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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Real Life Lessons

I know that I have been absent for a few weeks now, but I have learned a whole new meaning of the word busy with the addition of 2 beautiful children to our home. Sweet Pea is a 4-year-old little girl and her little brother Roo who is 8-weeks-old have joined our clan and have reminded this momma the true meaning of busy! 😊 There obviously isn't much I can share with you regarding these sweet babies that we are privileged to get the opportunity to love on. However, I have learned a thing or two this past month that I would like to share with you.

1. That first week was tough. I knew it would be, but I severely underestimated it! As I was whining to God about how hard this was one morning, I was reminded that this was a mission field and that it wasn't meant to be easy.  I thought about all the support that lived within a 5 mile radius of us. I then thought about all the foreign missionaries that live thousands of miles from anyone they know, in a country that is very different from their home. My prayers for missions changed that day. I gained a new respect for people who leave everything familiar behind to share the gospel!

2. I don't like grace, unless it is for me! I love to quote that I am saved by grace. When I fail, I love to remind myself and others of the grace found in Christ. However, when a bio parent fails again and again, I get impatient with a 'lax system.' I call it broken and begin to pass all sorts of judgement that is simply not mine to pass. God once again reminded me of that He sent Jesus to die for them too, and that He sent me to share that with these parents and children. PS there is no way that I can share Him if I am judging them! 
Now, I pray for them, that they could come to know that grace that is so sweet and amazing!

3. My babies were a cake walk! To all you mommas out there who have battled colic, I apologize! From the bottom of my heart, you sweet ladies, with the patience of Job, deserve a reward! I know there has to be a special crown in Heaven for you! Colic is AWFUL!!! Daddy T decided last night that a baby crying on an endless repeat is how we should interrogate criminal. He swears they would fess up every single time! (I think he's probably right!) 

4. People are RUDE! I now have 7 beautiful children that God has given me to raise and teach about Him and I love it! However people think that it is their business of how many children I have and if I know what causes them! I am appalled by the rude remarks that have been directed at us over the last 2 weeks. When did we as a nation forget that children are a precious gift from above? 

5. That I covet prayers more now than I ever have. I need His strength every single second of every day. I need to lean on Him in the wee hours of the morning when I am running on no sleep and holding this sweet baby boy. I need to remember why I am doing this when there is milk spilled, a baby crying, the phone ringing and 4 hungry children waiting on me. 

This is not an easy path, but I knew that it wouldn't be. I am not sharing all this for sympathy, but for perspective. Sometimes this road can seem lonely, like I am the only one walking here. I know that there are more of us out there, more called to loving someone else's child for today (because tomorrow is not promised). I want you to know, if that is you, that you are not alone. I cherish you my fellow foster parents! I pray for you too. That the Lord would help you to rely on His strength that is so perfect in your weakness! This verse is for you:


Galatians 6:9 (NIV) 
"And let us not become weary in doing good,
 for at the proper time we will reap a harvest 
if you do not give up."


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Adventures of Rush Revere- A Review

I must have been living under a rock, but I have just recently learned about a series of books that teach about American history: Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh. After learning about this series, I was so excited to find our that we had been chosen to review all 5 books in the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series




On box day I was impressed with how beautiful these books are! The came just like you see above, wrapped together and tied with a blue satin ribbon! The beauty didn't stop there: the pages of these book are full color! Seriously! The pictures are both fun and historical. I knew that these would be a winner in the Crunchy Household! 



Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh and his wife Kathryn Adams Limbaugh wrote this fantastic series of books about a substitute history teacher named Rush Revere and his talking horse, Liberty. Together they use time-travel to teach the classroom full of students about American History.  There are 5 books in all that each cover a different part of history.


Book 1: "Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrim" Here we join Rush, Liberty and their student, Tommy as they travel back in history to learn more about the pilgrims aboard the Mayflower. I was impressed to see an actual copy of the Mayflower Compact in the book! As we were reading this fun fictional book we were actually learning about key parts of American History. 

Book 2: "Rush Revere and the First Patriots"  Rush and Liberty take more students along as they rush, rush into history and learn about key people like Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere (Rush's favorite) and Samuel Adams. We see the beginnings of the revolt against England as the colonists get tired of all the unfair taxing by King George. Posters from The Sons of Liberty and newspapers of the day are used to bring history to life. 

Book 3: "Rush Revere and the American Revolution" The rebellion is getting intense as Rush and Liberty along with students, Tommy, Freedom, and Cam visit soldiers during the American Revolution. 
There is a special moment with Cam's dad in present day. He is a American soldier fighting in Afghanistan. I thought this was a great way to tie history to present for the kiddos!

Book 4: "Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner" 1787-1814 are years filled with key people in our history. In this great book we learn about the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the people who helped form the basis of our democracy. 


Book 5: "Rush Revere and the Presidency"  One of the students decides to run for student president. What better way to learn about presidents than time-traveling to meet the first 3 presidents of the newly free America?! In this great adventure we learn how hard those first few years as a new nation were. 





Each night before bed Daddy T read a chapter to the kiddos. It became a highlight of our day. The kiddos loved hearing all the crazy situations that the time-traveling crew got into. Their favorite was Liberty and his constant eating! With us starting cycle 3 of Classical Conversations this fall, this was a perfect read aloud to help us prepare to learn more about early American history!

I also discovered that there is a Homeschool Depot on their website compete with study guides and fun activities to go along with each book. 

These books are a great resource for any family to introduce American History to their kids in a laid back, fun way!

Adventures of Rush Revere



Adventures of Rush Revere
You can connect with Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh online on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube.



Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew received copies of the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series too. You can read their thoughts by clicking the link below:
Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series {Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Whistlefritz- A Review

The Crunchy Kiddos have always loved learning Spanish. Most of the programs that I have found tend to be for upper elementary kids and leave my younger two out. You can imagine their excitement when I found out we were chosen to review Whistlefritz's Educator's Spanish Collection. This program is geared specifically towards children 1-7 years old!
Whistlefritz Spanish


We received the Educator's Spanish Collection which includes 5 DVDs, 3 music CDs, Spanish Matching Cards, and Spanish Lesson Plans For Kids book. The lesson plans are broken into 40 lessons that include activities and conversation dialogue for practicing. The lesson book tells you when to incorporate the DVDs, CDs, and cards to help reinforce learning. 

The kiddos were excited when we got our box in the mail. They didn't want to wait to watch the videos. So of course, I allowed them to watch one right away. Brother Bear was mesmerized. He sat staring and trying to repeat the words he was hearing. Sister was not a fan. She didn't understand and therefore was not interested in watching anymore. 

I set out to plan our week using the lesson plan book provided. 


First off, I want to say I took 2 years of Spanish in high school and also went on a mission trip to Mexico where we ran a Vacation Bible School for the local children. So, I have some basic conversational Spanish knowledge. That being said, I was completely lost when I started reading the Teacher Input on Lesson 1. It sounded and looked so different than anything I had ever seen or heard. As I researched I found out that it is a very formal version of Spanish. I adjusted some parts to make it more conversational and less formal when teaching my kiddos because I want them to be able to communicate naturally.



We started Lesson 1 making puppets to use in our Independent Practice. The kiddos loved this part! Anything crafty makes them happy, but getting to use the craft as part of school is a definite win!


I found out that there are free printable homeschool lesson plans on their website that are not as complete as the book, but differ slightly. I printed those off to try as well. I have to say, the book is a more complete educational experience, but the free printable ones were more the style of learning that I was expecting. 

I felt that the printable plans used the DVDs and CDs in a more user friendly way. We were able to follow along better with how things were supposed to work. They also required less prep time for me. 

The overall idea of this program is perfect. I think there are a few things that could make it more user friendly. I wish the DVDs were able to skip to scenes or chapters to find the corresponding scenes for each lesson. The way that the lesson plan book uses the DVDs, it made it difficult to find what we were supposed to watch at times. I also wish the book was more like the printable plans. They were much easier to follow, in my opinion. 

Whistlefritz Spanish


The kiddos enjoyed the fun music and colorful videos. It helped keep them engaged more as they began to learn vocabulary. Even Sister began to enjoy the videos once she understood what was being talked about. 

Whistlefritz Spanish


This would be a perfect fit for a family of younger learners who would like to have a bilingual approach to teaching. The Lesson Plan book is a cross-curricular style lessons and therefore tended to be almost too much for our family. However, if you were looking for more of an all inclusive style Spanish curriculum, this would be a great fit for you. 

Whistlefritz

You can connect with Whistlefritz online:
Facebook
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YouTube

Other members of the Crew were given the chance to review both the Spanish and French Collections. You can read about their experiences by clicking on the link below:


Spanish and French {Whistlefritz Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Memoria Press: Prima Latina- A Review

Memoria Press
   
Recently we were chosen to review Prima Latina Complete Set by Memoria Press. I thought this would be a great way to help Popper get a head start on Latin before he began Classical Conversations in the fall. He was excited to learn it too.






Prima Latina Complete Set

We received the Complete Set of Prima Latina which includes a DVD with instructions for each lesson by a Latin teacher, a CD which includes a pronunciation guide, songs, and prayers used in the lessons, flashcards, a Teacher's Manual and a Student's book. Prima Latina is the first level in the Latin studies by Memoria Press and is for first through third graders.  Even though Popper will be in fourth grade in August, I decided to start with Prima Latina as his foundation. Their Latin programs all build on one another so he will be able to move to Latina Christiana with confidence when he is finished.


There are 26 lessons included in Prima Latina. We worked one lesson per week. On Mondays Popper watched the instruction video on the laptop. This was so valuable to me. I have never learned Latin and therefore did not have the first clue as to how to teach him. No problem! The DVD has all the lessons taught by a teacher, Leigh Lowe. In the student workbook there is a page that correlates with each lesson so that Popper could have a visual of what was being taught.  Each week covers 5 areas: Practical Latin, the actual lesson (this is where the grammar to taught), Vocabulary, Latin Prayers, and Derivatives. 



On Wednesday Popper worked on half his workbook pages that went with that weeks lessons. Each week has review questions about the previous weeks to help with mastery, questions about the current lesson, a section to translate the week's vocabulary words, Speaking Latin (which is where the pronunciation CD comes in), Write and Learn, and fun practice.  Though it looks like a lot, it wasn't overwhelming. Popper actually enjoyed his workbook time. There were a few times when he couldn't remember the answer to a specific question. It was so nice that he was able to go back and watched the video to remind him. 


Fridays were spent completing the Speaking Latin portion of the workbook while listening to the pronunciation CD and working with flashcards. We used this day to make sure that we both knew the vocabulary words and how they were pronounced before we moved on the the next lesson the following Monday. 

I was so shocked to see how much Latin really did help with English grammar. I am learning just as much as Popper as we work through the lessons. I appreciate that this is a gentler approach to learning Latin. I think it is a great way to ease into the language. Memoria Press' website said that this is perfect for children who are reading comfortably. Popper is 8 and reading on a third grade level, but I think this was a perfect fit for him. 


You can connect with Memoria Press online:
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Instagram
Google+
YouTube
LinkedIn

Other members of the Crew reviewed this and other great products from Memoria Press both Latin and Science. You can learn more about these by clicking the links below:

Latina Christiana Complete Set
First Form Latin Complete Set
Second Form Latin Complete Set
Third Form Latin Complete Set
Fourth Form Latin Complete Set


The Book of Trees
Nature's Beautiful Order

 Also you can read about the Crew's experiences using each one of these products by clicking the link below:


Latin, Nature and Trees {Memoria Press Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Many Faces of Sister!

While getting ready for ballet recital a couple of weeks ago, Sister and I had a fun mini photo shoot! She began to pose and I started clicking. These pictures are some of my favorites of her simply because they show her personality! 


This is my prissy, ballet loving, first time to wear real make-up little girl. She amazes me everyday with her love of life. She is constantly singing and dancing. I believe that God gave her to me to teach me to have fun, enjoy life and live in the moment. That is what she does every moment of every day! I love this little girl to pieces. I pray that God continues to use her joy to inspire everyone around her. I cannot wait to see what He has planned for her in the future!


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Pencil Grip, Inc. -Thin Stix Review




The Crunchy Kiddos and I were so excited to receive a set of Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors by The Pencil Grip, Inc. to review! We reviewed their Kwik Stix last year and loved them. Popper had actually asked me then if there were any that were thinner. Who knew that a year later he would get a set to try! 
Thin Stix by KwikStix


Thin Stix are solid tempura paint sticks. The kiddos say that they have the same feel as a glue stick. They are thinner than the original which allows for more detailed painting, which Popper was absolutely pleased to find out! My favorite part is that they dry in 90 seconds and are almost completely mess free! That means no paint shirts, no newspaper protected surfaces, no prep or clean-up! I love that on those days when I am not in the mood for the creativity to take over my house, I can still say yes to painting. My kiddos love the freedom they have to create almost anytime! I know it sounds a bit cliche, but it really is a sanity saver in our home.

I always remind my kiddos that they have to use Thin Stix carefully. Brother Bear and Sister have a tendency to press too hard and crush the paints. It makes them very upset when that happens so I make it a point to remind them each time. I also remind my kiddos that the paint stays on the paper. 





I decided to use Thin Stix the first day while we were listening to an audio book. I thought it would be a great way for them to keep hands busy and listen to the book. I had secretly hoped for pictures that went along with the book we were listening to about early US History, but I did not give instructions for them to do so. 

Here are the works of art that were created during that time:



Popper has really been enjoying all our readings lately. He created a picture of the Mayflower and the Pilgrims that were aboard. 




Brother Bear has found humor in the Boston Tea Party. He thinks it is funny that they dumped so many cases of tea. He says he wants to dive into the harbor and see if he can find some of the tea bags. (I explained that tea was made differently then and that it was a very long time ago). 




Sister was sad when she heard what her brothers had created. "Mommy, mine isn't anything about the book. I didn't know." I assured her that there was no rules that it had to be. She explained that her picture is of her and her cousin flying in a butterfly machine to the top of a building to see inside. 

I think all the kiddos did a fabulous job on their artwork! They really enjoyed the new Thin Stix and the freedom to paint. We used them mainly during free art and audio book time. There were several works of art created during the last few weeks. I decided to let the children pick a their favorites to showcase for you! Below are the ones that they chose to share:






These are a great addition to any classroom that wants to allow kiddos to paint and be creative, but doesn't want the mess. We love our Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors. There are several different sizes and color combinations available on The Pencil Grip, Inc.'s website. We have already begun making a a wish list for our next purchase!

You can connect with The Pencil Grip, Inc. online:
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest



Other members of the Crew received a set Thin Stix as well. You can read how they used them in their homes by clicking the link below:


No Mess Art with Thin Stix Classic Colors {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Focus on the Family- A Review


We are a superhero loving family. The influx of movies that are superhero based, but not always family friendly have made it difficult to allow our kiddos to enjoy their favorites. We have struggled to help our boys find a way to enjoy the world superheros, and still honor God's word by being careful what they watch on TV.  Needless to say finding out that Focus on the Family had created a superhero named Captain Absolutely made this momma incredibly happy! 



 Captain Absolutely


I learned that Captain Absolutely was originally written for Focus on the Families Clubhouse Magazine by Wooten Z Bassett and Illustrated by Dennis Edwards. It was ran over a 5 year period and has now been compiled and turned into a 105 page full colored comic book.
A little summary: Captain Absolutely was originally a librarian names Josiah King. One night there was an explosion caused by sunflower seeds, a computer, and of course nuclear power (this is a superhero comic after all)! This turns Josiah into Captain Absolutely! He finds himself trapped in the library reading the Bible! After he gets out of the rubble, Captain Absolutely begins to battle Dr. Relative using the Word of God and the truth that it holds! 


Popper was thrilled when this book finally arrived. He disappeared into his bedroom and began devouring it! He excitedly came in from time to time to tell me that he would pop-in and tell me things like:
"Hey Mom, Captain Absolutely was a librarian and there was this big explosion...." 
"Did you know that Captain Absolutely helps others by using the BIBLE! That's so cool!"
"Look, Bible verses in the pictures, that's awesome! Where's my Bible?" (probably my favorite comment!)

I loved that not only was he reading (which is sometimes a struggle for my boy) but he is reading a book that is based on the truth of God's Word! 




There were several times that I went searching for him and found him up on his bed reading. It was so good to see him excited about reading! Usually, reading is a struggle and can sometimes lead to tears. Not with this book! He was/is thoroughly enjoying every page.


It wasn't long before the other 2 caught on that this book was a good one and began to beg for Popper to read to them. This is how I found them that night as they were supposed to be getting ready for bed. He was reading (out loud!) to his younger siblings! I cannot adequately express my excitement when I saw this other than I cried. They all are hooked on Captain Absolutely and his adventures battling Dr. Relative! My favorite part, they are getting Biblical truths that they may not even be realizing!


In the back of the book there is a character outlines that teach more about each character, but also includes a Bible verse that corresponds with each character. 


Also in the back, two pages entitled "Big Questions." These are questions that help put the truths learned in the story into real life scenarios for the children. These are great discussion points for us as we help our kiddos navigate life in Christ!

I decided to ask Popper what his thoughts were on Captain Absolutely. Here are his responses:

What is Captain Absolutely about?

"There was an explosion at the library. Josiah King, the librarian, finds the Bible. While he waits for someone to save him, he begins to read the Bible. Then he becomes Captain Absolutely and starts his adventure with Hana, a girl who becomes his side kick. They start battling bad guys using the Bible."

What did you think about the story?

"I think it is a good way for people to learn about the Bible. Because it uses Bible verses throughout the book to show how Captain Absolutely is battling the bad guys."

Do you think other kids your age (8) would like this book?

"Yes!"

What was the main point of this book?

"To tell people about the Bible."


I think this book has been a great addition to our home. I have never seen Popper read with such excitement! I think this book would be great for superhero loving kiddos of all ages!
You can connect with Focus on the Family:
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Google+
YouTube


Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew had the opportunity to review Captain Absolutely as well. You can read what thought by clicking the link below:

Captain Absolutely {Focus On The Family Review}
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Radiant Grace Studio Bracelet Giveaway!

I am so excited to share this new product with you! My friend, Amanda, has been making jewelry for a while now, but recently decided to make it available to the public by opening her own Etsy shop! The name of her shop is Radiant Grace Studios!

Amanda makes beautiful handmade pieces (and even takes custom orders)!  I wanted to showcase some of her work here to share with you!





In honor of her opening her studio, she made a bracelet for me to offer as a gift to one of you! You can enter for  a chance to win the gorgeous bracelet below! It is made with Czech fire polished and metal beads with a waxed linen cord. It is adjustable, but the bead length is 6 inches.


It is made with my favorite colors, so, I have to admit I'm having a hard time parting with it! 😉

This giveaway is open to the US residents only. I will announce the winner next Wednesday, May 24th 2017!


You can email Amanda about a custom order or with any questions you might have: radiantgracestudio@gmail.com


Visit her Etsy shop to see all of her current pieces available: http://www.etsy.com/shop/RadiantGraceStudio



a Rafflecopter giveaway




Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Only Passionate Curiosity- A Review

We homeschool moms all have times when it just becomes too much. The stress of trying to schedule lessons, doctor/therapy appointments, clean the house, cook dinner, and still manage to stay sane: it becomes overwhelming!  We feel like we are at our breaking point! If you are like me, in that moment you begin to question if you are actually cut out for this gig or if your children would be better off in a public school. Most of the time, in those moments, I feel like a failure, more than that, I feel utterly alone! 

I was relieved to find out recently that this is a very normal reality for a lot of moms. Thankfully, I was given the opportunity to review an ecourse called Homeschool Rescue by Only Passionate Curiosity. Their motto is "Breath New Life Into Your Homeschool." I knew that was what I needed!



Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

Homeschool Rescue is a 60 day ecourse. It includes 5 modules that each have 3-5 lessons, printable worksheets to help reinforce the videos in your own life, bonus material that is being added to constantly, and online support in the form of a Facebook groups and emails from the creator, Heather. There is also a printable planner that can help keep you on track if needed.

I knew that this would be hard to fit into my already full days. I knew that finding another 20 minutes or so to myself would be almost impossible. What I also knew was that if I didn't figure something out, our homeschooling journey could be over. I needed this course! 

In the beginning, I struggled to find the time to watch the videos and complete the homework. I wanted so desperately to stay on track and be involved on the Facebook support group. Much to my relief, it wasn't long before Heather sent out an encouraging email about working at our own pace. I breathed a huge sigh and kept trucking through, and man, am I a glad that I did! I do want to make a note here that the emails from Heather are not daily or even weekly. In fact, I loved that they seemed almost random, but always right on time for where I was in my progress through the lessons. They were the encouragement that I needed to keep going. 


The lessons are designed to build on each other and start with you evaluating your current homeschool in the first module called "Triage Your Homeschool." The questions were tough and sometimes hard to answer, but I knew change was needed, and since I was the only one reading my answers, there was no sugar-coating them. The reality was a hard one for me to swallow at first, but the grace that I felt from Heather, encouragement that I wasn't the only mom feeling this way or going through this was so reassuring. 

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

The second module, "Time Management Systems & Organization" is probably the one that I needed/need the most. I want to be organized, I try to be organized, but I have four children. I feel like every time I almost get there, life happens! This was a great module to remind me, a self-proclamined curriculum junkie, that there is too much of a good thing. It has been tough, but the purging has begun. This is HARD for me, but I am realizing with each box I fill and get rid of and each shelf I organize, that now I have only what we actually use. I know where to find it and quickly. It really has begun to reduce the day-to-day stress of planning, teaching and learning for me and the kiddos!

I am still working through the course, and since Heather has forbidden us from using the word 'behind,' I will say that I am right where I need to be for this stage of my life. I am grateful that I can get serious about each lesson and apply it in real time. I never feel like I am being rushed to finish. Because I have a lifetime membership, if one lesson's homework takes longer than I thought it should, that is okay. I just keep moving forward.

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

There is so much more that I could talk about. I am beyond grateful for this resource. It has truly helped "Breath New Life Into our Homeschool!" I know that it could for you too! If you are struggling with fatigue, completely overwhelmed, or may be just stuck in a rut, this course is for you. I absolutely love the support that it gives moms. 

Homeschool Rescue is running a Summer course for a new group of parents starting in June. You can sign-up today to reserve your spot in the live course by visiting their website!

You can connect with Only Passionate Curiosity online:
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Instagram
Google+


Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew were given the chance to use this course as well. You can read about their experiences by clicking the link below:

Homeschool Rescue {Only Passionate Curiosity Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer