Friday, June 28, 2013

Begging to Believe {New Song}

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I think the word believe has been close to both my husband's and my heart for a while. It's been impacting my own life in a fresh, new way for the past couple of years.

Even Christians need a nudge every now and then, especially when it feels like God is a million miles away, to keep believing. In the midst of countless trials, doubts, and heartaches, I am so thankful God continues to whisper His love over and over again.

May this new song from my dh be a blessing to you!

You can download for free on SoundCloud.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

More Celebrating for the Big 8-Year-Old!

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Family dessert - Oreo Delight
Cake for celebration with friends

My dearest daughter, I hope you had a wonderful 8th birthday filled with lots of fun memories!!!

O is for Oreo Delight

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Otherwise known as O.D. in my husband's family. It was requested all of the time for birthday dinners at Pawpaw and Grandma's house in Tennessee.

It is really easy to make. (I had to learn how when we moved away!) I have made a few minor changes because I am super picky about ice-cream brand and I don't like Cool Whip.

Oreo Delight

  • 1 package of Oreos (I sometimes use Late July Vanilla Bean Green Tea cookies that look just like Oreos except taste better!!!!!)
  • 1/2 gallon of vanilla ice-cream (I use Breyers)
  • Home made whipped cream (same amount as a Cool Whip tub) Or you could just use Cool Whip.
*Let ice-cream sit on counter to soften quite a bit. Crush cookies. I like to leave mine kind of chunky. Mix soft ice-cream, cookies, and whipped cream together. Spread into 9x13 glass baking dish. Store in freezer. Let sit for a few minutes before cutting and serving. Garnish with additional cookies if desired. If you do want to garnish, you will need to buy more cookies. :)

**If you want to use the Late July cookies (in organic section of store), buy 2 boxes and use most of them in the O.D. leaving some out for garnishing. Also, to make home made whipped cream, buy heavy whipping cream and beat with an electric mixer until stiff. I add about a tablespoon or so of sugar to a pint.

Linked to Tasty Tuesday
Works for me Wednesday

Visit Ben and Me for more O posts!

Blogging Through the Alphabet
Originally posted June 2010 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Moving Beyond the Page {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

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Moving Beyond the Page is a complete literature-based curriculum designed especially for homeschoolers. Unlike a traditional or classical approach to education which can often lead to boredom in some children, Moving Beyond the Page provides hands-on, creative, and gifted children with an exciting, integrated approach to learning.
Through eight different strategies: (1) Concept-Based Curriculum, (2) Differentiation, (3) Learning Styles, (4) Multiple Intelligences, (5) Critical Thinking and Creativity, (6) Project-Based Instruction, (7) Interdisciplinary Curriculum, (8) and State and National Standards, this curriculum will help children become critical and innovative thinkers. Children will also be able to visualize connections between subjects when using Moving Beyond the Page's unit studies which blend science, social studies, and language arts. Art, drama, and music are incorporated as well. The overall goal here is to foster a love of learning and to create lifelong learners!
Currently there are complete curriculum packages for ages 5-13. More ages are coming soon!
Moving Beyond the Page sent us one Language Arts Package (unit) and a corresponding Science Package (unit) for ages 7-9. My daughter and I reviewed Concept 3: Lifecycles (Science Unit) and Poppy (Literature Unit). Both of these units can be used independently but are also designed to be used simultaneously.

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Our package included the following items:
  • Lifecycles curriculum
  • Poppy (novel)
  • Poppy Literature Guide (online)
  • What is a Lifecycle? (book)
  • Who Eats What? (book)
  • Green Earth Butterfly Kit
  • Owl Pellet Kit


Science package (Lifecycles) - $45.92  Online - $41.86

Literature package (Poppy) - $29.97  Online - $25.91

*As an exhaustive curriculum that covers an entire year, your child will explore four concepts, and within each concept, he will work through three science and social studies units and three literature units. The complete curriculum package for ages 7-9 costs $676.63. Online package is $587.96. These packages do not include math. Math can be ordered separately here.


To use the curriculum for ages 7-9, your child should be able to read at a third or early fourth grade level, should be able to answer comprehension questions in a journal, and should be able to write three to four sentences on a topic. Typically, this age level is used by children in second and third grades. Personally, I would recommend it for third graders unless you have a particularly advanced learner.

A typical day when using Moving Beyond the Page as a complete curriculum will take about 5 hours or more. This includes time spent on math, spelling, and P.E. Additional activities and further study may take more time.

Of course, any of these units can be used as supplements. However, it is recommended that all three literature units be taught so your child can better connect themes and characters across novels.

Just a quick reminder that I am only going to be discussing Concept 3 - Lifecycles and Poppy - in the 7-9 category.


Poppy is a 161-page novel by Avi. Poppy and the rest of her deer mouse family are fiercely ruled by a great horned owl named Mr. Ocax in Dimwood Forest. In exchange for absolute obedience, Mr. Ocax promises the deer mice protection from the terrible porcupine. When Ragweed, Poppy's fiancĂ©, dares to defy the owl, he suffers the ultimate consequence - death. The rest of the story is filled with suspense and adventure as Poppy seeks permission from Mr. Ocax to move the growing deer mouse family and dares to disobey when her request is denied. Along the way, it is ultimately discovering the truth that leads to freedom from unjust authority.

Online Guide

The accompanying online guide provides in-depth instructions for how to use Moving Beyond the Page including a video presentation. It also includes reading and question pages, student activity pages, a materials list, spelling words, and vocabulary words.

Detailed lesson plans for each chapter are provided in this guide. Lesson plans cover Questions to Explore, Facts and Definitions, Skills, Materials, Introduction, Activities, Conclusion, and Life Application. Some chapters will take more than one day to complete, and this is noted in the lesson plans.

Reading and Questions pages cover 2 chapters at a time. Worksheets can be downloaded and printed. Many of the questions ask how and why to help your child think critically.

Spelling words are provided for each semester, and a sample weekly schedule is included for your convenience. Spelling worksheets are provided for Monday-Thursday of each week.

In addition to comprehension questions, activity pages are provided for further research and fun. Activities include making puppets, writing a poem, practicing grammar concepts, doing crossword puzzles, researching about mice and owls, and more.

What We Did

My daughter, who just turned 8, was able to read Poppy on her own. Before she began, she completed the Deer Mouse Research and Great Horned Owl Research activity pages with my help. We had to use the Internet to find out about habitats, food sources, predators, etc. Each time she finished reading 2 chapters, we discussed the reading questions out loud together. I was able to learn a lot about the story this way! Our most memorable project was dissecting an owl pellet; this kit was included with the literature unit.

She really liked reading Poppy and wants to visit our library to pick out more titles in this series. This literature unit has definitely fostered a desire in my daughter to learn more. :) I think that equals success!
The Lifecycles Science Unit is comprised of a 124-page spiral-bound notebook. Included in the notebook are instructions for using Moving Beyond the Page, Required books, Materials List, Vocabulary list, Unit Review Sheet, and detailed plans for each lesson. Also, all worksheets that need to be completed by your child are contained within the notebook. Concept 3 contains about 40 days of instruction, but can vary depending on any extra time needed to spend on certain skills or on the final project.
The notebook is divided into 9 lessons:
  • 1: Characteristics of Living Things
  • 2: What Is A Life Cycle?
  • 3: Life Cycle of Animals
  • 4: Insect Life Cycles
  • 5: Plants and Soil
  • 6: Circle of Life
  • 7: Energy and Food Chains
  • 8: Food Webs and Energy Pyramids
  • 9: Animals' Design
Lesson plans follow a similar format to the literature unit: Big Ideas, Facts and Definitions, Skills, Introduction, Activities, and Life Application. For each lesson, the introduction tells you, the teacher, what your child will be learning for that day. It also explains what you will tell your child prior to the activity portion of the lesson. Each activity is explained in detail and any worksheets that need to be completed follow the lesson. Though there is a lot of information and work to be done, everything is presented clearly and in order.
What We Did
Lessons are very activity driven which is great for active, hands-on learners. Both my daughter and I can tire easily from too many projects, so we didn't always do every single one. Following is a sample of some of the activities we enjoyed doing together.
The egg experiment from lesson 3 was really neat. We found out how to tell the difference between a fresh egg and a hard-boiled egg just by spinning it. This was a concept that was even new to me. :) My daughter also had fun depicting a butterfly life cycle with pasta, cutting out plant parts, making food chains, and sipping nectar from a flower with her "proboscis."
I would have to say that the most wonderful and memorable of all the projects was the Green Earth Butterfly Kit. In fact, I am positive that this project is, by far, the best science project we've ever done!
I can't tell you how exciting it was to receive live Painted Lady caterpillars in the mail. They came with all of the food needed to survive the caterpillar stage. My family (including my 2 boys and hubby) eagerly watched the caterpillars eat and grow every day.
True to the butterfly booklet, the caterpillars attached themselves to the top of the cup after 12-18 days and began the chrysalis stage. After 8 days, the first butterfly emerged on Father's Day. The rest of the butterflies followed suit, however, one was deformed. It's wings stayed crumpled and never completely opened. My daughter appropriately named it Nemo.
We kept the butterflies in captivity for about a week and fed them the recommended sugar/water solution. I even spied 2 butterflies mating, but we didn't have the privilege of seeing any of them lay eggs. We decided to let the butterflies go, and we enjoyed seeing them explore our backyard and eventually fly away.
My Opinion
I think Moving Beyond the Page is a very creative and thorough curriculum. This curriculum is perfect for families who love unit studies with lots of hands-on projects. It also works well for parents who like to teach concepts that tie all of their child's subjects together and for parents who like to follow detailed, day-to-day lesson plans.
With Moving Beyond the Page, you won't have to worry that your child is doing enough. In fact, for me, there were too many projects within each lesson. It's not really a complaint about the curriculum, though, since I always adapt any homeschool subject/program to fit my own children's needs.
Moving Beyond the Page will work better for our family as a supplement instead of a comprehensive curriculum for a couple of reasons. The cost for just one child to use the complete curriculum for one year exceeds our homeschool budget. We spend less than that on 3 children per year. Also, I like to teach history chronologically, so the social studies units wouldn't work very well for our family.
Truly, though, this is a quality curriculum. If you like all of your child's subjects to be included in one curriculum package, and if cost is not an issue, I recommend that you check out Moving Beyond the Page. We enjoyed reviewing Lifecycles and Poppy, and I may look into other literature units for future use.
Other Schoolhouse Review Crew members reviewed a wide variety of literature, science, and social studies units. Be sure to read all of the reviews!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

N is for Natural Iron Supplement with Nettles

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I've been thinking about iron lately since I've been dealing with fatigue. :( I am thinking I may need an iron boost soon to help with my energy levels!

During my pregnancies, I would often suffer from anemia. I DID NOT want to take any unnatural pills, so I found an alternative. I had great success with an all natural iron supplement called Tri-Iron from TriLight Health. It contains Nettles, Yellow Dock, Red Raspberry, Dandelion, and Anise. All ingredients are certified organic, too.

While taking a natural iron supplement, I remember my doctor being really amazed at how much my iron levels went up. Tri-Iron worked great for me, so I wanted to pass on the information, especially to any of you who may be expecting. :)

I also used several children's formulas from this same company when my kids were little.

Visit Ben and Me for more of the letter N!

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

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I just can't believe my baby is 8! She doesn't want me to call her my baby anymore, but how can I possibly not do that? So thankful God blessed me with a sweet, little girl!
She was my shortest labor, HARDEST baby, and easiest child - still is so far. ;) Love this girl.

She's already been spoiled by several grandparents during the week . . .

Grandma gave her some art supplies and a Starbucks gift card which she redeemed THAT day!
Grandpa took her to Build-A-Bear and Chick-fil-A.
Her collection is becoming quite extensive.
Grandparents from CO sent a fun friendship bracelet kit in the mail.
Right now she is patiently awaiting her daddy's return from the Men's Prayer Breakfast so she can open her presents from us. Lots more celebrating in store for our birthday girl . . .

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fun with Prepositions

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Prepositions are always fun words to learn. I love that words can have "relationships" with each other! Prepositions aren't just fun, they are necessary to learn. Knowing prepositions and prepositional phrases will help children be able to quickly identify subjects and predicates later on.

When my daughter started learning about prepositions in First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise, I printed out a colorful preposition list to help her with memorization. (Scroll down for preposition printable.)

Also, inspired by one of the preposition lessons in the book, my daughter and I had tons of fun setting up a little stuffed animal kingdom to illustrate relationships or positions of nouns to other nouns. :) I am sure your kids would have fun with this, too!

Queen Peace is sitting on her throne.
Her subjects are gathered around her throne.
Froggy is beside Minnie the Koala.
Lily the German Shepherd is between Clifford and Uni the unicorn.

The queen wears a sparkly crown upon her head.

Froggy jumps over the queen's throne.
Froggy is above the throne.

I hung the preposition list on my daughter's bulletin board so it would be easy for her to practice memorizing everyday. The easiest way to memorize the list is to take one line at a time. That's why I made each line a different color. We would recite the list as a kind of chant that we made up. :)

Click here for a printable preposition list for your child to memorize.

*Make sure your printer is set to print a color version! (Makes for easier memorization.)

Do you have any suggestions for learning prepositions in a fun way?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How to Write on Rocks

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My friend, Megan, who happens to be my pastor's wife asked me to head up what I am affectionately calling the Father's Day Rock Blessing Project to honor all of the men in our congregation on Father's day. :)

At first I was a little hesitant because, well, writing on rocks was uncharted territory for me. I didn't even know where to begin, but with the help of my sweet friend, Alicia, we got it done!

The reason I am offering a little tutorial of sorts is because when I was researching "writing on rocks" on the web, I didn't find a ton of ideas or anything. So, if you happen to have an itch to write on some rocks, this post is for you!

Step 1: Find or purchase some river rocks.

Alicia and I tried Lowe's first, but the bags of stones we found contained stones too small to write on. Next stop, Hobby Lobby. We found 3 lb. bags of River Stones for just $2.99. We decided on black, but they come in lighter colors as well. We bought several bags to make sure we had enough of the larger stones to write the big words on.

Step 2: Purchase Pens

At Hobby Lobby, we found some glossy oil base paint markers in silver and white. We got the extra fine point. The instructions said they were great for glass, porcelain, stone, metal, and wood. The silver worked a lot better on the stones than the white. The white marker didn't write as well, it didn't dry as quickly, and it dried kind of streaky. The silver marker worked great!

Step 3: Sort through rocks

Obviously it's easier to write on smooth, flat rocks, so we tried to get as many of those as possible.

Step 4: Write on rocks

 You can write whatever you want, but for our Men/Father's Day theme we wrote the following words: faithful, strong, wise, selfless, courageous, authentic, obedient, and humble - all wonderful characteristics of godly men.

Step 5: Use/Enjoy your rocks

Alicia and I happily handed out rocks to all the men at church, and Pastor Craig nicely tied the rock blessings into the message. :) Thankfully none of the rocks were thrown, and all the guys behaved themselves!

Other Rock Ideas
  • Write different words on separate rocks to make a sentence such as I love you.
  • Write all the letters of the alphabet for children to make words or learn phonics.
  • Write names of family members/guests on rocks and use them instead of place cards.
  • Write inspirational words on rocks and hand out as party favors.
  • Write a special word for each year and keep as "Stones of Remembrance." (Joshua 4:1-24)

These are my words from the Lord for 2012 and 2013.

Do you have any other rock ideas?

One last tip: The rocks are best kept inside. My daughter drew hearts and flowers on some of the stones and put them in her fairy garden. When I touched one after it had been out in the sun for a while, the drawing smeared. Maybe using a permanent marker would be better for rocks that will be used outside.

 You can also purchase rocks and supplies on Amazon. I definitely prefer the silver pen over the white one. Next, I want to try rock painting for garden markers. :)

 *Linking up with WFMWOne Sharendipity Place, and these other link ups.

{affiliate links}

Monday, June 17, 2013

Amish Books for Young Girls {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

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Baker Publishing Group sent us two of their books to review: Life with Lily and A New Home for Lily by Mary Ann Kinsinger and Susan Woods Fisher.

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If you're looking for some wholesome books for your daughters to read this summer, I think these two books that are currently in The Adventures of Lily Lapp series are great choices. They're simple, sweet stories featuring a bright, young 5-year-old girl growing up Amish.

In Life with Lily, we meet the Lapp family - Papa; Mama; Lily; Lily's younger brother, Joseph; and a brand new baby brother, Dannie. They are busy establishing their little farm, Singing Tree Farm, in upstate New York.

As I read this book aloud to my almost 8-year-old daughter, we learned all about daily Amish life through the eyes of the main character, Lily Lapp. Her days are spent simply enough helping Mama with chores, entertaining her brothers, taking care of animals, meeting new friends, and playing with dolls. But just like everybody else Lily Lapp faces lots of challenges, too. Mandy Mast is always trying to get her into trouble, Teacher Katie is just plain mean, and Great Grandma is scary with all her wrinkles and her giant cane!

At the end of the book, Lily, who is now 7, is faced with the sad news that her family is leaving Singing Tree Farm to move to Pennsylvania.

Cost: $12.99
Page count: 288
Chapters: 39
Age range: 8-12
See the Table of Contents and read the first three chapters.

As I reached the halfway point in Life with Lily, I realized that I wasn't going to be able to read both books aloud during the review period which for me was just under 3 weeks. So, I asked my 11-year-old son to read and review the second book, A New Home for Lily. While I wouldn't  recommend these books specifically for boys, they can certainly read and enjoy them if they want to.

Of course, A New Home for Lily is about the Lapp family settling into their new Pennsylvania home and Amish community. When I asked my son to tell me a little about what he read, he mentioned the same kinds of things that were in the first book like: doing lots of chores, living on a farm, and having a big garden. He also said, "Lily tries to count the good things about moving but she'd rather be back in New York. She does like her new school and her new teacher, she becomes good friends with a girl named Beth, and she loves visiting her grandparents. The book wasn't really too boring, but it was too girly. I would never recommend this book to boys!" So, there you have it from a boy's point of view. ;)

Cost: $12.99
Page Count: 272
Chapters: 36
Age range: 8-12
See the Table of Contents and read the first 2 chapters.

Both books have several charming black and white illustrations throughout. While both books are recommended for ages 8-12, my daughter, who will be 8 in a week, felt a little intimidated by the number of pages. She hasn't really read books this long yet and didn't want to read them on her own. I enjoyed spending time with my daughter while reading the first book aloud, but I personally wouldn't want to read these books on my own. I would definitely recommend these books for children since they are written from a child's viewpoint.

The fun and adventure doesn't stop with the books! You and your child can visit to meet the authors; learn more about Lily, her family, and the Amish; print coloring pages; try recipes; ask questions; and more. My daughter enjoyed coloring a picture of Chubby, Lily's little horse.

I think it's really neat that both of the authors have Amish ties. Mary Ann Kinsinger was actually raised Old Order Amish in Pennsylvania, and Suzanne Woods fisher has many Amish relatives including a grandfather who was raised Old Order German Baptist. They certainly have a lot of knowledge and experience with Amish ways which I am sure helped to create such a realistic view of Amish life in these books.

The Adventures of Lily Lapp continues with 2 more books: A Big Year for Lily available in July 2013 and the final book, A Surprise for Lily available September 2013.


Friday, June 14, 2013

M is for Mixcraft

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Summer can be pretty boring at our house. It's hot, and there's just not a whole lot of free stuff to do. I am so thankful for Mixcraft! It's been keeping my boys entertained, and they have something to show for all of the hours they spend on it. If you have kids who love music and would enjoy making their own stay tuned!

What is Mixcraft?

Mixcraft is a tool ( audio editing software) in which you can make your own music using loops and/or your computer keyboard as an instrument. There's a limitless amount of cool things you can do including changing key, pitch, adding effects, and so much more! You can even record your own instruments and your voice if you want to through Mixcraft. You can also download loops off the internet and put them into Mixcraft. You can upload a video to Mixcraft and put music to it. You can spend as much time as you want tweaking your track until you get it just right!

To use Mixcraft, you don't have to know how to read music, and you don't have to know how to play instruments. Both my boys have a lot of fun making their own music with Mixcraft. Neither one can read music. Only my oldest has actually recorded himself playing his own instrument.

Now, I have never even used Mixcraft , but my boys spend hours messing around and creating some fun stuff! Because I don't really know much about it, they helped me to understand how it works.

Mixcraft is not free, so this software would best be used by kids/teens/adults who are serious about making their own music. Our family has an older version - Mixcraft 5 - but a newer version is available - Mixcraft 6. It costs $74.95, but you can download a free trial to see if it's really something that will work for you. We have it because my husband uses it for recording songs, but now my boys seem to really be getting into music, too. :)

Now What?

Once you have finished making your track, you can save it as an mp3 file. Then, you can listen to your own creation any time you want. If you want to be able to share it with others, SoundCloud is the place to go!

SoundCloud is a free website where you can share your music with others. Basically, it's a social media site for music lovers. With SoundCloud you can have followers and follow other people and listen to their music.

My husband and sons all have music on SoundCloud. Take a moment and listen to a few of their awesome creations!

Lincoln - age 11

He loves to make silly songs about soft drinks. Here's his favorite one about rootbeer. He recorded his own voice for this track, but obviously it's been tweaked a bit!

In the Hall of the Dubstep King (Remastered)Mullin - age 13 (almost 14)

He is definitely on the more serious side and has created quite a few pleasing melodies. I chose this particular track to share because it reminds me of when he was just a little guy marching around the house to In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg. He and his brother always thought this classical piece sounded like a Lord of the Rings battle.

He is playing his own piano keyboard, but the rest of the instruments are from Mixcraft.

Every KneeHere's a song that my husband recently recorded which was produced by our friend Austin. My husband is the guitarist and vocalist.

Yea, we're halfway through the alphabet! Visit Ben and Me for more M posts.


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