Our Family

Our Family

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cute Summer Pictures

I can't believe today is the last day of July. Summer is going by so fast. We have had a lot of fun this summer and been very busy. I had these cute summer pictures of the children and wanted to remember to post them before summer was over!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

How Important is Good Customer Service?

Most of the time when you buy or order something, everything is the way it is supposed to be and you never have to deal with customer service. Have you ever ordered something from a company and it takes forever to get it and you can't get in touch with anybody? have you ever bought something that you were completely displeased with or eaten at a restaurant where everything goes wrong? Does how they react to you as the customer determine whether or not you buy their product/service again?

To me good customer service is very important. When I am spending my (well technically my husband's) hard earned money on a product or service I want to know that my experience with their product/service matters to them. If we eat in a restaurant and have a horrible experience that is not made right, I don't care how good the food is, we won't go back. If I buy a product from a company and am very displeased with it, or it takes forever to arrive, or you can never get in touch with anyone, I won't order from them again.

The reverse is also true. When a company goes out of their way to ensure that their customers are happy and satisfied, it makes you want to go back and buy more products from them. A few weeks ago I ordered some homeschool products through The Old Schoolhouse Store. Each of the vendors that you buy from ship their own products. For some reason, my order from Visual Manna did not arrive. After a couple of weeks, I contacted The Old Schoolhouse Store (who by the way contacted me back right away and was very helpful in trying to solve my problem) and they contacted the vendor. Within two days, I received a package from them with a note of apology. Unfortunately, it was the CD version of what I ordered, not the book. I contacted the vendor directly and received an email response almost immediately. She apologized profusely and assured me that the correct product was on the way. She also sent me links so I could download their Artsy Animals book and workbook. She really made me feel like I as a customer mattered to her, even though the book that I bought was not even expensive, and went out of her way to make up for the mistake. I will definitely order from Visual Manna again.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pea Pod is 5!

My sweet little Anthony turned 5 today. For months he had been saying he wanted to go to the beach for his birthday. So, yesterday we loaded up about 8:00 and headed over to DeGray Lake in Arkadelphia. DeGray is a beautiful lake and has a very nice beach area with a few shade trees, picnic tables, and grills. I was worried about it being too hot (with the heat index it was supposed to be 108 degrees), but there was a nice breeze off the lake and was a little overcast in the morning. We grilled hot dogs for lunch and stayed at the beach almost 4 hours. We left right when it was starting to get really hot, headed home to eat cupcakes and open presents. It was a great day, and Anthony said it was his best birthday ever!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Our First Egg

Our 4-H chickens are 18 weeks old now. We still have 39 (only lost one when it was 3 days old) and are all doing really well. The other day, Art discovered the first egg. Chickens usually start laying eggs anywhere from 16-24 weeks old depending on the type of chicken. Hopefully they will all be laying soon and we can sell last years laying hens. We will have plenty of eggs, so anyone that is local we sell them for $2 a dozen and we could use a few more egg customers. The boys use the money to buy chicken feed and supplies for the chickens.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

We Are A 3 Bathroom Family Again!

The downstairs construction project (family room, playroom/schoolroom, bathroom) is moving along. Three years ago when we bought this house, one of the things we liked about it was the 3rd bathroom downstairs off of the playroom. Unfortunately, after a hot water tank explosion, a flooded playroom and laundry room, repeated water leaking (until we found the source of the problem), and work on other areas in the house prevented us from finishing that bathroom. I am very happy to report that we now have a completed downstairs bathroom. Now the children don't have to go all the way upstairs during "school time" or when the baby is napping. Hooray!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Bought A Laminator!

I had never even thought about buying a laminator, or the many uses for one in the home and the homeschool. After spending some time reading and visiting several homeschool blogs, I decided that a laminator would definitely come in handy. I did not want to spend a lot of money on one, especially because even though it sounded great, how did I know it would be something I would get a lot of use out of? I found this Scotch Thermal Laminator that comes with two pouches at Target for $27.99. A 50 pack of 8.5x11 pouches were $14.99 and a pack of wet erase markers were $4.44

I had an opportunity to use it for the first time today. First, I printed out a couple of printables for Christian and Anthony off of http://www.nickjr.com/. Then, we plugged in the laminator. It took about 8 minutes to heat up and we laminated their printables.

While they were having fun, I laminated a few pages for menu planning and weekly school schedules. It was very easy to use and didn't take long at all. I am sure I will find a lot of good uses for my new laminator.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Scary Moment

It was a beautiful morning and the three little ones (3 older children are at my parents' house for the week) headed out to do some chores and play. We took care of the dogs and checked on the chickens, and I told the children to go and play in the sandbox for a little while before it got to hot to be outside. Something (thank you Lord) made me go into the sandbox before them and I moved some of their toys around. When i picked up one of their dishes that they "cook" in, out crawled a Black Widow Spider. I scooted the children onto the patio and killed it. I am proud to say that Anthony (5) recognized it and knew it was poison. It is actually the third Black Widow that I have had to kill in 3 years (somehow they are always spotted when Art is at work) but never so close to where they play. I took the opportunity to spray all around the swing set and sandbox and will definitely check the sandbox before I send them into it again.

TOS Review: Travel the World

What do you do with a houseful of children when it is 100 degrees and they can't go outside to play? Give them something fun and educational to do!

Recently, the children and I had an opportunity to use and review The e-book Travel The World from the Old Schoolhouse Store. Geography can be a very boring subject to teach with the wrong presentation. I was very pleased with using this product and would love to tell you more about it.

Description: An e-book from The Old Schoolhouse Store, Travel the World the June 2010 Planner Module can make a great addition to your School House Planner, but is also a stand alone Geography Unit Study. It is available for immediate download to your computer for only $7.95 and nothing else is required to use this study, although a globe or a map is helpful to have on hand. The age range for this product is Elementary all the way through High School. Through this e-book you will: visit 7 continents researching places to visit, learn fun geography facts, create your own lapbook, find out what the Bible has to say about God's design for the earth, learn about latitude and longitude, and enjoy fun internet games and map activities. Activities included in this E-Book are: lots of geography information, a study guide, activity pages, coloring pages, copywork, lapbooking pages, puzzles, quizzes, resource pages, recipes, and High School expansion pages.

What we liked: I loved that this study required no advanced preparation from me. We just downloaded the e-book and got to work. The study starts off with just the right tone explaining what the word geography means and that it is the study of the setting that God chose to tell "His story." The wide variety of activities makes it easy to find something that is appealing to everyone. All of the children were able to sit down and work on this study together, and then Chelsea could do some more involved work using the High School expansion pages. The links to the online quizzes and games were great. We especially liked the map game that matched the shape to the country. Even the little ones could play it!

What I Think Can be Improved: Although a variety of copywork comes with the study in both manuscript and cursive, the lines to write on are rather small making it difficult for the younger writers. We "tweaked " this by having the boys copy onto notebook paper.

My recommendation- Great geography study with a great price! It can be hard to find things that my whole family can use together so this was perfect for us. We really enjoyed working on this study, and learned a lot from it. I also love that it can be used again and again. To order this e-book, or to read more information about it, click here.

I received a complimentary copy of this product for the sole purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Getting it All Done

I remember when I had only 3 children, Chelsea was in school and I met a mom with 3 kids who homeschooled. One of the questions I asked her (and have been asked many times myself now) was, " How do you get it all done?" First of all, you never get it all "done." There will always be something more to do. Take the laundry for example. On those rare days when I get it all wahed ,dried, folded, and put away, it is bedtime and they all take off their clothes and put on their pajamas. What is more important is finding a routine that works the best for you and your family. With 6 children in my house, I can guarantee that the house is never spotless (and if it is it only lasts about 5 minutes.) For me, that's OK. While I think things to be neat and tidy my biggest priority is not a spotless house. I do like to get my husband's opinion on what he thinks is important. For instance, Art doesn't care if there is unfolded laundry left in the laundry room as long as his clothes for work the next morning are put away, or if there are a few dirty dishes in the sink as long as he has a cereal bowl and spoon for his breakfast. Another thing that is important to my husband is to eat supper at 5:00. He goes to work early in the morning and is hungry when he gets home so I have supper on the table every night at 5:00. I am one personand cannot do all of the work in the house on my own. The children have age appropriate chores that they are expected to complete. We are a family and need to all work together to get things done.

Our day is scheduled in blocks of time. My school day schedule looks a little something like this:

7:00-9:00- breakfast, morning chores

9:00-11:00- morning school time. All of the things we work on together (Bible, Art, or special projects ) are done first

11:00-12:30- lunch, cleanup, recess

12:30-2:00-naps (for little one) independent school work

2:00-4:00- productive free time

4:00-5:00- kids clean up toys mom makes supper

5:30-7:00 free time

7:00-8:00-snack baths, bed (for all of the children even though Chelsea can read in her room until 9:30)

8:00-10:00- I get to visit with my husband, use the computer, read, do some small chores that did not get finished during the day.

We also only do schoolwork 4 days a week. Fridays we take off and run errands, go to the park, and buy groceries (yes, they all go shopping with me). Once a week cleaning jobs also get done on Friday afternoon.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Movie Review: Toy Story 3

Tuesday, we went to the movies and saw Toy Story 3. We love the Toy Story movies and couldn't wait to go see this one. We chose not to see it n 3-D (higher ticket prices and they don't make glasses in smaller sizes and they fall of Christian and Anthony's face.) It was a great movie. There a a few parts that I would say are pretty intense for a G rated movie and I would have given it a PG rating. Christian and Anthony (3 and 5)were scared during a few scenes at the end and I had to work pretty hard to cover both of their eyes and balance Lily on my lap. There is also a part in which Ken invites Barbie to come and live with him in his dream house forever( without being married of course) that I thought was worth mentioning. All in all it was a great movie and wrapped up this series very well. Mamas, don't forget your tissues, you are probably going to need them. We will definitely be buying this movie to complete our Toy Story Collection.

I received no compensation for this review it is my own personal opinion.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Last week, Anthony came down suddenly with a stomach bug. Poor little fellow was violently ill for about 4 hours, fell asleep, and woke up almost as good as new. Now, a week later when we are visiting my mom and dad, Christian came down sick suddenly. All day long he seemed to be fine. He was acting sleepy, but we had a very busy day. Then he fell asleep on the couch and woke up crying an hour later. He was burning up with fever and complaining of a stomach ache. No vomiting yet (hope it stays that way.) Fever has broke and I am staying up with to give him some more Tylenol before I head to bed. Praying this illness does spread to any of my other children or my two nephews (2 and 1) that are here also.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Elementary Curriculum for This Year

Our school year will not be officially starting until the 2nd or 3rd week of August. I already posted Chelsea's 9th grade Curriculum here. Nick will be in 3rd grade and Alex in 1st. Anthony will be 5 in July and Christian 3 so they will be tag alongs on some projects and I am going to put together some workboxes for them to keep busy during "school" hours (more on that another time.) Lily is one and half so keeping her out of some of our projects this year may be a bit challenging. Here is what we are using for Nick and Alex:

Science: Abeka 3rd grade Discovering God's World. I am using this text with both boys instead of doing a separate text for 1st and 3rd

History: American History Study starting with the Revolutionary War Time Travelers CD from Homeschool in the Woods

Math: Abeka 1st and 3rd

Language Arts and Spelling (3rd grade) Abeka
Hooked on Phonics Reading (1st grade)

Handwriting: Peterson Directed Handwriting. I had not picked a handwriting program yet and just found out that I will be reviewing this one for TOS.

Art: Visual Manna ABC's of Art

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Arkansas HomeSchool Laws

Every state has different rules and regulations for homeschoolers. I have already written a post on my personal opinion on homeschool regulations. If you would like to read it, you can find it here. Regardless of what I think of regulations, they are there and we must abide by them. Compared to a lot of other states, Arkansas's homeschool laws are a piece of cake. If you will be homeschooling in Arkansas this year, or if you are thinking about it there are a few things you need to know.

Arkansas Homeschool Law states that a parent or guardian must file a Letter of Intent (stating your plans to homeschool), and a Waiver Form( stating that the state of Arkansas is not to be held responsible for the education of your child) no later than August 15th (don't be late) to your local Superintendent, or 2 weeks before you plan on pulling your child out of school if the school year has already begun. If it is your first year homeschooling, you must deliver it in person, if not you can send it in the mail. The entire form must be filled out, signed, and dated. That's all you have to do to get started homeschooling in Arkansas. You are not required to go through any kind of interview or questioning by the school board or superintendent. You do not have to give your reasons for wanting to homeschool. The only other regulation we have is that children in grades 3-9 have to take the Math and Reading portion of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills every spring.

Where to find your homeschool forms? Go to www.arkansashomeschool.org. This is the website for the Arkansas Education Alliance. In addition to homeschool forms, they have a lot of information on homeschooling in Arkansas, support groups, transcripts, etc...

If you have any questions that I can answer for you or you need encouragement, leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you or help however I can!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Book Review: Cast of Characters From the Writings of Max Lucado

I have just finished reading the book Cast of Characters Common People in the Hands of an Uncommon God, from the writings of Max Lucado.

Description:From the back cover, "Common people...Story after story marked by scandal, stumble, and intrigue. Who are these people? They're the people of the Bible. And they're us. We find our hope where they found theirs. In the hands of an uncommon God."

Cast of Characters is a gathering of stories from some of Max Lucado's most famous books. In this book he revisits several biblical characters including: Joseph, Matthew, Woman who washed Jesus' feet, Mephibosheth, the Samaritan Woman, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Abigail, the paralyzed man, John, Paul, the two criminals, Moses, David, Esther, Job, Nicodemus, Jairus, Peter, Paul, Sarah, and the Rich Young Ruler. Each chapter starts with the Scriptures, tells it in a contemporary version, and then talks about the meaning of the Scripture and how it relates to each one of us. There are also reflection/discussion questions at the end of every chapter.

What I Liked: Each chapter is short and concise giving obvious places to stop and start and time to study the Scriptures and go over the questions at the end of each chapter. I enjoyed the conversational tone of the author and the way he relates each story to today. It made me think in a different way and reminded me over and over again that God can and does use ordinary, sinful people like me to do extraordinary things.

My Recommendation: A very good book. Enjoyable to read, study and reflect on. I would definitely recommend this book and leave you with this quote, " The reassuring lesson is clear. God used (and uses) people to change the world. People! Not saints or superhumans or geniuses, but people. Crooks, creeps, lovers, and liars-he uses them all. And what they lack in perfection, God makes up for in love."

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Walls and a Change in Direction (sort of)

The walls in the family room are up! I cannot believe how much has been accomplished in such a short time period. While Art was finishing the walls in the family room, he noticed a wet spot on the floor and decided to check it out further. The problem was discovered, but he wanted to check the playroom also to make sure it was OK too (it is shares a wall with the family room.) During the initial investigation, some light surface mold was discovered. Since we have had several water problems down there (which has led to this renovation) Art decided to make sure the mold was not more extensive and pulled up the whole playroom floor. The good news is he only found one other area with surface mold (easily cleaned up.) Now we have 2 rooms in a bit of disarray and all of the toys from the playroom in various places around the house. Originally we thought we would try to work on both rooms at the same time, but now the focus will be turning to the playroom and getting that back in order which will still take several weeks. Until then we will try to keep the toys somewhat under control and I must clean out and organize the book shelves, which needed to be done anyway.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I Ordered Some New Homeschool Products!

I am a curriculum junkie. I love to browse through catalogs, look through exhibits at Homeschool Conventions, visit websites and read reviews. I love books of all shapes, sizes, and colors. I did not have to purchase hardly anything this year because of a large amount of curriculum that was given to me or that I picked up very inexpensively last year. There were a few items I was looking for (some wants, some needs.) This is what I ordered on Monday:

Revolutionary War Time Travelers CD from Homeschool in the Woods $28.95. I love history and am teaching Nick and Alex American History this year. I was looking for a fun, hands on Unit Study for the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and heard about http://www.homeschoolinthewoods.com/. The sample lessons looked great and I got some great reviews. If you are looking for fun hands on history check out this website. They also have a study on Composers and Artists, time line figures, and maps. I can't wait to get it in the mail!

Super Star Speech $18.95- Anthony is almost 5 and is still struggling in his speech. He is such a sweet, smart boy but he gets very frustrated when people can't understand him. I heard about this product through last years TOS Crew Reviews on http://delightinginhisrichness.blogspot.com/. To see the Super Star Speech products go to http://www.superstarspeech.com/

Visual Manna's ABC's of Art $14.95. My children are very artistically talented. I am not. Crafty yes, but my stick figures don't even look good. All of the Art teachers I can remember were not very nice and so Art Class was not fun for me. I wanted to find a book that I could use with all of the children once a week that will teach them more Art type skills and that we can have some fun with. I found this product at http://www.visualmanna.com/.

I ordered all of these from The Old Schoolhouse Store where shipping is always free! I will write reviews on these products after I get a chance to use them.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Best Blueberry Muffins!

I bought some blueberries the other day and was looking for a new muffin recipe. I don't make blueberry muffins very often, and the last time I did they did not turn out so great. I found this great recipe here. These muffins turned out very moist with just the right touch of sweetness. I doubled the recipe and got 20 large muffins. One thing to note, the amounts for the crumb topping are too much. I had enough left to do at least two more batches so you might want to cut it in half.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Visit to the Eye Doctor

Two years ago when Nick was 6, he began complaining of headaches and that his eyes were always "tired." After getting his eyes checked, he was more far sighted than normal for his age and needed to wear glasses for reading, computer, and video games. Last year his vision had not changed at all and he was able to keep his same glasses. Today, I took him and also Alex (6) who has never has his eyes checked before. Both boys checked out A- okay and Nick does not need to wear his glasses anymore! Nick was very happy but wouldn't you know that Alex was disappointed. He thought it would be fun to wear glasses like Nick had. I told him he could have lots of fun wearing his sunglasses.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

5 Common Homeschooling Misconceptions

When people find out you homeschool, it can lead to some crazy questions or comments. Most of the time, people are genuinely curious about what we do and how we do it. Here a five common homeschooling misconceptions.

1. It takes different forms. What about socialization? Homeschooled children don't know how to act "normal" like their public school peers.....and so on.
I have written other posts on this, but it comes up so often, I thought I would cover it here. First of all, education and "socialization" should be two different things. If your child's main purpose to going to school is to socialize you might want to spend some time thinking about that. Second, there are plenty of social activities that homeschoolers can participate in. We have a homeschool co-op that meets monthly, are very active in 4-H, meet once a week for a play date at the park,regularly visit an assisted living facility, and attend church every week. Third, I find that homeschoolers can relate to people of all ages because they are around more than just people in their own age group. Also sibling relationships tend to be much stronger because of all the time they spend together.

2. I am not "qualified" enough to teach.
There is no one more qualified to teach your children than you. A four year degree does not make you a better teacher. No one knows your child better than you do.

3. I can't teach things like Algebra, I haven't used it in 20 years!
One of my first questions when I started homeschooling was," What happens when her knowledge exceeds mine?" The answer is pretty easy. Help them find a way to learn it. The Internet is a great tool that can be used by your child to learn things you may not know a whole lot about. The library is another tool that can be used. Private lessons, online courses, homeschool c0-ops, a skilled person you may know all can contribute to your child's education.

4. People think the homeschool has to be like public school (7 hours a day, 5 days a week, piles of textbooks...etc)
It does not have to be anything like public school. You can teach whenever it works out better for your family. Some children are early birds and like to get going first thing in the morning, other children learn better in the afternoon. We only spend 2-3 hours a day, 4 days a week on "school." Some children learn better with textbooks, some are hands on learners. There really is no wrong answer. You have the freedom to do whatever works out best for your family.

5.Homeschooling is very expensive.
It really varies. You can spend next to nothing by using the library, Internet, and "real life experiences," or you can spend hundreds of dollars on a "curriculum in a box." You can end up in the middle, buying what you like from different companies. Buying used can help save some money, check out www.ebay.com, Craig's List, or used curriculum sales.

Oh yeah, and one more. Yes, I love homeschooling my children! I thank the Lord every day for a supportive husband and being able to keep them home. Our lives are a little chaotic, my house is never spotless, but we learn a lot together and have a lot of fun!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

4-H Fun!

We have been very busy with 4-H Activities! Yesterday, Chelsea went to Science Day and had a fun filled day trying out different Science Experiments like making a rocket, lava lamp, egg float, and other fun stuff. Today was Cloverbud Day which was especially for 4-H kids in the 5-8 year old age range (Christian and Lily tagged along of course.) Chelsea was a teen-leader volunteer and did a great job keeping the kids busy and helping with the Experiments. We played games, made some cool crafts, and did a couple of Science Experiments. We love being a part of 4-H and all of the great things the kids get to learn and do.

A Finished Product!

I started working on this Rag Quilt (crib size) when I was still pregnant with Lily (now 15 months old), back in the good old days when you could still buy fabric at Walmart. I thought I could finish it before she was born , but had too many other projects in the way, and no "spare " time at all after she was born. The quilt was stored away in a drawer and I really hadn't given it much thought until the other day. I pulled it out and decided to work on it. You know what? It took me only about 40 minutes to finish it! All of this time I didn't think I had enough time to finish it, and in less than an hour I was done. Those of you who are fabulous sewers, do not look too closely. I haven't really had a whole lot of sewing experience and really have taught myself when Chelsea developed an interest a few years ago, I am very pleased with the way it turned out.