Dec 312017

2017 is almost over. I’ll be honest. It wasn’t one of my best years.

There were a lot of unexpected expenses. This year we had to replace the washing machine, the refrigerator, and the dishwasher. We also purchased a new MacBook to replace my old machine that was unable to type the letter l. I continued to use it over a year after the problem started, but finally decided it was time to get a new computer.

In March, my 90 year old father-in-law was taken to the hospital where he spent several weeks, followed by several months in a nursing home. He was able to go back to his home at the end of August, but his declining health has added a lot of stress and work for my husband and me. We are thankfully not responsible for providing his care, just overseeing that and their finances.

The additional work, the extra expenses, plus impending pay cuts in addition to our regular life managing the schedules of 4 kids at home, homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, laundry, working part time, and volunteering have been exhausting. Plus all the stress has made it difficult to get enough sleep. So much of this year has been pure survival.


Even though it was a year of survival, we still have accomplished some things in our homeschool.

  1. We joined a co-op with my youngest 2 children. That has been a great source of structure and accountability for our homeschool this fall.
  2. My oldest daughter has completed one semester dual enrolled at community college. She completed college applications and was accepted into all 4 colleges she applied.
  3. My middle son has learned a lot about using the computer for daily tasks. We set up an email account and I’ve emailed him assignments and links to give him practice.


I have risen early most mornings to spend time reading my Bible and getting a peaceful start to my day. I am hooked on the Professor Horner reading plan and my ESV Journaling Bible.(This is an affiliate link. I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price if you purchase.) I hesitate to recommend a Bible reading plan, but this one has been such a help to me that I want to share. I also love this Bible and Staedtler fineliners for marking key words.


My house, though far from spotless, is mostly cleanish. I have good systems in place for keeping up with the laundry, the dishes, and the basic cleaning. I have been consistently keeping a Bullet Journal for a year and a half. I hope to share more about how I do it and how I combine Bullet Journaling with on-line apps to keep things running smoothly.


There are some big areas that I want to improve this year.


Yes, I know that’s on everyone’s list. I also know that I don’t have a plan yet and that by not having a plan, I am destined to fail. So I am publicly saying that I need to make a plan to exercise and then follow through with the plan.


I have essentially taken a break from blogging this year. I did post a few times in January during the Virtual Curriculum Fair. I will be participating in that again. It has been renamed and revamped with new post topics. I’m looking forward to jump starting my blogging this year with those new topics.

Virtual Homeschool Fair


I also have some reviews that I have scheduled. I am pondering and have been pondering a shift in focus for my blog. What I haven’t decided is if I want to shift this blog to a focus on organization or if I want to start a new organization blog.

Those are my areas for improvement this year. I won’t even call them goals yet because they aren’t specific. I will be making more concrete achievable goals.

How has your 2017 been?


Oct 302017

Screen Addiction?

My kids are growing up in a different world than I did. Think about life before the internet. And now think about life before smart phones.

Our daily activities were different when we were kids, weren’t they? When I was a small child, the only screen we had was television. And that was hard to get addicted to with only 3 channels and an antenna on the roof. Technology changed dramatically between the time my oldest was a toddler and my youngest was a toddler. We had a computer with games for our older children, but there were no touch screens. Now smart  phones and tablets are commonplace. I see children in strollers playing on tablets while their parents walk!

Screen Addiction

Child Girl Screen Time by R. Nial Bradshaw is licensed under CC BY 2.0


I personally love  and benefit from much of the technology in the information age in which we live. I enjoy being able to almost instantly find out the answer to a random obscure question. (We have a lot of those.) I am able to work from home and homeschool my children all because of the internet. I’m extremely grateful for that.

But we as a society have a problem.

We’ve become addicted to our phones and not connected enough with real, live people. Even without meaning to, we pick up our phones and look at them INSTEAD of looking at our family and friends. Even when they’re talking TO US. It’s become such a habit that we pick up our phones and start scrolling without even thinking of it.

However, there is help for screen addiction. To start with, I recommend reading Calm, Cool, and Connected.

Calm, Cool, and Connected: A Review

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

Screen Addiction?When I received the invitation to review Calm, Cool, and Connected by Arlene Pellicane, this was the opening paragraph of the invitation.

Do you ever find yourself mindlessly scrolling through social media, sometimes late into the night? Or maybe you’re prone to answer “just one more text,” even though your child is desperately waiting to speak with you. Perhaps your phone is the first thing you reach for in the morning, a Netflix binge is on your nightly agenda, and you’ve caught yourself texting at red lights. Has technology taken over your life?

I read that and knew immediately that I needed to read this book!

Calm, Cool, and Connected is a short, quick, and easy to read book. It is structured around the acronym HABIT.

H – Hold Down the Off Button

A – Always Put People First

B – Brush Daily: Live with a Clean Conscience

I – I Will Go Online with Purpose

T – Take a Hike

Making Changes

Though it is easy to read, it is not easy to implement. It has challenged me to make changes in my use of technology. I have caught myself repeatedly not looking up from my phone or computer when my kids have come to me with a question. I was unaware of this behavior before reading the book. There should always be a reason for going on-line. Without a specific purpose, I will get sucked into social media. I have been convicted about how much time that I waste looking at social media and playing games on my phone. I talk about how busy I am and use being tired as an excuse for not getting more work done, but I have a lot more time to be productive than I was admitting. If I don’t want to use my spare time to be more productive, I can use it to truly relax. Playing on my phone is NOT relaxing.

If you or your family struggle with screen addiction, I highly recommend reading Calm, Cool, and Connected. I think you’ll be glad you did!

screen addiction

Calm, Cool, and Connected is available at and other major booksellers.

This is an affiliate link. If you make a purchase after clicking this link, I will receive a small percentage.

Jul 132017


Borax SnowflakeI did the neatest Christmas craft project with my 6 year old this week.  We made a snowflake out of pipe cleaners and Borax. Here is a direct link to the printable instructions for making a Borax snowflake.


    • pipe cleaner
    • string
    • boiling water
    • wide mouth jar
    • Borax
    • pencil
    • blue food coloring (optional)


The first step is to cut a pipe cleaner into 3 pieces.  Then twist them together in the middle to form a 6-pointed figure.

Borax Snowflake

Next, take string and wind it around each of the points of the pipe cleaner. Leave a long piece at the end.

Borax Snowflake

Tie the end of the string to a pencil.

Borax Snowflake

Next, get your wide mouth jar.

Borax Snowflake

and your Borax.

Borax Snowflake

Pour 1 cup of boiling water into the jar. Add 3 tablespoons of Borax and stir.

Borax Snowflake

Add a couple of drops of blue food coloring if desired.

Borax Snowflake

Lower ornament into the jar.

Borax Snowflake


Borax Snowflake


Leave ornament in Borax solution overnight. Remove from solution and you will have a beautiful snowflake covered with crystals.

Borax Snowflake


Jul 082017

Creation versus Evolution

Evolution is taught as basic fact in schools. It is what all “scientists” believe. Only uneducated, brain-washed Christians believe that God created the universe and everything in it. Right?

It seems that there is a lot of division in the US and the world today. Creation versus evolution is just one of the issues dividing us. But is creation only for people who have “blind faith” in the Bible? Is evolution science, but creation religion?

Is Genesis History? seeks to show that a belief in creation does not require “blind faith” but is an entirely reasonable conclusion when viewing the evidence from a Biblical perspective. In the 101 minute film, Del Tackett visits 13 different PhD scholars in fields like geology, paleontology, microbiology, astronomy, archaeology, and Hebrew to discuss the Genesis account of creation and how the evidence that we find on earth is consistent with what we read in Genesis. In the discussions, they compare the ways that evolutionists and creationists look at the same data and come to different conclusions based on their starting assumptions. They also point out many of the inconsistencies in evolutionary theory.

The film is divided into the following sections with each one featuring a discussion with a different scientist.

creation versus evolution

  • Changing Our Perspective
  • What do the Rocks Tell Us?
  • A Question of Paradigms
  • What Does the Text Say?
  • How Do You Measure Time?
  • A Brief History of the World
  • The Origin of Fossils
  • When Dinosaurs Walked the Earth
  • Soft Tissue in Dinosaur Bones
  • The Genius of Design
  • The Potential of Created Kinds
  • The Purpose of the Stars
  • Where was Babel?
  • Genesis and Our Culture
  • A Changed Perspective

Our thoughts on Is Genesis History?

The film is well-made and interesting. It does a nice job of displaying beautiful scenery while explaining key concepts. I think the graphics are nicely done and are helpful. I like that the chapter divisions on the DVD  allow for a quick review of certain topics. The film flows well as a whole and does not seem a pasting together of individual chapters.

Our family is not new to the study of creation versus evolution. My husband and oldest son are especially educated on the topic. We have a relatively large home library of books and videos dealing with the topic of Biblical creation and evolution. So with that in mind, they had a couple of criticisms of the film.

First, neither my husband or son liked the conversational style of the video. Both of them felt it made it seem scripted, and somewhat disingenuous. I personally wasn’t particularly bothered by the conversational style, but it may grate on some. My son was particularly frustrated by the section on stars and the universe. He felt that in an attempt to keep things simple, they glossed over some very important ideas and current creationist hypotheses about how we can see starlight if the universe is only thousands of years old.

Considering that this film is intended as more of an introduction to the various topics discussed, I think that it fulfills that role nicely. It should inspire someone less familiar with creation versus evolution issues to do further research into areas that don’t seem as clear, and seek out resources that more fully address some of these difficult topics.

You can purchase a copy of the film in DVD or Blu-Ray format. A DVD/Blu-Ray combination package is also available. You can view the various options at Compass Classroom.

Are you interested in science curriculum from a Biblical creationist perspective? Try Apologia Science .

Disclosure: The links provided are affiliate links. If you purchase through the links on this post, I will receive a small commission. I received a free copy of Is Genesis History? in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Feb 112017

Disclosure: I received Thin Stix by Kwik Stix to review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Reality of Art Projects

“Mommy, can we paint?”

In my head –  “Ugh.  Not paint. I will have to find newspaper for the table. And where did I put those shirts we were using for smocks? And then there’s the wet paint on everyone’s hands.”

What I say –  “Wouldn’t you rather play outside? Or color with crayons?”

“No, we want to paint.”

In my head – “I really should let them. Kids should be allowed to experiment with different art media. It’s ok if they make a mess. If they were in school, I bet they’d have more chances to paint.”

“OK, Give me a few minutes to get everything set up.”

15 minutes later…

“Everything’s ready. You can paint now.”

5 minutes later…

“Thanks Mommy! Do you like my picture? We’re going to play outside now.”


Art Time

Does anything about my story sound familiar? I want my kids to have fun doing art projects. I want to be a “Yes” mom. But extra work and extra mess goes against my nature. Sometimes I just say yes and deal with the mess. But other times I just say no. Not now. And that’s ok too. However, I have found a solution to those times when the kids want to paint, but I don’t want the mess..

Thin Stix by Kwik Stix

Thin stix

The solution is Kwik Stix! Kwik Stix are tempera paints in a stick. There are no brushes to clean and no liquid paint to spill. There is no need for smocks. It dries in 90 seconds so there’s no running, smearing or smudging.

I received a package of Thin Stix by Kwik Stix to review. I opened them up and gathered my review team. They immediately went to work creating a variety of pictures.

The paint goes on smoothly and evenly. The colors are vibrant and the stix are easy to use. You just twist up more when needed, like chapstick.

Is it painting? Technically, no. But it is art.

These are great for school projects like posters. It is so much easier to write letters with Thin Stix than a paint brush.

Interested in trying Kwik Stix? You can purchase at and select retailers such as Books A Million and Target.

Thin Stix Art Gallery

Abstract Art by Lizzie, age 10

Flower by Anna, age 16

Rainbow by Andrew, age 6

Bob and Larry by Andrew, age 6

Sunny scene by Anna, age 16


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Apr 202016

As a homeschool mom of 5 who works part-time from home, I have a lot to manage. Between working, keeping up with my teenagers’ schedules, teaching my younger children, and managing my home, free time is rare. Recently I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my lack of close friends. I’ve tried to analyze the reason. I realize I don’t often write personal posts here (OK, so I don’t often write at all), so bear with me as I share.

Why don’t I have close mom friends?

Part of my situation can be explained by moving. I had a couple of very close friends as a young wife and mother. I made those friends at a time when it’s easy to make friends. My husband and I were newly married, and we had no children. Our friends also had no children at the beginning of our friendships. We were free to do lots of things with our friends and spend many late nights, talking, laughing, and playing games. We continued to do so after we had babies. What are portacribs for, right?

Then we moved to a different state. We joined a church 30 minutes from our home. It was hard to invite people over. With young children it seemed harder to build friendships. Being new, everybody already had friends. But I tried, and in that season I made some pretty good friends. I went to women’s Bible study at church and developed some friends there. I was no one’s best friend, but I did have a few ladies that I could talk to. During this time I also had a neighbor that I used to chat with a lot.

Then we moved again, closer to the church. Ironically at the same time that we moved closer, we left that church and joined a much smaller church. I had begun homeschooling a couple of years earlier and it had gotten to the point where attending a weekly daytime women’s Bible study was difficult because we basically lost an entire day of school. Around that time I went through a very difficult time after being rejected by a friend whom I had been meeting with for prayer and fellowship. Desperate to feel like I belonged, I asked to join a group of ladies (from the former church) who had been meeting for a regular evening Bible study. They let me join, and for a while I felt like one of the group. However, after the birth of my 4th child, I needed to host the group in my home because my husband was working a second job in the evenings and I had no childcare. The leader rejected my request, so that was the end of my involvement in that group.

That was over 9 years ago. The sting of that rejection is still there. That group of women still meet and go on weekend getaways. I’ve fought against the sadness that rises up when their pictures show up in my Facebook feed. I’ve wondered for years, what is so wrong with me?

Better Together: Because You’re Not Meant to Mom Alone

Better Together Cover Mom Friends

I was recently given the opportunity to review the book Better Together: Because You’re Not Meant to Mom Alone. Since I had already been pondering the topic, I thought it might be a good read.

Jill Savage and her adult daughter, Anne McClane. do a great job analyzing the different levels of friendship and the various types of friends. The book has helpful tips for meeting new people and getting to know people. There is a mothering personality inventory and a variety of creative ideas for ways that friends can share each others’ burdens in the busy seasons of life. These include swapping baby sitting or having freezer cooking get togethers. One that I had never  thought of was working with a group of friends taking turns meeting at a different house to do a project with the friend that needs help.

Better Together is a useful resource, especially for those in women’s ministry leadership. It helped me to think through the hurts of my past and admit that one of the reasons that I haven’t made close friends is a fear of rejection and bitterness over past hurts. I also realized that another reason is that I am a bit selfish. I don’t often offer to help others and I’ve failed to invite people over because I’m too busy with my own family.

Important Reminders

Even though I can identify reasons in my own behavior to explain why I may have been in this season of lacking close friends, I  also remind myself that God is sovereign. He knows that I’ve been going through this, and He could have sent a close friend in spite of my friendship flaws. Instead, I have learned more about contentment. In my loneliness, God has been faithful to draw me closer to Himself.

I’m reminded of a quote by Elisabeth Elliot,

“God has promised to supply all our needs. What we don’t have now, we don’t need now.”

So while I agree that friends are good for moms, I can’t fully agree with the subtitle of this book. No, we’re not meant to mom alone, we’re meant to mom alongside a dad. Having close friends is a bonus.

Nov 292015

Kwik Stix Logo Christmas

I’m sure I’m not alone. I want my children to be creative and have opportunities to be artistic. But finding time to do art projects with my younger ones is tough. And letting them have free access to paint? No way.

So most of their art consists of coloring with crayons or colored pencils. I’m not saying that I feel guilty about that, but well, maybe a little.

Kwik Stix 12 packThat’s why I jumped at the chance to review the new Kwik Stix Solid Tempera Paint. It’s tempera paint without the mess. No liquid to spill. No paint brushes to clean. Sign me up!

Kwik Stix are about the size of a glue stick. They’re easy to use and dry in 90 seconds. The colors are bright and the coverage is good. While it’s not the same as painting, it does have a different feel than coloring with crayons. I think they will be especially handy for making posters for school projects.

Kwik Stix would also make great stocking stuffers. They are available directly from The Pencil Grip, Inc. and from Be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of this post.

My two youngest children, Lizzie and Andrew (9 and almost 5) were very excited to try out Kwik Stix. And yes, they are wearing pajamas.


Here are their completed creations.

Kwik Stix artwork 1


Green hillside

Green hillside

Sunny day

Sunny day



***Disclosure: I received a free package of Kwik Stix in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Jun 092015

Homeschool moms are busy. We have a lot to manage with educating children, laundry, cooking, housework, and even jobs. I’ve seen homeschoolers proudly announce that they have mountains of laundry to fold piled on the couch, or if someone comes to their house they have to run through the house wildly hiding piles of books and other clutter. But then they justify their lack of housekeeping by the fact that their children are more important than a neat and tidy home.

It’s not that I don’t agree with that. Our children are definitely more important than temporal things. No argument there, but sometimes I almost feel guilty for desiring a neat home because that means I’m spending less time on valuable pursuits, and I’m wasting my time cleaning and organizing.

And yet decluttering and organizing is a hugely popular topic on-line. (Just look at Pinterest if you don’t believe me.) It seems that people do crave organization, but want to justify their lack of it.

Giving Your Children WingsI was recently given the opportunity to review Giving Your Children Wings Without Losing Yours by Tami Fox. I was happy to discover that Tami and I agree that having a neat and organized home (at least relatively) is important. In her book Tami explains how we can have a neat house WHILE spending time with our children.

Messes and disorganization cause stress. Every person is different and the level of neatness that some require is going to be different. And that’s OK! We’re actually helping our children by having routines in our home and by including them in these routines. It’s also less stressful to us if we teach our children to share in the housework because when they get older, that will actually mean less work for us! (Sometimes in the middle of training a young child, it does seem like it would be easier to just do it yourself. And in the short run it often is. But the long term benefits outweigh the short term trouble of training children.)

In Giving Your Children Wings Without Losing Yours, Tami shares how she personally uses the Flylady system to keep her home clean and clutter free. I wouldn’t consider it a how-to book on setting up a system, but more of an encouragement to find a system that works for you and your family and to stick to it. Tami is open and honest with many of her personal trials and how she has overcome them.

My favorite quote from the book is this –

“We have all heard the saying, ‘If Mama ain’t happy, no one is happy.’ You can turn this around to, ‘If Mama is happy, everyone around her is happy, too’ A positive mood is contagious.”

I am guilty of feeling discouraged about everyone’s attitudes and being grumpy about it. That really makes no sense! My mood can, and often does, set the tone of the whole house.

If you’re looking for encouragement and ideas for cleaning and organizing your home while homeschooling, you should read Giving Your Children Wings Without Losing Yours. You can find it on

Disclosure: I received a free electronic version of this book in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review and the link to is not an affiliate link.


Feb 252015

Everyone knows that homeschoolers love the library.

And sometimes they share their record-breaking library overdue fines. Whenever this happens, there are some who mention that they have stopped using the library because they have spent more money on fines than would have to buy books.

While I am a huge advocate of having a large home library, I also utilize the public library. A lot. And I have very rarely had a book overdue.

Here are the keys to my system for organizing library books.

1. Store library books in a central location in your home.

I do NOT recommend a shelf. You need 2 containers. One for books that people are still using and one for books ready to be turned in. I use a tote bag for the ready to turn in books because then the bag is already loaded and I can pick it up when I’m ready to drop off books. I used to require that all library books be read in the living room where I keep the basket. I have relaxed that rule, but if you have a child who habitually loses library books, you might try implementing that rule at least until better habits are developed.

library books


2. Pick a library day.

This doesn’t have to be the only day that you ever go to the library, but pick 1 day of the week that you typically have time to stop into the library as part of your routine. If you’re close to a library, you can be more flexible with your choice then if you have to drive a distance to the library.
library books

3. Set up an on-line library account if you don’t already have one.

Set up accounts for every member of your household. I prefer to use 1 library card for all our books. However, we have a very high limit of books we are allowed to check-out. If your limit is lower, you’ll probably need to use children’s cards as well. Make a computer document with your library card numbers and passwords so you don’t have to search for your cards every time you need to log on.

4. On library day, log on to your library website and renew everything that is due that day or anytime in the next 7 days.

Yes, you read that right. I renew everything that is due unless the system won’t let me. If there is a hold on a title or I’m out of times to renew, it won’t let me renew. I then look at the list of books that HAVE to be turned in that day and put those in the library bag. The bag already holds books that we’re done with. I drop those books off at the library that day. If there is nothing that has to be turned in and nothing that I have waiting for me at the library, then I don’t have to go the library that week.

5. Set a weekly reminder to renew library books.

library books

It is important to remember to check the library account and renew all the books. Maybe you’re the type who will just remember to renew the library books every Tuesday, but if you are that type, then you probably don’t need help with keeping up with library books. So you need something that will remind you to do this task weekly. You can use an on-line calendar like Google calendar to remind you. If you have a smart phone, I highly recommend the Todoist app. You can also use Todoist on your computer. I am using it to organize all my repetitive tasks that are not quite repetitive enough to ensure that I remember them. Plus I get a thrill from marking things off a list. If you’re a paper planner kind of person you can just write it in your planner. The trick is to remember to copy it in every week. That’s why I love the Todoist app so much, I get all the great feelings of accomplishment that I get from making a list without the task of writing repetitive tasks on my list every week.

How many library books do you have checked out right now?

What’s the highest library fine you’ve ever paid?

How do you keep track of library books?

Jan 142015

A lot of people, including me, make New Year’s Resolutions to declutter their home and to simplify. But I bet not as many people resolve to declutter and organize their computer files.

Organizing Computer Files
Photo credit – Marcin Wichary

Keeping Your Computer Organized is Essential

You may not realize it, but keeping your computer organized and decluttered can save you both time and money. How much time do you waste looking for items you’ve saved on your hard drive? How many times have your looked for a computer file and not been able to find it? Or how many times have you forgotten that you had a great freebie or even purchased a resource and didn’t use it because you had forgotten about it?

January is Clean Up Your Computer Month

Here’s a free checklist with short daily assignments to help guide you through cleaning up your computer in 3 weeks. This checklist was provided by SingleHop, a cloud storage company. Click on the image to download a copy.



Organizing Computer Files

Organization is something that is individual. It needs to make sense to you, so there isn’t a single right way to organize your computer files. However, here are some questions to guide you through the organization process.

1. What do you save on your computer?

Do you use your computer for running a business? Do your children use it for school works? Are there pictures and ebooks on there?

2. Think about the general categories that you use your computer for and create folders for them.

I have folders for Home, Homeschooling Resources, Work,  and Blog. I also have folders for each child that uses my computer occasionally.

3.  Go through your documents and move them to the appropriate folder.

As you’re moving files, you may notice that you need sub-folders. I have sub-folders under Home for Recipes and Cleaning. In my Homeschooling Folder, I have folders for various subjects like Math, English, etc.

4. Delete documents that you no longer need.

Also create an archive folder for things you should save, but don’t need to access often (or maybe ever, but need to save just in case.)

5. Organize pictures by date or event.

Pictures are tough. I honestly don’t have a good system for my pictures.

6. Backup your hard drive.

You can do this with an external hard drive, cloud storage, or both. I like to use Snapfish for photo storage of images that I want to print, but I don’t save every image there. They do require an order every 12 months to use their service.

7. Maintain your organization system.

When you save something, go ahead and put it in the right folder. Go through your files at least monthly to see what you should move, archive or delete. Make a backup!

Hopefully these tips are helpful for organizing your computer files. I’d love to here about how your organize your files! (Especially for pictures. I need help!)