Cutest Blog and Widdlytink

My Stick Family from

Oct 27, 2016

CrossTimber Name Meaning Gifts ~ A Homeschool Crew Review and Giveaway!

John, Katie, and their homeschooling family run a company called CrossTimber.  I've seen them around before.  I've thought about ordering gifts from them.  But I never did.  I'm actually not sure why, because I always have a little skip of joy in my heart when I find souvenirs with my name on them, *spelled correctly*.  The Homeschool Review Crew members were offered a choice of items from CrossTimber that included the Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse, among other items.

Usually, with The Crew, we have few if any options; grade level, a particular language, choose one from a small selection...  It's all pretty straight forward and simple.  This time, the sky was the limit.  Well, pretty much.  Some of the choices included the aforementioned framed plaque, coffee mugs, book marks, *music boxes,* plaques with the names of God, first names, last names, TWO names...  Not only did I have to decide what item to get, I needed to figure out who the recipient would be.  You don't see any of the behind the scenes stuff, but The Crew was taking this whole thing all very seriously.  We were bouncing ideas off of each other.  Some of the great gift giving ideas we thought of were baby showers, Christenings, birthdays, graduations, weddings, and coming-of-age celebrations.  Whew!

I even had a nice chat with John on their website, in the little chat box in the lower right corner.  You should go there.  You should chat with them.  Anyway, John asked me to email him some of the names of people I was thinking about presenting the name meaning gift to.  He thought correctly, that if I saw some of the meanings of the names and looked through some of the design images, I might feel inspired. 

I noticed that they really dug deeper than some of the baby name websites out there.  Most places had something lame, like fork (as in a road, not a utensil) and gave a different origin for Merrick's name.  John told me it was Teutonic and meant "ruler of the sea."  We actually did see that on *one* page when we were searching for a name for him, which is kind of why we chose it.  Well, that and maybe the movie Timeline had something to do with it.  John included Isaiah 52:7 for Merrick.

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bring good tidings, that publishes peace; that brings good tidings of good, that publishes salvation; that says unto Zion, Thy God reigneth.

I had similar responses to nearly all the names.  We are excellent baby namers. 

I remember when I was a girl and I headed off to kindergarten (and for years after), I did not like my name.  I thought all the girls had nicer names than mine.  Mom tells me I came home crying one day because my name was terrible.  John's note was a great reminder for me.

Jodi - She who praises.  Proverbs 22:4  By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honor, and life.
She who praises.  How could I not love my name?  It's a great reminder. 

I'm not sure now exactly what was said at what point, but I very clearly knew exactly what I would be getting and to whom it would go.  I chose the Two Name Name Meaning Print for Couples and purchased a frame here at home.  Then I sent it on to my Dad and Step-mom for their 40th (!) anniversary.  I thought Harvest Fields made a great background.  We all maybe (yes, still) get a chuckle out of them having the "same" name, but it really doesn't make any difference to us kids.  We all call one or the other or both Mom or Dad.  But there is sometimes confusion with other people.  Usually, people who know them call them Mr. Gene and Mrs. Jean.  The beautiful part about this name meaning print is that their names are the same, but the meanings and verses chosen for each of them were not the same.  It's more like they compliment each other, as halves of a whole.

Aaaaaand I boxed it up and shipped it before I remembered I wanted a picture of it in the frame I picked up.  Luckily, my niece is in cahoots with me and will take pictures for me once they open it.


and it's here!  CrossTimber also sent me individual NameCards for each of them.  You can see them in my dad's hand.  They're about the size and thickness of a playing card and are full color and beautiful.

They loved it and thanked us for such a unique gift!  Know how I know they *really* like it?  It's going to Bible study with them tonight.  Thanks, Dehnart family for such a lovely gift to recognize their 40th anniversary.

A lot of research goes into discovering the encouraging aspects of every name.  Every name.  Not just the more popular names.  Get some insight into this process.  It's quite fascinating how it all happens (and get a mini-language arts lesson on Greek words).  You will learn a lot of interesting information about naming trends, roots, and variations.  Name gifts from CrossTimber are somewhat unique in that you are also provided with a fitting Bible verse. 

You can read the inspiring story about how name meaning research became John's passion.  I just loved it and I could see some of the homeschooled kids I know coming up with something after similar interactions.  Resourceful lot, no?  

You may decide to purchase multiple name meaning gifts from CrossTimber.  It sure wouldn't be unheard of!  A discount is offered for orders of three or more items.

I have chatted with and emailed John several times over the last couple of weeks.  He was happy to provide me with the name meanings for each of my boys, as well as various other family members, with no obligation.  You can tell how enthusiastic the Dehnarts are about inspiring people to see the power and beauty in each and every name.  In fact, asking about a name meaning is one of the ways to enter their Christmas Giftaway.

There will be TEN winners in the Christmas Giftaway!  Winners will receive a free name gift item or a $10 gift certificate.  Selection of winners will take place December 4, 2016.  It's very easy to enter.  Just click on the words above and follow the directions. 

Find CrossTimber on social media.

I will leave you with this reminder of God's love for you!

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Oct 26, 2016

Middlebury Interactive Languages ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

We have reviewed Middlebury Interactive Languages for The Crew before.  We knew what they had to offer, so we were thrilled to be assigned a review with them again.  Xav is more eager to learn languages than Mal (though Mal does enjoy watching the stories), so he got to use this one with me.

We had much more difficulty selecting a language to learn this time.  Homeschool foreign language lessons are available in Spanish, French, German, Chinese, and Latin and most are taught at grades K-2, 3-5, middle, and high school.  Courses and a few levels have been added since we reviewed the K-2 Spanish two years ago.  Eventually, we settled on Elementary Chinese I (grades 3-5).

These topics are covered in Elementary Chinese I.
  • Numbers
  • Greetings
  • Family
  • Home
  • Adjectives/Colors
  • School
  • Food
  • Review
  • Animals
  • Friends
  • Nature
  • Seasons
  • Clothing
  • Places
  • Professions
  • Review
That's sixteen units in all!  Each unit (except the review units) consists of six lessons.  The two review units each cover the previous seven units.  The units use Chinese stories and legends to introduce students to the culture of China, as well as written and spoken Mandarin.  Through the use of videos, stories, games, and listening to their own recorded voices, students become familiar with the language.  Xav usually completes several lessons within a unit each time he logs in.

Culture lessons, recorded teacher videos, stories, and activity pages.
We are able to print a transcript of the stories used in each unit.  These include a synopsis of the story and both English and Chinese for each frame of the story in the program.  Other printables included a sheet with a grid for writing practice of the Chinese characters.  The calligraphy of Chinese is fun to write and is very beautiful when done correctly.  We aren't focusing on the characters as much as the more complicated pronunciation of the words.  We've found it a bit harder to learn the unfamiliar sounds of Chinese.  Some languages are easier than others, in part because of this familiarity.  Xav is doing a great job picking it up, though and when I listen to his voice recordings, I'm pretty impressed with how similar he sounds to the originals.

Speaking lab, story transcript, writing characters.
Navigating the course is quite simple. Depending on the browser used, it seems to vary slightly.  There is a calendar which shows a class scheduled for every weekday.  This cannot be altered.  We prefer to use the folders on the left in the Table of Contents screen.  As each lesson is completed, it gets a green check, so we know right where to start next time Xav logs in.  Xav does several lessons within a unit each time and works on it two to four days in a week.  It fits into our schedule pretty easily.

Navigating with a list, a calendar, or folders.
Within the gradebook, I can see how Xav has done on the quizzes and unit tests at a glance.  Luckily, we can go back and listen again and again!

Repeated exposure throughout helps cement the characters and words into our brains.

There is no pre-requisite for Elementary Chinese I.  Courses run from introductory levels to Advanced Placement.  Middlebury courses are non-credit bearing in themselves, but homeschool parents can certainly award credit based on the time the high school student puts into the course.

The Middlebury Interactive Language courses are immersive language learning.  They start right at the beginning with the new language.  The stories are never told in English, but you get a sense for it from the pictures and, if needed, the transcripts can be viewed or printed.

The length of time required to complete one semester of a course varies by level. 
  • middle school and high school, 90 lesson days
  • grades 3-5, 45 lesson days
  • grades K-2, 35 lesson days
Each course is available with or without teacher support.  The teacher does require an additional fee, but they work independently with each student.  You don't need to log in on a certain day, at a certain time to make use of that benefit.

Visual and auditory learners can really benefit from these language lessons.

Find Middlebury Interactive Languages on social media.

Spanish, French, German or Chinese {Middlebury Interactive Languages}

Crew Disclaimer

Oct 22, 2016

Things We Do For PE in Our Homeschool - Hiking

First, there's hiking and then there's *hiking*.  I prefer the former, though the boys often do the latter.  Usually with Dad.  Natch.

Now that Xav is attending PE classes at the public school, we go for a walk together after we pick him up.  Sometimes, that is on a nice, open trail.  These pictures are from our journey a week ago.

Xav found some milkweed, which after getting the fluff all over us (not to be removed until we returned home and got a lint roller out), we decided to save the seeds and find a spot in our yard to grow milkweed.  We hope to see some monarchs.  Xav also picked a tasty corn dog.  Or cattail. 

It was a nice fall day, not too hot, not cold.  We explored the trail, dropped a stick in a stream and ran across the bridge to see it come out the other side.

Definitely a good day.  I'm hoping for a few more days like it before winter settles in for six whole months.

Oct 21, 2016

Wanted: Curriculum Junkies for the 2017 Homeschool Review Crew


If you are homeschooling at least one child, blogging, and enjoy trying out LOTS of cool school and home related stuff and would like to help other homeschool parents find fantastic curriculum, go apply to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's Homeschool Review Crew. The application is open.  Be sure to tell them I sent you!

If you think you would be interested, but think your blog isn't "big" enough or "good" enough, give it a shot anyway. I was pleasantly surprised and honored when, in 2014, I was accepted and got to work with so many bloggers I had already heard of and I "met" so many more from all over the world. It's a fantastic family of supportive bloggers.  I was just as welcome on the crew as the "big bloggers."
I bigfatpuffyheart The Crew!  I spent two amazing years with the crew in 2014 and 2016.  You might review books (for mom, kids, or school), manipulatives, online courses (math, LA, history, or foreign language), games, audio dramas, DVDs, products for your home, things for special needs kiddos, and more.  The 2017 Homeschool Review Crew is filling up so many review spots with *amazing* vendors that they need more bloggers to play with, I mean "evaluate," the products.

Reviewing for The Crew takes commitment and it *is* work, but it's some of the most fun work ever. You're doing what you'd be doing anyway, educating your children. I wrote 38 reviews in 2014, I think.  In 2016, I had 40 reviews assigned.  There were 74 products on the vendor list for this year alone!  On average, bloggers write three reviews each month.  Some of the other requirements follow.
  • Your blog needs to be active - at least one non-sponsored post up every week on any family friendly topic.
  • You will need to actually *use* the products. The expectations are very clearly spelled out before you even apply for each product.
  • There are requirements for each actual review.  You won't be told what to write, but there is a word count requirement as well as a few other details specific to The Crew.
  • There is a strict deadline you will need to meet.  Most items are in your hands about six weeks before a review is due.
  • You will choose one (or more) form of social media on which to promote each of your reviews.
  • And the fun part, visit the top secret Crew forum regularly for updates.

Check out this Crew post for all the information you need.  I would be happy to answer any questions you have.

See my end of year round up of our favorite absolute favorite reviews from 2014.

Oct 20, 2016

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury A Homeschool Crew Review

Todd Wilson might be a familiar name to you.  He's written books about homeschooling for years, as well as being a cartoonist, blogger, speaker, and dad.  I own several of his books for homeschool moms.  I appreciate his humor and I admit I'm partial to the homeschooling cartoon about "Jodi" dreaming about putting her kids on the bus.  *ahem*

Todd Wilson, also known as The Familyman, has written eight Christmas stories to enhance your family time this year.  Six of the audios are included in The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection which is available on CDs or as MP3 digital downloads.  While the stories are not rewrites of events from Bible times, all of the stories are Biblically based.  Mr. Wilson wanted the Christmas books he read with his children to point them to Jesus.  He wanted them to be *about* CHRISTmas.  He has succeeded in that and included liberal use of The Familyman's humor.  These audio books are read by Jim Hodges.

Six books are in The Familyman's Christmas Treasury.

  • Captain Chaos and The Manger Blaster - Jason thinks he can tell a better Christmas story than the boring one about a baby in a manger.  He says some harsh words he probably really didn't mean.  That evening, after being sent to his room, Captain Chaos appears and blasts the manger off the face of the earth!  With the manger eradicated, what happens to Christmas?  More importantly, how can anyone get to heaven?  No one is kidding with Jason.  It's against regulations.
  • Cootie McKay's Nativity - I think this one is my absolute favorite!  When old Mrs. Nichols smashes the town nativity with her car, Dad asks Cootie McKay to make a new one by next Thanksgiving.  Trouble is, Cootie McKay doesn't even know who Jesus is!  As the year unfolds, Cootie not only reads about Jesus' birth, but his teachings, his death, and his resurrection.  Jesus is alive!  Cootie works for months on the new nativity.  No one even gets a glimpse of it.  Then one morning, Dad starts getting phone calls...
  • The Stranger - The year of the Big Snow, a stranger came to town.  His visit made everyone nervous.  Except for Sam and his family, the whole church had been visited by the stranger in the week leading up to Christmas.  Then, on Christmas Eve, the stranger visits Sam's family.  Who *is* this scraggly visitor named Jesse?  Why is he visiting everyone in the church?  And where did he go when he left Sam's house?  This story is Merrick's favorite.
  • The Bishop's Dream - The bishop is a modest man who loves and tends to the very poorest souls in Myra.  He is brought into modern day at Christmas time and is shocked to discover that "Santa Claus" has become more loved than Jesus.  The bishop's name is Nicholas. 
  • Harold Grubbs and the Christmas Vest - Isaac's dad has a very special Christmas vest.  How did he get it from the meanest man in town?  What secrets are kept in the pockets?
  • and Gladys Remembers Christmas - Gladys hated Christmas almost as much as she hated her name.  UGH!  This one brings me close to tears!  Gladys' mother died when she was young.  Her father took care of her and her brothers, but she never really felt loved.  Now she is all grown up and her father has gone to a nursing home.  While getting something from the house for her father, she is visited by her mother (Don't worry, it isn't a ghost story!).  Gladys begins to remember a childhood Christmas with her mother who tells her she is loved by her parents, but even more by Jesus.  I think this one is so moving because I can't help but think about the poor little girl who grew up feeling so unloved.
There are two other stories available.
  • It's Called Christmas - We've received a message from the future.  Everyone *then* is having a "happy holiday" until the man at the mall starts covertly mentioning Christmas.  No one knows what Christmas is, not even Maxine, the computer that knows everything you might possibly ask it.  Soon a few people are clandestinely gathering together in a home and reading from Mr. Z's little book.  Then, one day Mr. Z disappears.  This story was full of intrigue and the boys liked it.  After, Xav had questions about Mr. Z's disappearance that I just couldn't answer, though.  I'm just going to pretend he went underground, and continued spreading the news of Christmas.
  • The Secret of the Snow Village - Grandma's snow village beckons.  What secrets can the people of the village reveal to those who are willing to listen?  Katherine and her cousins are visiting Grandma.  She just can't stop staring at the little village and its inhabitants.  Was it all a dream?  Regardless, Katherine has a message to share.

I loaded the Christmas Treasury right to my phone.  I had planned to use them in the car, but you'd be surprised how often I get asked to start up a story while we're sitting at home.  The boys are so still and quiet while they listen again and again.  When one story ends, they call out which they want to hear next.  After two or three, I have to say that's enough for now!  They could listen to them half the day!

Each recording is approximately 20 minutes long and of a high quality.  If your family enjoys Christian audio books, they are sure to love The Familyman's Christmas Treasury.  Purchase the six digital downloads or all eight Christmas story books in The Familyman store.

We've been enjoying these Christmas stories for weeks already and I'm pretty sure we'll be listening for years to come.  I'm not kidding.  I never kid.  It's against regulations.  *wink*

Find Todd Wilson, The Familyman on social media.


The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Oct 14, 2016

Autumn Fun at the Corn Maze ~ Field Trip Friday

Crunchy leaves, cool air, pumpkins, and corn mazes.  How about apples and cider donuts?  Fall is a favorite season.

We had a gorgeous day for a corn maze and some outdoor fun with our co-op friends. Some folks went pumpkin picking in the morning, but Grandma and Poppa of the Forest had already brought our pumpkins and mums to us on a visit.

We met everyone at the pavilion at the market and had lunch together.  The kids barely ate because the playground was so much fun.

Besides the usual slides and climbing things, they had a wooden mini tractor and wagon.  That novelty was a seriously big hit.  Mal climbed inside the tractor and pretended to be the engine.  Some of the little kids thought that was pretty cool.

The corn maze had stations that you had to find to punch your cards.  We were given two different kinds of cards.  They served different purposes, but both were great.  One had the actual maze on it, with the actual punch locations marked, which *may* have been cheating but was fun to try to follow.  The other card was a mystery to solve.  Boots the dog was taken from the farm by monsters.  You saw the clue at each punch and punched the monster and its hiding place on your card.  At the end, whatever was left was the monster who had taken Boots and where Boots was hidden.

Oct 12, 2016

MyFreezEasy A Homeschool Crew Review

This post contains affiliate links.

MyFreezEasy was developed by Erin Chase of $5 Dinners.  I've been following her off and on for several years.  Micah has wanted me to get involved in freezer cooking and meal planning for a long time.  I've tried a few times, but I am way too slow and busy to do one of those marathon cooking sessions that leaves you with a month of meals in the freezer, but takes all day long.  With Freezer Meal Plan Membership I can have ten meals in the freezer in a couple of hours. 

Premium membership allows access to all eight meal plans each month.  By making two full meals of each of the five recipes, I'm able to fill up my freezer in a very short time.  I can also swap out any meals from a growing database of archived meals.  Many of the recipes are or can be made dairy or gluten free.  In fact, one of the meal plans is all gluten free meals.  The eight plans available are
  • traditional,
  • gluten free,
  • all pork,
  • all chicken,
  • all ground beef,
  • clean eats,
  • slow cooker, 
  • and the 20 meals plan.

The 20 meals plan is just what you'd imagine.  You still make two of each meal, but it includes ten recipes.  The all meat plans are exactly that.  Purchase whichever meats are on sale and save money on your grocery budget.  I've shopped several times for meals since joining MyFreezEasy, and sometimes it feels like I've over spent.  I never exceeded my budget for the month and still have many, many more meals put away.  It definitely has brought value to my shopping.

After selecting my meals, or just downloading one of the plans with no alterations, I now have a document which includes complete recipes for preparing a meal for that night or for freezing all the meals, shopping lists arranged by store location (dairy, meat, produce, etc) or by recipe.  The list even includes the type of containers needed to store the meals in the freezer.  I also can quickly locate sheets that tell me what to set aside for each recipe on prep day.  On prep day, there is another sheet that tells me what to cook, chop, or open before meal assembly.  The last page(s) have each meal laid out with exactly what goes in the freezer bags or foil pans for each individual meal.

All of these instructions are for making two meals of four servings each.  Serving quantities can be adjusted before you download the paperwork.  I actually leave the servings at four, but divide the meals in half, or less often, thirds.  That way I still have the quantities on my shopping list for 8 servings, but I'm putting smaller amounts into each container and I end up with even more meals in the freezer.  Even with putting the equivalent of two servings in each bag or pan, we've found it is more than enough for the two of us for dinner and someone inevitably gets a lunch out of it.

The grocery list is very handy, as long as you don't print it and leave it on the table when you head to the store.  Not that I ever did that!

Some meals are as simple and fast as throwing a few things together; a can of this, a bag of frozen something, and jar of another thing, and throw some cheese on top.  Some recipes require more involved cooking.  All of them have been delicious.  If you have a little one who can use a can opener or shred cheese for you, MyFreezEasy is a great way to spend quality time in the kitchen as well as get some meals in the freezer.  I received compliments on every meal I've made, whether it was just Micah, family we've had over, or meals we've passed on to others.

Left: Enchiladas before cooking. Right: Black bean chili with corn muffins.
I made a few newbie errors the first time I used MyFreezEasyI ended up spending about two and a half hours on a plan I created.  I am meticulous anyway, so that makes me slow. Then I was intentionally using smaller pans for more, small meals. So rather than half in here and half in there, I was weighing every ingredient and pulling out the calculator. Also, because four of the meals were basically hamburger and onions, I cooked EIGHT pounds in a big pan. So then I had to figure the weight of the meat after cooking per recipe to divide into various sized containers. Some meals I made for a friend and some for us. Her meals were bigger than mine because she has a larger family. I was ridiculous about it.

I want to stick to a meal plan that Erin has created, following it exactly, and then the video will coincide with exactly what I'm cooking. I swear I have never used so much pseudo-algebra in my kitchen before!  The other times I've cooked using MyFreezEasy, I reeled myself in a bit and it was much smoother.  Definitely sticking with wholes or halves and not getting all worked up about being so precise!

Things I would like to see on MyFreezEasy:
  1. Nutrition information.  This one could be trickier because everyone is going to actually put together some recipes a bit differently. 
  2. Some "lighter" options, or at least mark any recipes that could be considered lighter.  I don't do "diet foods" because I prefer food that tastes good.  I rarely substitute light, low fat, or reduced calorie items.  So, I'd really appreciate knowing up front if a meal is a bit healthier than others. 
I did have two missing ingredients on one of the customized meal plans when I sorted the shopping list by store section.

The recipes I made included
  • Chicken and Ranch Macaroni - I do not normally put a crumb topping on pasta.  I've just never really cared for it, but this dish was so good and the topping was really lovely.  I didn't actually have a packet of ranch dressing, so I used a bit of Buffalo Chicken and Bleu Cheese dip mix.
  • Five Ingredient Chili - I never actually got to try this one because I passed it on to friends.
  • Bacon and Bleu Cheeseburgers in lettuce wraps - These were amazing in a lettuce wrap or hamburger buns.  The recipe called for serving the burgers with bleu cheese crumbles, but I realized I would need to buy a container of the crumbles each time I served them... and I *may* have made 14 - 1/4 pound burgers!  So I actually put the bleu cheese inside the hamburgers as I made them.  I just formed them like a bowl and wrapped them around the cheese.  Now I only need to make sure I have rolls or lettuce when I want to serve them and I don't have crumbles going to waste in the back of the fridge.
  • Lazy Lasagna Bake - While this could use a bit more sauce, it wasn't dry.  The flavor was so good!  I had never used cottage cheese in lasagna, so I used half cottage cheese and half ricotta.
  • Beef and Black Bean Chili - I added a cup of water because my slow cooker gets pretty hot.
  • Ravioli Bake - Another hit, and the kids even tried this one.  WIN!
  • Black Bean and Corn Enchiladas - This meal was absolutely gorgeous in the bowl and I couldn't resist taking a photo of it which disappeared along with Xavier's first day on the bus photos, somewhere in cyberland.  Just imagine a big white bowl full of black beans, corn, red peppers, green chiles...  It was *very* tasty.
As I made up my list, I kept wanting to write, "This was a favorite," but I would have typed that almost every single time.  I love trying new recipes, but I'm always leery of duds.  This recipes are tested by Erin in her own home and if they aren't great, they don't make it onto MyFreezEasy.

I loved
  • Being able to adjust servings for a recipe. 
  • Having a downloadable/printable grocery list.
  • Seeing videos that walk me through meal prep for the Traditional Meal Plan each month.
  • Chatting with other meal prep women in the Facebook group.
  • Being able to pull a meal out of the freezer or throw an extra together to bless a friend.
  • Removing the freezer fillers (old milk jugs filled with ice) one by one as the space was filled with food.
I got so excited each time I pulled out a jug of ice to make room for ready-made meals.

There's a video near the bottom of the FAQ Page you might like to see.

I hope you know by now that if I rave about something, it's because I *really* like it.  And. yes.  I'm definitely enjoying the satisfaction of having meals put away for us.  I enjoy cooking, but making the same stuff all the time had gotten old.  (I still prepare all the kids' favorites, regularly), but Micah and I get to enjoy something new with a lot of variety.  I can see this becoming a long term way of cooking regularly.  MyFreezEasy has been convenient (now that I have my "meticulous gene" under control!) and a money saver.

There are both monthly and annual memberships.  Make a selection and get started putting up food for those busy days where everyone has appointments and you won't be home to prepare dinner.  You'll save money by not getting take out.  Again.  And the meals are healthier.  You know exactly what's in them because you made them.  Spend the time in the kitchen making memories with your helpers.

Find Erin, FreezEasy, MyFreezEasy, and $5 Dinners on social media.
Pinterest Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}

Crew Disclaimer

Oct 6, 2016

If You Were Me and Lived in... History Books Homeschool Crew Review

The boys have become obsessed about time travel of late, thanks to Back to the Future.  Recently, we were able to do a bit of time travel of our own thanks to the If You Were Me and Lived in... history series.  We didn't need a fast car for our trips, just the books Brought to you by Carole P. Roman and

The four paperback books we received are

The If You Were Me and Lived in... series answers pretty much any question you could think of for each time and place in history.  I could not think of a single thing I wondered about any of these places that wasn't answered in each one of the books.  Many details weren't even things I had wondered much about, so it was neat to find out all of those details.  One of the first things in each book is a comparison of the modern day location to the time period covered in the text.  Students learn about popular names for boys and girls in the time, what they would have eaten, what their home life looked like, and how the children were educated, as well as many other topics.

I really liked how each book was told mostly about a particular child that you meet at the beginning.  "Your name could have been Clarence or Ethan if you were a boy.  Your parents could have picked Lucy or Minerva for your sister's name."  From that point on, the book is specifically about this boy and his family.  Two of the books were given a sort of "if you were this boy" feel and the other two I received featured a girl.  All the books talk about the lives of boys and girls in each location, usually as siblings.

Another nice feature of this series is the inclusion of a sort of phonetic spelling of some of the more unusual words.  "Athena (A-thee-na) was the goddess of courage and wisdom." and "Over that was a linen tunic (too-nick) that fell to his knees."  We still have some guys who struggle with sounding out some words, so this was really handy.

Ancient Greece - 54 pages, illustrated by Mateya Arkova
In addition to all the parts that are included in all the books, Ancient Greece ends with a list of Greek gods and goddesses and then a glossary of words and names from the book.
  • Back to Homeschool Resource Award winner
  • Summer 2016 NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Award Winner - Best Book in the Category of "Children's History"
Renaissance Italy - 54 pages, illustrations by Silvia Brunetti
This volume has a nice added segment about the importance of Renaissance art in addition to a list of famous people from the time period.  This list includes a paragraph and photograph covering some artists, scientists, and noble people who strongly influenced the era.  It concludes with a glossary with pronunciations and definitions of words used in the book.
  • Back to Homeschool Resource Award winner
  • IAN Book of the Year Awards 2016 - "Children's Non-Fiction" Finalist
  • IAN Book of the Year Awards 2016 - Outstanding "Children's Non-Fiction"  Winner
The Middle Ages - 97 pages, also illustrated by Mateya Arkova
Another list of famous people is included, followed by the glossary.  There are a lot of years to cover in the middle ages, so I'm guessing that's why this particular book is so much longer than the others.  Merrick especially enjoyed looking through this book.  He would look at the pictures and tell me stories about the people in them.  Mateya's illustrations (here and in Ancient Greece) are a little more vague and dreamy than some of the others and Merrick seemed to really be drawn to that.

  • Back to Homeschool Resource Award winner
The American West - 54 pages, illustrated by Paula Tabor
Everyone from Sacajawea to Annie Oakley and Geronimo to Wyatt Earp are covered in the Famous People section.  Mal and Xav thought it was hilarious that the sister's job on the trail included picking up buffalo "chips" for the fire to cook the evening meal.  If you aren't sure what they are, consider yourself lucky!

  • Back to Homeschool Resource Award winner
  • Summer 2016 NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Award Winner - Best Book in the Category of "Children's American History"
A nice bonus for these books is included on Carole's blog.  Most of the books in this series have a set of questions for discussion and even writing prompts for deeper thinking.  I found these very helpful on the second read through of the books. 

Other If You Were Me and Lived in... history books include titles about Elizabethan England, Colonial America, Ancient China, and Viking Europe.  I'm really interested in getting the rest of these books!

Carole P. Roman has authored more than 35 children's books and series which include
  • If You Were Me and Lived in... (cultural studies series)
  • Captain No Beard (pirate tales)
  • Rocket-Bye
  • Can a Princess Be a Firefighter?
Carole's books have, collectively, won over 100 awards.  She started writing on a dare and began the Captain No Beard series, in which the captain and his crew learn to navigate relationship issues like patience and bullying. 

You can find Carole P. Roman on social media.
Good Reads 

The rest of the Crew read some of the other books in this series.  You can check them out through the button below.

If You Were Me and Lived in ... {by Carole P. Roman and}

Crew Disclaimer

Oct 1, 2016

My Journey ~ Weight Loss September 2016

I was sick for a weigh in this month.  That stunk.  I ended up not knowing my final September weight was.  I did get one of the charms for my key ring that I was waiting for.  10% y'all!  That's pretty neat.

Some people have asked what new things I tried each week for the Weight Watchers Try-A-Thon.
The foods included moussaka and spanakopita (both of which I bought at the farmer's market) and squash.  Activities I tried were hula hooping (which I've learned to do just in the last year, but hadn't done in a while) and canoeing across a lake with a boat full of kids and one of the co-op dads.  The canoeing was actually terrifying.  Lakes are yucky.  Rivers are yucky.  Ponds are yucky.  The ocean is probably yucky.  Pools.  I like pools.  But I pulled off the canoeing without terrifying kiddos with my own fears and without dumping anyone.