Friday, May 26, 2017

New Baby Chick

Meet our newest addition in the chicken coop!  We are so excited.  One of the eggs hatched.  I think our fertility rate is next to nill right now so not sure how other eggs under her will do.  Plus I found out that some hens had snuck in and laid their eggs with hers at least a week or more after she started sitting.  I might put those eggs under the other hen who is still sitting to finish them out once I know no more will hatch now.  I'll give it a few days.  Be watching for updates.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Typing Coach REVIEW

The Typing Coach

For about the last 6 weeks we have been working on The Typing Coach Online Typing Program by The Typing Coach. My 7th grader really needed to master keyboarding and this program seemed like the perfect fit.  One of the key components in this program is mastery of the keyboard.  It is a fairly simple but effective program.  It consists of 7 lessons and includes practice tests, before and after snapshot, and 4 typing tests.  It is of course an online program (it's in the name) and has links to print the student packet and learning checks (and many other pdf help documents).  The 7 lessons include:
  • Having Good Posture
  • Home Row
  • Top Row
  • Bottom Row
  • Shift Keys
  • Typing Practices
  • Number row
Typing Coach Student Packet

Typing Coach Learning Checks packet

You might think what else is there?  Only 7 lessons?  Well, as I said, the program is about mastery.  You are not allowed to move to the next lesson or step until you have mastered the one you are on.  It really is effective for producing very accurate results.  It's not just how fast you can type but to do it with absolute accuracy.  As you work through the lessons you will have practice tests and one extra feature of this program is the Learning Checks.  Learning checks are lessons that involve not looking at the keyboard OR the screen.  You listen to the audio and type.  This really helps with your accuracy.  I am a veteran typer and found these challenging.  I found out that I am used to typing fast and correcting my mistakes as I go for the most part.  This program is all about not wasting time on your mistakes because you are striving for accuracy and excellency in your typing.

There is also so much more to this program than just the 7 lessons.  When you log into your account you will see all kinds of support and instruction videos.  There is a video on the Typing Coach Method Explained and a Teacher Resource Center.  Within the Resource Center you will find:
  • Quick Start Instructions
  • Guidance for Teachers
  • Playing Audios While Typing
  • Progress Chart
  • Explaining the Process (video)
  • Modeling the Process (video)
  • Younger Ones
  • Special Needs/Ed
Just to name a few.  There is an entire section of helps on slower paced guidance for those that find the regular pace a little much (younger children, struggling learners, and special needs).

Teacher Resource Center

Slower Paced Lessons

The course is designed to be completed in about 10 weeks if you work through one lesson per week (which would include times for practice tests and typing tests, thus 10 weeks).  In one of the videos in your account he states that if you work every day for about 20 minutes a day, you can complete the course in a month.

I worked through some of the program and feel that it is a well rounded program that will not only help you to type but also with a great deal of accuracy. Your speed continues to increase as you continue to practice.  It is not a "fun" program per se, but it is effective.  My reluctant 7th grader was difficult to get through this program and we are still working on it.  If you have a student that really does NOT want to learn typing, this is probably not the program for them as far as encouraging them through and making it fun like some other programs we have tried.  That being said, I do recommend this program for someone who really wants to learn how to not only type well but accurately (which is key in typing speed).

The Typing Coach

You can connect with The Typing Coach on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.
Please take the time to look at reviews on The Typing Coach Online Typing Program by The Typing Coach at the link below.

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course {The Typing Coach Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Thin Stix by The Pencil Grip, Inc. REVIEW

The Pencil Grip, Inc

We have had fun playing with our newest review of Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors by The Pencil Grip, Inc.  We have never tried or seen these before or the shorter thicker version by the name of Kwik Stix.  These paint sticks are incredible.  The kids had a blast.  Of course both of them are artsy sort of kids.  My son just loves to draw and create.  He's into dragons and origami.  My daughter is always coloring and often asks to paint.  Well . . . toddlers and paint just don't always go so well together (these are not recommended for under 3 years). I had to hide these to keep her from getting into them like she does her crayons!
Thin Stix by KwikStix

It's fun to take the risk every now and then, but breaking out the paints on a regular basis is not what this mom enjoys doing.  There's the water, the brushes, the globs of paint.  What a mess.  While there are art techniques and color mixing that can't be matched by anything but actual watercolors or acrylic, or your standard tempera paint, these Thin Stix can still fit the bill when it comes to just simple painting.

Sam's creation
Marriah playing around with stix

You don't need any water.  You simply twist and draw/paint with the Thin Stix.  The paint dries pretty quickly so less mess there too.  My 4 year old is able to pretty much use them by herself without much help.  It says it dries in 90 seconds and that is pretty accurate.  It dries quicker if you press lightly but if you press harder and put it on a thicker it does take a short bit to dry, but still pretty fast!  They are of course non-toxic. They consist of solid tempera paint and come in so many more options and colors than just this Classic Color set.  They are made to be used on regular paper, card stock, wood, cardboard, and canvas.  I have heard of some using it to paint rocks.  We used ours on paper and card stock and it performed very nicely. My son really likes that they are thin enough that he can draw with more detail than something that would be thicker in nature.  That beind said, they are not like markers type thin and that annoyed him at times.  Once he got the hang of it and realized they weren't for fine detail, he enjoyed them.

Thin Stix by KwikStix

I am so excited that something like these Stix exist.  They will simplify my life and allow the kids to paint more often because I just won't have to worry about the excessive mess traditional paints cause.  My son REALLY likes that he can toss them in his art bag and take them on the go with him wherever he is going and easily paint in other locations than just at home on the kitchen table.  I think that is my favorite part about them also is their totability.  I can even keep the small pack in my purse and have an alternative to just crayons for my toddler to occupy herself with.  Because they are so easy to use and almost mess free, she can use them in the car while traveling or even at our destination point if we are somewhere and have to wait on bubba to get done doing whatever he is doing at the time.

Color nicely on cardstock

He likes that it is easy to write with them

Of course the princess was disappointed that there was no pink in her stash.  Not to worry.  They are available in many different package options.  There are bigger packs, metallic, and even neon colors that I hear are VERY vibrant. We will be soon expanding our inventory on these paint sticks.  We would like to try the regular Kwik Stix and also the larger Thin Stix pack that includes some pink! (There is a 12 pack that has double the colors).  I might need to buy some stock in paper to keep up with the creations. We definitely recommend you add Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors to your art supply cabinet!

UPDATE: Thin Stix can also be found at Toys "R" Us.

You can connect with The Pencil Grip, Inc. at FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST.

I also hope you check out other fellow crew reviews at the link below:

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

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Chick Count Down

So tomorrow could be the day!  If I am not off on my days, tomorrow should be hatch day.  If not, it should be in next two days.  I made a HUGE mistake again.  It's a long story right now but basically I was unable to move mom and eggs at the proper time to make sure they were safe.  I was finally able to move her today, but not a good idea.  Yet, if I didn't move her, I was convinced the other hens would probably kill the chicks.  Well . . .  I moved her!  NOT a good idea. She was SO mad.  She wouldn't sit back on the eggs and she just stayed mad and flustered.  I left hoping she would cool off and go back to her eggs.  WELL.  I think I left for too long and when I went back to check on her the eggs felt cool and she was STILL not on them.  She was still so mad.  I decided to just let her out and maybe try to put the other hen that just went broody on the eggs.  Before I could do anymore switching I noticed the angry mom went back to her original nest spot and just sat and complained.  I quickly grabbed her eggs and put them back under her.  Don't know what we are in for.  Not sure if that harmed the eggs.  I know it isn't good.  I also don't even know if any of them are even fertile!  I didn't candle them cause she was so mad and never let me get to the eggs without drawing blood so I just left her.  It's a wait game.  I also hope that if any do hatch I can catch them before the other hens take them out.  Hope it doesn't end sadly.  Updates will follow.

Friday, May 19, 2017

BOOK REVIEW of Captain Absolutely by Focus On The Family

Our newest read was Captain Absolutely by Focus On The Family.  We were provided a copy of this comic strip style book for our honest review.  I had planned on using this as a read aloud but when I realized it was comic book style and my son got a hold of it, it was not necessary.  He got a hold of the book and started reading it on his own.

Captain Absolutely is of course the superhero in this book.  Like Batman, he does end up having a sidekick to help him defeat the League of Bad Guys.  In true form of comic strips this book easily keeps your interest no matter what age you are!  I also read the book.  I would recommend this book for children in grades 3 - 8.  It is an easy read and my son finished it easily within a week with just reading short bits at a time.  It can be read from front to back in about 2 hours time.

While I recommend the book for the younger crowd, older teens will get a kick out of it too.  The author weaves a lot of extras into the story.  You have your standard good guy versus bad guy interactions but the author puts his good sense of humor and truth into the entire storyline.  All through the story there are lots of extra captions that make you chuckle if you catch and read them.  Here is a simple example:

Captain Absolutely stands for truth and justice and uses God's word to accomplish this.  There is scripture woven throughout the entire book.  It is written in as part of the story and dialogue so young readers don't really see that they are getting a bible lesson.  They are just reading a really fun comic.

Book Synopsis

Josiah King is a librarian who has never heard the word of God or ever seen a bible because it is forbidden in the town of Metropolitanville.  Josiah and his buddy Darren are in the library and a nuclear explosion occurs that causes Josiah to come into contact with the forbidden book.  While he waits to be rescued he is completely transformed by the bible and he becomes Captain Absolutely.  His friend Darren has a different fate and becomes one of his archenemies, Dr. Relative.  Captain Absolutely stands for absolute truth while Dr. Relative falls in to the "everything is relative" group.  Of course any good superhero story is never complete without a gang of bad guys and they are present as the League of Bad Guys in this story.  While on his journey to restore truth to his town, Captain Absolutely picks up a side kick, Hana, to help him battle the evils of Dr. Relative, Fear Chemist, Baron Von Confuser, and Farmer Vile just to name a few. Does Captain Absolutely defeat his enemies?  Does he restore faith and justice to the town of Metropolitanville?  Does his sidekick, Hana survive? You'll just have to pick yourself up a copy and read for yourself.

 Captain Absolutely
My son's favorite characters were the superheroes Captain Absolutely and Hana. I really enjoyed the comic relief comments throughout the book and really liked the way that scripture was incorporated into the story line.  Not only is it an exciting good guy versus bad guy comic book but it also serves as a good bible study on character and why it's important to listen to God and follow his word. We both recommend this book and think you won't be disappointed in adding it to your reading list.

Focus On The Family
Check out the reviews from fellow crew members at the link below.

Captain Absolutely {Focus On The Family Review}
Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Homeschool Rescue REVIEW

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

For the past month and a half I have been working on how we homeschool thanks to Homeschool Rescue by Only Passionate Curiosity.  This 60 day program will transform your way of thinking and how you homeschool.  While the program is designed to be completed in 60 days, it is made clear that you are to only proceed to the next step once you feel confident you have mastered your current lesson.

The program is an online e-Course with a lifetime membership that consists of modules that include videos and homework sheets as part of your lessons.  If you are at your wits end, burnt out, needing some new life and direction in your homeschooling, then this is exactly what you have been looking for.  The tools that Heather provides in this program are phenomenal.  Planners, schedules, evaluations, structure, learning to say "no," curriculum decisions, the list goes on and on.  You may not even know you need a revamp in your homeschool, but if you know you need or want to be doing something different and feel good about what you are doing in your homeschool, then this may be your answer.

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue
I am a mom to two kids.  My son is 13 and in the 7th grade getting ready to move up to 8th grade and my daughter (whom we just recently adopted) is age 4 and in PreK.  With the adoption just recently finalized things have been a little crazy lately to say the least.  That coupled with it being the end of the school year and we needed some new direction.  My 13 year old is a struggling learner and has challenges in several areas.  It is VERY labor intensive to get him through his schooling on a daily basis. I really needed some insight and direction as I was planning for the upcoming school year.
I so appreciate Heather's grace-based approach to the entire program.  She gets it.  She understands what it is like to struggle through your days and try to fit more hours in a day than you have.  She created Homeschool Rescue to do just that.  RESCUE us from the insanity.  Restore peace into your life and home.  Turn chaos into order.

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

The course currently consists of 5 modules, each with a series of lessons, that will help you reset your homeschool for maximum productivity and peace.  Heather walks you through making sure you are exercising self care so you can make the best the decisions and be at your best for schooling your children.  Each module consists of videos, audio and printable transcripts, and even note pages!  The audio download is great for reviewing your lesson when you can't be at your computer or have time to watch the video.  You can listen to the audio while in the car or exercising. There is so much information and help in each module.  Heather helps you get organized and form a plan and vision for your homeschool.  There are worksheets, planners, tools for determining your child's learning style, and endless resources to help you succeed in your journey.  Even if you are a veteran homeschooler and don't really think you need help, you might be surprised.  Heather has a fresh way of looking at and evaluating your current homeschool plan and you just might be surprised at some new insights you can gain from this program.  Access to the Homeschool Rescue Facebook community is also a tremendous plus.  You get to communicate with other like-minded moms and gain support and encouragement.
Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

I was so happy to be able to be a part of this review because I already new I desperately needed a homeschool revamp.  We have had lots of struggles and delays as I have tried to work through this program.  I am still working through it but have been so encouraged by Heather and the Facebook group.  This is just what we needed to get ready for our best year yet in the upcoming school year.  Heather is dedicated to making this the best resource it can be so with your lifetime membership you will be able to glean now and in the future as the program grows and improves as needed.  Coupled with her 30 day 100% money back guarantee you have nothing to lose! I for one highly recommend you try Homeschool Rescue by Only Passionate Curiosity.  You surely will not be disappointed.
The time to try it is now!  She has a new group "Live Course" starting in June and registration ends May 31,  While the course is designed to be self-paced and can be used at any time, if you sign on while she has the Live Course going you can jump in on the excitement of a group of moms working through it at the same time.  Being part of the Facebook community during this time will be such a great support and time to make new friends and connections.

You can connect with Only Passionate Curiosity at FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, INSTAGRAM, and GOOGLE+.

Please take the time to also check out other crew reviews at the link below to get different insights into the program.

Homeschool Rescue {Only Passionate Curiosity Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Broody Hen

Silly girls.  When they get broody they are funny.  Broody?  What?  When a hen decides she wants to hatch some eggs she is called broody.  She will generally pluck her feathers on her belly to help have better contact with the eggs. She will stop laying eggs and sit on the eggs for 21 days until they hatch.  She will rarely leave the nest just to eat, drink, and relieve herself as quick as she can so as to get back to her nest.  She can also become quite mean in defending her eggs!

This was supposed to post before Mother's Day but as usual, life happens.  Hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day.  Hatch day for our broody hen is fast approaching.  She has just about a week to go.  Hope that some of the eggs are actually fertile.  She is the same hen that hatched out 6 chicks for us last year.  Four hens and two roosters.  We still have all but one rooster in our flock.  Updates soon to follow!

Monday, May 8, 2017

So Much Water!

Chicken run
So I didn't have a chance to get on and update again.  It has been another crazy week last week. I am grateful that the rain has stopped again.  But I see that we might have more coming at the end of the week.  The garden survived ok.  Some plants that don't like excessive water seem to be struggling a little, but I think everything except maybe my buterfuly bushes will pull through.

Flooded playground area

My butterfly bushes have taken a double whammy.  Our winter weather warmed up too early.  They started to sprout new shoots, then a cold snap came.  I thought I had lost them, but they seemed to be slow in coming back.  Then the rain.  They are not happy!  Time will tell if they will pull through.

The chickens didn't seem too disgruntled over the excessive rain but it has made the run a muddy mess.  The last couple days have allowed it to dry up quite a bit, but with more rain coming we'll see if I can get more mulch and shavings down to get the mud gone.

Looking forward to drier days ahead soon.  

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

ArtAchieve Entire Level II REVIEW

Sam and his Korean Wedding Duck

We just love these reviews and the blessing they have been to our homeschool curriculum.  Today's review is on the Entire Level II from ArtAchieve.  We were blessed with the Entire Level II of this art curriculum.  The neat thing about this is that you can purchase individual lessons or entire bundles to suit your needs.  Also included are Cross-Curricular Connections that really enhance and add to the learning experience.  There are also links to additional resources.

Level II can be completed with very basic art supplies so no huge investment is necessary to achieve wonderful results.  The website for ArtAchieve offers free lessons for you to try to see how you like it. "ArtAchieve believes that anyone can learn to draw, and that learning to draw is an essential skill." There are 5 levels of lessons available and each lesson includes the following:

  • A description of the lesson
  • A list of supplies
  • Suggested Cross-Curricular Connections
  • Estimated time to complete the lesson


The Cross-Curricular Connections include:
  • Geography
  • Literature
  • Science
  • Writing
  • Music
  • Social studies
  • Misc other topics
The Cross-Curricular Connections really enhance the lesson and allow you to easily stretch the subject to an entire week or more depending how in depth you wanted to go with the research.  I really like this aspect of the program. Again, a nice Charlotte Mason type approach.  There are direct links to the all of the subject matter he lists in this area.  I completed the Japanese Goldfish and here are some examples of the Connections:
  • Social Studies - order a free DVD on Japanese American History, learn more about Japan
  • Science - learn more about aquatic life and iron and steel
  • Writing - study about Haiku poetry (no link here)
  • Literature/Geography - links to books
  • Art - link to a related art piece
The art lessons themselves are simple to complete with a video guide taking you step by step through the art piece.  The lessons are also available with a Power Point download version. There is an area for Tips for the Teachers that gives you some do's and don'ts for your student(s) and suggestions on evaluating the art pieces and dealing with mistakes. "The lessons can be used to fulfill some or all of the goals set by The National Standards for Art Education and National Standards for Visual Art."


Another neat feature of the program is that you are encouraged to upload your finished artwork to the website.  Kind of a cool feature that some kids might really enjoy, to see their artwork on the world wide web.

There are recommended ages for the different levels but of course each individual student may fall in a different category according to their skill level.  Generally Level I is recommended for ages 5 and up, Level II for ages 7 and up, Level III for ages 9 and up, Level IV for ages 10 and up, and Level V for those who have more extensive art skills. There are free lessons available to test where you might feel most comfortable.


The entire curriculum is available for a 1 year license at a 30% discount and an entire level can be purchased for a 25% discount.  Different bundles are available ($2-4 discount) or you can just purchase individual lessons.

I should have picked a different set for my son to complete because he was more about what he wanted to draw rather than the actual level (he likes to draw a lot and has a basic set of skills).  After completing my lesson I was pleasantly surprised as I am NOT an artist in ANY sense of the word.  I didn't think mine turned out too bad.

My Japanese Goldfish with motif embellishments
The beginning of the lesson had you complete a "practice sheet" to get your drawing flowing and mind set on the lines needed.  It was interesting.

My practice sheet
I would have to say that although the lessons are generally not very exciting per se, the skills acquired and the end result allow us to give this program a thumbs up and recommend it to those looking for an art program that gives you more than just art. You can really build a unit study on many, if not all, of the lessons due to the extra information provided in the Cross-Curricular Connections.

You can connect with ArtAchieve on FACEBOOK (@ArtAchieve), INSTAGRAM (@johnahofland), TWITTER (@ArtAchieve), PINTEREST (artachieve), and GOOGLE+ (ArtAchieve).

Please take some time to check out the other reviews on this level and three others at the link below.

Art Lessons Inspired From Around the World {ArtAchieve Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Progress! Garden is (Mostly) In


Finally!  Got most of the garden in last weekend! I just haven't had the chance to get on here to update.  It's been a really crazy week and more sickness.  All is well now.  Just trying to play catch up.  Hubby and Little Man helped weed all the beds and get the compost down in the beds.  It was looking so nice.

Little Man was such a help with the compost

I worked harder on practicing companion planting and I hope I have better results.  There were a few pairings I didn't remember reading about before and was pleasantly surprised.  I could plant my peppers and okra with my tomatoes.  Should be interesting!

We still have to redo all the aisles again but we have been under VERY HEAVY rain and there is lots of flooding in our area.  If not for the raised beds the garden would be under some water.  Most of the aisles were flooded again this morning. Once this rain stops and the ground dries a little we can get in and get the walkways cleaned up.

The apple mint is very happy

It felt good to actually get almost the entire garden in before May.  More updates will follow soon. Blessings to you and yours.
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