Passport to America: A MasterBooks Review

Our family has used MasterBooks resources for a good portion of our homeschooling. From preschool through high school we have so many titles rich in history, science, and biblical truth. Their latest geography title, Passport to America, is a new favorite!

Grace is using the companion title, Passport to the World, as a part of her world geography studies this year. I was excited to see a book focusing on each of the states presented as well!

This lively and colorful book packs a ton of information on each state in just two pages. I really like that each license plate is shown as well as a number of interesting facts. In addition to the state flags, birds, and other symbols you will learn about land features and a food specific to each state. I was pleased to see 5-Way Skyline Chili featured in Ohio! One of my favorite memories of visiting my aunt and cousins there was eating chili over spaghetti. It may seem odd to my friends here in the south, but boy is it delicious!

I also was happy to see the opening pages featuring the story of America featured the indigenous people groups who lived here. I want my children to learn factual history and recognize that history features everything from Creation, not just when European explorers first landed here.

On the final page is an encouragement for children to pray for each state as they study it. Students are encouraged to find out something happening in that state and to pray for the people who live there. What an amazing find. I have not seen another books, even from Christian companies, encourage prayer in this way.

If you are looking for an excellent guide for your curious kid, planning your next road trip or launching a study of the United States, Passport to America is an excellent tool!

DisclaimerI received a digital copy of Passport to America from New Leaf Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions here are my own. I was not required to write a positive review. 

Week in Review: September 28-October 2

This week was really good. I’m so thankful we are finally in our routine. I’m also really glad we started in early August so we could take the time we needed to really get ourselves into a groove. It takes time every year, but this year was longer. Our 6-weeks-of-school, 1-week-off pattern is working out beautifully this year!

Beth: 8th grade

Part of our daily schedule is music practice. All of the girls started by the time they were 4-years-old with piano lessons…but then that is what happens when your mom is your piano teacher! My kids are 3 of my 22 piano students and I love watching them grow. Sometimes it would be easier for someone else to teach them, but most of the time it’s a beautiful blessing. You can see the camera on the piano. I’m teaching the majority of my lessons virtually and that camera is for my hands for demonstration. This year is so weird in so many ways.

Rose: 10th Grade

Rose worked very hard and saved up money this year to help pay for a Chromebook. As she’s progressing in high school we all realized it would be helpful for her to have her own device. The younger two still share a laptop…which I also have to share for teaching piano lessons now. One of my favorite courses she is taking this year is an apologetics course on World Religions from Master Books. It is so wide-ranging and a great way for her to understand the various belief systems and how they differ from the truth found in Scripture. She’s enjoying it as well which is important.

My kids are pretty easy learners. What I mean by that is they rarely complain about a particular curriculum. They do sometimes complain about the amount or ask for a day off, but they generally just accept the curriculum I put in front of them. I try to pick the best I can and if I get something that isn’t a good fit, I listen to them and we look for something better if possible. Sometimes it isn’t possible, but I do try. Don’t get me wrong, we are not curriculum hoppers! I just try to assess my kids’ learning styles and pick something that will fit that. I love to reuse curriculum, but sometimes that isn’t what is best for the next kiddo. Math is a great example of that. Each of my girls is using a different curriculum brand for math and that is perfectly okay!!! Tailoring their education to meet specific needs may be the best aspect of homeschooling.

Grace: 5th Grade

Grace is doing almost exclusively 6th grade work except for math where she is right on grade level. She is one of those kids with a late fall birthday and was absolutely ready to start learning earlier than the traditional-school guidelines. I really love this flexibility in learning.

One of her big changes this year was using notebooking pages with Heart of Dakota. I love that the company is now offering them for younger guides as well, but we were one guide ahead as each new notebooking set came out! If you are just starting out with Heart of Dakota I would strongly recommend doing the notebooking with the younger guides. It’s a beautiful way to prepare them for the higher ones. It was a big jump for Grace, but she’s doing so well now! She loves the timeline she’s creating as well as the research she does.

There is a little peek at our learning week. We also celebrated Grace’s 11th birthday on Sunday!!!! It is so hard to realize she really is growing up. She’s so full of energy and love and is still full of sweet innocence. She’s such a bright light in our family and we had so much fun celebrating her!

I was able to get some scrapbooking in as well! Here is my favorite page I completed. You can click to see all 6 of my completed pages for the week! I feel like I’m back on track!

Scrapbooking: September 28-October 4

The first Saturday of October was Digital Scrapbook Day!!! There were lots of fun celebrations all around internet-land. I really didn’t get to participate much as we had a full day of work at our church mulching and afternoon preparing to celebrate Grace’s birthday on Sunday. I did get a little bit of scrapping in throughout the week and that day though!

Adventures in Odyssey Club: History of Whit’s End

The central setting within Odyssey for all of the Adventures in Odyssey episodes is Whit’s End. John Avery Whitaker calls it an ice cream shop and discovery emporium. It’s filled with delicious confections (like the Wod-Fam-Choc-Sod or Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream) as well as numerous inventions.

I could recount the amazingly rich history of Whit’s End, but it’s more fun to listen! Here is a list of Whit’s End centered episodes in historical order. If I missed one comment so I can add it in!

Album 24 Risks And Rewards

Episode # 5-7
The Underground Railroad, Part 1-3

A stranger tells Jack the story of the Ross family, and their courageous run for freedom to escape slavery.

Album Cover For The Adventure Begins

Album 1, Episode # 11
Whit’s best friend, Tom Riley, tells Connie the story of how Whit’s End was created amid tragic circumstances.

887 art.jpg

Adventure Club Season 7: Episodes 1 & 3
It’s all hands on deck when a series of clues appears to connect Whit’s End with a survivor of the Titanic.

Album 02 The Wildest Summer Ever

Album 2, Episode # 9-10
The Case of the Secret Room, Part 1 & 2

The discovery of a secret room in Whit’s End leads Mr. Whittaker to a baffling case of robbery and murder.

Album 20 A Journey Of Choices

Album 20, Episode # 5 -6
It Began with a Rabbit’s Foot
It Ended with a Handshake

Whit tells Lucy Cunningham-Schultz about the creation of the Bible Room, and the discussion leads Katrina Shanks to a very important decision.

The Blackgaard Chronicles

The Blackgaard Chronicles, Episodes #1-6
When Dr. Regis Blackgaard arrives in Odyssey with plans to build an amusement house for kids, chaos and danger aren’t far behind. What is this schemer really up to?

Album 06 Accomplished

Album 6, Episode # 13
The Treasure of LeMonde!
Robyn and Connie find a hidden attic at Whit’s End and stumble upon a forgotten mystery involving an old pipe organ, a greedy professor and “the greatest treasure.”

Album 12 At Home And Abroad

Album 12, Episode # 2
The Curse

An “Indian Medicine Man” puts an ancient curse on Whit – and it seems to come true!

Album 18 A Time Of Discovery

Album 18, Episode # 7 & 8
The Mysterious Stranger, Part 1 & 2

Whit is pulled into a perplexing mystery when a strange man arrives at Whit’s End and claims to have lived there as a small boy.

Album 23 Twists And Turns

Album 23, Episode # 9
A Victim of Circumstance

When Rodney steps through a skylight at Whit’s End and breaks his leg, the Rathbones take Jason Whittaker to court.

The Blackgaard Chronicles

The Blackgaard Chronicles, Episodes #17-28
When Dr. Regis Blackgaard arrives in Odyssey with plans to build an amusement house for kids, chaos and danger aren’t far behind. What is this schemer really up to?

Album Cover For Virtual Realities

Episode # 12
The Treasure Room 

Aubrey and Lisa are determined to find out what Whit keeps in a new secret room at Whit’s End.

Album 33, Episode # 3-4
Blackgaard’s Revenge, Part 1 & 2

A virus implanted in the Imagination Station with Dr. Blackgaard’s personality surfaces and must be destroyed before it takes hold over Aubrey.

Album 34 In Your Wildest Dreams

Album 34, Episode # 6
Idol Minds

When Whit leaves town for a while, Eugene creates a Whit robot to keep the kids happy.

Album 36 Danger Signals Novacom Saga 2

Album 36, Episode # 1
The W.E.

To compete with the new Novacom Kids’ Center, Whit experiments with a massive overhaul to Whit’s End and its attractions.

Album Cover For Lost & Found

Album 45, Episode # 9
Tales of a Small-Town Thug

Everyone at Whit’s End is in an uproar when a former Bones of Rath gang member writes a scathing book about Odyssey.

Album Cover For The Best Small Town

Album 50
Episode # 1
A Capsule Comes to Town

Connie narrates a documentary about the people and places in Odyssey against the backdrop of a search for a missing time capsule.

Episode # 7
The Forgotten Deed

The plan to bury the new time capsule in the basement of Whit’s End causes a “separation of church and state” conflict that jeopardizes the future of the shop.

You can listen to these and more through the Adventures in Odyssey Club! Try your 14-day trial today! 

Disclaimer: In exchange for promoting The Adventures in Odyssey Club I receive a membership to The Adventures in Odyssey Club. I am not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

(A few) Weeks in Review: September

If you have been following my blog for a while I hope you notice a difference! I have been displeased with my old blog platform for a while now. I took a break from posting until I was able to get things set up on this new site.

In the meantime we have finally settled into a good routine. It took until about our 5th week to get there. We usually don’t have quite such a long settling in period, but isn’t everything about this year abnormal? Lots of hugs, encouragement, and perseverance have gotten us to our week of break. We run our schooling on a 6 weeks on, 1 week off schedule. This week was very relaxed and low key. I have found that when we do this, we tend to have a better flow to your year and less tendencies to burn out.

Rose takes loves working in her bed. Usually our dog, Penny, joins her!

Rose: 10th Grade -15 years old
Rose has really taken this year seriously as we are preparing for some form of dual enrollment for her last 2 years of high school. She choose to take two maths this year, Algebra 2 and Geometry. Math is not her favorite subject, so I have been so pleased to see her persevering through both diligently. Chemistry from Master Books has been a beautiful course as well. In addition she is taking apologetics, French, American Literature (a course I wrote for Schoolhouse Teachers), and Civics (economics and government).

Beth having a little sweet treat while working on literature.

Beth: 8th Grade – 13 years old
Beth is now taking a middle school science course which comes with quite a bit more work! She took some time adjusting to the workload and how to manage her time, but is now really in a good place. She is working through Revival to Revolution from Heart of Dakota. We love this curriculum so much. It is deeply rich in historical accuracy as well as encouraging kids to research and learn for themselves. She is over half way through Algebra since we started in the summer. Academically she is moving along at a steady, rather fast pace and I’m pleased to see her push herself even when her work is beginning to get more difficult.

We love All About Spelling!

Grace: 5th Grade – 11 years old (Almost!)
Most of Grace’s work is a year ahead grade-level or more. This year her work-load really increased as she moved into Creation to Christ from Heart of Dakota. It took more time for her to adjust to the added time as well as the notebooking aspect, but now she is completely on top of things and ready to go! She is also taking a science class this year and having such a fun time. She’s also found she really enjoys painting, especially with acrylics. She has painted some beautiful art for gifts for family and friends.

We had a great time at the beach at the end of August! It was our first real “outing” since everything shut down in March.

Everyone Together
We are still working on foreign language together although I’ve been awful at consistency. It’s key to anything new and I keep pushing forward even if slowly! We use Talkbox.Mom and HIGHLY recommend this program. You can read my full review of that program here. We are also dabbling in Shakespeare and I’m looking for some field trip opportunities now that there are a few things opening up in our area. The beach was the first real field trip we’ve taken in ages.

In my free time I’ve been working on preserving some more family memories! Click here to see my most recent digital scrapbook layouts.

Now that have the new site up and running hopefully you will see more postings! I’ve struggled to get the old platform to function well and this transition was a long time coming. Comment below and tell me something fun you’ve done this past month!

Preserving Memories: September 20-26

One of my goals for this fall is to get back to regularly working on scrapbooking our family’s memories. Now that I feel like I have a better handle on our new schedule I’m attempting to meet this goal! I am thrilled to have 3 layouts finished this week! I want to set a goal of 5 per week or 3 layouts and some preservation of older family photos.

These are layouts from February 2020

Week in Review: August 10-14

Well we started back school this week! It went really well and we accomplished so much that I forgot to take any pictures until after we were done on Friday! 

Monday was a bit slow as Grace has moved up into the Hearts for Him Through Time series from Heart of Dakota and Rose is working though a very different set of courses this year as she prepares for dual enrollment next year, Lord willing. 

 Here is a run down of most of our week. This week we will add spelling, grammar, and writing as last week I needed the extra time to help the girls adjust to a few new things.
*Confession: everything is posed because I really just forgot all about pictures!*

Rose is doing a combination of courses from Master Books and Schoolhouse Teachers to fill in a few gaps for classes before we move into a dual enrollment setting. So far she is really enjoying them! 

Beth is completing Revival to Revolution this year with Heart of Dakota. She was in the groove this week and finished first every day. She’s one to get up early, even before me sometimes, and start on school right away so I’m not surprised. Her routine is also pretty much the same regarding school so no real learning curve for her. 

Grace is having the bigger learning curve of my three this year. Heart of Dakota is amazing and I particularly love the Hearts for Him Through Time series that she is just venturing into. She is totally soaring, but understanding all of the independent work is just taking some time.

We’ve schooled with Heart of Dakota from the beginning of our journey and I could not be more pleased. I know the Lord led us to this curriculum because I really didn’t search around a lot. At the time we began with Rose, she was about 2 and a half. I just wanted something structured to tell me how to help her learn through play. Beth was just an infant, we had made a move, and I felt like I wasn’t giving my little girl who soaked up learning everything that was best for her. I stumbled upon Heart of Dakota in a catalog as they sold through 3rd party companies back then. I read the description and immediately knew this was it! I even had several of the books that were recommended already. Now here we are, 13 years later and it is beautiful!

I would love to hear how your week went! 

Force of Nature: An Honest, Unsolicited Review

Force of Nature
I review quite a few things on this blog related to homeschooling. This time I want to share what we are using to clean our home with these days: Force of Nature. I absolutely love it for many reasons. 

NOTE: This is not a product I received for free nor was I asked to review. I just was excited to share a cleaner that is on the EPA list approved to kill that wretched virus we are all dealing with in one way or another AND one that was as safe as this is! 
Force of Nature uses salt, water, and vinegar, already mixed in handy dandy little capsules. You simply add one capsule to the bottle and push the button on the machine. That’s where the magic happens. The water is electrolyzed by the machine and the combo of safe household ingredients creates a powerful cleaner.

This is considered an all-natural cleaner and is completely safe for kids, pets, and everyone else. There is a very slight chlorinated smell, but this is completely normal because of the chemistry that is happening between the water and salt. Because it is the right balance of ingredients, this is a non-toxic cleaner that is stronger than the ones full of chemicals. 
I have been using it everywhere! 
Kitchen Counters and Sink
Butcher Block island
Kitchen Table

(Sprayed onto a cleaning cloth first, not directly onto the piano!)
Kitchen and Bathroom Floors
Door Handles

It says it is safe for fabric as well, but make sure to test that in a small area before you try it everywhere. I haven’t had opportunity to use it on fabric yet. 

I took about a month to read and learn about this company as well as the science behind the cleaner before purchasing. I read and read and read…from all different sources, not just from their website. When I finally purchased it, I was feeling quite confident in my decision and even more so now that I’ve used it in our home. 
Disclaimer: I do not make any commission from this referral. I do earn free capsules if you click on it and purchase.

Adventures inOdyssey: Jay Smouse bringing Smiles!

Jay Ice Cream Character Headshot 
We are often introduced to new characters in Odyssey. One of our family’s new favorites is Jay Smouse! Here is a descriptoin of Jay directly from the Adventures in Odyssey website…

Jay might call himself a bully, but it’s only in his own mind. He likes to torment kids with his nicknames and attitudes, but most others don’t take him seriously. He is often his own worst enemy—getting himself into crazy situations of own his own doing. He sometimes hangs out with Vance King, though even their relationship can be adversarial.”

The factor that gives us delight is the comedic nature of this character. The actor (Whit Hertford) brings a likability to a character with a bad reputation. My husband especially really likes this character. When we are traveling and we ask what everyone wants to listen to, he will frequently respond with, “Anything with Jay!” 
Here are some of our favorite Jay Smouse episodes. 
1. Stage FrightBarrett is excited about getting the lead role in the school play. But when his first practice is interrupted by a mysterious booming voice, Emily must investigate the “phantom of the school play.
2. How to Sink a Sub
 When Katrina becomes their substitute teacher, Jay and Valerie rouse the class to revolt, even persuading Olivia to help with a plan to get Katrina fired.
3. Unbecoming JayJay schemes a way to ditch his cousin Cindy by leaving her with Barrett, but Priscilla grows jealous of the new friendship. 
4. Mistaken for Good
 Jay’s visit to a nursing home takes an unexpected turn when an old woman mistakes him for her grandson — and offers him money as a birthday present.
5. Groundhog Jay
 After Jay pushes Priscilla into an unexpected trip in the Room of Consequence, the two of them experience the same event over and over again.
6. The Friend Formula
 Riley is new to town and hoping to find some new friends. For advice, he turns to an unlikely (and unreliable) source – Jay Smouse!
7. Walk Worthy
 Buddy and Jay explore what it means to live with integrity as members of a wilderness troop for boys.
There are many others, and honestly anything with Jay Smouse is good for a laugh and a lesson! Explore some of these stories and more with an Adventures in Odyssey Club membership

Disclaimer: In exchange for promoting The Adventures in Odyssey Club I receive a membership to The Adventures in Odyssey Club. I am not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Peek into our Weeks: July in Review

July, much like the rest of the year, has been anything but normal. We tried to have as much fun and normalcy as we could. Here are a few highlights.

We had a short trip to Florida and our kids got to spend a little time with their cousins. One of the fun moments was the cousin band! The kids worked to learn a couple of hymns on various instruments. It was really beautiful. I played piano and everyone not playing sang long.

Since we were unable to take any trips away this summer, Daddy thought camping in the backyard might be a fun distraction for a while! So the tent was setup and the girls had a couple of nights camping. Penny, our puppy, happily joined in the fun!
One thing the girls have enjoyed this summer is building and creating. They have been writing novels and movie scripts, building with Legos, and creating lots of art. We may not be having official school, but we are definitely learning and creating! 
We had a pretty big milestone for this sweet girl. She turned 13 and is growing in grace and beauty. She loves writing epic novels, cuddling our pets, reading, and laughing.
So those are a few glimpses into our month of July. There are many things we wished we could have done…swimming, the water park, the amusement park, more time with family…but we have chosen to focus on the blessings and are thankful for technology to allow us to communicate and play games with family.