get pretty intense trying to find a picture and grab the card quickly before someone else does!


That wraps up the letter I for this week! I am linking this up to:

A Net In Time Schooling

To see the other games I have posted about here is the list!

A is for aggravation
B is for Bingo
C is for Chess
D is for Derby
E is for Evening of Games
 F is for Face
H is for Hullabaloo 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Eclectic Foundations (A REVIEW)

Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations }

 We had a chance to try out a Language arts program from Eclectic Foundations. This particular language arts curriculum appealed to me because it uses the McGuffey's eclectic readers as the spine for reading. I have collected a few of those over the years, and we've given them a try, but I've always wanted something to go with them. I've always had the thought: It'd be great if there were some lessons to tie into these great readers. Now we finally have something!


What did we recieve in Eclectic Foundations Language Arts Level B?

We received printed spiral bound copies of all the books including: 
  • Teacher's Guide
  • Student Workbook
  •  Phonics Practice Sheets
  • And Word cards
The McGuffey reader was also provided to us for convenience in a printed spiral bound book. This would normally have to be purchased separately, or found for free digitally online. We happened to already have a copy of the First Eclectic Reader, but enjoyed having the printed version which was bigger, and therefore easy to read.

Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations }

Who did we use this on?

I originally picked Level B for my Kindergardener who is already reading many words. This proved to be the wrong choice for him in some ways. First, the grammar was too much for him. Second, he had a hard time with some of the words from the word lists, but he can read the First McGuffey reader pretty well. They didn't seem to match the McGuffey reader in his ability, and were to hard for him to figure out with sounds he didn't know. For him, I think he would have been better suited for Level A. So, these are definitely at or above level as far as what level to start your child in.


What's in a lesson?

The Level B lessons are designed for about 1st-2nd grade level, and they don't take long to complete. It took us about 15-20 minutes per lesson. We would open up to the lesson, and follow the outline while my child worked in the student workbook. Each lesson includes 5 sections, which are:

1. McGuffey's~ about 2 lessons are read each week
2. Phonics~ this includes a wordlist to read/learn
3. Handwriting~ For this level it is cursive, and starts with only single letters
4. Poetry~ Reading just one or two stanza's at a time, and finding the rhyming words are some of the lessons here.
5. Grammar~ Learning basic grammar

There is not a lot of prep needed for these lessons! 

My Kinder boy decided he wanted to write and underline the words as he was reading in the McGuffey's reader, and I let him because it was a printed copy. That may be another benefit for printing it from an online digital copy that you can get for free. This really helped him focus.

What else could we do?

I decided that I'd let my 3rd grader try out a few lessons since it wasn't working for my Kindergardener. The 3rd grader really enjoyed all of it. The McGuffey reader was definitely too easy for him, and the grammar was a lot of review, but he still enjoyed the quick and to the point lessons. He has just started learning cursive so that was a fun challenge for him. I'd love to see what he could do with the Level C books! Right now they only have Level A, B, or C. Soon they will have Level D in April of 2017.

Part of some of the lessons is to color the word cards according to what kind of word it is. For example, a noun is colored red, a verb is green. Both boys really enjoyed this part.

What do I think?
While our Level B wasn't a correct match for my children's reading levels right now, I think this is a great curriculum. I certainly plan to put this away until next year when my son is in first grade, and more ready for this level. I enjoy the McGuffey readers in their simpleness and old fashioned feel (they are from a different time for sure!). I love that there is poetry included, and the grammar lessons are simple. 

If you'd like to see what others have to say about all 3 levels that are available, you can visit the Homeschool Review Crew page, and check them out for yourselves.

Language Arts {Eclectic Foundations Reviews}
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