Just Being Us

Just Being Us
Family, where we can be real, and feel unconditional love!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Off To A Great Start!

     Well, we started our 2017-2018 school year on Monday, July 24th.  I know a lot of people are probably wondering why we start so early, but we have a good reason.  We do the 6 weeks on, 1 week off schedule throughout the year and in order to get everything done and get a 8 week Summer break, we have to start just a few weeks before the public schools in our area.  

     I always enjoy starting a fresh new year.  I love picking out new curriculum and planning our days. The kiddos are always involved in picking out what classes they will take and this year they are taking a few online. I didn't use to care for online classes, but the more I researched them, the more I liked them.  They will give me a little more free time to get other things done.  

      On Monday morning we had our breakfast then took some time getting ready for our first day. I love taking pictures and the kids know how much I enjoy seeing them grow from year to year so they always look their best for these photos. I love how silly they get during our little photo sessions.  

    After they stop giggling and being silly, we get some really cute pictures of them 😊

      These are memories that we will have forever. As the years fly by, we can look back and remember these little moments.  

      Homeschooling is more than just schooling at home.  It is making special memories that will last a lifetime.  It is laughing together.  Loving each other through the rough times. Being there to help one another. Sharing our thoughts and feelings no matter if they are good or bad. It's about learning together as a family.  I feel my children have taught me just as much as I have taught them. 

     After taking photos we worked on starting a few classes in the afternoon.  They are loving their curriculum so far and I haven't had one complaint. I pray the rest of the year goes this smoothly.

     I can't wait to see what this new school year holds for us. I know God has a good plan for our family and He will reveal it one day at a time as we listen to Him and obey His voice.  

      Are you starting school soon?  What are some of your favorite parts of beginning a new year? 


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Our Review of the USA Activity Bundle

     I was so happy to find out that we would be reviewing the USA Activity Bundle from The Crafty Classroom.  For months I had been planning on studying our States and Capitals with my youngest child Hope, and this set is making it more interesting for her.  She loves having pages to color and mazes to do that reinforce what she is learning. We have had so much fun with these activity pages.  I wish I would have had them with my other children. 

     When I sat down to plan out how we would go about using the U.S.A. State by State Activity Notebook with our study, I realized how much it would help us in learning each state's capital, abbreviation, bird, nickname, and flower. They also get a chance to color the flag for each state. There is not a lot of writing to do with these pages, and the writing that is involved will help her learn some important facts about each state.  At the end of this notebook, we have a couple of fun games to do like USA Bingo and Roll Across America. I know Hope will love playing these games.  

     We are trying to work through 2 states a week. We have been incorporating the other books in the bundle by doing the mazes and state bird art cards that go along with the state we are studying.  Hope is enjoying the mazes and the art cards are a perfect fit for her since art is her favorite class. 

     The U.S.A. State Bird Art Cards are beautiful.  There are 27 birds included in the study and each is illustrated in an exceptional way. Your child gets to see how the bird looks then she is able to color a picture of the bird herself.  There is a place to write fun facts about each bird and matching cards to cut out and use to help your child learn the names of each bird and what state/states they are from.  We plan to laminate our matching cards and art cards so they last longer :)  Hope wants to make a book of the bird pictures she colors herself.  She loves to keep portfolios of all her artwork. 

     Hope was so excited to see the U.S.A. 50 State Mazes.  She has always loved doing mazes.  These mazes are shaped like the states they represent. They are challenging yet fun for students.  Mazes are great for teaching critical thinking skills and are always a hit in our home.  

     As you do this study, you will need to look up the facts, flags, and geography for each state, but that is what makes this such a fun activity bundle. We have a few books about the states here in our home, and we used the internet to look up anything our books did not cover. Included in the bundle, The Crafty Classroom gives you some wonderful suggestions for books you can purchase or borrow from your local library that will help you complete the activity pages.  

     If you would like to learn more about this resource and many others like the Learn to R.E.A.D. Curriculum Notebook, I encourage you to check out The Crafty Classroom website and their social media pages listed below: 

     If you would enjoy reading some more reviews on The Crafty Classroom's products, head on over to the Homeschool Review Crew site and see what other families are saying.  

       Have a blessed day!!!!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Our Review of Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit

     As a family who loves arts and crafts, being a part of this review was a blessing.  My youngest daughter, who just turned 10, was ecstatic when the Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit, a paper mache kit, from ACTÍVA Products arrived in our mailbox.  They even gave us a free e-book ACTÍVA Products' Favorite Sculpture KIDS CRAFTS to download that would help us decide what we should create with our kit.  Her smile says it all.....

     Right away she chose to make a bowl with the Rigid Wrap.  This is a plaster coated gauze that makes sculpting easier for children.  The simplicity makes it a great fit for children who like to create on their own.  She is a very independent child and she loves to work on her art projects all by herself.  She doesn't mind mom taking pictures or watching, but she likes to do the actual craft on her own with no help from anyone. At her age, she didn't have any issues following the step-by-step directions found in the e-book.  

     The kit came with plenty of materials to complete the bowl.  

     She started out her project by laying out old newspapers all over our kitchen table.  She has worked with paper mache before and knew it was a messy but fun activity. After making sure she had all her supplies like the Rigid Wrap, a bowl of warm water, scissors, an old bowl to use for covering, saran wrap, and ruler, she began reading her instructions. The project started with cutting the Rigid Wrap into 7-inch strips. She was then instructed to cover the bowl she was using to shape her design, with plastic wrap.  After that was finished she started dipping her Rigid Wrap strips into the warm water and that's when the fun started. 

     The strips are placed in different directions and built up to make layers that are about 1/2 inch thick.  Then you put the bowl in a safe place to let it dry.  Once it is totally dry you remove the bowl you used for shaping and discard the plastic wrap as well.  She was now ready to paint her new creation and decorate it. This was her favorite part. She used acrylic paints to make her bowl beautiful. After the paint finished drying, she added some very cute stickers she had picked out just for this project. She was so proud to show everyone what she had created. 

     I think she did a great job and we can't wait to do another project with the CelluClay and the rest of our Rigid Wrap.  We will also be purchasing more of these kits in the future. What a fun way to express yourself and have fun creating wonderful art projects. It would also be wonderful to use for science projects like an erupting volcano and there are instructions for it right there in the free e-book. 

       If you would like to check out this kit and other wonderful art supplies, I encourage you to visit the ACTÍVA Products website or visit their social media pages:

     There are also some more reviews of this product on the Homeschool Review Crew website. I really love reading what other families think of a resource before I buy it for our family, and that is why I love the reviews done by the Homeschool Review Crew.  They are honest opinions of real homeschooling families. 

     Have a wonderful week!!!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Welcoming A New School Year

     Next week we will be officially starting our new school year. It is hard to believe that this will be our 20th year of homeschooling our children. We have graduated 3 and this year we will have a Senior, an 8th grader, and a 5th grader.  It hasn't always been easy, but I wouldn't trade being a homeschooling mom for anything. 

     The days are long, but the years are so short. As a mom, I love seeing them progress.  Watching them finally understand a new concept is so rewarding. The days when I see them struggling brings me to my knees in prayer.  They are not the only ones learning through this process.  We are learning together. Homeschooling is a humbling experience and I know that without Christ, I would not be able to do it.  

     We have some traditions as we begin a new school year. We start with buying new school supplies. They love getting new pencils, pens, notebooks, and folders.  It's important to start the year on a fresh note. That is why I let them get new supplies even though we probably have a few things left over from our previous school year. 

      On the first day of school, we have a big family breakfast with all their favorites.  They love pancakes, bacon, and chocolate milk.  Mom even sneaks some chocolate chips in those yummy pancakes.  It always brings a smile to their faces. When our meal is over we stop to pray and ask the Lord to bless our new school year.  We ask Him to lead us and to keep us on track.  We want to please Him in all we do and say. 

     After our breakfast time, we take our first day of school pictures.  That is always a fun time.  We take the time to look back over the past years pictures and see how much everyone has grown. Many times a few tears fall as I look back over the previous years, but they are tears of joy, not sadness.  I celebrate the fact my children are growing into fine young men and women. I am so grateful to have each moment with them.  Being able to spend time with them while I teach them means so much!!!

     Years ago I used to think we had to get right back on a track with a whole day schedule as we started back to school.  As I have grown as a parent and teacher, I know that it is best to ease into our new school schedule after our summer break. We start with one or two subjects the first week and add a couple of subjects each week until we are back on a full schedule. This makes things much easier for me and my kiddos. 

     I am so excited to kick off our new school year. I have some fun activities planned for us and I know we will be learning some wonderful new things. 

      I want to make this year special for my son Ryan.  This is his last year and I want to make it memorable.  He is an excellent student and has always been a joy to teach.  He is a great example for his younger brother and sister to follow, and I pray that he has a marvelous year. 

      Josh and Hope also have huge milestones they will reach at the end of this year.  This is Josh's last year in middle school and Hope's last year in elementary.  Oh, where has the time gone?  I will be praying that I can bless them as we learn together.  We will make many memories that I hope they will look back on with fondness.  

      How do you commence your new school year? Do you have ideas you would like to share with us?  I would like to hear what your family does to make it special.  

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Our Review of Doctor Aviation

    What boy hasn't dreamed of being a pilot? I know my boys have been interested in airplanes since they were little.  That is why when we were picked to review Doctor Aviation I was so thrilled. I knew my son, who is 17, would love to take these online classes that would teach him Aviation History.

     When I went to log on to our account I immediately saw something that caught my attention.  When you purchase this course, 70% of the revenues are donated to Young Life, Cru, Campus Outreach and other organizations working to restore wholeness to America's youth; the future of our country. Here is what they state about why they donate: "Doctor Aviation is deeply concerned about the cultural pressures hurting young people today. We want health and healing for America." This just warmed my heart and I was even more excited to have my son learn from such a reputable company.  

     As my son began the classes he was impressed with the knowledge that the instructor had. His credentials include 24 years in the Air Force as a pilot and instructor, a research pilot, the author of a book on aviation and now a college professor.  I believe his years of experience is what brings life to this course.  He knows what he is talking about and is passionate about teaching it to young people. 

     The course includes 15 sessions that last about an hour. The courses included are:

Session 1 Course Overview: The Aviation System
I. The Aircraft

Session 2 The Major Components of an Airplane
Session 3 Axes and Forces
Session 4 Why an Aircraft Flies: The Secret of Airfoils and Lift
Session 5 Why an Aircraft Turns, Pitches and Slides: The Flight Controls
II. Air Traffic Control
Session 6 How We See an Aircraft Miles Away: The Secrets of Radar
Session 7 The Air Traffic Cops: How Air Traffic Control Works
III. Maintenance
Session 8 Keep ‘Em Flying: Aircraft Maintenance – Propeller Engines
Session 9 Keep ‘Em Flying: Aircraft Maintenance – Jet Engines
IV. Airfield Operations
Session 10 The City in and of Itself: Running a Large Airport
Session 11 The Small Airport and Running an FBO
V. The Aircraft II
Session 12 Flying in the Clear and Not so Clear Air: VMC and IMC
Session 13 Important Pilot Instruments – Attitude Indicator
Session 14 Important Pilot Instruments – Airspeed Indicator
Session 15 Other Aviation Ships: Gliders, Helicopters, Airships

     Each session also gives you PDF downloads that include: 
  •  guided notes to use while you watch the videos
  •  a list of resources to allow you to research about what is being covered during the session with a list of You Tube videos, hands-on activities and writing assignments to name a few. 
      Some sessions include a download to help prepare you for the exams.  I think this is a great resource for students who want to study and do well on the exams.  


     The site is easy to navigate and it keeps track of your progress.  It is geared for people 16 years and older, but I think a family could take the class together and learn so much about aviation. 

      My son has enjoyed the sessions he has completed so far and is looking forward to finishing up his classes soon.  He said that he wishes he could be an Air Force pilot, but certain medical conditions will not allow him to pursue this field. However, I am praying one day that he will be able to go flying as a pilot who owns his own personal plane.  

     Are you interested in learning more about Doctor Aviation?  I encourage you to check out his social media pages listed below:
      We also have some more reviews of this wonderful resource over on the Homeschool Review Crew website.  Please come on over and see what other families have to say about this product.  

     Have a blessed day!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Let's Get Real About Clutter

     Do you have trouble with clutter?  I think all homeschooling families have to deal with clutter at one point. With a family spending most of their time at home, it is bound to get messy.  So how do you keep clutter from taking over?  It's all about learning to let go. 

     I use to hoard every homeschooling book we had.  Even when they were out of date or the kids had outgrown them, I thought we needed to hold on to them.  It became a huge issue.  We didn't have the storage room to keep so many books.  So one day I decided it was time to let go. We went through each and every book we owned and if it was not being used or could be used in the future, it went to the local thrift store.  This was so freeing that I decided to do this in every room of our house.  From the kitchen to the bedrooms, if we didn't need it, it had to go. 

      This was the beginning of my divorce with clutter.  I knew it was a problem but didn't realize how awesome it would be to clear away all the mess.  What I realized most is that you don't just clear clutter one day a year, you have to constantly be aware that you have to let go of things that are no longer useful to you. It isn't always easy, but worth it in the end.

        My rules for keeping clutter at bay are:
  •  If we haven't used it within 3 months (unless it is for holidays) we donate it or throw it away depending on what it is.
  •  When we buy a new item for our home, we discard two others.  Like if we buy a new book for our homeschool library, we donate two of our books we no longer use to our local thrift store or book mobile.
  •  We have a place for everything.  If there isn't room for it, we let it go.
  •  We go through our closets and dressers at least once every 3 months and donate/throw away what doesn't fit or isn't a regularly used item. 
  •   If an item is broken, torn, or stained, we dispose of it.  I use to keep things thinking we could repair it, but it usually sat on a shelf or in a drawer collecting dust.
  •  We have a time of clean up every day!  Staying on top of our chores will help us keep organized.
  •   We have a basket that I use for clutter I find around the house that didn't get picked up during clean up time. I call it our clutter jail basket.  In order for the owner to get their item back, they must complete a task from our chore jar. It is very effective :)

     How do you conquer clutter in your homes? I would like to hear your ideas!


Thursday, July 13, 2017

New Beginnings: Preparing for our New School Year

     I always get excited for new beginnings and fresh starts.  That is what a new school year brings. I love to plan and organize, so this is like my Christmas.  I buy new school supplies for the year, we pick out our curriculum, we get our new planners out and begin to schedule what we will be doing.  So much fun!!!!

     Now some of you are saying "What is wrong with this lady?"  Maybe you don't enjoy planning and organizing, but do you know that it can really help your school days to be more productive and will give you more time for the other things you and your family would like to do.  It's all about time management.  Using your time wisely will give you those much needed hours of rest and relaxation that you need in order to keep up with the demands of homeschooling your children. 

     In my 19 years of homeschooling, I have found that I need to have balance.  I use to schedule every minute of our day, but that wasn't working out for us, so I had to find a way to keep a schedule but not to be too rigid with it.  We have to be flexible enough to do what the Lord would have us do during our school days.  There may be times that we need to put books aside and help others or invite a family in for fellowship.  We must be willing to obey the Holy Spirit's promptings and to let our agenda go for the day.  

     Our family likes using visuals to keep us on track.  We have several places in our home where we write our plans and schedules.  We also have chore charts and vision boards to remind us of what we are working towards.  Our family has a household mission statement that helps us to remember what we want to accomplish.  We post this on our wall to help keep our minds focused on how we want to conduct ourselves.  

     Here is our chart that reminds us that we have choices to make. If you want your privileges, you must be responsible. 

     These are our reminder boards. They are placed around the house with little notes of encouragement or reminders to do a task or work on a certain character quality. My husband has one beside his bed to remind him to take his vitamins and such.  

     Here is our new chore chart.  The kids are loving it and so am I.  We have morning chores listed in red and evening chores listed in blue. They are required to check off what they have completed.  This gives them accountability.  Hope uses a pink marker for her checks and Josh uses a blue one. 😊

     Here we have our daily schedule/agenda.  These are the subjects we need to complete.  We also have a time of clean up at the end.  You will notice there are no specific times for these tasks.  I do this so we don't feel rushed, but yet we are responsible for finishing what is on the chart by end of our school day.  

     I hope I have given you a few ideas to get you started on your way to planning and organizing your new school year.  Do you have any suggestions that I haven't mentioned?  I would love to hear from you.  

      Have a great day!!!