Friday, October 31, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile 10/31/14

Jake (8½), Alyssa (6½), Zac (4½), Tyler (2½)

Happy Friday! It's been a pretty typical week in our house this week, one filled with many Smiles! I hope you've had a great week, too.

1. Zac: "Jake, I have something to tell you about me. I'm horrifying! . . . What does horrifying mean?"

2. Jake: "Mom, can we get a lock for that drawer, please? Tyler's always getting in there. Or, can we just get a lock for him?"

3. Zac: "Hey, Mom?"
Me: "What?"
Zac: "I love you."
Me: "Aw, I love you!"
Tyler: "Yeah, love you too, Mom."


5. Zac, holding his head after eating ice cream: "I have a giant breeze frain."

6. As soon as Leighton started singing his solo in church and all through the song, the baby was squirming inside me."

7. Tyler, pulling at his pants trying to fix a wedgie: "My butt stuck!"

8. Me: "Why are you chewing on your pencil?"
Jake: "Because I'm like a beaver!"


10. My Mom, about the praying mantis: "That's right, they're carnivores, not herbivores."
Zac: "Actually, they're insects." 

11. Alyssa: "Is Daddy home?"
Me: "No, he has an hour of work left."
Alyssa: "An hoooouuur?"
Jake: "Well, you're probably not too happy about that."
Me: "Nope. I like when your daddy is home."

12. Tyler: "a, b, c, d, e! f! g! h, i, j, elmo, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x! y! z!!!!! now I know abcs, next time sing wif meeeeee!"

13. Jake, after we let the praying mantis go: "Aww, I wanted to keep it . . . or at least run it over with my bike."

What made you Smile this week?

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Clued In Kids Treasure Hunts

Do your kids love treasure hunts?
Do you want to bring some fun into your days?
Do you desire to have activities that are exciting and require very little setup?
Do you want your kids to see the fun in learning?

If so, then this review is for you!

We recently were sent some fun resources from Clued In Kids. This company offers treasure and scavenger hunts that meet all of the above criteria. They're exciting, they require little setup, and they show how learning is fun! They have all sorts of hunts to meet your needs: holiday/seasonal, nutrition, educational, sports, party, and more. We chose a printable Homework Reward Treasure Hunt  and the Pirate Treasure Hunt Clue Book.

Clued In Kids is a fairly new company, but the dream started decades ago. The founder has been creating hunts for many years. She revived the dream in order to give her girls a memorable way of learning, encourage them to stay healthy by moving, and instill the motto "Treasure The Journey" because life is precious.

The hunts themselves are extremely easy to use because all the work has been done for you. The only thing you have to do is hide the 12 clues. The clues are numbered, contain activities and puzzles that lead to the location of the next clue, and have a place at the bottom where it tells you exactly where to hide that particular clue. They claim that it is an 8-minute setup, but, honestly, I'm not sure it even took that long!

The first hunt we did was the Homework Reward Treasure Hunt. This hunt comes as a printable PDF and costs $5.99 (currently FREE with a newsletter subscription). It's designed to get the school-aged kids through the day and give them a way of getting their wiggles out at the end. All I had to do was download the file, print, cut, and hide. Simple. There is a line at the top of each clue to add a child's name. Assigning specific clues to each kid can save some frustration during the activity. After I looked through the clues, I determined that most were a little difficult for my 6- and 4-year-old by themselves. I left the name lines blank and encouraged my oldest (8) to include his younger siblings. That didn't stop him from pushing past them or grabbing the clues first though. He may have been a little excited, ha. It was a good lesson about teamwork and taking turns.

The second hunt was the Pirate Treasure Hunt Clue Book. Not only do my kids love treasure hunts (who doesn't?), they love all things pirate. I knew this hunt would definitely be a hit with them. This hunt comes as a booklet that you simply tear the pages out and costs $8.99. Since I understand the nature of children (especially my 2-year-old who collected all the clues from the first hunt and enjoyed crumbling them), and wanted to be able to use these again, I took the time to laminate them to ensure that they'd last more than one hunt. (Actually, my sweet husband laminated and cut them for me while I finished making dinner. I think I'll keep him.) Now the dry erase markings can be wiped off and the activity used again. This particular hunt is labeled for kids ages 4+ and contains some easier clues, like finding the hidden picture and simple dot-to-dots. I knew that this hunt would be perfect to assign clues to specific kids. Each of the 3 older children had 3 of their own clues, while the remaining 3 clues were action-based (saying aaaarrrr! in your best pirate voice, hopping around like you have a wooden leg, etc.) and were to be completed by all.

Since this was our second hunt, the kids knew exactly what to expect and were extremely excited. Having the names on the clues helped tremendously. Even our 8-year-old was completely content letting the other two kids figure out their assigned clues. Of course, they all helped search for each clue. Since this hunt had easier clue activities and had specific names on the clues, it went more smoothly for us than the first one.

The only negative thing I have to say about this product is regarding the formatting of the Homework Reward Treasure Hunt. If you look at the above picture, you'll notice that the spacing of many of the letters is off. Either the letters are overlapping or there is too big of a space separating the letters in a single word. While this is not a huge issue, it is like this on every clue and made it somewhat difficult for the children to read in places. I think if the formatting is redone to be a bit more professional, the product would be perfect.

My kids absolutely loved these hunts! Of course, they loved their treasures (a package of Oreo cookies the first time and make-your-own ice cream sundae the second), but I think they would have had just as much fun on the hunt even without a tangible prize at the end. It was cute watching their creativity as they made their own clues for treasure hunts afterward. The hunts themselves last about 30 minutes. The kids had so much fun that they've asked multiple times when we can do another one.

If you're looking for a fun, simple activity, I highly recommend these treasure hunts. I have a feeling we'll be purchasing more in the future, too. They would be a fun addition to a party or a sleepover. There's even a puzzlemaker tool on the website where you can input your own questions and answers and it will generate a clue for you. Fun!

There are so many different hunts that they offer. You can read more fun reviews of  Clued In Kids on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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Wordless Wedneday 10/29/14

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Forbidden Book

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. Isaiah 40:8 

We were given the opportunity to review a historical documentary from New Liberty Videos. The company, owned by Brian Barkley, produces Christian videos. They offer a variety of topics from the greatness of America to the UFO conspiracy to the mystery of the Dead Sea Scrolls to life after an abortion and more. We chose The Forbidden Book.   

The Forbidden Book is a 58-minute DVD about the preservation of the Bible. From the beginning of time, the Devil has wanted to cause confusion and destroy God's Word.  This documentary is a walk through history and how godly men chose to fight for the preservation of the Bible. Even during the Dark Ages when superstition and ignorance attempted to control the people, men stood firm in their faith. This video tells the stories of early church fathers, John Wycliffe (who translated the Bible from Latin to English), Martin Luther (who exposed wrong doings in the church and preached that justification was through faith and faith alone, Ephesians 2:8-9), William Tyndale (who sacrificed his life in order to make printed Bibles in the English language available to the people), and the countless martyrs who defended their faith and taught their children the Scriptures and were tortured because of it.   

 Did you know . . .

  • Ancient Bibles required an entire flock of sheep to provide the parchment for one 4th century New Testament.
  • The cost of a Bible in the 1300s, easily amounted to a priests whole yearly income. 
  • The Geneva Bible was quoted by William Shakespeare over 5,000 times in his plays. 
  • The first Bible printed in the United States was in 1663 and was a translation for the Algonquin Indians.
  • By 400 A.D., the Bible had been translated into 500 languages.
  • By 500 A.D., the Bible had been reduce to only 1 language.


Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. Matthew 24:35

Having grown up in a Christian home, attending a Christian school, and graduating from a Bible college, a lot of the information was review for me. I was taught a love of the Scriptures early on. I learned how men and women defended their faith and refused to back down even when death was imminent. Too often, I think, we take our Bibles for granted. There was once a time when people gave all to hold a copy of God's Word in their hands, when seeing the Scriptures in your own tongue was all but a dream. Now, we have multiple copies lying around the house. May we always understand that It is a precious Book, one to be read daily and obeyed. 

This video is full of facts and information and is narrated by Dr. Craig Lampe, a Bible historian. While I have studied this subject over the years, it was a good review and reminder. The DVD, which costs $19.95, is recommended for a general audience, but I wasn't so sure a documentary would hold the attention of my littles (8 and younger). My husband and I sat down to watch it by ourselves. Within minutes of starting, I knew that I had been right. The kids even walked into the room at one point when they heard that a movie was on, and quickly went back to the other room to play. While the information is great and the topic is important, the execution is a little dry. It would be good for an older student or adult who truly wants to learn about the people God used to preserve His Word for us today.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, 
for correction, for instruction in righteousness: II Timothy 3:16

To read more reviews of the Forbidden Book or one of the other videos offered, please head to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile 10/24/14

Jake (8½), Alyssa (6½), Zac (4½), Tyler (2½)

Happy Friday! We've had a great, busy week full of Smiles. Remember, feel free to leave a funny quote or a special blessing that you received this week. We'd love to Smile with you!

1. Zac: "How did you know?"
Me: "Mommies know things."
Zac: "Well, daddies know everything in the whole wide world! And I'm going to be a daddy."

2. Tyler: "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 20, 24, 32!" 

3. Neighbor: "Wow, they're growing fast."
Me: "Yes, too fast."
Tyler: "No, Ty-Ty growing slower."

4. In order for the kids to get their own big Bible (instead of their little, baby ones), Leighton and I have set the criteria that they have to be able to read it. We believe that if they are old enough to read it, then they are mature and responsible enough to take care of it. Alyssa read for us this week and was able to go to the Bible book store and pick out a Bible (with her name in metallic rainbow letters) and a cover. She was so excited! So were we. It was so precious to listen to her read.

5. Alyssa: "You're a good teacher. I'm glad I'm homeschooled." 

6. Zac: "Mom, I think I have fighting muscles! And they're invisible."

7. Tyler: "I have toast!"
Me: "May I have toast, please?"
Tyler: "I have toast, please?"
Me: "Yes, but may I have toast, please?"
Tyler: "No." 

8. Zac: "Mom, I remembered to pick up my LEGOs when I was done!"

9. Jake: "If the new baby's a boy, can we name it Esau?"
Me: "Esau? Why?"
Jake: "Then we can have Jacob and Esau!"
10. Tyler was being awfully quiet, so I went to check on him. As soon as I turned into the hallway, he looked at me and said, "I bein' good, Mama!"

11. Alyssa: "I promise I'll never do it again! . . . today."

12. Jake: "Mom, Tyler's not wearing any underwear!"
Me: "Tyler, did you pee-pee in your undies?"
Ty: "No, my unnies dry."
Me, finding the underwear: "They are dry. Let's go potty . . . Why is there a wet spot on the bathroom floor? Did you pee-pee on the floor?"
Ty: "No."
Me: "Where did you pee-pee?"
Ty, pointing to the ceiling: "Up there."

What made you Smile this week?

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile 10/17/14

Jake (8½), Alyssa (6½), Zac (4½), Tyler (2½)

Happy Friday! This week I hit the third trimester mark and have felt better the past few days than I have in weeks. I've been able to get caught up on some things around the house and have been able to do some extra baking with the kids. I hope you've had a great week, too!

1. Zac, looking at a picture of a little boy who was sick: "Shouldn't he have a green face if he's sick?"

2. Jake, while discussing scary dreams: "You know what would be a really bad dream for you, Mom? If you forgot how to read!"

3. Zac, excited: "Look at those eagles!"
Me: "Honey, those are seagulls."

4. Jake and Alyssa had the sidewalk in front of our house barricaded with bikes bearing signs that read "police." Anyone that dares to pass by receives a handwritten ticket for an exorbitant amount. A poor, unsuspecting lady walked by and received a paper stating that she owed $1,000,000. She laughed and thanked them. Their giggles as she walked away were priceless. Hearing my children playing and laughing together is definitely one of my favorite sounds.

5. Alyssa: "We're not going to church tonight? My life is ruined!!! . . . Well, it's not that bad."

6. Me: "I'm going to do it by myself. It's ok if I spend a few minutes by myself every now and then."
Zac: "But you can't be by yourself! We don't want you to get too scared and lonely."

7. Zac: "Mommy, I'll trade you my room for your bed. Then Jake, Ty, and I can all sleep in your big bed."
Me: "And then where would Daddy and I sleep?"
Zac: "You would sleep in Jake's top bed, and Daddy would sleep in my bottom bed."

8. Alyssa: "Your wish is my command."
Me: "Except, it wasn't a wish; it was a command."
Alyssa: "So, your command is my command."
Me: "Exactly."

9. Zac drew me a color-by-number picture.

10. Me: "Are you going to have a baby sister?"
Tyler: "Oh, yeah! Baby sisser!"
Me: "Or are you going to have a baby brother?"
Tyler: "Baby sisser."

11. Jake, naming the chickens on his paper: "Chick, Chickadee, Chickadickadee, and Scrambled Eggs."

What made you Smile this week?

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Mocha Cake

It's very important to me to teach my children life skills. To me, homeschooling is about so much more than just the 3 Rs. I start bringing my kiddos in the kitchen with me at a very young age. That's why Jake was able to make cupcakes by himself at 4-and-a-half and why he had the skills necessary to create his very own cake recipe at age 6. Sometimes, he'll ask if he can make something: a cake, cookies, whatever. I like knowing that I can give him a recipe and, with minimal overseeing, can leave him in the kitchen to create.

This time was a bit different. This time, as part of his schoolwork for the day, I told him to look through some of my cookbooks and pick a recipe. He had to make sure we had the necessary ingredients or note which ones we needed, gather the supplies, and make it. By himself.

After flipping through the pages of 3 books, he showed me the picture of a slice of mocha cake.

"This one," he said.

I looked through the ingredient list. "Are you sure?"

"Yep. This is the one I want to make."

Instead of finding something in the desserts section, he chose one of the guilt-free recipes. Guilt-free meaning prune baby food in place of some of the oil. Ok, it was his choice. The baby food intrigued him, but did not deter him. And the coffee? Surely, the boy who has always hated everything coffee would want to choose something else.


"Yes, I'm sure. This one." 

Since baby food is not something we keep stocked in the pantry, he had to wait until the next day to make the cake.

He and Alyssa gathered the supplies and immediately got to work. They were measuring. Dumping. Pouring.

"What about the coffee?" I asked. "The cold coffee." I made the coffee and got it cooling in the fridge.

A minute later I heard, "Is the coffee ready?"

It made for a good lesson about the importance of reading the recipe fully before starting and making appropriate preparations. 

When the coffee was cold, he immediately poured it in the bowl. "Ugh, I was supposed to combine it with the milk." Again, we talked about reading and following the recipe, instead of just assuming you know what to do.

A minute later, another similar conversation took place.

This activity made me realize that he had gotten lazy in the kitchen. Since he had been baking by himself for a while, he had gotten overconfident in his abilities. It was a good lesson for us both.

And eventually, the cake did get baked.

And my favorite part? The kids washed the dishes and cleaned the kitchen!

Jake made sure to add his own spin to the cake: a sugar & cinnamon sprinkle and mini chocolate chips. That's my boy! Adapt the recipe; make it your own. Have fun creating yummy foods!

But until you understand more about baking, follow the directions.

Despite my apprehensions, the kids all loved the cake! Jake even said it might be his favorite cake ever. Food always tastes better when you make the effort to bake it yourself.

Mocha Cake
Cake Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1 container (2.5 oz) prune baby food
3 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
1 cup cold strong brewed coffee
3 cups flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Frosting Ingredients:
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon hot water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups whipped topping

Cake Directions:
1. In a large bowl, combine sugar, eggs, oil, prune baby food, vinegar, and vanilla. Beat until well-blended.
2. In a small bowl, mix milk and cold coffee.
3. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in another bowl.
4. Gradually beat the flour mixture in the large bowl, alternating with the milk mixture. 
5. Bake in a greased 9x13 pan at 350* for 30-35 minutes. Cool completely.

Frosting Directions:
1. In a small bowl, dissolve coffee granules in hot water. Stir in vanilla.
2. Place whipped topping in a large bowl and gently fold in the coffee mixture.

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home: Most Requested Recipes 2010.
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Friday, October 10, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile 10/10/14

Jake (8½), Alyssa (6½), Zac (4½), Tyler (2½)

Happy Friday! For some reason, I don't have many quotes from the kiddos this week. I figured I'd add an extra picture this time. Besides, those cute faces make me smile! Did you have any Smiles this week, too?

1, Alyssa, looking at a picture of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea: "Why didn't they draw the water red? Is it poisonous?"

2. Alyssa: "Do you want red or blue?"
Tyler: "Green!"

3. Alyssa  wanted to help Zac with his reading.

4. Alyssa: "Is apple pie good for you?"
Me: "No, too bad, huh?"
Zac: "Are apples good for you?"
Me: "Yes."
Zac: "Then apple pie should be good for you! It's made with apples."

6. Tyler, and his cheesy smile, getting ready to help me make an apple pie.

7. Jake: "Is it hazelnut or nasalnut."
Me: "Hazelnut. Do you know what nasal means?"
Jake: "No."
Me: "It's referring to the nose."
Jake: "So, Zac called it a nosenut?"

8. Alyssa, praying: ". . . Thank You for letting me be in Mommy's family, and thank You for Tyler, and thank You for giving us a new baby . . ."

9.  The boys needed new tennis shoes, but Alyssa didn't need anything. Leighton let her get some pretty, pink, "high heels," just because. She was so excited! Daddy has a soft spot for his little girl.

What made you Smile this week?

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile 10/3/14

Jake (8½), Alyssa (6½), Zac (4½), Tyler (2)

Happy Friday! I'm late in getting this posted and really, you're here for the Smiles anyway, so without further ado . . . let's Smile!

1. Jake: "If I had a nickel for every time I heard Tyler Joseph! I'd have 5 million dollars."

2. Jake: "Mom, I actually sharpened this pencil with my teeth!"

3. Tyler, pointing at dandelions: "Mama, wook! Sunfwowers!"

4. Watching Leighton get beat up, I mean, wrestle with all 4 kids.

5. Zac: "May I have a piece of cake now, please? I done all my book."
Me: "You done it? How about you did it?"
Zac: "Yeah, I did done all my book."

6. Alyssa: "May I play the iPad now, please?"
Me: "Yes."
Alyssa: "Huzzah!"

7. Jake, tasting the cake batter he made (recipe coming): "Mmm, coffee."
Me: "Who are you?"
Jake: "Jacob."
Me: "And since when do you like coffee."
Jake: "Mom, I'm almost 9. I'm going to need to start drinking coffee soon."

8. Alyssa: "Ooh, are you making apple pie?"
Me: "No, not right now. I am making apple pie oatmeal though."
Alyssa: "I'd rather have apple pie."

9.Finding Jake reading to his siblings, just because.

10. Jake: "I really hate that book! Every time I finish a chapter, something really exciting happens and I just want to keep reading!"

11. Tyler, while we were talking about our Christmas tree: "Yeah, BIG one! Ty-Ty cwimb it!"

12. While praying for breakfast . . .
Me: "Help Ty-Ty be good boy,"
Tyler: "Help Ty-Ty be good boy,"
Me: "Help Daddy be safe,"
Tyler: "Help Daddy be good boy," 

13. Alyssa: "Do you want the new baby to be a girl? So it's not trouble? I think only boys are trouble."

What made you Smile this week?

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