Friday, February 15, 2019

Things That Make Me Smile 9/21/18

Jake (12 1/2), Alyssa (10), Zac (8 1/2), Tyler (6), Nicholas (3 1/2)

I don't know about you, but I could use a Smile today. Here are a few of mine from September.

1. Tyler, confused, reading labeled pictures: "There's no F in the phone."
Me: :No, isn't that silly? PH makes the F sound, too."
Tyler: "Whaaaat! That's not right."

2. Leighton, about an elderly man: "What do you think his name is?"
Nicholas: "Mr. Grandpa, maybe."

3. Nicholas: "We really have a big house."

4. Zac wanted to make special bread creations for each person in the family on his turn for Kids Cook Monday. He made the dough, and then he and Alyssa formed the designs.

5. Me, about an old picture of Leighton and me: "Who is that?"
Nicholas: "Not Daddy."
Me: "No? Then who is it?"
Nicholas: "No one. No one at all. Just Mama."

6. Nicholas: "Can I have a jelly sandwich?"
Me: "Yes. No peanut butter?"
Nicholas: "No peanut butter. And no bread."
Me: "No bread? So you want just jelly?"
Nicholas: {nods}

7. Me: "Ugh! I stepped in the ground beef container and it splashed raw beef juice on my foot!"
Jake: "Now you can't lick your foot."
Me: {blank stare}

8. Zac: "You should take a picture and put it on"
Tyler: "Crazy what .com?"
Me: "That's actually pretty accurate."

9. Jake made a new friend.

10. Nicholas: "Mama, are we gonna go to jail?"
Me: "Go to jail? No."
Nicholas: "But the police officers are going to come because we're wasting all the candy."

11. Nicholas: "Under your legs they are squishy."
Me: "They are? Thanks."
Nicholas: {smacks my thighs} "Yeah, these smacking things are wiggly."

What made you Smile this week?

Pin It

For The Temple

We are so excited to be starting another year with the Homeschool Review Crew with a review of one of our favorite vendors! Heirloom Audio produces some of the best audio dramas we have ever heard. Our schooling is literature-based, so we're often reading quality writings together that teach life lessons and new vocabulary. We are drawn to living books that bring the stories to life and teach valuable lessons. Instead of sitting and writing facts in a workbook, we choose to learn history through these stories. For those times though when I can't sit and read to the kiddos, we like to utilize audio books and incorporate them into our schooling and daily life.

We couldn't wait to listen to For The Temple

Heirloom Audio has converted multiple historical adventure novels by G.A. Henty into theater-quality audio dramas. Our main curriculum lists many Henty books in the reading list, because they are known for their deep history, rich literature, and exciting plots. So far, because my kiddos are still pretty young, they aren't drawn to the novels themselves, but they are truly captivated by these adaptations. If you close your eyes, you feel as if you're there in the story. The music, the actors, the sound effects--they all make the story come to life. You hear arrows flying through the air, torches flaming, a battering ram thumping, wood splitting, and fire crackling, and you feel as if you are there as one of the characters of the story. The narrator, Brian Blessed, has a rich, powerful voice that makes the drama exciting to listen to. We were immediately pulled into the plot.

The story begins in AD 67 when Nero was in power and the Jews revolted against Rome's authority. It follows the life of a young man named John as he was pulled into the fight of rebellion. He was trained by Josephus, survived a raging storm on the Sea of Galilee, and used his cunning skills to be one of the few survivors of the Battle of Jotapata. Using his experience and proficient abilities, he recruited a band of young men to harass the Roman armies. News of his feats traveled throughout the land as he continued to best the enemy. He fought the general Titus, won the one-on-one battle, earned his respect, and received a promise from him. Over time, John and his men continued in the fight and earned the trust of other Jews. They were crucial participants during the siege of Jerusalem as they gave the men resolve, offered strategic plans, and helped to feed starving people. John had made it his mission to defend the Temple at all costs. He watched the walls crumble, the gate burn, and men fall. He learned valuable lessons about God's character and His judgment. Through these experiences and the influence of others, John learned about Yeshua and what it meant to be a follower of His and that changed his life forever.

There is a downloadable Study Guide & Discussion Starter that accompanies the story. This complete guide is used to enhance your learning and complement your study. Each section, which correlates to the tracks on the CDs, is  filled with review questions (Listening Well), ideas to get you thinking deeper (Thinking Further), and vocabulary words (Defining Words). There is information about the biblical and historical background of the story, multiple Bible studies that coordinate with the story (No Other Savior, Proper Worship, Christ Our Temple), and many pictures from the times. There are boxes throughout the study that are filled with snippets of information that relate to the period. A recommended reading list about the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 is also included.  

While you can learn much simply by listening to the story and incorporating the guide, you can take your study even deeper by joining the Live the Adventure Club. As a member, you'll have access to a community forum, daily motivational quotes and stories, hundreds of articles about parenting and historical learning, a collection of rare textbooks from the 1700-1800s, and hundreds of fun activities. By signing up now, you can even get one of their audio dramas for free (just pay shipping and handling). The Live the Adventure Club makes history exciting.

We used the study guide questions to review the story and tackle difficult topics. The kids and I especially enjoyed the sections teaching about food in ancient Jerusalem, the Flavian Amphitheater, a map of the siege of Jerusalem, and Gideon's army defeating the Midianites (one of my favorite Bible stories). I always appreciate the content included in these guides as it is informative, interesting, and encourages us to really think.

For The Temple provides 2 1/2 hours worth of historical learning. The production is ideal for ages 6+ and was well-loved by my whole family. There are some elements that are more difficult for the young ones to understand, but this is a great way to introduce them to new topics. It's never to early to enjoy quality literature. We are thankful to add this story to our collection and await the next exciting adventure from Heirloom Audio 

You can connect with Heirloom Audio on the following social media sites: 

Be sure to read more reviews of this audio drama on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

Crew Disclaimer
Pin It

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Things That Make Me Smile 9/14/18

Jake (12 1/2), Alyssa (10), Zac (8 1/2), Tyler (6), Nicholas (3 1/2)

This list covers 2 weeks worth of Smiles. During this time, we went on a vacation to northern Michigan. We took a ferry to Mackinac Island, climbed the sand at Sleeping Bear Dunes, toured the forts and other sites of the Mackinac State Historic Parks, searched for Petoskey stones in Lake Michigan, played at the beach, went geocaching, and so much more. 

Days after we returned home, I was able to go with my mom to an overnight ladies' retreat with our church and spend quality time with her. The beginning of September with a special time filled with many memories. 

1. Nicholas, about a coconut doughnut: "Mom! Dat doughnut has white 'prinkles all over it! It's so yummy!"

2. Nicholas: "Mom, can you make grape juice yesterday later?"

3. Our first day of school for this year.


5. Me: "We need to get ready to go buh-bye."
Nicholas: "Where are we going?"
Me: "Mackinaw City."
Nicholas: "No, we are going to Gramma's house."

6. Zac finished reading The Hobbit.

7. Me, while we were waiting in the van while Leighton ran into a store: "Here comes Daddy! Daddy is our favorite."
Nicholas: "No he not."
Me: "He's not? Well then, who is our favorite?"
Nicholas: "You."

8. Zac, eating a blueberry muffin I had just pulled out of the oven: "Mmm, that crumble tastes like sugar cookies. It's sugar cookie on top of goodness."


10. Every night, as the kids are going to bed, we say, "Good night. Sweet dreams. I love you." Nicholas must not have completely understood us, because one night, he hugged me and said, "Good night, green beans. I love you." We've been saying that every night since. 

11. Nicholas: "Daddy, pwease?"
Leighton: "No, not tonight."
Nicholas, whining: "Mama, pwease, can I?"
Me: "If Daddy says no, Mama says no."
Nicholas: "Pwease can Daddy say yes?"

12. Tyler, sincerely: "If you go the wrong way into a car wash, do you come out dirty?"

13. Tyler: "Gramma is a girl."
Nicholas: {gasps} "No, her not! Her is a mom!"


What made you Smile this week?

Pin It

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Things That Make Me Smile 8/24/18

Jake (12 1/2), Alyssa (10), Zac (8 1/2), Tyler (6), Nicholas (3 1/2)

Happy weekend! This week, we did more canning, went geocaching, had a family water balloon fight, roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire, and enjoyed being together. 

1. Alyssa: "When I grow up, I'm going to come to your house for dinner often."

2. Nicholas: "Can I have toast with tuna on it?" (meant Nutella: 'tella, tuna)

3. Nicholas, pointing to the clock: "Mama, look. It's 30 o'clock."

4. Nicholas, about the dough attachment for the KitchenAid: "Mom! I found a grappling hook! It's for pirates."

5. Nicholas, in the basement hearing Tyler upstairs through the heat vent: "Ty? Ty, I hear you! I am Nicholas! I am talking to you!"

6. Alyssa: "If I have kids--and I hope I do--I hope they're like Nicky."

7. Zac: "Mom, can you give me your recipe for (strawberry) compote? That way my wife can make it someday."

8. Alyssa: "Nick, did you take a bite of my cookie?"
Nicholas, making a confused face: "I thought it was Tyyer's cookie."

9. A portion of our canning for the week.

10. Nicholas: "Mama, Tyyer won't let me play wif his camera. And Zachy won't, and Jacob won't."
Me: "Then you'll have to find something else to play with."
Nicholas: "I know! Lyssa's!"

11. Me: "Do you want Netflix or Amazon Prime:"
Nicholas: "Hmm . . . Amazon Slime."

What made you Smile this week?

Pin It

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Things That Make Me Smile 8/17/18

Jake (12 1/2), Alyssa (10), Zac (8 1/2), Tyler (6), Nicholas (3 1/2)

Happy New Year! I think my New Year's resolution should be to get caught up on Smile posts, ha! Maybe my Word of the Year for 2019 should be progress or consistency or finish in order to get up to date, but alas, I have chosen another goal that I will share soon. My plan is to blog more frequently again though.

These Smile are way back from the summer months, when the weather was warm and our days were filled with fun in the sun.

1. Nicholas calling his calf his "leg cheek."

2. We canned dozens of quarts and pints of veggies from both my parents' and grandparents' gardens, including sweet relish, crushed tomatoes, bread & butter pickles, pickled banana peppers, pickled jalapeno peppers, bell peppers, and green beans.

3. Leighton and Jake built a bean bag toss game for our carnival night to match the shipwrecked theme of Vacation Bible School.

4. Nicholas refuses to believe any pictures of Leighton with hair is his daddy, no matter how much I try to convince him. I have an older picture of him as the lock screen on my phone. 
Nicholas: "Can you show me the other daddy on your phone?" 

5. Me: ". . . and I think we should get some chocolate ice cream."
Alyssa: "Ooh! Wait, you did say chocolate, right?"
Me: "Yes."
Alyssa: "Those are my two favorite words together."

6. The surprise I found in the refrigerator. 

7. Me, to Leighton: "Hey, these kids are smart. You can't trick them."
Alyssa: "You taught us."

8. One of the days of VBS was crazy hat night. When Alyssa found out, she immediately knew she wanted to wear a fez. The next morning, she drew her own pattern on felt, cut it out, sewed it together, and added a tassel.

9. Junior High Girl (JHG): "Did you graduate yet?"
Me: "Graduate what?"
JHG: "High school."
Me, chuckling: "Yes, I graduated high school, and I graduated from college many years ago."
JHG: "How many years?"
Me: "18. I'm 36 years old."
JHG: "Wow. My mom is 35. You look young."

10. Alyssa: "I have common sense, I just choose to ignore it."
Me: "Why?"
Alyssa: "Everyone does nowadays."

What made you Smile this week?

Pin It

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Starry Night

* This post may contain affiliate links. 

My kiddos love creating art, whether they're drawing a picture, knitting a scarf, or molding a dish. We're all excited anytime we get a review that is art-related. They enjoy the process of creating masterpieces, while I appreciate the skills they are learning.  Sometimes the projects are open-ended and allow the child to freely create. This time though, sent us one of their Master Kitz to follow.

These kits are based on pieces of art from famous painters. They contain everything your child (or even you!) needs to recreate the painting. Though the kits make it simple to make a duplicate of the original, there are many opportunities to add a personal touch. In fact, I now own two versions of the 
Master Kitz The Starry Night that are even better than van Gogh's. is an art company that is committed to teaching and training kids in art. Along with a focus on master painters, the materials concentrate on art history and techniques. Add in hands-on learning and messy fun, and you have an engaging tool for a strong art foundation for kids.

The Starry Night kit includes the following materials:

  • A sturdy, re-usable art tool box with magnetic closures
  • 3 acrylic paints (child friendly)
  • 5 oil pastels (child friendly)
  • 1 van Gogh roller specially designed to replicate van Gogh’s active stroke
  • 1 re-usable Starry Night cyprus stencil
  • 1 standard paint roller
  • 2 pieces deluxe art paper
  • 1 low tack “mesmerizing stars” sticker sheet
  • Fun, easy-to-understand van Gogh learning materials
  • Easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions

The instructions, or inspiration sheet, are easy-to-follow. Each step is numbered and includes a picture with a brief set of directions. The 12 steps cover everything from covering the workspace with newspaper to adding the final colored details.

Because all of the materials arrive in a small box, the papers and stencil are rolled to fit. You need to roll them in the opposite direction to flatten then out before starting your creation. After that, you're ready to add the star stickers and two colors of paint. Next, you remove the stickers, add the stencil,  and apply another coat of paint. Once you remove the stencil, you take a little break to allow the paint to dry. Finally, you use the oil pastels to color in the stars and add details to the rest of the painting. Feel free to admire your masterpiece and show it off to your friends! 

My 3-year-old begged for days to use the painting kit. The first free moment we had, we covered the kitchen table and got to work. As you can see from the pictures above, he did the majority of the project on his own, receiving a little assistance from his older sister for things like taping the paper and squirting the paint. I think those smiles are a good testimony to his feeling about the the kit!

My 10-year-old is the artsiest one in the family. You can find her daily working on one of her many crafts. After helping her little brother paint his picture, she got right to work creating her own Starry Night. To say that she loved it is an understatement. Before she had even completed her work, she told me she wanted to do it again. Within the next few days, she told me at least a dozen times that she wanted another one of the Master Kitz and even chose her favorite from the list.

The mini booklet that is included opens up completely to display the instructions while the other pages are filled with art history. The cover shows a self-portrait of van Gogh and gives a short biography of his life. The inside pages portray a timeline of his paintings, explaining how his style changed over the years and different situations that influenced his work.

My girl and I were in the thrift store a few days after the kids used this kit. As we were browsing through the frames and mirror section, she pointed and said, "Hey, that's van Gogh's Sunflowers." I looked up and sure enough, hanging on the wall was a giant replica of the famous painting. She was able to recognize it from our study. This kit is more than just painting your own version of The Starry Night; it is a thorough overview of Vincent van Gogh and his life's work.

Our family loved the Master Kitz The Starry Night! The materials were easy enough for my little one to use and detailed enough to interest my older one. We have repackaged the remaining supplies into the box to make more masterpieces with the other kids. The kit is a great way to learn about a master artist, art techniques, and art history while putting those skills to practice in your own painting.

We can't wait to see what we'll learn in our next Master Kitz from

You can connect with on the following social media sites:

You can check out more art projects by homeschoolers by reading the reviews of this kit on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

* Some of the links in the content above are affiliate links. If you click on a link and purchase an item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I recommend products or services that I have used personally and all the text and opinions are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 225.

Crew Disclaimer
Pin It

Friday, November 2, 2018

Things That Make Me Smile 7/27/18

Jake (12 1/2), Alyssa (10), Zac (8 1/2), Tyler (6), Nicholas (3 1/2)

Happy Friday! This week, the family had good reports at the dentist, the kids enjoyed playing in the rain, Nicholas accidentally gave me a pretty impressive black eye, and the little ones helped me bake peanut butter chocolate chip muffins. What made you Smile this week?

1. Alyssa: "My favorite thing after reading is going to the library to get more books."

2. Nicholas, stalling bedtime, coming back for a third hug: "I could hug you forever!"

3. Zac: "I really want to be an explorer when I grow up, but there are 2 reasons why I don't want to. One, because it can be very dangerous, and I might get really hurt. Two, because I would travel all over the place and be gone all the time, and I wouldn't see you a lot. Other than that though, I really want to be an explorer and find a snow leopard.

4. Nicholas, while driving, seeing a wedding party getting pictures taken: "Look! Pwincesses! I see pwincesses!"

5. Some of the artwork Tyler drew one day.

6. Zac: "I can’t wait until tomorrow! One, it’s Sunday so we get to go to church. Two, I get to do more devotions! I already did two and then read today’s again to Tyler."

7. Alyssa: "Mom, you need to keep having babies until you get another baby girl."

8. Me, in the van: "Why are you taking off your sock: "
Nicholas: "Because I found it on my foot."

9. Me: "You’re going to run out of undies in your drawer. Why do you change your undies all the time?"
Nicholas, because I do a lot of online shopping: "Because mailboxes always bring me more undies."

10. Zac, about Luke 11:43: "Mom, I just found some of my favorite words in the Bible! I love this story."

11. Me: "We need to wash your hands."
Nicholas: "Can I just wash them on my pants?"

In case you missed it, I posted a bonus list earlier this week to work on catching up with my Smiles! Click the link for more laughs.   

Pin It