Saturday, May 18, 2019


I have wanted ducks almost as long as we have had chickens (5 years now).  It would seem an easy solution to just get them and throw them in with the chickens, but after much research, I have just not been convinced.  Ducks can be really messy and water and chickens just don't mix well.  A wet run and/or coop can be toxic for chickens (coccidiosis and just unhealthy conditions in general).  I have just not been convinced it is good to run them together when you are unable to free range them.  In a closed coop/run area I just didn't see it being a good thing.

Fast forward to this past Monday and a friend of mine called me up and said they needed to rehome their niece's pet ducks that they had gotten for Easter.  I initially said no but I would call around to some of my friends.  It didn't take many minutes of thought and I messaged my husband about the ducks.  He said sure!  Uh oh!  I quickly tried to figure out how it could work and where (which pen) would I put them in. Meet Rosie (Pekin) and Allie (Rouen).  It's been an interesting ride and there are still lots of details to work out, but they seem to be doing just fine for now.  Pretty much everything is kind of temporary right now so the future will be interesting.

They are growing so fast.  It almost seems like they grow more feathers every day.

I set them up a separate pen within one of my chicken runs because they are still babies (about 4 weeks old now) and the chickens were picking on them,  My rooster in that run is young and a little skittish about the strange new roommates (LOL). They are growing so quickly that I moved them out of their tiny cage to an extra large dog kennel today for locking them up at night.  During the day they can run around their area and I have usually been able to let them run with the chickens supervised each day.  Boy, do they love their water!  It's so fun and comical to watch them.  Be watching for more updates.  Sure hope they are both females (duck eggs!).

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Nothing Book REVIEW

"Nothing can separate you from God's love!"  That pretty much says it all.  What a pleasure it was to review Nothing by Natalee Creech from WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group.  I received a jacketed hardcover copy of this 32-page rhyming book suggested for ages 4-7.  It is based on the scripture Romans 8:38-39.

Little Bug absolutely loved this book.  She loves anything about God and this was such a perfect book for her.  I loved how it continually assured her that not only is God's love everywhere but His love and grace are with you wherever you go, even when you make mistakes.  The rhyming adds to its charm.  It is a nice, quick read perfect for a bedtime story.  She reads during the day and has a special bedtime storytime with Daddy in the evenings before bed.  This is now added to her list of favorite books.

The pages are a nice heavy duty glossy finish and the illustrations are wonderful.  Joseph Cowman's passion for illustrating are evident in his whimsical and fun illustrations.  It is obvious that author Natalee Creech loves to inspire through scripture. I would like to find more books from this author.  Any book that can instill scripture into my child and speak to her heart is on my "A" list.  The lyrical flow of the story is fun to read and the pictures help to draw her into the story.  Little Bug is in kindergarten and has recently learned to read.  She really had fun working through this book and learning some new big words.  She especially liked that "God's love is everywhere"  and "Nothing can separate you from God's love."  She chuckled at the funny pictures and commented on the character's expressions.

We really liked Nothing by Natalee Creech and give it a double thumbs up.  It will definitely delight your 4-7 year old and if you have an early reader they can read along.  If you desire to instill scripture and God's love into your child then this is the perfect book for you.  It really drives home that even when they have bad days or make mistakes, God is still there, He still loves you, and His love for you is not based on your behavior.

You can connect with WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group on FACEBOOK, PINTEREST, and INSTAGRAM.  Be sure to check out the other reviews from my fellow Crew members on this book through the graphic link below.

Nothing (Nothing Can Separate You From God's Love) by Natalee Creech {WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group Reviews}
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Saturday, May 11, 2019

Irises in Bloom

I just love irises!  They are so beautiful and elegant.  They are also VERY hardy which is pretty important for me!  I need the kind of bulbs that can overwinter well.  I do not like to dig my bulbs up and replant, too much trouble!  Many years ago I was able to get a bunch of irises from my mother-in-law and I have enjoyed them immensely ever since.  I have several different colors including several shades of purple. I had acquired and planted some cannas a year or so back and I failed to dig them up before the winter and I lost them.  I was so sad, cannas are also very beautiful.

These are planted outside of the chicken yard to help beautify it.  I will be transplanting more in the near future.  We have been landscaping around the chicken pens and I will be so happy when it is finally completed.  It has been a work in progress and some days are better than others!  One of my other absolute favorites is evening primrose.  I used to have a really good batch of it in my front flower beds, but over time other things have choked it out.  I am working on getting it re-established in some of my back flower beds.  I am also going to try to get some established in at least two of my deck planters.

The apple mint continues to thrive everywhere and the chickens enjoy eating it too.  I just love it and it makes some of the best tea!  I have also successfully made some yummy apple mint jelly with it.  I will be dehydrating a bunch of it very soon hopefully for future tea and other uses I find for it.

What's new in your garden or flower beds?  Do you have favorites or unique plants?

Friday, May 10, 2019


I always enjoy ordering goodies from The Critical Thinking Co.  Sometimes the kids don't think it is always so fun, but the quality of learning can't be beaten.  When I had the chance to review their Vocabulary Virtuoso PSAT-SAT Book 1 it was an easy "Yes!"  I received an electronic copy of the 209-page book.  I was easily able to download and print the book out.  It is an interactive download so you could fill it out on the computer, but this can be tricky and doesn't work so well for us.  I then used my binder to bind it into a nice book for my 9th-grade son to use.  It is recommended for grades 8-12+.

My son is a struggling learner so he has not taken any testing yet and this is just the perfect book to continue his practice that we have used other programs for in the past.  Of course, he was less than thrilled to have yet another resource in this area, but he will be grateful when it is time for his testing and he doesn't struggle so much due to the wonderful practice he has had.  This book will definitely help him prepare. It helps him build his vocabulary that will help his comprehension in critical reading.

Sample Vocab Word List


Sample extras throughout the book for deeper immersion of the stories covered

The lessons consist of stories that help your student with concepts in language arts, literature and humanities.  Concepts learned include:

  • Literary
    • Characterization in literature
    • Idioms
    • Puns
    • Jargon
    • Irony
    • Euphemisms
    • Aphorisms
    • Allusions
    • Theme
  • Rhetorical
    • The art of persuasion in speech and writing
    • Using the extended simile to write a poem
  • Historical
    • The Renaissance
    • Renaissance Artists

More sample extras including Puns and Literary Jargon

There are 20 lessons plus 5 reviews. There is an answer key in the back of the book.  The reviews occur after every 4 lessons (32 vocabulary words per review).  Each lesson consists of 9 words with 85% of them coming from the current PSAT or SAT word lists. Each list focuses on a part of speech such as nouns, verbs, or adjectives.  They include pronunciations, definitions, other word forms, and a sample sentence.  There are 6 parts (A-F) to every lesson.  They include practice with synonyms, idioms, and phrases.  The workbook pages mostly consist of fill in the blanks.  There are word lists included helping with the choices.  Some other activities include a story challenge (choosing the right word to fill in), word scrambles, and completing a sentence using the underlined word to show you understand what it means.  The reviews also include crossword puzzles and multiple choice.

Sample workbook fill in the blank

Sample Story Challenge
Sample Word Scramble

Working through the lessons by completing one lesson per week is one way to use the curriculum (there are actually 6 parts per lesson) but I think in the future going forward we will split it up and do a lesson every two weeks since this is just extra practice right now for us.  That schedule would probably only work to get through the material in one year if you continued through the summer (which we tend to do on some items).  By breaking it up into two weeks we will be able to cover 3 parts per week (instead of every day) and allow him to really work with what he is learning so he doesn't try to complete it so quickly and miss out on the purpose of the curriculum.

Sample review page - Crossword (with error)

I really like the way the lessons are laid out and feel that it helps your student get good immersion into the words and gives them a chance to get good comprehension and retention of the words. The activities involved cause your student to really think about the definitions and allow them to practice using the words in sentences and stories to get better comprehension.  I could tell when he didn't really pay attention to the definitions because he would have more difficulty completing the lessons.  By learning the synonyms and other ways the word can be used (i.e. idioms and phrases), it really causes deeper thought and again, a better comprehension of the words.

We did find one error so far in the first review.  One of the words is missing, 9 across, and has no definition in the hints. We can see what the word is from the answer list in the back but had no way of really knowing what that word was other than just guessing.  Errors happen, no big deal. I really like the layout of the book and feel that it will definitely help him in preparing for his test.  I give it a thumbs up!

A special gift to my readers, a coupon code!  You get FREE shipping plus 15% off any size order by using the code TOSCREW19 (expires 12/31/19).  Enjoy!

You can connect with The Critical Thinking Co. on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, YOUTUBE, and INSTAGRAM.

I recommend you not only check out Vocabulary Virtuoso PSAT-SAT Book 1 but also the reviews on other books from The Critical Thinking Co. from my fellow Crew members by clicking on the graphic link below.

Critical Thinking, Math, Vocabulary & Writing Skills {The Critical Thinking Co. Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Pathway to Liberty History REVIEW

I have been searching for another history curriculum and I am so glad we had the opportunity to review Pathway to Liberty's History Curriculum from Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum.  I received physical copies of Pathway to Liberty's Universal History Year 1 for both Level 1 and Level 3 & 4.  The books are softcover and spiral bound.  I received the Student Guide and Teacher Guide for both levels in addition to The CHAIN of Liberty book and Studyguide.  The author of this history curriculum, Jayme Maccullough, was a homeschool mom who knew there was more to the regular dry and mundane history texts.  She wanted something that was alive for her boys, would draw them in, and would also share with them the importance of our liberty and what our founding fathers fought for in order for us to have the liberty we enjoy today.  She also wanted to have a strong biblical foundation for how our true history has happened over the years.

I must admit when I first looked at everything I was a little overwhelmed.  The schedule looked a little complex and I wasn't sure how it would all fit together.  As you use the curriculum though you do get used to the pattern and it starts to flow well.  It is a complete curriculum for grades K-12.  One year of the curriculum contains 26 weeks of study (with weeks 25-26 being mostly review).  There are 4 books (years) that include Universal History, the Middle Ages, U.S. History, and World History. Each book consists of 4 levels that are grade specific.  Level 1 is for K5-3rd grade, Level 2 is for 4th-6th grade, Level 3 is for 7th-9th grade, and Level 4 is for 10th-12th grade.  The levels allow you to teach multiple children at the same time.  The schedule is set up for 4 days per week for approximately 20-60 minutes each day.  I'd say 20-40 minutes for the lower level is pretty close but at level 3 we are generally more than an hour when we watch the videos that are an hour long.

Required book list

Teaching multiple children at the same time is a great thing, but not as easy as it sounded.  I have found that with my two, I am still having to do some independent work, but I really do like that they are learning the same thing at the same time.  Because my children are so far apart in age, we don't tend to do lessons together, but there are parts that we can do together and the younger one does enjoy watching some of the upper-level videos.  Also, my older 9th grader is a struggling learner so it is a little more labor intensive for me, but the curriculum is working well.  My 9th grader was VERY reluctant to do the work and of course, dislikes the writing VERY much (he is slightly dyslexic and also dysgraphic), but I think the small amount required is really good for him.  He has also realized that he really is enjoying what he is learning, score!  Little bug is having a ball, especially when she gets to color the pictures!

Level 1 lesson page

Level 1 page

Level 3 lesson page

The Teacher Guide really has most of what you need.  There is also a Teacher Manual that I did not receive, but I think I am going to get.  It has additional resources that go with the curriculum and it is for all 4 years. There are also additional resources you need to purchase (from the required book list).  There is a required and optional book list in both the student and teacher guides.  Each week has a weekly overview schedule.  Each week begins with a scripture, principle, and a leading idea that helps guide the focus for the week. The daily lessons are laid out in grid form with each level taking up a separate column.  This makes it easy when you are teaching multiple levels.  Everyone reads the same scripture with individual assignments being different according to grade level.

Level 1 Table of Contents

Level 3 & 4 Table of Contents

Sample Weekly Overview

The curriculum and lesson guides include optional writing assignments, deeper study, and vocabulary word study.  The author recommends the extras so that your child will be immersed in the current subject and study.  I have to agree with this and I like the way it totally works in a Charlotte Mason style curriculum. A typical lesson might include reading or a video and answering fill-in-the-blank questions.  There is a channel on YouTube that has all the videos and even separate playlists for the 4 different years so you don't have to search so hard to find them. Make sure to also visit the website for additional resource links.

Optional writing assignments and vocab list

Additional online resource links

The CHAIN of Liberty book and study guide that I also received is the foundation of the idea that grew this history curriculum.  Jayme talks about the "links" that "chain" history together through the years.  The "links" include:
  • Creation Link
  • Dawn of Nations Link
  • Moses and the Law Link
  • Church Link
  • Reformation Link
  • First Colonies Link
  • First Constitutional Republic Link
  • Expansion and Erosion Link
  • The World at War Link
  • Restoration Link
The links coincide with the curriculum from all 4 years.  For example, with our Year 1 Universal History, the first 3 links are covered. The links are listed at the beginning of the guides as a reminder.  Since these coincide with what we are learning, I am using The CHAIN of Liberty book and study guide alongside with what we are studying each week.  For Universal History, weeks 1-7 cover the Creation Link, weeks 8-15 cover the Dawn of Nations Link, and weeks 16-24 cover Moses and the Law Link.

I really like the way the curriculum is laid out and I like that the kids actually seem to be enjoying it.  I love the content so far and appreciate the apologetics aspect of it.  The fact that it is written from a Biblical Worldview is a winner for me.  I recommend that you check out Pathway to Liberty's History Curriculum.

Please also take the time to check out the reviews from my fellow Crew members (click on graphic below).  All four years are covered in the reviews so you can get a better idea of what to expect from the other levels.

Universal History,  The Middle Ages,  US History & World History Curriculum {Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Broody Time Again!

Here we go again, it's broody momma time!  These hens are such a hoot.  In the above pic two of my broody hens are arguing over who gets to keep the box.  Currently, they were both plastered into the one laying box.  There were of course 8 other boxes to use (7 of them were completely available and empty), but where's the fun in that?!

I love broody season because it is when my hens get to hatch some of our eggs.  I love waiting to see what will hatch since most of my crew will end up being general barnyard mixes.  I'm not sure I'm on board with all the drama that occurs up to hatch time, but the end result is always good for those that make it to the end game.  I don't like when eggs and chicks don't make it for various reasons.

I've decided to set up a dedicated "broody coop" so I guess now is the time for me to move the hens around.  I will be moving some hens out of the green coop where my rooster Sweet Pea heads up the flock.  I will leave my buff brahma in there and probably put Fluffy, the light brahma from the blue coop, over with her.  The two black sex links will move to the blue coop along with the non-laying leghorn I have (she will get to now sit with my crippled rooster who is isolated for his protection).  That should leave plenty of room for at least 3 broody mamas in the green coop.  I currently seem to have 2-3 broody mommas, but one of them is my easter egger who is no longer allowed to sit eggs due to her violent nature once the eggs start hatching!

I will update with the status on all this once I have everyone moved around.  There is a possibility to rehome the two sex link hens with a rooster I need to get rid of, so we shall see.

How is your spring going so far?  Do you have a garden?  Is it planted yet?  I hope to get more planting in tomorrow if the weather holds out good.  Until next time.  Blessings.

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