Saturday, June 29, 2019

First Day of Homeschool 2019

20190617_093109Last week, we began our new 2019-2020 school year.  I just have one student left at home since my daughter started public high school last year.  Holden is 11, and he just began 6th grade!

I can hardly believe that this is the first time in 16 years of homeschooling that I haven’t had at least one child in elementary school.  The years sure do fly by!  I guess I’m entering another new phase of life…no littles in the house!  Just 3 more years of homeschooling left now before Holden will be old enough to go to public high school, too, and I can finally “retire” from this “career” of home educating.

Our first week of school went really well, and Holden seemed to really like the new things we’re doing this year.  I assigned times to each of our subjects to help keep him on track, so for the first week of school, I wrote down our actual times to see if my estimates were correct, and they seemed to be about right.  It has us starting at 9 AM and finishing at 2:30 PM.  He did a pretty good job of finishing on time, which gave him time to play after school, which he really enjoyed.  We’ll see how long that lasts!

Here is what we’re doing this year:






Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra


Bookshark 6

Language Arts

Write Shop Junior D


Apologia Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures


Houghton Mifflin Spelling & Vocabulary 7


Wordly Wise 3000 Online – Level 6


La Clase Divertida Level II


Bible Study Guide for All Ages

Each subject is done every day except for science and bible, which alternate every other day, giving us a total of 7 class periods each day.

Apologia Elementary sciences are always fun with all of the hands-on experiences.  We bought the corresponding supply kit from Nature’s Workshop Plus so we’ll have everything on hand for each experiment and “try this” activity in the textbook.  I love how they break up the supplies into baggies labeled for each lesson so that the supplies are easy to grab and have ready at the beginning of the week. 

This is Holden’s first time doing a writing program, so we decided to start with level D of WriteShop Junior, which is listed as being good for reluctant 6th graders.  I got to review it a few years ago when Haylee was little, so I already had it all prepped and ready to use, which made it easy to prepare for this year.  I also have Level F from a single review I did last year, so I plan to purchase Level E for next year and use F in 8th grade.  That should give him some basic writing skills by the time he goes to public school.  He has a good foundation in grammar from using both Junior Analytical Grammar books last year, so I thought this program would be a nice progression.  He seems to enjoy the variety of activities and how it changes up what we do each day. 

I’m trying really hard to keep things fresh and new as much as possible this year.  He is also happy to have La Clase Divertida back this year.  I’m not sure how much he’s retaining from it since he wasn’t doing a lot of the oral responses while watching the DVD and listening to the audio, but he may just need some time to get back into the flow of the program.  It’s been a couple of years since we last used it.  I got a great deal on ebay for Level II, so I gave in to his request to bring it back into our schedule.

So that’s our new school year!  We took this week off in case I needed to tweak anything, but I think it looks pretty good so far.  I am still on the fence about math.  It concerns me that he has gotten to Pre-Algebra already by 6th grade.  That’s what hap20190617_093033pened when Hayden was his age, and Hayden really had problems in 7th grade when he got to Algebra I and just wasn’t ready for the abstract thinking required for it.  I fear Holden will be in the same boat.  I’ve been looking at other math options, and I’m still considering putting Pre-Algebra aside for this year and having him reinforce his basic math skills first using something else.  When Haylee reached this point, I had her do Mastering Essential Math Book 2, so I’m considering that (or the online version) for Holden, as well.  It only took 15 minutes per day and gave her a chance to firm up her grasp before moving on.  In fact, I wouldn’t mind if he never got to Algebra I at home and just took it in 9th grade in public school.  Haylee never did master it in 8th grade and ended up taking it in high school anyway.  So really, we could spend two years on firming up his basic understanding and do Pre-Algebra in 8th grade.  He still hasn’t memorized his times tables, which really frustrates me, and Haylee was the same at this point.  It really slows down more advanced math computations, so I feel like we should start there.

Anyway, we’re off to a good, solid start, and I’m looking forward to what this school year brings to us!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

REVIEW: Matific Galaxy by Matific Galaxy

Holden isn’t excited about math, but he’s excited about online gaming.  That’s why I was anxious to have him try a subscription to Matific Galaxy by Matific Galaxy.


Matific Galaxy is a unique online gaming experience that gets kids interested in practicing a whole host of math skills under the guise of playing fun space-themed games.  Kids are rewarded for their successful game play by earning points that can be exchanged for cool accessories they can use to outfit their alien characters.Game Image

This program has a parent dashboard that allows you to set up your students individually and place them at grade levels from K-6.  In the dashboard, you can log in and review how your child is doing at any time, review their progress, and set or change their learning goals and grade level for math content.

A full one-year subscription for all grade levels from K-6 with over 500 activities is just $39.99.  Or you can get a one-year subscription for a single grade level with over 70 activities for just $19.99

You can also play using an Apple (version 10.0 or later) or Android app (version 4.4 or later), making game play available on-the-go!  If you have the online subscription, you just log into the app with the same account information, although your child’s progress is not synced between the web-based version and the app version.  You can also download the app (separate app for each grade level) without the online subscription for free and then make individual in-app purchases for the games.


Parent DashboardI was really pleased with Holden’s enthusiasm when playing Matific Galaxy!  The lure of the game play itself was enough to spark his willingness to use the program and practice his math skills. 

There’s such a variety of skills within the program, and the parent dashboard gives plenty of detailed information, including your child’s overall score, as well as specific scores within each skill.  It even compares this information with the average score kids have achieved in each skill so you can get a feel for how well your child’s abilities stack up against their peers who are using the program.  It also shows your child’s overall progress through the program and suggests practice games for skills where extra practice is needed. 

When I set up Holden’s profile, I put him in Grade 5 (since he had just finished 5th grade) with a learning goal of 45 minutes per week of using the program.  I let him decide if he wanted to play that all at once or if he wanted to go with the recommended 3 times per week at 15 minutes per sitting.  Generally, he liked to play all at once, and he had enough fun doing it that the time flew by!

Another nice parent feature is the option to sign up for weekly emails right to your inbox detailing your child’s progress and how much time they’ve spent playing the games.  I find these helpful so that I don’t have to remember to log in and see how he’s doing.

Weekly Email Summary Weekly Progress Report

The concept behind the game is that there are 10 alien characters who were attacked by a foreign invader who stole all of their pixels away, making them essentially disappear.  By answering math questions correctly in a variety of games, your child can return pixels to a given character until they are fully restored.  Points are earned that the child can use to exchange for accessories, which they can use to dress up their character.  Gifts for your character can also be earned, and there are a total of 500 different prizes that can be won!

Restoring Pixels Prize Progress

Each game presents a different type of math skill, so the longer your child plays, the more skills they will encounter in their assigned grade level.  As each character is unlocked with progress, the child can jump between planets to work on helping the various characters.  There are multiple games to be played on each character’s planet.

Beads and Fractions - Fractions Let There Be Light - Problem Solving

Pour Yourself Into It - Problem Solving Symmetry Lines

Some of these problem solving games require a great amount of thought!  I played some of them myself and found them quite challenging!  I was impressed with how well they get you thinking ahead to achieve the necessary goal.  For instance, in the “Pour Yourself Into It” game pictured above, sometimes you are given a faucet from which to obtain water, but in other cases, there is no faucet, just filled jars.  So in that case, you have to be careful to empty amounts either into other jars or into the bushes without running out of available water before achieving the right amount in the biggest jar.  This is great brain training in critical thinking skills!

Holden has a tendency to have too much overall screen time between the Xbox, a tablet, and a computer.  At least with Matific Galaxy, I can feel comfortable letting him play, knowing that he is truly using his brain power to get from one game to another. 

I am very pleased with this program, and it’s an excellent way to get Holden spending just a little more time practicing in math.  The graphics are excellent, and even the app looks really visually appealing!  This helps keep interest in a child who is definitely video-game oriented.  And with multiple types of games available in each planet, it’s sure to keep him motivated to keep unlocking new ones and moving his way through the galaxy saving the characters by restoring their pixels.  We love it!

See what other Crew members have to say about Matific Galaxy by clicking the banner below.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

I Bought a Vehicle from My Desk at Home!!!

Last Sunday, my husband and I decided that it was probably time to bite the bullet and buy a new-to-us used vehicle.  We haven’t bought one since we got my current van, a 2007 Kia Sedona LX, in 2008.  My van is still holding up fine, but we have another van, a 2003 Kia Sedona EX, that is in terrible shape.  My adult son drives that one to work with a mile and a half from home every day.  And my husband drives my old car to work an hour away every day.  It’s a 1996 Nissan Sentra E, which was the last brand new vehicle we bought when I still worked full-time and did not yet have any kids.  It’s leaking a lot of oil and does not have air conditioning, so hubby comes home wet through every day after sitting in traffic for 1-1.5 hours in the hot TX sun.

So at long last, we decided we can afford a car payment now, and we should go ahead and make a purchase before somebody gets stranded and is without a vehicle altogether.  No sooner did he give the word late on Sunday night, I was on the task right away.  I had scouted out some possibilities before I ever went to bed, and I actually settled on something come Monday morning!  The catch was that the best deal was at, a website where you shop, finance, and purchase your vehicle right in your own home without ever even laying eyes on your vehicle of choice.  Now that may sound a little scary, and it was at first.  But Carvana has some great reviews, and I just couldn’t pass up on the convenience of having the whole process over with without ever leaving my desk! 

So I took the plunge!  Here is what I ordered:


It’s a 2016 Kia Sedona LX with only 977 miles on it!  I could easily view the Carfax with one click.  It had a single owner for about 2 years and had so few miles on it before it returned to the same TX dealership.  Then it was purchased by Carvana and sold to me!  It has never been in any accidents.  I could even view the original window sticker!  I’m saving about $8,000 off the original price for a vehicle with under 1,000 miles on it!  That’s pretty impressive.  It has all the features I wanted, and I’m super excited to be getting it.  I’m trading in my oldest van, and even that process was easy and was done 100% online!  What’s more, they are delivering it right to my door on Monday afternoon, and they’ll leave with my old van!

The whole process was so easy that my adult son decided he would purchase his first vehicle the same way.  When he got home from work, he ordered his car.  It’s being delivered at the same time as my van!  That is going to make for such an exciting afternoon!  He is getting a 2018 Kia Optima LX.


So now all that’s left to do is the transfer of vehicles.  We get to test drive them at delivery before taking possession, and any scratches, stains, or damage we find that was not disclosed up front will be photographed and documented.  Then Carvana will compensate us for anything we find.  We have a full 7 days to “test-own” the vehicles, during which time we have the option to return them for a FULL refund, or exchange them for another vehicle. 

The whole process has been super easy, and I can’t wait to see if it’s all I’m hoping it will be.  If so, this will be the easiest and simplest vehicle purchase I’ve ever made!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

FREE “Kreme-Filled” Doughnut on June 22nd!

krispykreme's profile picture

Krispy Kreme announced that it would be adding a new “Kreme-Filled” original doughnut to its permanent menu in honor of the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

There is a hilarious commercial on Instagram to reveal the new menu item.

Stop by on Saturday, June 22nd, to try this new filled doughnut for FREE!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

FREE 16 oz. Smoothie for National Flip Flop Day!!!

Image result for tropical smoothie cafe

Friday, June 14th, is National Flip Flop Day.  Stop by your local Tropical Smoothie Cafe wearing flip-flops between 2-7 PM that day, and you will receive a FREE 16 oz. Sunshine Smoothie!  How great is that?!?



Mango, banana, orange, pineapple & orange juice


Monday, June 3, 2019

REVIEW: Life With Dog by Mill Creek Entertainment

Image result for mill creek entertainment logo

I have a real passion for dogs and love stories and movies about them, so I was really looking forward to watching Life With Dog by Mill Creek Entertainment.


Life With DogLife With Dog is a brand new Christian film about a recent widower who is lost in his grief.  Consumed by suspicion, doubt, and anger, his life lacks direction and is often filled with despair.  Just when it seems he is on the brink of self-destruction, a mysterious dog enters his life in an unexpected way and eventually leads him to some surprising revelations, both about his wife’s death and his faith.

This film is being released on DVD on June 4th at Walmart stores.  You can also go to Amazon and purchase the DVD for $11.99, buy the digital version with Prime for $12.99, or rent it with Prime for $4.99.


This film stars Corbin Bernsen, Marilu Henner, and Chelsey Crisp and runs approximately 1 hr. 46 min.  The main character, Joe Bigler, owns a home that real estate developers want to buy so they can tear it down and build a combination retail/residential loft complex in its place.  Many of the neighbors have sold out, and construction has already begun, but Joe has no intention of selling.  As tensions rise between himself and the developers, his wife, Alice, is killed in a hit and run accident while riding her bike in the neighborhood.

Joe is left alone in his home, which he still refuses to sell, and the sudden loss of his wife leaves him bitter and angry.  Alice had been a faithful Christian who showed a tremendous amount of patience with Joe in his hasty reactions to situations, but Joe was only going through the motions of faith to satisfy his wife, whom he truly loved.  With Alice gone, Joe is more even hasty and irrational than before, and his doubts in God are stronger than ever.  He is so lost in his grief that he sits in one room continuously, refusing to eat or pay bills. 

Amid his pain, a seemingly homeless dog wanders into his yard and even into his home on multiple occasions.  Joe initially tries to shew the dog away, but with its repeated appearances and its insistence on keeping him company, Joe’s heart begins to melt, and he accepts the dog as his faithful companion, naming him simply “Dog.” 

Meanwhile, Joe and Alice have a daughter who tries to coax Joe back into the land of the living, encouraging him to speak with their pastor and work through his feelings of grief.  Its revealed that Joe had previously lost a son who was not yet 13 at the time, and Joe’s lack of faith came from his pleas to spare his son and his wife as they lay dying before him, but his prayers had gone unanswered both times, leaving Joe more hopeless than ever.

Joe continues to last out at those he feels were responsible for his wife’s death, even though the driver had never been located in the 3 months since the accident.  Joe was a former boxer, so he takes out his frustrations with people through aggression in various forms, and he keeps getting himself into more and more trouble.  The police try to help solve the case, but suspicion even begins to fall on Joe himself, and that was the last straw for him.

As Joe puts up posters to try to locate the real owner of the dog, the dog ends up leading him to its true home, a home with a vehicle that is damaged on the front fender.  Joe begins to put two and two together and realizes that this is not only the dog’s home, but the home of the driver who Alice to die in the street.

Joe eventually confronts the man, but police arrive just in the nick of time and arrest both of them because Joe was holding a gun on the man.  While evidence is being collected and both men are handcuffed and waiting to be taken to the station, they have a conversation that reveals how the man came to hit Alice with his truck and why he left the scene.  Joe realizes his wife would want him to forgive the man, who was scared and distracted at the time of the accident, and the two men come to an understanding.  You can see Joe processing the events and realizing that there is something bigger at work in our lives that brings us peace and allows us to deal with the tragedies of life…the same faith and belief system that he had admired in his wife for all of their years together.  The movie closes as the two men are put into squad cars and taken away, leaving you to draw your own conclusions about where their lives were headed after that.

I really enjoyed this movie.  The acting wasn’t bad at all, and there were many positive messages that one could take from the story.  Alice had been a steady and positive influence on Joe’s life.  She went to church regularly, and he had come along to make her happy.  In the process, he had started to wonder what all the hype was about and why his wife could deal with difficult situations so much better than he could.  In the end, he realized it was because she’d had God in her life to rely on all along, and he had not allowed God into his life.  The movie left you feeling like no matter what consequences Joe would suffer for his actions, he was in a better place spiritually than where he’d begun, and it took the tragedy of losing his wife and finding comfort in the dog to begin to soften his heart and help him find his way to the Lord to help him accept the realities of his life and move on from them.  As a viewer, I felt his grief and pain and the sense of loss he felt.  The film did a great job of helping you put yourself in his shoes and work your way out of that dark place right along with him.

The lesson Joe learned was that we don’t always get the answers we want from our prayers to God, but there is something positive that can come out of every devastating situation, because God can work all things for our good.  We can overcome anything with His help, and sometimes it takes really tragic events to wake us up and direct our steps back to Him.

Check out what other Crew members have to say about this film by clicking the banner below.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

FREE Doughnut on National Doughnut Day!!!

National Doughnut Day on Friday, June 7

Friday, June 7th, is officially National Doughnut Day.  To celebrate, just stop by your local Krispy Kreme doughnut shop and get one FREE doughnut of your choice!  In addition, the company announce that if they give away 1 million doughnuts that day, they will do another FREE doughnut promotion later in the month of June to allow fans to try their brand new creation, yet to be revealed.  Who doesn’t love a good mystery?!?  Rise to the challenge and take all of your friends with you so we can help them reach the goal!

Check the link above for a list of participating locations.  No purchase required.