Our Family

Our Family

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Our Week in Review (3/19-3/26)

This week we took off for a little spring break. The local public schools were off this week so most of our afternoon and evening activities were cancelled (it was so nice to have a break!)  I thought I could use the time during the day to get a few cleaning tasks accomplished that needed to be taken care of.  I never get as much done as I plan on, but we did get underneath the furniture cleaned, two closets cleaned out, and the bedrooms cleaned and organized.  I also got some shelves organized in my living room and we got some yard work done. I need to do some cleaning out of the school room area, but I am going to wait a couple of weeks and then hopefully do some cleaning out as I sell some curriculum we wont be needing next year.

The illness that has been plaguing the children has carried on, but no one has been running a fever. The cough lasts for a very long time. I thought most of them were over it again but then a new round of snotty noses and sore throats started up again.  Maybe this time we can blame it on the pollen.

We did not completely take the week off of school. We did an ArtAchieve lesson on Japanese Goldfish one day.

The next day I found the children doing more goldfish, and ever since goldfish have been appearing on paper everywhere in my house and even on the whiteboard at Sunday School.

We also watched several episodes of Drive Thru History The Gospels (upcoming review.)  This is the first time I have ever watched Dive Thru History and we love it!

I have an upcoming review called Color My Conversation so we worked on a lesson this week.  I have been reading The Illiad myself for an upcoming review and I read a few books this week and watched the accompanying DVD segments.

Monday I had to take Lily back to the doctor for a follow up visit.  He said she is fine and back to normal.  Monday night Christian was supposed to have a soccer practice.  It was a beautiful day so I told the children we would go and walk the nature trail while Christian was practicing (except for Alex who was not feeling well.) We got to the park and Christian did not have a practice.  We went and walked the trail anyway with Christian. It is a 1/2 mile trail and we walked it twice then headed back to the house.

Tuesday we went to the zoo.  Chelsea was off and able to go with us and it was supposed to be a nice day. Well, it ended up being 85 degrees which is very warm for us for March. I think it felt even hotter because just a few days before I was wearing two layers of clothing to be warm enough to sit and watch the soccer game. We were very toasty walking though the zoo!  There were more people there then I have ever seen before. So may that the parking lots were all full and I had to park down the road and around the corner.  We had a good time but did not see everything.  I have a pass and we will hopefully get to go again before it gets too blazing hot. It is almost a 2 hour drive for us to get there.

I did not take a ton of photos.  Christian took a lot of animal pictures now I just need to figure out how to get them off the camera and on to my computer.

The reptile house is not one of my favorite places, but the children love it!  It is one of their favorite places in the zoo so I have come to appreciate it more then I used to.

These birds were really close to us in the aviary.

The zoo is undergoing some renovations so some of our favorite things were not there to see.The children love alligators and their exhibit was closed. There was only one zebra because that exhibit was being renovated and a couple other things.  Some of the animals were not out because they were hiding in the shade.  After the accident that happened at the zoo last year, they have added a lot more fencing and protection around many of the habitats so seeing the animals is not always as easy as it used to be.
We love penguins!

The renovation on the Heritage Farm was finished (it was still under construction last time we were there.) That turned out really cool.  There is a barn and farm animals such as chickens, turkeys, sheep, goats, geese, miniature horse and barred owls.  Some of them you can pet and feed.  There are a few interactive exhibits like a fake cow you can "milk." We took the train ride that starts and ends in the farm area and I learned some things about the zoo animals that I didn't know.

This miniature horse's name is Lilly

The girls love the carousel.  It is the oldest working one in Arkansas ( I think.)

We were tired when we got home!!

Wednesday Sonic had .79 ice cream slushies so after our cleaning was finished I went over and got some for the children.

Thursday I stayed home all day!

Friday we had grocery shopping and pizza and a movie. 

We had Sunday School and church this morning and now I need to get everything ready to start school again tomorrow. We only have around 5 weeks left of our after school activities left for this year.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Virtual Fridge: Japanese Goldfish

We have just started working on a review of ArtAchieve.  We reviewed Level One last year and loved it, so I was very excited to see them as a repeat vendor.  This year we are reviewing Level 2.  Today we decided to start with The Japanese Goldfish.  We needed white paper and markers to complete this project.

 This is the warm up sheet.  Every ArtAchieve lesson has a warm up.
 It is drawn in black marker.
 And then colored in.

Last you work on the background.

Lily (8)


Emmie (6)

Anthony (11)

Christian (9)

Linking up here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Review: Grace and the Preacher by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Grace and the Preacher releases today!

24 year old Grace Cristler works as the postmistress in her town of Fairland Kansas.  Her uncle has decided that it is time for him to step down from the pulpit and Grace is responsible for corresponding with the Rufus Dille, the man set to take his place.  Grace had all but given up hope on getting married, but begins to feel attracted to Rufus through his letters.

Theophil Garrison is on the run.  Ten years ago Theo decided not to help his cousins take part in a robbery and now that they are out of prison, they are seeking revenge.  A set of unusual circumstances could help provide Theo with the escape he needs, but the young man's con might come at an enormous price.

Historical Fiction is my favorite type of book to read.  But, specifically my favorite type of Historical Fiction are books by Kim Vogel Sawyer.  There's just something very special about the way she writes, the time, effort, and emotion put in each of her books.  But the most important element are the messages of Faith, Hope, Forgiveness, and the Love of God that shines through each of her novels.

Grace and the Preacher is a fantastic story.  It is a romance, but it is much more then that.  It is a story about following God's path for your life and trusting in Him rather then man.  It is a story about redemption and forgiveness.  It is a story showing that you are never too old to follow God's call on your life. 

You will fall in love with the town of Fairland Kansas and it's characters.  I loved Grace and Theo, but my favorite character  is Aunt Bess.  She is a wonderful mother figure for Bess and Theo, but she treats everyone in the town with love and kindness.  She's not afraid to do or say what she thinks is right and she is always seeking God's plan for her life.

I highly recommend Grace and the Preacher and other books by Kim Vogel Sawyer!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to the FTC regulations. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Homeschool Crew Review: Creating a Masterpiece

When I was in school, I did not like art at all.  I did not think I was good at it, and found it to be very frustrating.  Since I started homeschooling, I have always tried to make art a priority, and make it fun.  We have used many different art resources over the years and I love when we have an opportunity to try out a new program.  I was so excited to be able to use and review the Monthly Plan from Creating a Masterpiece.

Creating a Masterpiece is an online art program for ages 4 and up taught by master artist Sharon Hofer through streamed video lessons.  This fine arts program was designed to help students create art step by step that will make them proud of their work and feel like a real artist. There are over 144 projects on the website arranged by level from  Beginner to Level 5 and Art in History. The Art in History level  features different level projects from different time periods in history. Each level has a variety of projects and use many different types of art media. Some projects can be completed in one sitting while other more difficult projects will be created over a period of time. 

The Monthly Plan ( $39.99 a month) gives your family access to all of the levels.  There are other purchasing options as well including an annual plan for all the levels ($349 per year) or purchasing one level per year(starting at $119 per year). You do not need to complete projects in any kind of order, you can pick and choose the projects that you are interested in doing.  Supply lists for the projects are available once you sign up.  The cost of each project will vary greatly depending on the type of projects you choose and the supplies you already have on hand.  Recommendations are given to buy good quality to art supplies in order to produce better results.  Some supplies such as oil or chalk pastels can be shared by multiple students while other supplies require you to have one for each student.  The supply list will tell you how many of each supply you need for multiple students.

Each project is split up into smaller lessons so you can stop and start easily.  You will find lesson tips and photos of lesson highlights for each lesson as well as downloadable high resolution image,supply list, and also photos of reference art.

You can sign up for a sample project.  No credit card information is needed.

One of the reasons I was so excited to have an opportunity to review this was because we had access to all of the levels and I could use Creating a Masterpiece with multiple children of any age.  I have been using this with my 5,7,9, and 11 year olds over the last six weeks.  We started with the Sample Project and I was amazed at how well the project turned out!

Sample Project





Our nearest art supply store is over an hour away, so I looked over the projects in the Beginner Level and Level One so I could make a list of what we needed and order it online.  I wanted the children to have a chance to use different types of art media and try some things that we have never done before. I had some supplies on hand already such as chalk pastels, oil pastels, brushes, and water color paper.  To complete the projects I chose for the review period, I spent around $50  and we have done 10 projects so far.  I ordered my supplies from the online art store linked from the Creating a Masterpiece site and purchased the recommended supplies.  I did not buy one type of paper because it was out of stock and just used regular construction paper instead.

Floral Medley Watercolor

I just love the variety of projects!  But I also like that several of the projects use common supplies.  I bought watercolors and we have used those twice so far.  When you look at all of the project supply lists you can see which projects use similar supplies. Most of the projects in the Beginner Level can be finished in one sitting in under an hour.  For a couple of the projects we had to wait for something to dry before we could move on to the next step.

Winter Cabin Oil Pastel

I love that even though we all are sitting in on the same lesson, no two projects look exactly the same. Each project is made their own and not a complete copycat of the example on the video.

Sailing Adventure Charcoal

I find that video instruction is a great way to teach art in the homeschool.  Creating a Masterpiece brings the expert artist into your home and allows her to teach your children.  I chose to sit down and do all the projects with the children, but with a child that is old enough to use a computer you could have them do the lessons on their own.  You also can repeat a lesson as many times as you want to.  I did not like my Italian Window drawing the first time I did it, so I went back and repeated the lesson.

Italian Window Mixed Media


my 2nd attempt

Candlelight Mixed Media

We have had a chance to try different techniques and use supplies that we have never used before.  We made trees using straws!  We used Tombow pens ( I had never even heard of those before),  charcoal, and soft pastels.  We made a mixed media project using oil pastels and Bombay Ink.  We shaded using drawing pencils.  We have learned so much already and have had a lot of fun!

 African Sunset Watercolor

Something else I've noticed is that the children are using some of the things they have learned in their other artwork.  After we did Winter Cabin, I noticed Christian has been drawing cabins on papers everywhere and after we did the Cardinal, Lily has been drawing birds on her papers.

The Cardinal Ink

When Sharon is doing some of the drawings, she is drawing so lightly it is impossible to see what she has drawn.  I know that this is because to create your masterpiece, it is better to have the pencil line very light so that it does not show.  But I wish she would use something darker in the drawing portion while telling the children to draw lightly so we can see what she is doing. To help the children see the drawing  I printed out the lesson highlight sections that had the drawing in them and this was helpful but it would be much easier to see it on the screen as it is being drawn.  Also Sharon works very quickly and we had to pause the videos often.  This is not so easy when your hands are covered in soft pastels!  I wish more time was given to complete each section of the projects.

Peaceful Lake Soft Pastel

I asked the children to choose which one was their favorite. 

Emmie (just turned 6)

Anthony (11)

Christian (9)

Lily (just turned 8)

We love Creating a Masterpiece and look forward to making more masterpieces! We are going to try some paintings with acrylics next.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!