Sunday, July 31, 2016

Happy 12th Birthday to My Baby Girl, Haylee!

I just want to wish the happiest of birthdays to my only daughter, Haylee!  She officially turned 12 today.  The fact that this is her last birthday as a little girl is not lost on me.  Next year, she will be a teenager!  How the heck did that happen?!?  I look back at pictures of her as a toddler or preschooler and realize that it seems like a lifetime ago.  Okay, I promise not to cry.


She was always so darn cute!  Okay, now the tears are coming…


So many years have gone by!


Watching your kids grow up before your eyes really hurts sometimes.  If only they could stay little forever…

Haylee's Soccer Photo 2010

The growing seems to happen in spurts.


And the years just fly by, and you hardly notice as it’s happening.


One day, that baby face just seems to disappear, and that look of maturity begins to creep in.


Wait!  Slow it down…

DSCF4459 (2)

It’s like a train that’s chugging along, and there’s no stopping it…


And here you are…yet another year older…


Happy Birthday, baby girl!  I love you dearly.


(My video service was not cooperating, so I’ll come back another day to try to embed the birthday video.  For now, just click the link above.)

Friday, July 29, 2016

REVIEW: Complete Home Learning Suite by Essential Skills Advantage

I was asked to review the Complete Home Learning Suite by Essential Skills Advantage.


The Complete Home Learning Suite offers students an opportunity to try out their skills in a variety of subjects, including:

  • Reading (gr. K-6)
    • Complete Reading
    • Super Phonics
    • Reading Comprehension
  • Spelling (gr. 1-6)
    • Fun with Spelling
    • Spelling Stumpers
    • Spelling Master
  • Language & Grammar (gr. 3-6)
    • Writing Fundamentals
    • Creative Writing
    • Grammar
    • Vocabulary Builder
  • Math (gr. K-6)
    • Complete Math
    • Math Operations
    • Number Concepts
  • Science (gr. K-3)
    • Earth and Space Science
    • Physical Science
    • Life Science
  • Geography (gr. 3-5)
    • Map & Globe Skills
    • World Geography
    • American Geography
    • Canadian Geography


With over 14,000 online lessons for grades K-6, there’s sure to be plenty in this supplemental curriculum to keep your children busy and brushing up on their basic skills.  Learn more about the specific skills covered in each activity by clicking on each item on their curriculum page.

This program is used successfully by over 20,000 schools in North America and in countless homes around the world.  It’s intended to help improve grades and performance across curriculum.

The program is now mobile-friendly, so you can use it at home or on-the-go on your mobile device.  The activities support a variety of learning styles, including visual, auditory, and tactile.  Students work at their own pace to reinforce their learning.

With your subscription, your children will have access to all grade levels of the material, allowing you to choose the right level for each child in each subject.  You can subscribe monthly, semi-annually, or annually with pricing for a single student or a family subscription for up to 10 students.  These features make it ideal for any homeschool.


Take a look at what other Crew members had to say about this product by clicking the banner below.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Race Day!

Earlier in the weekend, I heard about a race for children that was taking place before church today.  All of my kids were interested in competing in it, so I talked with my hubby about it, and he agreed to take them before church this morning.  So yesterday morning, I registered them all for it in their own age categories, and Steve took them to pick up their race packets yesterday afternoon.  They were so excited!

Race Day - Before

Hayden will be 17 in a couple of weeks.  His age group was 14-17.  He runs on his school’s cross-country team, so this wasn’t that big of a deal for him.  It was only a one-mile race.  As it turned out, his best friend and fellow teammate was also signed up for this race, so when they saw each other there, it became an instant competition between them.  That added to the fun!

Haylee has run in races before, so she was definitely in a competitive frame of mind.  She’ll be 12 in another week, and her age group was 11-13.  She was pretty pumped up this morning and ready to go!

Holden has never done a race before.  He tends to be dramatic and silly, so Steve wasn’t expecting him to take it seriously, but he was up for the challenge and insisted he wanted to go.  Since he hadn’t done a race before and doesn’t generally go out running with Steve or the kids, Steve decided he’d run alongside Holden to keep him going until the end.  He is 8.5, and his age group was 8-10.

As it turned out, they all did really well!

Race Day - After

Hayden beat his best friend by 1 second!  LOL.  That made his day.  And he ran his fastest mile ever at 6 min. seconds.  He finished in 3rd place out of 11. 

Haylee saw someone she knew in her age group who used to be homeschooled and who does races all the time, so there was a familiar face there for her, too.  Haylee ran her mile in 8 min. 58 sec.  She finished in 10th place out of 30.

Holden did a great job of running the whole way, and he even sprinted at the end!  He finished his mile in 10 min. 19 sec.  He finished in 17th place out of 44.  Pretty impressive for his first race and considering that he doesn’t go out running at all!  He was also on the younger end of his age group, so that was great!

Everybody made it to church on time, and they had a great time doing their races.  There was a heat advisory issued at 11 AM today, so it’s great that they were finished before then and weren’t out in the heat for too long.  I think it was a great experience for all of them, and it was awesome that it was a free event!  I hope they offer it again next year.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

FREE Kindle Books for Today

Today, I thought I’d share some FREE Kindle books I found at Amazon.  I’ve collected an assortment of cookbooks for the grown-ups and children’s books for your kids.  Happy reading!


Monday, July 11, 2016

REVIEW: Entire Level II by ArtAchieve

My daughter loves all things art, so she was very excited to get to review the Entire Level II by ArtAchieve.



ArtAchieve offers a series of online art lessons designed to help kids learn the basics of drawing and subsequently adding design and color to those drawings with various media.  But the primary objective of the program is to learn the skill of drawing. 

There are five levels of difficulty available, and customers may choose to purchase either single lessons, small bundles of three lessons, a value bundle that includes an entire level of lessons, or the entire curriculum.  Whatever you choose to purchase will be available for you to access online for a period of 1 year.

There are also some free lessons you can try out before you buy additional lessons.  Each lesson has a warm-up exercise as well as the instruction presented in your choice of either a video or PowerPoint slides.  It’s also helpful to read the FAQ’s to get an idea of how and where to begin.  The program is suggested for ages 6 and up, but it also says that regardless of age, you should start with the simplest lessons and work your way up.

Single lessons cost $4-$11 each, depending upon the level.  You will want to consult the website for the discount bundle pricing.



My daughter, Haylee, is almost 12, and she’s actually pretty confident with drawing already.  So when we were given the opportunity to try out a level of this wonderful art program, we decided to try out the Entire Level II.

Getting started was simple!  We logged into the ArtAcDSCF4678hieve website, and all of the lessons in our level were listed there.  We could go in any order we wanted to, but we began with one of the free activities about drawing simple lines and also warmed up with one of the Level I free lessons before starting our Level II series.  There’s a convenient supplies list broken down by each lesson on the website so you can make sure you have all the tools you’ll need before you start the lessons.  That was really handy. 

There were 14 lessons in the Entire Level II, and Haylee enjoyed completing a number of them during the review period.  She tried out both the videos and the PowerPoint presentations.  The program suggests listening to classical music as you work, but Haylee preferred the quiet.  It also suggested warming up your hands and using them to warm your eyes before starting, but after trying it a couple of times, Haylee felt kind of silly and decided she preferred the simple PowerPoint presentations.  She also liked being able to take her time and not have to worry about pausing the video as she worked on her drawing. 

Each PowerPoint lesson began with an image of the actual item from around the world thaDSCF4679t Haylee would be drawing.  It would give a little history lesson about its popularity and how it was used.  Then it gave a list of supplies needed and told her to download the warm-up exercise.  Each warm-up exercise consisted of random blocks of the finished drawing that she would have to copy into empty blocks below them in order to practice the types of strokes that would be required in the final drawing.  It would provide a list of rules for drawing, and then the actual instruction would begin.  The slides would help her locate a starting point on the paper and then would literally show one line at a time for her to draw and its orientation to that initial focal point.  Each new step was shown as a red line on the slide so it was easy for her to see what to do next.

After the basic drawing was completed, it would move on to show her how to add color and decoration.  It would show suggestions on what other people have done to decorate the basic drawing, and then it would explain how to add the final color to it.  When she was finished, it would show her completed artwork from other people and ask her to reflect on how hers was similar or different.  DSCF4681

I really loved that Haylee was able to log in, select a lesson, and complete a lesson all on her own without any help or guidance from me.  I often watched her from another room, and she was always so focused and attentive to the program.  She really enjoyed adding her own flair of designs and colors after completing the basic drawings. 

One day, she had a friend over from a neighbor’s house to play, and I suggested maybe the do a lesson together since the little girl enjoys drawing, too.  Her friend is only 8 and a half, and I was amazed that even she was able to complete a beautiful piece of artwork that I was able to send home for her mom to see.  That demonstrated to me that this art program is truly equally effective for kids of all ages! 

Haylee really eDSCF4682njoyed this program and looks forward to continuing to complete the lessons over the course of the year.  It was nice not to have to download and store any files on my computer, as well, because the online nature of the program allowed her to complete a lesson anywhere, any time, on any tablet or computer she could access at the time.  Sometimes, I even cast the lessons from my computer onto our big living room television screen so she could sit comfortably on the couch with a small table to do a lesson.

I can see how this program would be a great summer activity for yourDSCF4683 kids to keep them engaged in something productive.  It would also be a great curriculum to work into your regular school year since you get a whole year to complete the lessons.  It would also make a great birthday or holiday gift for any child who loves art or loves to draw!  And I could even see it being a relaxing activity for an adult.  Its step-by-step instruction is so easy to follow that I honestly think anyone could do it!

Take a look at what other Crew Members had to say about this and other levels offered by ArtAchieve by clicking the banner below.