Monday, December 26, 2011

Endings and New Beginnings

My favorite holiday is New Year's Eve.  I have been told it is not a holiday.  I'll buy that I suppose, but it is still my favorite DAY of the year.  I love endings and new beginnings!  How much more final is the end of a year?  To reminisce about all the things that have happened.  To know that good things happened, bad things may have happened, but we made it to the end of another year.  This year I became the mother of a teenager.  All 3 of my kids achieved double digits.  If I didn't feel old when my son became 13, I certainly felt old when Paige reached the age of 10 in November.  :-(   We got 2 new cars this year, both Honda, because we were tired of car repair bills.  We haven't had any since we got the new ones, thank the Lord!  We vacationed in Disney in November and decided that we want to move to Florida.  We attended family reunions and funerals.  Kids went to camp again this summer and won a lot of awards for memorizing Scripture.  I started writing a novel, which I haven't picked up since September.  We attended the Washington County Fair.  I started selling Arbonne in an effort to quit my typing job.  This year was so full that I can't even remember half the things we did.

On New Year's Eve, I mentally drift into the next year and wonder what things could possibly transpire in the next 365 (or 366 if leap year) days God gives us.  I know it's just numbers and you could easily think of each day the same way or go from October 1st of one year to September 30 of the next year, but I deal in chronological years where I need to buy a new calendar to hang on my wall on January 1st.  That metaphorical action of throwing away the old year and hanging up a new one, full of possibilities, makes me happy.

So, what will this new year hold?  I know that Jacob will be starting high school in the fall.  We may be living in Florida at some point before the end of the year.  If not Florida, then possibly a new home in PA.  I will still be selling Arbonne, but I have come to realize that my typing job was a gift from God over 13 years ago and that I need to get my head on straight and be thankful for what I have and not complain, so I'll be keeping this typing job until I don't have to work anymore.  This year, more than any other, is so full of the unknown for us.  I am actually very excited about that.  I know that whatever this new year holds we'll be under God's care.  He will guide us.  He will help us to grow closer to Him.  Therefore, I know this new year will be wonderful!!!

I pray yours is as well!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Vintage Remedies for Boys

With eager anticipation, I received Vintage Remedies for Boys to use with my 13-year-old and 11-year-old sons.


This book is filled with chapters about real food, healthy drinks, snack time, sweet desserts, local foods, healthy bodies, coughs and cols, backyard medicines, etc.  It has kitchen tips and many recipes using real foods, not artificial anything.  There are also quizzes included for each chapter to test their knowledge.

PhotobucketI was glad to have a supplement to my health curriculum for my boys, and this book is put together well with a lot of very useful information and delicious recipes.  There are only two issues I have with it.  One is that it is all words.  There are no pictures, hand-drawn or photos, whatsoever.  The second issue I have is that it doesn't seem to have been proofread.  There are a lot of typos in it. Besides that, it is a wonderful resource.

The website is  They have Vintage Remedies for Girls, Guys, and Kids.  The guys and girls versions are $45.00.  The  kids version is $25.  There is also one for tweens which is $29.95.

Vintage Remedies offers other great products for healthy living.  They even have a course called "The Family Herbalist."

They can be reached at 230 Franklin Road, Suite 807; Franklin, Tennessee 37064, or by phone at 615-807-0882.

DISCLAIMER:  I received this product free of charge in order to provide honest feedback.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Anybody for Punkin' Chunkin?

It is fun to watch Punkin' Chunkin' on television.  Imagine getting to build your very own trebuchet to toss large pumpkins thousands of feet away.  Wouldn't that be fun?  Of course, the machines those people build cost them sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars.  I've got a machine you can build for a couple of tens but then it won't chunk punkins either.  You will, however, learn a great deal about the machine and the history behind it.


Pitsco Education is dedicated to helping students succeed by offering a wide array of STEM-oriented classroom solutions (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  I received the trebuchet and catapult kit that included  the Siege Machines book, the Catapult kit, and the Trebuchet kit and weights.  It retails for only $21.95.  The kits are AMERICAN made in Kansas.  There is a more expensive kit that includes all that is listed above plus two in-depth teacher/curriculum guides for another 20+ hours of teaching material for each kit.  It retails for $64.95.

The Siege Machines book that was included is full of wonderful information about the trebuchet and catapult. It talks about their history, safety, and mechanics.  The book provides experiments and charts for data.  I really enjoyed going through this book with my kids.  The directions for building each machine are separate from the book and are included with the kit.  They were NOT easy to understand.  Not that these kits are designed to be put together by a child, but there is certainly no way they ever could be.  Even my husband and I had trouble understanding them.  There is a lot of cutting of tubing and string or scoring of wood that is required with these kits.  The instructions would often say to look for an example in the picture above, but it would actually be in the picture to the left.  The pictures were dark and slightly fuzzy as well.  If the directions were in a much better format, I would have nothing negative at all to say about these two kits.  The instructions as they are, however, make putting these kits together a less than enjoyable experience.

Because these are the kits I received, I cannot speak to the quality of the other kits they provide or what the instructions are like, but they do offer other items such as airplanes, hot air balloons, kites, CO2 dragsters, many different architecture kits, math tools, physical science tools, and robotics.  It is definitely worth the stop  at the store,, to see what they have.  The list is extensive.

Pitsco Education also has an Academy for student-directed learning or teacher-directed learning.  As I browsed this tab on their website I was amazed by the quality of the experiments.  It seems Pitsco is truly devoted to helping kids understand and succeed in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math.  Perhaps all they need to do is work on their kit instructions so the parent who is not a scientist or engineer can   help their child put the kits together.

Pitsco can be reached at 800-835-0686.  Their address is Pitsco, Inc.; PO Box 1708; Pittsburg, Kansas, 66762-1708.  Their email is for purchase orders only.

DISCLAIMER:  I received this product free of charge in order to provide an honest review.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"The Curriculum for Creativity!"

"The Curriculum for Creativity!" is a trademark slogan for Artistic Pursuits, an art curriculum I received in order to use and review.  I welcomed the opportunity to review an art program with my children because I am always looking for ways to encourage their love for art.  The grade 4-6 book we used was Book One which teaches the elements of art and composition including space, line and shape, texture, value, contrast, balance, overlap, depth, proportion, etc.  There were 16 units in all combined in a spiral-bound, 88-page book.

PhotobucketAt the beginning of the book, it lists all the supplies that are needed and for which unit they are needed.  There are some pages for "Getting Started" - What Parents Want to Know (book content and scheduling), What Students Want to Know (learning to observe and focus), The Elements of Art.  In the back of the book, there is an evaluation sheet for obtaining a number and letter grade and a bibliography.

Each unit provides students with many opportunities for drawing.  The unit begins with discussion of the topic such as texture or balance.  The student is given "a creative exercise using real-world experience."

The next lesson for each unit is a painting by a famous artist.  The student observes this painting according to the topic being discussed in the unit.  Some biographical information of the artist is provided and a section about what times were like during the period of the artist or the period painted.  Students are then given the assignment of drawing from observation.

Lesson 3 is the lesson on technique, trying to draw using the topic of the unit.  For example, unit 6 is "Form Using Value."  The technique discussed in lesson 3 is "How to See Shading and Shadow."  For the exercise, the student is to look outdoors for an object that has form and draw one object showing form by shading.  The technique lesson describes how shadows occur and how to draw them.

The fourth lesson, or final project, shows pictures drawn by other students that are like what they will be drawing themselves.  Instructions are given for how to set up for the final project for each unit, including what they will need to complete it.

My oldest son is in 8th grade, but he completed the assignments along with my 4th and 6th graders.  He enjoyed this curriculum, as art is his favorite subject.  Any time he has the opportunity to create, he is happy.  I am pretty sure my 6th grade son enjoyed it as well, and I think he learned some techniques from it that he did not know before.  I can see a real improvement in his drawing ability as he gets older and learns new techniques.

My daughter claims she is a horrible artist and can't draw anything.  I'm sure she didn't do her best during most assignments because of this fear of drawing poorly, but when she did apply herself she did a great job.  I'd love to try one of Artistic Pursuits books geared towards younger children so she might gain some confidence.

They have preschool curriculum, curriculum for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade that includes an introduction to the visual arts, stories of artists and their art, and modern painting and sculpture.  Each book includes projects for the student as well as learning about great artists and their work.  There is the book I used and the companion, book two, that teaches about color and composition.  There are two junior high books for the elements of art and composition and color and composition, and there are two senior high books (for grades 9-12) of elements and color and composition like the two previous grade levels.  The books are written to the student, so no teacher preparation is required.  The high school books are intended to be used independently by the student, and they include 64 lessons in each book.  The pictures in the books are in color, and they are printed on thick paper so the book holds together very well despite being opened and closed many times and tossed from child to child during the homeschool year.  Each book that has been created by Artistic Pursuits sells for $42.95.  They provide a view inside each book.  Simply go to the products page for the books and click on the book you'd like to view.

Artistic Pursuits also supplies art packs that you can buy that contain most of the supplies you'll need according to the grade level.  The art pack for Book One for Grades 4-6 is $45.00.

Artistic Pursuits can be reached at Artistic Pursuits Inc., 2626 East 109th Avenue, Northglenn, Colorado, 80233 or by phone at 303-467-0504.  If you have questions or need shipping information, their email is  Their fax number is 208-567-4269.

My 8th grader wanted to be sure I let you know that he loved this curriculum.  I may have to purchase the high school curriculum for next year because he loved it so much.  I know that he will learn techniques and have the opportunity to practice, and he will learn about the masters.  This is an excellent art program for any stage.  I especially love that it requires no preparation on my part except purchasing the tools required to draw.

DISCLAIMER:  I received this product free of charge so that I would use it and provide an honest review.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Parlez-vous Francais?

I took five years of Spanish in high school, and it was my first major in college until I changed it.  I love foreign languages and have tried over the years to teach my children some Spanish since that is what I know.  When I had the opportunity to review a French program with them, I jumped at the chance.  I had taken one semester of French in high school but didn't continue with it.  There have only been a few things I've been able to retain from that.  This was my opportunity to refresh and learn some more.  The program we reviewed is from Great Commission Languages.


Great Commission Languages - Easy French Level 1AWe received Le Francais Facile, Level IA.  It is the first half of the existing Level I curriculum and is created in such a way as to appeal towards older grade levels, grade 7 and up, although my children who are in 4th and 6th grade have been able to use it and enjoy it.  It includes exercises right in the book so copies don't need to be made.  It includes a CD with all the lessons and pronunciation so the student can actually hear how the words are supposed to sound.  There is another CD that contains the answers to all of the exercises that are in the book.  I also received a separate test booklet, test answer key, and phonogram cards which help in learning pronunciation of individual letters.   The level IA student book sells on the website for $84.95.  The test booklet and answer key are each $10, and the phonogram cards are $10.     
Great Commission Language has a classic format French program, Level I, that is intended to be used over 3 years with younger students or 1 to 2 years with older students.  It appears to be a higher end product than the new format which I reviewed as it is a much larger book and includes professional illustrations.  It sells for $139.95.  There is a second level program and a junior level program that is geared towards family with multiple children, especially younger. It has 34 lessons and focuses more on songs and stories and less on grammar and writing.  It is $69.95.

The new format, Level IA, that I received begins each lesson with a conversation that has words both in French and English, so it is translated as the story goes along.  There are then vocabulary words to learn.  Each lesson has the student conjugate a verb.  There are also grammar lessons throughout, cultural information, trivia, Scripture memory work (in French!), and a lesson plan for the week to be practicing French and doing the activities.

After just 3 lessons, I was able to recognize a lot of the words we had learned while watching a movie where one of the main characters was speaking French.  My kids have learned the vocabulary by making up silly sentences with the day's words.  At first my daughter didn't like it.  I think it was just because it was something new and more difficult than what she was used to but after a few lessons she said she was really starting to enjoy it.

Great Commission Languages also has a Spanish curriculum.  There is a level I similar to the French program for $139.95 and a Junior program.  There are extra grammar sheets available, phonogram cards, and CDs as well.

Great Commission Languages is a Christian company that operates according to Matthew 28:19-20 that we are called to go out into all the world and make disciples of all nations.  Teaching languages is one way this can be accomplished.  If we know the languages that others speak, we can reach out to them more effectively.  Take a moment to read their statement of faith at

They can be reached by email at, by phone toll free from Canada or the US at 1-866-773-7254 or outside the Canada or US at +1-306-728-3201.  Their address is PO Box 1446, Yorktown, SK, S3N 3G3 Canada.

I have enjoyed using this program with my children as I know that we have all begun to learn French in a very easy way and that those things we have learned will stick with us.  I can't honestly think of anything I dislike about this product.  I highly recommend Great Commission Language.

DISCLAIMER: I received this product free of charge to use and provide an honest review.