Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 My Year In Review

As 2016 draws to a close, I figured that it was time for a wrap-up. This was a challenging year for me. It was a year of growth, transition, and rediscovering my calling. We bought our first home this year, which moved us closer to family (a wonderful blessing). I had my faith challenged in a way that I never dreamed, and came out stronger and more solid in my beliefs. I rediscovered why I am a stay-at-home mom and wife, and the privilege that it is that I am at home! Overall, this year was one of growth, which can be hard, but is so rewarding in the end!

This was my first year in the Homeschool Review Crew, a 7-year-long dream come true! I was given so many opportunities to try fantastic products that we would have never tried any other way! All the products that we tried were great, and, even though not all of them were a perfect fit for our family and learning styles, there were a few that became favorites! I am so thankful for the Crew and all that it has taught me. I am looking forward to 2017 and sharing more great products with you.

Here are links to our favorite product reviews of 2016:


IEW's Poetry Memorization

The Pencil Grip, Inc.'s Kwik Stix

Heirloom Audio

Overall, 2016 was a great year! To finish things off, I put together a couple of collages of my favorite moments from the this year:

I could add so many more pictures! This year has been so full of a lot of firsts! I have cherished these moments that we enjoyed together. I look forward to another great year in 2017!

The rest of my Crew-mates have written about their year in 2016. You can read their posts by clicking the link below:

Homeschool Review Crew Reflecting on 2016

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Redefining Our Purpose

Homeschooling is something that I always wanted to do. I longed to be with my children and learn with them. This year has been rough. I think it was that I had all 3 littles learning at different levels. It just didn't work for us. 
I began to pray and dig for ideas to help better unify our learning time. I wanted more learning together without leaving anyone behind or boring anyone.  I clicked through Pinterest ideas every chance I got. Finally, I stumbled upon 2 pins that have changed the way we learn: The Unplugged Family and Ponderings From My Heart. They both talked about morning baskets. 

This simple concept of deciding what is the most important thing I want my children to learn, and starting there was exactly what I needed to begin to change the way we were learning. I knew that I wanted my children to learn about God, His Word, and how to pray. But why wasn't I teaching it first? I couldn't answer that! That was the very moment I knew that change needed to happen!

I began by assembling our Morning Basket. I wanted to teach myself and the kiddos to start our day off with the Lord! I wanted to move aside and allow Him to be the first priority in our day!

Here is a glimpse at what we have right now. I know that there will be some tweaking the next few weeks as we find what works for us. I want quality not necessarily quantity.  A glimpse at our schedule:

We start our school day between 9-930. We begin with prayer. I pray and then we go around the table and each child has an opportunity to thank the Lord for the new day and just speak their hearts.
Next, is our Bible story time. Right now, we are using 'The Jesse Tree' as our lesson. This is the first year we have used this (I have a whole post about this coming soon).  After our story we work on our memory verse. This month it is Isaiah 9:6. The kiddos are great at memorization and I realized this is the best time to be hiding God's word in their little hearts!

Character study is up next. We are using "The 'Put On' Chart" by Doorposts. This month is all about kindness. It is a struggle in our house sometimes, but we are learning to treat others the way we want to be treated.

We sing a hymn or 2 for praise time. Then it's onto missions. Currently we are reading about Gladys Alward and China. We use this time to pray for missionaries in China, for radio broadcasts that speak of God's truth to reach the people of China, and for the children of China to know Jesus's love for them! 

Afterwards we work on memorizing the books of the Bible. We are starting with the Old Testament. It is a review for Popper, but I think that helps the younger 2 learn easier. We are using this song that I used as a child! It is a lot of fun and is really catchy:

We end our morning time in prayer for the rest of our day!

The middle part of the day is spent on our core subjects (Language Arts and Math). Then after lunch we have another basket time that I will share with you in my next post! 

Friday, December 2, 2016

'We're Going On A Bear Hunt' Conclusion!

The week before Thanksgiving we began rowing 'We're Going On A Bear Hunt' by Michael Rosen. I had so many cute ideas, but that week wasn't great. You can read all about it here
Anyway, I decided that I really wanted to let the kiddos finish learning everything that I had planned for this book, and I am so glad that I did! 

On Monday, we made letter B bears. Brother Bear and Sister learned that B says /b/. (Popper still loves getting to do the crafty projects with us! I love it. I think it helps the younger 2 stay interested)

We learned how to write the letter Bb. 

We also learned about prepositions, but I didn't get any pictures of that activity. 

On Tuesday, we worked on math. All 3 kiddos are using Thinking Tree journals for math.  I have found these to be the best approach for teaching. It is so laid back and the kiddos actually enjoy math time!
Popper uses Multiplication Games
Brother Bear uses Comic Book Math
Sister uses Count & Color Just for Girls
Brother Bear used the math bear manipulatives to help him with adding and subtracting.

As we went on a bear hunt, we learned that the bear was in the cave. This was a great transition to talk about hibernation! We used the book "Time to Sleep" by Denise Fleming.

This is a cute little story about animals that hibernate. I found free printable worksheets over at First Grade Garden that the kiddos really enjoyed!  They were able to color the animals, cut them out, and glue them where they hibernate.  We added a little cotton as snow to make it cold!

I realized that in my weekly wrap-ups all I share about are the 'at the table' learning moments. I thought this week I would give you a couple of moments that I was able to catch on my camera of child lead learning happening:

I usually start my day with a cup of coffee and reading my Bible in bed. One morning, Sister decided to join me. She brought her Laura and Leah's Funschooling Journal by The Thinking Tree with her to color quietly!

Popper decided that he wanted to work in his Minecraft Journal also by The Thinking Tree one morning early. He couldn't figure out how to spell some of the words that were missing letters. It became the perfect time to learn how to use a dictionary. Now, he knows how to find words anytime he might be stumped in the future!

Brother Bear is the hardest to catch in action. He usually hides from the camera, or when he sees me, he stops.  My goal is to get a picture of him to share with you next week! 😊

I am linking up this week with other homeschool families:
Weekly Wrap-Up

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Another Great Year!

For the last month I have been on pins and needles. As you know, I was a part of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew this past year. We has so much fun trying new products (several of which are a permanent in our school) and sharing them all with you. 

This past year was a rough one for the Crunchy Family. Because of that, I had to take a leave of absence towards the end of this Crew year. Once things settled, I realized just how much I missed being a part of the community and getting to try and share the different products. 

Last month, we were given applications to reapply for next year's Crew.  I was nervous. I love the Crew and all that it entails. Homeschooling is my passion and I couldn't imagine not getting to share all these amazing products with others. I filled out the applications and spent a lot of time praying. I knew that because of this past year, I may not be asked to return to the Crew. That was something that I had to deal with.

The Friday before Thanksgiving I woke-up to the best e-mail! It was from Debra and the Crew staff inviting me to join them again next year on the Homeschool Review Crew!!!

I cannot wait to get started, to meet all the new ladies that will be joining us for their first times, and all the returning friends that I have made! I love getting to be a part of this great team family! 

Review Crew

Monday, November 28, 2016

Blue Ribbon Awards: 2016 Review Crew Favorites!

2016 was my first year as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew. The kiddos and I had the opportunity to review 27 different products and share them with you! Several of these are products that I had never heard of, but now are staples in our classroom. 
 Recently, we were given the chance to vote for our favorite review products from 2016. It was tough to choose our favorites. There were so many that we loved! Even the Crunchy Kiddos got in on the voting! The results are in!!! You can read a complete list of the winners by clicking: here.

A few of our favorites made the list! Below is a list of each member of our family's very favorite product and links to my reviews! 

Sister & Brother Bear's Favorite:  The Pencil Grip  (which also happens to be the winner of the favorite Preschool Product!) 

Popper's Favorite: The Dragon and The Raven by Heirloom Audio (THIS! We are now all very big fans of audio dramas!)

Daddy T's Favorite: Forbrain  We are still seeing dramatic results with Sister's speech with using this!

My Favorites (because I cannot pick just one!):
IEW's Poetry Memorization I love hearing the kiddos recite their poems! One of my favorite moments was at the Homeschool expo when Sister recited "Ooey Gooey" to Mr. Andrew Pudewa!

Star Toaster's "Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree" I mean, I can't even express the fun that Popper had reading this! I saw such improvement in his comprehension through using this app!!!

It was a full year filled with amazing products! What were some of your favorite products that you discovered this year?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Busy Week & Precious Memories

We had a wonderful week at the Crunchy House! Thanksgiving is one of my favorites. I love to bake and cook for my family. 

Recently, we put our family on the Feingold diet. It has helped considerately with the behavior in our house.  That being said, we had to make some of our favorites a little differently this year. However, my mom was wonderful! She helped make sure that (most) everything on our Thanksgiving table was safe for my kiddos to eat.
Here is a glimpse of the amazing spread we had. The pie table was attacked before I was able to get a picture!

This year was a first for Daddy T and I. We went Black Friday shopping!  We actually had a lot of fun! We were there 2 hours early and were 5th in line. We met a very sweet lady and her son that we chatted with the whole time. I was so surprised at how friendly everyone was. 
We successfully finished ALL of our Christmas shopping while staying well below our original budget!

Of course, the kiddos were super excited about getting the tree put up this year. Our ceilings at the new house are shorter than our old house. We had to buy a new tree. Since it was smaller, we opted for 2 trees. This let the kiddos have their very own tree with all their special ornaments on it. They loved that this is their tree!!!
The boys decided that they wanted to let Sister put the star on. I love their sweet spirits!

Daddy T, B, and I had a lot of fun trying to get the top of the piano decorated.  I loved the way that it turned out!

Our living room tree holds very precious memories. The top is adorned with an angel that Daddy T's Granny B gave us just a few months before she went to be with Jesus. The ornaments range form bells we picked our with B that very first Christmas that we were a family and small, hand-painted bells that my Granny bought us as a wedding gift.  The cardinal on the tree skirt represents my Poppa. He loved the way the cardinal looked against the snow in winter. They were one of his favorite birds. Precious memories of times with my loved ones flash through my mind as we decorated our tree. I treasure those memories. I am so thankful for the promise that this time of year reminds us of. The hope that we will see them again one day!

I love this time of year, filled with family and friends. Above all, I love the Gift that was given that very first Christmas. The Gift given so that I could have hope! 

Friday, November 18, 2016

"Best Laid Plans..."

I was so excited about school this week. I had such adorable ideas for rowing "We're Going On A Bear Hunt" by Michael Rosen.

 I went to the Dollar Tree and bought things to make a sensory table like the ones you see on Pinterest!

I enlisted the help of Daddy T and his creativity to assist me in the constructing of the sensory table! 

He was great! He turned a shoe box into the cutest house. He even water colored the sequence cards that I found as a free printable on Sparkle Box

I think they both turned out adorable! I must tell you, these projects, along with the others for the sensory table, took us 2 days to complete! Everything turned out precious. Next time, I will remember to take a picture of the completed table before the children play on it!

It was worth it! The giggles that this picture failed to capture were priceless! These 2 kiddos played for over an hour! I learned some very valuable lessons this week:
1. Pinterest projects, though cute, take mass amounts of time to complete! 
2. Pinterest projects require pictures of the finished projects before the children (or cats) touch them.
3. Faux snow from the Dollar Tree sticks to EVERYTHING!
4. My hubby loves me and our children so much! He spent his entire weekend helping to make our learning fun.
5. Sometimes plans fail!

It was worth all the time spent to see the kiddos enjoying the table on Tuesday, and I couldn't wait for the other fun projects that I had planned. However, as Robert Burns states so clearly,  "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry."
The rest of the week was a bust in the school department. The weather change dramatically and with that came sinus congestion, cranky people, and a migraine headache.
Our new 'plans' are to use the short week next week to complete our adventures! Hopefully, I can share the rest of our fun with you! 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Weekly Wrap-Up With "Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?"

We are finally in full swing for school, and the kiddos and I are having a blast together. I did some more tweaking to our schedule this week. There will be probably be more as the months go on. My goal is to make learning fun for them! 

I would like to share with you our weekly wrap-up!
This week the littles 'rowed' "Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?" by Nancy White Carlstom.

This is such a cute book full of learning opportunities! 

On Monday we focused on Language Arts. Popper started Learning Language Arts Through Literature Yellow Book while the littles worked on learning to rhyme! As a group we are working on memorizing "After the Party" by William Wise from IEW's poetry memorization. 

Popper is excited about learning to read and write in cursive! I think he did pretty great on his first attempt!

I found these free rhyming clip cards on The Measured Mom. We used Forebrain on Sister so that she can better hear herself. It has been very successful in helping her correct speech problems! They both enjoyed the clip cards. I loved watching them starting to learn independently! 

On Tuesday, we worked on math and started learning about Bach. 
We read the first chapter of Bach from Zeezok's Music Appreciation. I printed off a Bach coloring sheet from Year Round Homeschooling. I have found that giving them something to do while I am reading helps them sit still and focus.

Popper is learning multiplication. At first, he was not interested at all, but after seeing how it worked, he was excited that it was faster then adding multiple times!

The littles worked on learning numbers and sorting with our colored bears and number cards. 

Wednesday was Social Studies. We talked about Jesse Bear's family and who our family is. The littles drew a picture of Jesse Bear's family and our family using printable worksheets from Homeschool Share.

I found this cute puzzle by Melissa and Doug that let the kiddos dress Jesse Bear and his mom and dad. Even though the puzzle isn't actually Jesse Bear, the kiddos loved it! I think it fit great in our week.

Thursday was Science. As a group we learned about the sun with Apologia Astronomy. The kiddos each made a picture of the sun, complete with sun spots using chalks. 

The littles also learned about eating healthy. We used this printable worksheet from Homeschool Share. They colored, Brother Bear cut his own out, and they glued them on the plate!

We also worked on Dyslexia Games everyday. I am still so impressed with how well this has helped with Popper writing and reading. I think it is great for any kid really. My kiddos love it!

So, that's our wrap-up! Thanks for stopping by! I hope that you enjoyed! Up next week:
 "We're Going On A Bear Hunt"

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Fall Family Fun!

Fall is a favorite at the Crunchy House! We love the cooler weather, the leaves changing into beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow, and of course, the smells! I love all the holidays that happen this time of year and the family memories waiting to be made! I thought that I would share with you some of our fun from this past few weeks and an amazing moment that God used to remind me why I do do what I do!

One of Daddy T's favorite things is the pumpkin patch. He has very found memories of going with his family as a child. We decided that we would keep this tradition with our kiddos and make a day of it!

Of course, no family trip is complete without me making them all pose for a picture!  I love seeing them together. They are growing up so fast that I want to catch every moment of togetherness that I can. Especially since B will be heading to college in just a couple of short years.

We are a family of animal lovers! Daddy T and I joke that our acre and a half is only about 19 acres short of the farm that we dream about! The pumpkin patch that we visit has a petting zoo and they allow you to feed the llamas, goats, chickens, and pigs!

This was a huge delight for us! We spent over an hour just petting and feeding the animals! One of my favorite moments was captured during this time:

One year ago, this picture would not have happened. One year ago, I was pleading with God to bring our oldest home! This picture is an answer to prayer, a reminder that God hears my prayers, that He protects my kiddos, and that when satan tries to destroy, God can turn it around for HIS glory! 
This picture represents the most important people to me! This is my family. They are interacting and just enjoying life together....they have no idea that I have stepped back to capture this moment, they simply were enjoying each other! THIS is what it's all about! Making memories together! These precious moments make my job worth it! These are the moments I sit back and thank my Heavenly Father for giving me the privilege to be their mom and wife!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Our School Year 2016-2017

With all the craziness of the past year, I had a difficult time starting school this year. I really fought to find my drive to get started. I never thought that I would lose my drive. My passion has always been learning along side my children and teaching in a way that helps them understand. I have always looked forward to August when I would buy any new books and curriculum we would need for the year. This year was simply more difficult. 

I had to spend a lot of time in prayer in order to remember that the passion was originally put there by my Heavenly Father. I had to spend time with Him to remember why I started this journey. That was all it took! Now, we are moving right along! I am so excited to teach and learn with my kiddos again! 

I thought that I would give you a little peak into what we are learning this year (as of right now).

Popper is going to be working through Dyslexia Games B. He has been reading a book from the Epic App recently, but I am looking to purchase Learning Language Arts Through Literature the Yellow Book. I really like the way that it uses bite size lessons for him. I think it will help to not overwhelm him! For math, he is beginning to learn multiplication and fractions which we are learning through real life situations. He is still very interested in space and is working through Apologia Astronomy. Egypt is probably always going to be of some interest for him, but I am looking to mix it up a bit this year and learn about the United States using one of The Thinking Tree's newest journal.  

I ordered Brother Bear the readers for ABeCeDarian. He is so excited that he can read an actual book! He will also be working through Dyslexia Games Series A. For math, we are working on simple addition and subtraction and how to write numbers correctly with The Thinking Tree's Comic Book Math. Last week, at the grocery store, we talked about money and how to correctly read how much a product is. I love real life math application, I believe that it helps the information stick so much better! 

Sister has decided that she now wants to 'do school' everyday. She loves being read to! I have decided to use Before Five In A Row and Five In A Row. It will help keep her lessons simple for her, but allow her to still learn with the boys! We will use The Thinking Tree's Laura and Leah's Journal For 2, Count and Color for Girls, and Coloring Book for Two.

We have a few things that we will be doing together! We are currently using the 'Put-on Chart" by Doorposts for out Bible Time. Two days a week, I will be rotating between a famous composer using Zeezok's Music Appreciation and a famous artist using ARTistic Pursuits paired with The Thinking Tree's Picturing the Past.We will also be cooking together, going on nature walks, read alouds, and much more!!! I am finally so excited again!  

I am glad to finally be back in the blogging world. CreativelyCrunchyMom is going to be getting a face lift over the next couple of weeks, so please excuse the mess. I am looking forward to sharing our homeschooling journey with you!!!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Woah! What A Year!

This year has been a tough one! I knew when I accepted the word 'Trust" as my word for the year, that I was in for a tough one! I was not wrong! However, through it all, God has been more than faithful! He has proven Himself again and again! I thought I should give you a little bit of an idea of where I have been these past few months!

It all started when Daddy T was let go from his job because of lack of work. I was scared silly! God more than provided, but the next few months were not easy! He took us from our home and moved us 45 minutes away. He provided us a home to buy (super big deal) right next door to my parent's house! Finally, He moved Daddy T one more time 90 days later, to a permanent job with an established company, complete with benefits and school paid for to get his licensing! 

Our van broke down. It was our only vehicle. God not only provided another one, but for less than our budget and was newer and more reliable than the previous one!!!

A whirlwind to say the least, but now that we are here, I can't imagine being anywhere else! The kiddos love running back and forth to Nana's when their schoolwork is finished! They love the freedom of country living and more land to run and play on! 

I have enjoyed owning our 1st home! I have been busy painting and decorating! Of course with Fall in full swing, I am loving the cooler weather that is allowing me to fill my home with the sweet smells of baking! 

Some random changes that aren't near as thoughtful, but still fin to share:

*We now are the proud parents of 2 kittens! Merri and Pippin joined our family just a few months ago!

*I am now a blond! My best friend is a cosmetologist and we got bored! I actually love it! 

*Brother Bear is reading! (Thank you ABeCeDarian) He has discovered his love for Minecraft and will begin soccer next month!

*Sister can sat the sounds /g/ and /k/ which is huge for her! She has also started ballet class and discovered that she loves to bake!

*Popper is now officially reading on 3rd grade level! (Thank you Dyslexia Games!) He starts basketball next week! He has become quite the musician on the piano!

*B cut his hair! He starts jazz band soon and is loving the smaller school!

Life is great! God is good! We will still have moments where trusting Him is hard. Times when He asks us to step out of our comfort zone, but for now, I will enjoy the journey and the peace that comes from knowing the HE is still in control!