Sunday, April 28, 2013

Review: Spanish for You!

I have to admit, when I found out I was going to review Spanish for You! by Debbie Arnett I wasn't exactly thrilled about the idea of adding it to our homeschool curriculum...not because I don't think it's a necessary skill for today, rather we've been so busy during the past month that fitting it in was just one more thing I had to do.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Attending to Faith with Diligence (Part 2)

Cultivating faith isn't a simple task. Just as Jesus taught his disciples...diligence is key to cultivating faith (see part one). So how exactly do you have that diligent faith? There was a disciple who learned this the hard way. Which one? Peter.

Peter was quite possibly the most ardent (which means to have enthusiasm or passion) of Christ's disciples. It wasn't by chance he was chosen to learn from the Master of the universe. When we look at Peter's character, it's easy to see he was a bit of hothead. Always quick to jump the gun...cutting the soldier's ear off, swearing he would never deny Jesus as the Christ, etc. You will always find Peter at the forefront of every situation. Peter desperately sought to know how to cultivate his faith and once he learned...he attended to it with diligence and left us the blueprint on how to do the same.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Attending to Faith with Diligence (Part 1)

One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Abigail Adams. It's the first sentence I used on my resume when I was in the workforce, because it says so much in such few words. She once stated, "Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence."

Diligence is an area of my life that is in constant need of attention. I start lots of projects that far too often take me weeks, months or even years to finish. It’s not that I don’t want to be diligent, because I do, but diligence is hard work. It takes a lot time and a great deal of effort.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Review: Time 4 Learning

As I've expanded my blog and began doing reviews, I've been blessed with some amazing opportunities to review truly incredible products. So far I can honestly say there hasn't been on that I have not loved. We Choose Virtues has transformed my 3 year old in so many ways! The Apologia Planner has simplified my homeschool plan and made me feel more at ease with getting everything in. Recently, we've had to opportunity to benefit from some digital programs that are available and today I'm going to tell you a little about the first one...Time4Learning

There are so many reasons why I loved the Time4Learning program. I wish with all we had going on in the month of March (personally and sickness setting up camp) that we could've even had more time to explore this curriculum, but we got in the time we could and LOVED it! Both of my kids dove right in and loved playing the games and watching the various videos.

It's ease of use for the kids made it a dream come true for me, because I had so little to do. I could literally set a time limit and let them go. They explored various subjects...everything from science to simple phonetics. Not only was it easy to let them explore, but the parent membership gave me the opportunity to set an actual curriculum for them to follow, so I could make sure they were on track with what I as their teacher am actually teaching them as well. It could quite possibly be used as a curriculum, however, I myself am not keen on doing all digital, but others may be.

Without a doubt, I would recommend this program to any mom looking for some fun learning activities and I absolutely will be purchasing a membership when we have the finances available. From now until the end of April you can sign up as many children as want for only $9.98 for the first month.

***I received a free trial of the above mentioned program to help facilitate a review for the company. The opinion is entirely my own from using the program and was not influenced by Time4Learning in any way.***

Thursday, April 11, 2013

About Me

Our family (Earl, Raquel, Genesis, Asher & Canaan)
I'm a small town girl, whose big city dreams propelled me to leave my hometown of Coeburn, Virginia in pursuit of a career in television news. After five years in the newsroom, the humdrum of needing bad things to happen to have an exciting day at work led me to expand my horizons. It was then that I made the move to a more creative position and became a producer for The 700 Club. After just two years there, I stepped down as God called my husband, Earl, and I back to his hometown of Knoxville, TN. In seeking God's will for us, we were led to his first pastorate at Forest Grove Free Will Baptist Church in South Knoxville.

I traded the lights, camera and action of telling other people's stories for being a stay at home/homeschooling mom writing my own story with the three adorable blessings God has given me so far.  Since writing has always been a job, I'm excited to see where God takes me as I return to it as a hobby. To see some of the amazing ways God has worked in my life, be sure to read our love story. It's the whole reason I started blogging to begin with. Thanks for stopping and sharing in on my journey to serve the Creator of all.

Review: Apologia Planner

About a month ago, I posted my very first review. It was a blog planner, which has helped me stay on track and given direction to my blog on a weekly basis (with the exception of when we were hit with nonstop sickness for a few weeks and then traveling for a couple of's already on my planner to get some guest bloggers to fill those times in the future). I'm still using it, which is a HUGE feat for me! As I've told you in the past, I'm organizationally challenged which is why anytime I can find something that helps my family's life become a little less chaotic it's wonderful.

Now, since I've been homeschooling the past three years, I've always had a plan and I've tried everything from fancy paper planners to just simply putting it on iCal. They've all fell by the wayside, which means, I'm still looking...or at least I was until I received The Ultimate Homeschool Planner (it's really working for me at the moment)! Everything about this book makes it practical. I'm not even sure I can list all the reasons why I love it, but my favorite is because it is undated. That may seem silly to some, but when you're a free spirit who changes with the wind, it's wonderful! It means if I forget to write in my planner for a month, it isn't useless! It means if I fall by the wayside, I can pick up in whatever month we are in! If I want to start planning in October, I can...or February I makes your planning regimen so flexible! And free spirits love flexibility, so for me it really is the best feature. Now on to all the other awesome features.

Let me start by saying, even though I've been homeschooling for three years, I'm still learning as I'm sure most homeschooling moms will attest to. Every year has a new challenge and especially when you are homeschooling your first child, which is sort of the guinea pig in this adventure. Having said that, this planner lays out so many things I never thought of to plan for (free spirit here).

The planner starts with a yearly planning retreat. Sure I sit down and sort of map out our homeschool every July, but I've always just focused on the academic side of it. I never thought what are the characters goals I have for my children...when I say that I mean sure I want them to be well behaved and following Christ, however, pinpointing the exact attribute they needed to work on never occurred to me (or at least not until We Choose Virtues). It also provides an area for family goals. Again, I never sat and mapped out what we as a family need to accomplish and with family being the first institution God created, it's an absolute must! How could I have overlooked these simple things? It's so easy to get wrapped up in the academics of homeschooling by trying to meet other people's standards of what your children should be learning (i.e. state, grandma  photo 77448590-63d3-4a20-9ef0-03d0d8fc7286.jpg) that you stop focusing on the real reason you decided to homeschool in the first place and this planner reminds you of that.

The next awesome thing about this planner....the monthly planning sessions. Every homeschool family already does this to some degree, but add in the family goals you are now focusing on and it gives you better idea of how to accomplish those goals each month. You can see how you've progressed at the end of each month and readjust family priorities and other commitments you have made if necessary because they are there in black and white (or pencil which is what I'm using).

Next, you have weekly planning breaks. My favorite part about this section was that there were so many areas that I'd never thought of like a battle plan, or even making a list of the weeks memorable moments and the best...evidences of grace...honestly, how often as a homeschool mom do we need to remember those moments when God's grace was present to keep us going...for me that is definitely weekly!!!!

There are also two sections called Monday Morning Tutorials and Friday Afternoon Reviews, which are designed to help you raise an independent learner (yes, please). You use the first to give your student their lesson plans for the week and then on Friday they check in and you get to see how they are managing their time and completing tasks. This it is set up to work with The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students, which I also received, but since my daughter is only in 2nd grade she struggled a little with it and we weren't really ready to dive in and use. Another year or two and it will be a perfect companion for us to this planner!

My overall take on this product is it is wonderful!!! The ease of the layout makes it simple to tweak anything in the planner! Users guides are included in it with thorough explanations on how to use each and ever section, so I wasn't overwhelmed at all like I am with most planners this size! Both The Ultimate Homeschool Planner and The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students come chalked full of encouraging and motivational quotes and scripture as well as other extras. In The Ultimate Homeschool Planner you'll find teaching tips and a year-end review section. I can honestly say that I expect to use this for years to come. I would really love to see a digital version available too so I could see which I would prefer using. I wholeheartedly recommend purchasing this planner (which costs $28 but is so worth it) for your next homeschool year!

Need a second opinion, check out other reviews from Mosaic Reviews team members here.