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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Truth and Training Thursday


Thursday is here and that mean's it's time for Truth and Training at Awana.

The kids had last week off since it was Thanksgiving.  Everyone seemed to have had a great holiday and was ready to recite their verses tonight.  In addition to Awana night, it was also Boys Vs Girls night, where the girls and boys compete to see which team can collectively recite the most verses.

Alyssa's Sparkys talked about the Great announcement made to Mary by the Angel saying that she would give birth to the Savior.  They also talked about how John lept in Elizabeth's womb when he heard the voice of Mary when she visited Elizabeth.

The wonderful Janet Till teaching the Sparkys this weeks lesson

Alyssa's blue team did VERY well with their verses with Nine earning their badges/wings and jewels.



For Truth and Training, Ashleigh completed section 2.4 in her Evidence of Grace book. This weeks lesson continues the teachings of the books of the Bible and discussed the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). We discussed how each book talks about what Jesus did while he was on earth and how each book tells the same true story, just from a different point of view.  We took a look at a few verses from each Gospel that highlighted important events in the life of Jesus and then we took a look at John 3:17 where Jesus tells exactly why he came to earth (to save the world).

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received:  That Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures. 

That He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures  
                                                                                                           -- 1 Corinthians 15: 3-4

In addition, Ashleigh also had to recite her verse from the week before Thanksgiving.

I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brothers.  And I will put My words in his mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command him. 

And whoever will not listen to My words that he shall speak in My name, I myself will require it of him.    --Deuteronomy 18:18-19


Finally, she had to be able to recite the first four books of the New Testament. As she has already learned all the books in the Bible in order, this part was easy for her.  She is actually irritated that she couldn't just recite them all at one time and be done with it.. LOL 

Matthew Mark Luke John

Since it was Girls vs Boys night, Jerry (the head of the Awana program at our chapel) reminded the kids what the true meaning of Awana is (learning verses and being able to help spread the words of Jesus to all around them) before that there was a tie between the two teams.


As a tie breaker, the children were given a riddle to answer:  A lake has algae growing on it's surface. Each day, the amount of algae doubles.  If on day 10, the algae covers 1/2 of the lake, how many days would it take for the entire lake to be covered?  After many guesses, one of the girls came up with the correct answer (1 day) and so the tie was broken.  As a reward, the girls were each given a pen that had a pullout insert that listed all the books of the Bible.

Ashleigh and her best friend, Abagail, show off their rewards.

Since Advent starts this Sunday, the kids wanted to check out the decorations that the chapel has in the sanctuary.  The Nativity scene has not been added yet, but the tree, banners and the Advent candles were out and on display.  




Next week, the Sparkys will be going to the Awana Store to spend the Awana dollars they have earned so far this year.  TnT will not go until the following week.   Instead, Ashleigh will be learning about the Acts of the Apostles and will work on memorizing Acts 13: 48-49.  She is also working on memorizing Psalms 23 in order to earn her first Truth Script pin.  

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Enjoying Our Thanksgiving Holiday


Thanksgiving is over. How the heck we're at the end of November and at full steam heading towards December and the end of 2017, I don't know.  This year has flown by so fast, it seems like only yesterday we were sitting at this very same spot in 2016.

I hope each and every one of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family.  Since we are thousands of miles away from our family, it was once again just the five of us but that didn't stop us from having a great meal.  Our Thanksgivings almost always go along the same route.  We watch the Macy's parade while Charles and I share the kitchen together, preparing our "feast".  Charles makes the best turkey, hands down, so that's always left to him, along with the homemade cranberry sauce.


The rest of the dinner is my job - cornbread dressing, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, and fry bread.  We cheat on the pies though and usually order premade from the Schwan's truck.  Maybe one year I will get brave and make a pie from scratch.  (I am planning to make a peppermint cheesecake from scratch for Christmas though).


Our Finished Feast, ready to eat. 
Usually, we eat around 5pm.. Then, when everyone's fat and happy, Charles and I call our parents to see how their holiday went.  Finally, all the leftovers are put away which is a job in itself, like playing tetris trying to find out how to fit it in our tiny fridge, especially the turkey.  Dishes are put in the dish washer, counters wiped down and then it's time to relax.  (Sometimes with a glass of wine lol)


Thanksgiving is also a time for family fun.  That usually means family game night.   Our new game for this year (we always get one new board game for Thanksgiving) is Battleship, so Dad taught the kids how to play.  Garrett caught on really quickly and I think it has now become his new favorite game.



Afterwards, we pulled out Ticket to Ride.  I had bought it back in June but we hadn't played it yet.  Charles has declared it's the best game he has played in a long time and really enjoyed it.


In the end, Mom ended up winning (blue trains) after completing all my tickets and didn't get the penalty. (Alyssa would have won but she had a 20 point ticket and even with the longest continuous, it wasn't enough for the win).


Ashleigh and Garrett pulled out one of their favorites, Tapple, and had a bit of fun with that before it was time for bed.

Another one of our post-Thanksgiving traditions is putting up our Christmas tree and enjoying our dinner of Thanksgiving Leftover Pasties while admiring it. Then, by the light of the tree, we whipped out a few more board games and had a bit more fun.



Most people do not know what a pastie is (Pronounced pah-stee).. These are Cornish handpies that are extremely popular in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  We spent about 3 months living in the UP outside of Houghton 10 years ago and one of the things we brought back to the south with us was these wonderful pies.  The miners use to bring these with them, wrapped in foil, for their lunches because they were convenient and was able to stay warm by the time they were ready to eat it. Traditionally, they are made with minced beef, potatoes, rhutabega, and spices wrapped into a flaky dough. However, these are made with Thanksgiving leftovers - turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce.


As my oldest would describe it, "Think of it as a huge Hot Pocket stuffed with Thanksgiving dinner"..  I'll do a post tomorrow with the recipe, in case you're looking for a way to use up some of those leftovers.



Another round of Battleship - per Garrett's Request. 


While my animals have it in their minds that the tree was put up just for them to sleep under.



Today, we spent most of the day putting up our Christmas decorations outside.  Charles started hanging up the lights around the house (but realized he is going to need an additional extension cord in order to hang up the colored lights) while I tackled the ground decorations.







And finally, it was time to decorate the tree.. We almost always allow the kids to do the decorating now, as they have such a fun time picking where each ornament should go.




This is the only ornament that I actually hang each year.  This was the ornament that Charles and I bought on our honeymoon at Disney World and it always has a very special spot on the tree.







And here's the finished tree in all it's glory..  We usually put ribbons on the tree, but Charles decided he didn't want to do them this year.  That's okay though, I think it still looks pretty nice without them.

Since the tree is up and decorated, tonight our Elf on a Shelf, Jack, will most likely make its appearance for the year.  Which means I have 30 days of trying to figure out something to do with the lil toy every night. LOL



We've had a wonderful long Thanksgiving weekend and we hope your family had a wonderful holiday as well. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Blue Ribbon Awards


The 2017 Homeschool Review Crew year has officially come to a close. This year, the Crew reviewed over 75 items ranging from curriculum, audio recordings, religious tracts, books, and even movies and when all is said and done and the last review is written, the members of the crew then vote on what their favorite items were from the year.   The top vendors that receive the most votes in each category are then awarded the Homeschool Review Crew's Blue Ribbon award.

It's always hard for me to vote for my Blue Ribbon choices, as there are always so many wonderful vendors to choose from.   Many may wonder if, when they read my reviews, if I intentionally put a positive spin on my reviews but one the review is written, I stop using the product. I can assure you, this is not the case.  A large percentage of the items I review, I tend to continue to use in its entirety because they really are top quality products.  Many of the vendors who have been awarded Blue Ribbon awards are products I am still using with my kids.

Garrett's Top Choice - Reading Eggs



There are very few educational products that my son actually asks for - Reading Eggs is a major exception to this.  I've had to show him how to log into the website on his own after he hogged my laptop one too many times.  Garrett loves how learning with this program has become "play time" for him with the various activities, games and even the worksheets provided from this website.



Ashleigh's Top Choice -  Thin Stix paint sticks from The Pencil Grip Co.

If it's art, then Ashleigh loves it.  Kwik Stix paint sticks have been a huge hit in our household for a while and Thin Stix wins Ashleigh's top choice, hands down.   Along the same lines, Creating a Masterpiece was also a huge hit for Ashleigh who still uses many of the techniques she learned from this curriculum for her artwork today.


Alyssa's Top Choice -  Drive Thru History

Alyssa had a really hard time picking just one favorite, but ultimately, Drive Thru History won out
with her.  It might be because she has a crush on Dave Stotts though ;)  However, she says she learned a lot about the Gospels, Biblical times and the life of Jesus through watching the videos and enjoyed how Stott's presented the material to keep it from becoming what could have been a pretty dull documentary.

Mom's Top Choice - Let's Go Geography and Memoria Press's Prima Latina (tie)

This was a really hard choice for me and I couldn't just pick one item.  Hence, the tie.  We are absolutely loving using Lets Go Geography and the kids are learning. It's more than just learning to locate a country but also learning about the cultures and customs of those countries.  The neat little art projects that the kids get to make each week just add to the run.  Even Alyssa has been joining in with our lessons so that she can learn more world geography as well.

Tied with Lets Go Geography would have to be Memoria Press's Prima Latina, the introductory course for learning the Latin language.  The structure of this curriculum makes for easy learning week after week and it's been amazing how much Ashleigh has learned since we've been using it. 

So, those were our top picks for the 2017 Crew Year.  But, we're just one family out of many who reviewed this year.  While each one of our top picks was awarded a Blue Ribbon in this year's awards, we only listed our absolute top favorites and there were many categories that are taken into account in the Blue Ribbon voting, many which were categories that involved items we did not review because they did not fit our family demographics.

So, I present, the full list of 2017 Blue Ribbon award winners, as selected by the Homeschool Review Crew as a whole. 

Favorite Reading Curriculum – Reading Eggs
Favorite Writing Curriculum – Writing with Sharon Watson
Favorite Grammar Program – Eclectic Foundations
Favorite Penmanship Program – Channie’s Visual Handwriting & Math Worksheets
Favorite Literature Curriculum – Hewitt Homeschooling 
Favorite Social Studies Curriculum – Let’s Go Geography
Favorite History Supplement – Rush Revere
Favorite Science Curriculum – Innovators Tribe
Favorite Math Curriculum – CTC Math
Favorite Math Supplement – Times Tables the Fun Way
Favorite Foreign Language Curriculum – Memoria Press (Latin)
Favorite Fine Arts Curriculum – Creating a Masterpiece
Favorite Elective Curriculum – Doctor Aviation
Favorite Christian Education Curriculum – Drive Thru History
Favorite Christian Education Supplement – Brinkman Adventures
Favorite Preschool Product – Reading Eggs
Favorite Elementary Product – Susan K. Marlow
Favorite Middle School Product – Innovators Tribe
Favorite High School Product – Doctor Aviation
Favorite College or College-Prep Product – Institute for Excellence in Writing: High School Essay Intensive
Favorite Parent Product – Everyday Homemaking
The Resource I Didn’t Know I Needed –  Innovators Tribe
Favorite Planning Product – Only Passionate Curiosity
Best Online Resource – Reading Eggs
Best e-Product – Home School in the Woods
Favorite Book or Novel – Rush Revere
Favorite Audiobook or Audio Drama – Heirloom Audio Productions: Captain Bayley’s Heir
Best Product Just for Fun! – Drive Thru History
Kids’ Choice – The Pencil Grip: Thin Stix
Teens’ Choice – Drive Thru History
All Around Crew Favorite – Drive Thru History
Congratulations to all the winners and Thank You to each and every one of them for giving us an opportunity to use and review these wonderful items. 



Homeschool Review Crew Favorite Products for 2017

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Meal Planning



It's that time again.. When I make my list and head 45 minutes to town to get my shopping done for the next pay period.  Yes, you read that correct, 45 minutes.  Granted, we have a commissary on base, but their selections aren't that great and the prices are even worse so in order to save money, we make one big grocery shopping trip to town.  If I do happen to forget anything, well, luckily, I have the commissary 5 minutes away but when your a single income family of 5, saving as much money as possible is a good thing, especially with Christmas right around the corner.

Sunday - Sloppy Joe Meatball subs with chips

Monday -  Ham and Cheese Tortellini

Tuesday -Philly Cheese Stea Sloppy Joes with oven baked potatoes slices

Wednesday - Three Sister Soup with Fry Bread .




Thursday -  Thanksgiving meal.

My husband makes, without a doubt, the best turkey I have ever had, along with a homemade cranberry sauce that's so good, you could put it over ice cream.. lol  Along with Turkey, we also make a sausage and sage dressing, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, hominy and  Native American fry bread. (The hominy and fry bread is to tie our Native American heritage to our holiday).

Our Thanksgiving Spread a few years ago

Friday - Turkey and Dressing Pasties with Steamed Broccoli

When I took a temporary job years ago to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (to Houghton), we were introduced to pasties.  Once we crossed the Mackinaw bridge to the UP, we saw signs everywhere saying hot pasties for sale. We finally let curiosity get the best of us and pulled in to the next sign we saw and I went in to find out what it was.  DO NOT make the mistake I made and pronounce the A with a long A, it's a short A  (think of how a sheep says baaaah)..  These are hand pies typically filled with ground beef, potato, rutabaga, carrots, and seasoning.  However, our post-Thanksgiving version features leftover turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.  ( I will actually blog the recipe for this one on Friday).

Saturday - Turkey Tetrazinni  (again, trying to use up the left over bird lol)

Sunday - Pulled pork bbq baked potatoes with steamed broccoli


Monday -  Baked Chicken Fajitas with black beans

Tuesday - Bacon Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole  with salad

Wednesday - Crock Pot Chicken and Gravy over rice with salad

Thursday -  PAYDAY.. I'll be honest, I will probably end up taking the kids to Panda Express or Subway before AWANA lol

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Weekly Wrap Up


It's Friday.. That means yet another week of school completed and in the history books.  It's always a sense of accomplishment when we get through another week.

Or original plans were to start our new year the first week of October but between illnesses for both myself and Garrett that didn't happen as planned.  This meant that we got a late start on 4th grade but are now a few weeks into our schooling.  Thankfully, we homeschool year round, so we will have plenty of time to play catch up for the two weeks that we missed.  We did take a week off from our foreign language lessons this week but will resume those next week.


The kids are doing review on their multiplication and division this week, using sheets from our 3rd grade book, as well as with lessons from CTC Math.  I just want to make sure the kids know this information and are able to recall their multiplication and division facts without difficulty before we move on to using our 4th grade book.


Ashleigh is actually doing well enough with the material that she tends to finish before Garrett. So her worksheets tend to be quite decorative ;)


For grammar, the kids are working on proper sentence structure and creating their own sentences from giving words.  I'm really happy with how much improvement Garrett has made with his writing, as it is looking much more legible.

If you recall, I recently did a review of Lets Go Geography.  I couldn't say enough good about this program in my review, we loved using it.  We did take a few weeks off so that we could add it as a full-time geography curriculum for our school year.  Last week we picked up learning about Haiti.  This week, we learned about Nicaragua.



The kids absolutely loved making these cute little Sea Turtle puppets, which was the craft for this week.


While we did this project last week, I figured I would include it here.. This was the artwork the kids did last week in regards to Haiti.


In addition to the Lets Go Geography curriculum. the kids have also been learning about various wonders of the world as we read through the book Richard Halliburton's Book of Marvels - The Occident.  Garrett is absolutely LOVING this book.  We read the chapters together and then we view videos from Expedia on Youtube to see the places we're reading about in living color.


This week, we read about The Panama Canal, Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls, Rio de Janerio and The Rock of Gibraltar. Garrett really enjoyed the section about the Panama Canal and ended up watching a few documentaries that showed how the locks work.  Ashleigh has declared that between Lets Go Geography and the Book of Marvels, she wants to travel the world like Mr Halliburton and see all of these wonderful places in person.

In our history lessons, this week we learned about St. Patrick and his life, Attila the Hun and the Hun invasion of the Roman Empire, and the ultimate fall of the Western Roman Empire. We will probably do a more in-depth study of St Patrick's life when March rolls around, but the kids did get a really good overview of what a testament his life was.  Today's lesson about the fall of the Western Roman Empire led to a really great discussion about taxes and inflation and how we see similar examples of this in today's society.  We also discussed how Rome's moral compass led to their ultimate fall and whether or not we're doomed to repeat their mistakes today.


The kids had tons of fun with Science this week.  We have been discussing the digestive system in our anatomy and physiology course.  This week, we learned about how digestion begins in the mouth with the teeth and how amylase in our saliva begins the breakdown of carbohydrates in our foods.  Next, we discussed the stomach.  We learned about the sphincter valves at the top of the bottom of the stomach that keep the acids within the stomach inside.  We discussed how the cells of the stomach create a mucus that keeps the acids of the stomach, which are designed to digest the proteins in muscle, from trying to digest our own body.  We also discussed the small intestine, the pancreas and the liver and the rules that they play in digestion.

Science always means experimentation and this week wasn't any different. Our first experiment is one that will take a bit of time.  Currently, we have one of the kids baby teeth that they have lost in the past and it is soaking in a glass of Sprite. This is so we can observe while it is important to take good care of our teeth and the impact that sugar can have on the enamel of the tooth. We will continue to allow the tooth to soak in the solution til next Friday and will make observations then.


 A second experiment we did was to take a bit of cracker and place it on their tongues and just hold it there. The kids observed that originally the cracker tasted salty but over a few moments, as it began to get mushy from the saliva in their mouth, it began to taste sweet, due to the enzyme amylase breaking down the carbohydrates in the cracker. We followed this by following the same procedure with a piece of cheddar cheese. The kids noted that the cheese did not become sweet and we discussed that this is because cheese is a protein, not a carbohydrate. 

A third experiment was to imitate how the stomach works to break down food into chyme, the liquidy broth made as the body breaks down foods into smaller particles.  To show this, we simply placed a cracker and a piece of bread into a ziplock along with a bit of water and the kids got to squish the bag, just as the stomach does with food


Our final experiment this week was much like the one above, but this time we wanted to show how Bile helps to break down fats.  To show this, we simply poured a bit of olive oil into a ziplock bag with water.  The kids were able to observe that the oil ad water separated and would not mix together. The oil, which is a fat, remained in large blobs floating on the water.


We then added a bit of dish detergent to the mixture.  This allowed for the oil to separate and begin to break down.  Much like the dish detergent, Bile breaks down the fats and allows them to be dissolved within the blood to go to the places they are needed within the cells.


Not a bad week, I must say.. 
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