how is your school year wrapping up?

it’s tuesday…..  and one day from june….  i can’t believe how fast this school year has flown by!  wasn’t it just september?

over here we are just trying to put on the finishing touches.  the big kids are finishing up their sophomore and junior years.  one has her sights set on community college next year, and the jury is still out on the other.  i will likely work through the summer on a few things with hunter.  taking just a bit of quiet time in the summer days to cement in some reading and spelling skills.  for jeremiah, my pre-k guy, we are going to really start to hit the letters and sounds for him and see if we can’t move through to some gentle reading.  he is very eager and ready to learn and as far as he is concerned he wants to be in school NOW!

we will carry on through the month of june as we finish up.  we took a few vacations at the begining of the school year, and while they certianly earn us big points in the amazing field trip department…. they do nothing to help us complete our Algebra ;)

speaking of getting work done…. it is time to wake the teens up….. the little’s are out exploring the back yard with the puppies…. the teenagers are busy saving sleep for when they grow up :)

how is the school year wrapping up for you? 



to market we go…..

 i told you that i had the shutter bug.  every where i go, i see things as if i am framing them for a shot.   it started at the farm…. and has spilled over into everything the last few weeks, including the weekly trip to the farmer’s market.

our local farmers market is one of my favorite places.  it’s quaint metal siding, and pole barn style, full of pickup trucks and people, beckon to me.  casual and unpretentious, it is a place teeming with energy.  it is vital and dynamic.  the ebb and flow of customers and conversation hold a rhythm all their own. 

it is a place where the homestead laborer, shakes hands with his customers, looks them in the eye….. AND….. knows their name……. 

…….a place where the words ‘fresh’ and ‘organic’ are not pasted on hermetically sealed plastic bags, they are understood facts that require no label to confirm. 

it is not a place for cash registers and credit cards, you need only bring your crumpled, worn, and hard earned green backs to exchange for the fruit of another’s toil. 

it is a place were customer service is more than a kitchy term….  it is the life and breath of agrarian commerce.


Miscellany Monday 5.30.11

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

write random… and link up @lowercase letters

{one} blogs.

they are funny fickle things….  currently i am in a love/ hate, hate/hate relationship with mine.  i have a vision in my head of how i want it to look….  trouble is, i don’t know how to get it there.  i feel confused and frustrated with the new.  i am very much a ‘like to know the outcome’ person…..  all this trial and error, with emphasis on the error…. is giving me hives.


{two} sisters.

one of mine is coming. 

 (i wished for both of them to come, but work trumps my wishes, so i will settle for a visit with one)

 jeremiah keeps wandering the house telling us he is ready for auntie maymee to come, asking us all what is taking her so long.  he has even offered to drive there himself and get her.  he is so thoughtful.

{three} photos

i have had the picture taking bug lately.  i drive around town looking at things and think how great of a backdrop that would be for portraits…  the architecture of buildings jumps out at me.  it really and truly is a sickness.

{four} memorial day

today our country honors it’s fallen.  the men and women whose lives were lost in conflict over places, things, people or ideals.  each one of these fallen made a choice to serve.  to sacrifice, even when they knew the sacrifice might call for their very breath of life.  regardless of our differences, we are united in the fact that these fallen soldiers fought so that i might have the choice not to.  their selflessness, insures and secures the rights of future generations to be greater than the one that came before it.

today should be more than barbecues, picnics, and parades.  today, honor the memory of these fallen, by paying forward their selflessness.  go out and find someone to be kind and selfless to…………




from the farm

Friends with farms are fun.

Lots of fun.

They let you come over and work.

For free.

They let you take pictures of their chickens

And their cows…..

And of their cows kissing their chickens……….

How cute is that?

oh!…. and they let you take pictures of all their fantastic stuff….

I love days at the farm……..


Eagles Wings ~~ Exploring God’s Creation ~~

When this curriculum arrived, and I began to flip through it…… I smiled a satisfied mommy smile…..  the one where you can tell after about 5 minutes of flipping, you are really going to like this…….
Exploring God’s Creation is a great science curriculum.  You can use it with 2nd to 7th graders.  It is such a great spring board for in depth study.

It covers everything from the creation to the parts of a cell.  The Curriculum is comprised of a Teacher’s Manual, a student consumable book, and a CD with songs.  Have I ever told you how much I love teachers manuals?  Well I do….. they make my heart happy.

 I loved that the Teacher’s Manual contained the text, it was a delight for my struggling reader to be free from reading in science.  The student book contains worksheets but some of them are actually projects, making this a very hands on way to learn.  I appreciated the Digging deeper section.  There were great ideas to expand the learning process.  Books to check out from the library or activities to try.  We chose to learn about the Universe while we were reviewing the product, and we made a star projector,  the solar system…and a volcano!

If you are a parent of a multi-level homeschool….  Exploring God’s Creation might just be perfect for you.  It would be so easy to adapt to each student’s grade level and eliminate the need for 5 different textbooks lying around.  The Student Book is fully reproducible, or you can purchase additional books for $13.95… that is VERY affordable !!  I only used it with one child, but I look forward to using it again with my youngest in a few years. 


The whole package is $29.95, and the CD is included.  The CD was a great way for kids to have little ditty’s to remember lessons with.  I was very thankful that someone else was singing these songs….. because I tried to make up some tunes to the songs as they were listed in the Teacher’s Manual….  and well…….  let’s just say my singing and tune creating abilities need to remain confined to the shower…. (wink, wink)

We will definitely continue to use this science curriculum through the summer months.  We really have enjoyed our time with it over the last month.

For more information and to see some of the other products that Eagles Wings has to offer visit their website and click on Products. 
Don’t forget to stop by the TOS Homeschool Crew blog and see what other families are saying about Exploring God’s Creation.

as a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received Exploring God’s Creation, free of charge, for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been received.  All opinions are my own.


Reading Street ~~~~ Pearson Education


Pearson Education gave members of the TOS Homeschool Crew the chance to review several of their products.  Our family was chosen to review their Second Grade Language Arts, student texts, Reading Street 2.1 and 2.2 by Scott Foresman.

***I believe that it is only fair to mention that these books are completely mainstream Public School textbooks.  They are created to be used in conjunction with a certain method of teaching, and usually are accompanied by teachers manuals.***

Each Textbook costs $43.47
A two book set is $86.97
DVD-ROM Version of the texts $86.97
Weekly Tests Student edition $ 7.97
Weekly Test Teacher Manual $41.47
Unit Teacher Manual $38.47 each (12 volumes in set)



What I did like:

  • Units were well organized.
  • Broad Range of Literary Choices.  (Poetry, Folk Tales, Fiction, Non-Fiction)
  • Built in Grammar Reinforcement
  • Writing and review sections.
  • Very colorful pages
  • The stories were all very age appropriate.
Hunter did enjoy reading out of these books.  The non-fiction pieces were his particular favorites.  It is likely that we will refer to them again and use them as supplemental reading.  We, however, prefer books that are less textbook-ey. (how is that for a new word?)
  • A more user friendly website.  It is very geared to the purchasing departments of large public school systems.
  • Make Teachers guide samples available.  Homeschool parents often need to just see a small model to better understand how the product is intended to be used. 
  • Homeschool Friendly pricing. The cost as it stands now, is very prohibitive to the home education population.
While I was not supplied with Teachers Guides…. (and I understand why…. they are very expensive)  The books as they stand alone, are not difficult to use.  We would read a story, and then talk about it.  If it was long we would divide it into 2 days.  We would orally go over the Reader Response questions.  The writing section walks you through building a composition nicely.  These books are an enjoyable way to expose your child to many different types of literature, especially if you take the time to read more books from the featured authors, throughout the school year.
While I don’t feel that this type of textbook teaching is the best fit for our family, I know there are many people who homeschool very successfully with them.  If you think this product would be a fit for your family, please visit the Pearson Education website and see some of the many products they have to offer.
Visit the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog to read more reviews about this product and others by Pearson Education.
as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received the two student texts for Reading Street, free of charge,  for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation has been received.  All of the above opinions are my own.

Some days…….. this marriage isn’t what I signed up for!!!

Have you ever caught yourself saying that………???

……………………….be honest.

don’t try to lie…….  i can see it in your eyes!!!!  YOU HAVE SAID IT!

it’s ok… i will let you in on a little secret……….

i’ve said it too….  more times than my pride will allow me to admit.

When we marry, we have a vision….. of the wedding and how life after will be……..  picturesque and orderly

and before you know it that wonderful serene vision has morphed into something much more like this ! ACK!

photo courtesy of Flikr

OH!  have I had days like that!

The key to a great marriage is remembering WHO it should be focused on…..  and that is Christ. 

Lorrie Flem has put together the perfect bundle of wisdom and encouragement for you.  It is just what you need to get you through those crazy marriage moments that were certainly not on the disclosure form you signed at the alter……………..  oh?  you didn’t get one of those either?…. haha.

The To Have and To Hold Marriage bundle is a wonderful tool to have in your back pocket to help you keep your marriage a priority

Here is a peek …………

My personal favorite was the booklet the 31 ways to pray for your husband.  It was wonderful.  I prayed through that list for my husband and I can’t tell you how God worked in MY heart and in my marriage, just through those prayers.

If you would like to have access to these great articles and encouraging stories, they are available from .  Valued at over $100.00 if purchased individually, they can be instantly downloaded for only $39.97.  If you would like hard copies shipped to you the cost is only $49.97.

As a member of the Gabby Moms, I was given the To Have and To Hold bundle, free of charge for the purpose of this review. No other compensation has been given.  All of the above opinions are my own.


Word Qwerty

Talking Fingers has created a Reading and Spelling Software for children aged 7-9 or in the Second and Third Grades. Word Qwerty picks up right were Read, Write and Type, another product from Talking Fingers, finishes.
Comprised of 20 lessons, Word Qwerty focuses on teaching the following spelling rules:
  •   Silent E
  • Sounds of C
  • Sounds of G
  • J or DGE
  • W or WH
  • C or K
  • CK or K
  • CKS or X
  • CH or TCH
  • LL, SS, FF, ZZ
  • OI or OY
  • VE Words
  • Open Syllables
  • Double Consonants
  • Doubling rule
  • ER, IR, OR, UR, EAR
  • I Before E
  • Plurals: Add ES
  • Plurals: Y to IES
  • Plurals: F to VES
There are many different games your child will play to help reinforce all of the spelling rules.  Hunter’s favorite game was the balloon pop.  The program gives you a sentence, and you have to recognize each different word in in the sentence on a balloon.  Don’t go too fast…..because the program tries to trick you !!!  you have to watch carefully to make sure that you have the right word before you pop! 
Games like the one above were great to help him discriminate between the beginning sounds of words, something that Hunter does struggle with.  He was able to see the word… and a picture to match the word, and then place it in the right list.

There were portions of the program that Hunter was very frustrated with.  There was a dictation game, and if you didn’t type as fast as the program thought you should be…. It would talk to you and tell you to put your hand is a certain spot on the keyboard… (which is where they were but Hunter did not type fast enough.)  He would become very aggravated !!  It would halt his progress, because it would “freeze” the screen while it reminded you how to type…. and then you would have to begin again.  After a few weeks of playing and trying to get faster…. I would eventually just sit and type out those games for him.  He could repeat back what the game said…. just not input it in quickly enough.  Nor did he spell well enough to not have the game beep at him 50 times in a sentence.

If you would like to see the games played, they have created a video for parents to actually see the program in action.  To see a video of Word Qwerty click here.
Talking Fingers offers Word Qwerty in two different formats.
The online version which is a five year subscription
Or you can purchase a CD version.  ( note it is NOT  compatible with Windows 7 or Mac 10.6)
I really feel that Talking Fingers has done a great job and keeping their program affordable… especially for those families with multiple children in the 7-9 age range.  Their program is entertaining, and doesn’t feel like you are doing the same thing over and over again.  As the parent, you can set the Mastery level from behind the scenes and build confidence by allowing your child to progress through the levels without becoming too frustrated with wrong answers.
While it wasn’t an overall best fit for our family, there were many components we did like, and they DID reinforce and help Hunter grasp some of the spelling concepts.
Talking Fingers offers a variety of programs to teach typing, reading and spelling.  Stop by their website at and see their product list, or to contact them directly if you have additional questions.
Visit the TOS Homeschool Crew blog to see what other families have to say about how Word Qwerty worked for them during their school days.
as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, Talking Fingers provided reviewers with limited time access to the online version of Word Qwerty.  This access was solely for the purpose of this review.  No other compensation was received.  All of the above opinions are my own.

Mad Dog Math


Mad Dog Math is a program designed reinforce math facts with your child. It is geared to grades K-5, but the struggling middle or high schooler might find it helpful as well.

There are several versions of Mad Dog Math available, if you need it for a co-op or classroom please visit their website for more information.

In our home we used the down loadable Home software. It is available at three different prices.

A one year license: $19.99

2-years: $29.99

the forever license: $39.99

Mastery based, it begins with addition and moves through to division, breaking down fact families into bite sized pieces to master.

The goal is for the child to answer the problems in 2 minutes and then 1 and then eventually in 30 seconds. They can earn *stickers* as they complete different fact families. The time commitment for the program is only 10 minutes a day… freeing you up to work with another child for a few minutes or change over that load of laundry.

I appreciated the ease of download and set up and the small size it took up on the screen. It was also nice that the program moved from question to question…. enabling the child to move quickly through the problems. It is a very straight forward, fact learning program, that helps your child understand the WHOLE problem not just memorize an answer. I also feel the price is very reasonable

Even for all the things we liked about the program… I regret that it is not a fit for our family. Hunter was our primary user of this program, doesn’t do speed timing so very well. He becomes very frustrated with not being able to meet the deadline.

I have also begun to realize that Hunter is a visual Right Brained learner. He can learn and practice facts forever, but unless he has a mental picture of the answer, it won’t stick. Teaching him facts with BLANKS in them….. he will recall the BLANK and not the answer. This has led us to teach him math facts in a less flash card-ish ( is that a word?) type of way.

I know that this product was such a blessing to many families, and it may well be perfect for your family. Please visit the TOS Homeschool Crew blog and see what other families are saying about this great product.


Mad Dog Math supplied members of the TOS Homeschool Crew with a version of their software for free, for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received, all of the above opinions are my own.

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