Cutest Blog and Widdlytink

My Stick Family from

May 30, 2017

Heather Haupt ~ Author Interview

It has been a real pleasure to read Heather Haupt's book Knights in Training: Ten Principles for Raising Honorable, Courageous, and Compassionate Boys.  I'll be telling you all about it this week, as well as all the ideas I have swimming around in my head for training my own valiant knights!  In the meantime, I thought you'd like to learn a bit about Heather and what inspired her to write this wonderful book.
What inspired you to write Knights in Training?
Coming up with the idea for knight training was birthed out of a desire to be intentional in raising my boys. When I saw that their love for everything battle meshed well with my discover that chivalry was far more than how a man treats a woman. I knew I wanted to embark on a season of knight training and pursuing living by this code that for the knight’s of old was an entire way of living. Little did I realize that embarking on this initial season of knight training would alter the way we viewed our role as parents and forever shape the way my boys viewed these years of childhood. I wrote the book to really flesh out what it can look like to celebrate boys for who they are and cast a vision for a life of adventure embodying the spirit of a modern-day knight. Boys are getting a bad rap these days. Part of that stems from how we approach educating boys as well as a lack of understanding and appreciation for what makes them unique. Our world needs good men and my aim with this book is to strengthen the resolve and equip parents to reach their boys by appreciating who they are and how they are wired as well as inspire them to become the men they are meant to become.
What was your main goal in writing Knights in Training?
I wrote Knights in Training to help parents tap into the heart of their boys and utilize a boy’s inner dreams and drives to propel them into a future of meaning and purpose. We all love our kids and want to be purposeful during this season of childhood – enjoying the little moments as well as preparing them to succeed in life, but sometimes in the busyness of life we lose sight of HOW to make that happen. My goal here is to provide a common language and a roadmap for this exciting journey of boyhood so that one boy and one family at a time, we can restore civility and courageous compassion to our communities. 
Which part of researching Knights in Training was the most personally interesting to you?
I’m a history buff, so delving into some of the primary documents and really discovering how this idea of chivalry took shape and force during the middle ages was fascinating to me. Delving into the past also reminded me that there is nothing new under the sun. We see the same challenges with human nature, our bent to wander from the Lord, from the right path as well as the importance of inspiration and ideals in captivating our imagination and calling us back to the way we ought to go. When we step into the past, we discover that young men in the middle ages struggled with choosing the easy path, that younger sons in the nobility lost sight of their purpose and meaning and were tempted to take the easy path of living a life of listlessness and apathy and yet how deep down they all wanted to find purpose and meaning. 
Is there anything you found particularly challenging about writing this book? 
The entire process… It was a daily mental challenge to stay the course, to pray through my doubts, and hold strong. There is so much that burned inside of me to share and figuring out the most effective way to communicate that was a challenge. I walked a lot during the writing phase to wrestle through how to effectively convey everything that I wanted to include in the book.

Did you always have a talent for writing, or is it something you wanted and needed to work hard to achieve?
“Writer” was not on my short list of things I wanted to do with my life. I write not because I love writing, but because I have important things that burn deep in my heart and mind that simply must be written. Childhood is fleeting and I write to remind parents to make the most of this short yet full season. As parents, we have a profound opportunity to shape the culture of our home and inspire our children to embrace important values that will serve them for the rest of their lives!  
Writing does not come easy to me. I never dreamed of being a writer as a child. In fact, I hated writing growing up, but my mom refused to give up on me. She kept pushing me and finding new and creative ways to try to get me to write. While the actual process of writing was painful, I have always had a heart to communicate and weave an engaging story. I was just a late bloomer and having that love for storytelling and communicating meld with the act of writing did not take place until my college years. And then my mom and I marveled when I wrote for a living before having children. I’ve found that I can never write just to write. I must be really passionate about what I am communicating. Once I’ve tapped into passion and purpose, I’m set. Maybe that is why it is so important to me that I connect my kids to their own passions and purpose in life!
What are you reading right now? What authors (living or dead) have influenced you most?  
As a family, we recently listened to the entire unabridged Chronicles of Narnia. I was blown away anew about the power of narrative to communicate important messages, to inspire our moral imagination and bring out the desire to live full out for everything God has for us. So yes, I’m a C.S. Lewis fan. I also love reading science related books. Dr. Leonard Sax has written so much on gender and boys specifically. His writing has really helped me embrace everything that makes my boys uniquely boy!
What writer(s) have had the greatest influence on you?
I love to read many different genre’s and types of books. So here is an eclectic list of three authors who have influenced my writing and appreciation for life. 
  • CS Lewis – I love how C.S. Lewis uses the magic of story to communicate profound truths in a way that inspires others to embrace these truths without even realizing it. Story is powerful and through literature we can change the world.
  • Ann Voskamp – While we have very different writing styles, I love how she weaves word and inspires others to make a difference in their homes, in their community and in the world. Her writing has given a voice to my longing to live a transparent and consistent life in front of my children and my community that reflects my core beliefs and values.
  • Leonard Sax – While I love to be inspired, I also want to know the facts. What does the research say and how can I think rationally about how to live my life. Dr. Leonard Sax’s writings have met that need to think about things rationally and changed the way I view and appreciate my boys.
What was your favorite book as a child?  
The Tripod Trilogy by John Christopher. I love books about fighting impossible odds against impossible foes because they convey that ordinary people have profound purpose and need to rise to the call when the situation arises. The Tripod Trilogy had that in spades. It is a book set in a futuristic setting where “tripods” have come to rule and humanity is decimated. To keep people docile, they are capped at 13 to prevent them from thinking for themselves. This trilogy follows several kids as they flee the impending capping ceremony and find themselves caught up in a fight to free humanity from world-wide slavery. As a kid, I was inspired to think for myself and be ready to right for all that was good, right, and true.
How did you get your start in writing/getting published?
It started with blogging. I cringe when I look back at my first blog posts. You really do improve the more you write and I’m grateful for the years of tapping out blog posts and delving into writing about things I was passionate about and looking for ways to winsomely communicate my perspectives on parenting and child development.
My first book was birthed out of a blog post on how movement wires the brain to learn and the importance of taking brain breaks. I went the self-publishing route with that, starting with an ebook and then taking it to print myself. During this season, I started writing more for magazines as opportunities cropped up.
Then my health collapsed and I did little else aside from being a wife, mom and home educator (which in itself is a very full life), until God revealed that He had other plans for our family in this new book, Knights in Training.
This book was birthed from a blogpost that I wrote in the Spring of 2011. We were delving into the middle ages and I figured we’d delve into chivalry too. When I discovered that chivalry was more than merely how a man treats a woman, but was rather an entire code of conduct, a way of living – I was inspired to delve into the character development aspects that “knight training” could afford. I printed off these 10 aspects from the code of chivalry in a cool font and decided to blog about our adventure and provide a free printable for any other parents that wanted to delve into knight training too.
A reporter from the New York Times contacted me. She was writing an article on teaching manners and wanted to interview me about that post I had written years earlier on our chivalry challenge. I’ve done my share of media interviews, so I didn’t really think much about it. The day before we left for Arizona for the holidays, the reporter emailed me to inform me the article was live online that day and would come out in print the following day in the Times. When I hopped online to read the article, I noticed the hyperlink to my blog and frantically set about to freshen up that old blog post so people coming over could find it. I flung it out there the following morning before grabbing my keys and setting off on our 15 hour drive to AZ.
Like any blogger, I enjoyed my 15 minutes of “fame” as traffic exploded for a few days and then forgot about it as we enjoyed time with family and friends until a few days later when I received a strange email in my inbox. Long story, short – an editor from Penguin Random House reached out to me about writing a book. After prayer, my family and I decided to make the leap, as my mind swirled with the possibilities and the vision for the book really took root! So all in a year’s time, I found a wonderful book agent, wrote my first book proposal, finished up our homeschool “year” and speaking commitments before settling down that summer to write in the margins of life.
Knights in Training was birthed out of that effort!

What else do you want readers to know? Consider your likes and dislikes, interests and hobbies, your favorite ways to relax — whatever comes to mind.
I love watching kids at play. It fascinates and delights me at a very deep level. I’m always in awe at how they work out the process of growing up, of being brave, and of becoming through their pretend play. I love to unwind by taking hikes with my family and sitting back and watching them. My favorite time of year is when we all escape to a cabin for a week to play games, explore, unplug and reconnect as a family! In a constantly plugged in world, I love these opportunities to step away from the craziness and just ‘be’ with the people I love most.
Thank you so much, Heather, for writing Knights in Training and inspiring me.

Heather Haupt is the mother of three knights-in-training and a spunky little princess. She wants to be intentional during these years of parenting and raise children who will make a difference in this world. Heather is an educator, writer, and popular speaker. Recognizing the brevity of childhood and the power of a parent’s influence, she encourages and equips parents towards intentional parenting, pursuing God, and delighting in the adventure of learning. She is the author of Knights-in-Training: Ten Principles for Raising Honorable, Courageous, and Compassionate Boys as well as The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks. She writes at

May 27, 2017

S is for Sabotage

By the time this post is published, it will be months later.  But I want to talk about how we sabotage ourselves.

You all know about my weight loss journey.  My ups, my downs, my stagnated progress.  Sometimes, a small gain just happens even when you're working really hard and other times, you step on the scale at a meeting and, well, you just know.  You know exactly what you did to yourself this week.  You can say, "It's swelling." or "I don't know what happened." or "It must be muscle gain."  But, girl, you *know*.  You can lie to the app and your friend, but you *cannot* lie to yourself.

The scale at my meeting is consistently about 4 pounds higher than at home.  It stinks, but it's a fact.  So, one week, I was almost in *Onederland* at home and I knew, that week I'd be hitting it.  In fact, the day after weigh in I weighed in at 199.8!  It had been a good 3 years, maybe more since I was under 200.  I was pretty excited.  And then I spent the *entire* week stuffing my face.  It was horrific.  I couldn't stop.  I didn't *want* to stop, even though I knew I was going to be so angry at myself all week.  And I would seriously kick myself on Saturday.

My heart hurts for the girl who sometimes hates herself so much that she sabotages her health and happiness like this.  I'm hoping when this posts, it will be such a long ago bunch of silliness.  I hope I will be able to say I didn't do this again.  Hopefully.

Don't hurt yourselves.  Love yourselves.

A Net In Time Schooling

May 24, 2017

Thin Stix ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

The Pencil Grip, Inc. has been a favorite vendor of this family since we reviewed their original Kwik Stix last year.  In fact, I gave them a Redhanded Homeschool High Five, we had that much fun with them!  After that review, I purchased a pack of the Kwik Stix Metalix.  Those are especially fun because they give projects a bit of sparkle.  Today, I'm going to tell you about Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors.

Thin Stix by KwikStix

Thin Stix, and their brother Kwik Stix, are non-toxic tempera paint sticks that look and work exactly like a glue stick.  You pop off the cap, twist the stix up to use it and twist it back down and cap it to store it.  The Thin Stix also have a clip, like a pen does, on the cap.  Thin Stix come in both a six pack and a 12 pack, metalix and neon six packs, and a pack of 24 which includes the colors from a 12 pack plus the metalix and neon.  The six pack of classic colors contains red, yellow, green, blue, black, and brown.

The Thin Stix arrived right before we headed to Tae Kwon Do one day, so I brought them in with me to look over.  Luckily, they came with a flyer in the box, because Merrick wanted to get started right away.  It was the only paper I had with me, surprisingly.  He was busy all through TKD and even finished up when we got home.  Kid art supplies that don't make a mess and are easy to carry around with us is a real bonus on the days we are in the car a lot.

We made some signage for our trip to the Cog Railway in NH earlier this week.  The Thin Stix were nice for writing and making more detailed drawings than we are used to with the Kwik Stix.  I make signs with them all the time.  Like when we had to replace one of the signs we hold when we cheer for Dad at a race.  I write them, the boys decorate them, and then they get laminated so rain and dirty paws don't ruin them.

I picked up this cool bin a few weeks ago, and as plans for our trip to the Cog Railway progressed, I threw in our original Kwik Stix, the Kwik Stix Metalix, and the new Thin Stix.  Then I added a decent pad of heavyweight art paper.  I think the medium weight would have been fine since the stix are mess free.  The lid acted as a writing desk and everything was neatly contained.  Well, until someone dumped the whole tray in the back and by the time I found out about it, they had rolled all over the back two rows of the van.

The bin also came in handy while we were preparing to leave the hotel.  Some of the boys' buddies dropped in and I kept them busy painting with our stash.

You can see some of the other ways we thoroughly tested out Kwik Stix original, too.  We used cardboard, dark and light construction paper, wood, and canvas fabric.  This time, I tried my hand at an art canvas.  It's sort of Starry Night-like.  It was fun to try this new (to me) art technique with the various Stix.  I did use Kwik Stix (for orange and white) and a couple of Metalix, too.  I'm probably going to have to invest in a 12 pack of Thin Stix since we really did miss the orange and white in several projects.

The Stix do take longer than 90 seconds to dry, but I'd say only 2 to 4 minutes, depending on coverage.  We seem to lay it on pretty thick.  It's still way faster and neater than actual tempera paints.  If you let the paint dry thoroughly, there is no problem at all with layering colors without mixing them or getting them on each other. 

The Pencil Grip, Inc. also sells school and office supplies, the best pencil grips (we love them here!), and cool fidgets that I plan on ordering soon, too.  They look really fun and I think will help my wiggly boys.  There's a page of free informational PDFs about the Pencil Grip on their website.

The Pencil Grip, Inc

Thin Stix, Kwik Stix, Metalix, and neons are available at retailers like Amazon and Toys R Us.

Find The Pencil Grip, Inc. on social media.

No Mess Art with Thin Stix Classic Colors {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

May 18, 2017

Q is for beQueathing a Legacy

Here we are blogging through the alphabet.  Q is late.  So are a few other letters.  I told you, sometimes the letters are easy, sometimes not so much.  Q was not easy until this week.  Well, with a bit of cheating, Q was easy this week.

This week, my grandma died.  The last of my grandparents.  She has been ailing for a long time.  Had she lived just another month, she would have been NINETY-SEVEN years old.  Someone told me to "cherish the memories" I have of her.  I can't help but juxtapose my memories of this grandma against my memories of my other grandma.  Every person is different and shows love in different ways.  My grandmas were night and day.  One loved to spend time with the grandkids, the other barely seemed to notice us.

When I look back, the one thing I know is that one loved me as much as any human could love another.   And I do not have any idea if the other grandmother had any strong feelings for me one way or the other.

To beQueath something is to pass something from one person to another (generally by a will).

A legacy is a gift left via a will, an inheritance or birthright.

I cannot think of a better gift to leave to your family than for them to know how very much you love them. 

If you think there is any question in the minds of your children or grandchildren that you love them, please take the time to build those relationships.  Don't leave them wondering if, or flat out doubting that, you have real feelings for them.  My boys are so blessed.  They have three sets of grandparents who talk to them and play with them.  We don't see them all the time because of distance, but the time spent is usually pretty high quality.  I don't think a single one of the punks will ever think that they weren't loved by their grandparents.

A Net In Time Schooling

May 17, 2017

Captain Absolutely ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

What is worldview? defines it as "a comprehensive conception or image of the universe and of humanity's relation to it."  The Bible makes it clear what a Christian's worldview should be.  Love.  This was so important, that Matthew, Mark, and Luke each told us in their book "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."  Focus On The Family has been sharing that message with families and children for decades.  Children have loved Adventures in Odyssey and Clubhouse magazines and now they can read a brand new adventure featuring Captain Absolutely, a character from AIO.  In fact, I had Xav listen to a few of those audios before we received the book Captain Absolutely: Defending Truth, Justice, and Lots More Truuuth by Focus on the Family, Stephen O'Rear, and Christopher P.N. Maselli.  He was definitely excited to read more adventures.

Captain Absolutely defends Metropolitanville, a city without a sense of right or wrong, against The Legion (for they are many) while spreading God's Truth.  Many battles are fought throughout the comic book and some references are made to AIO episodes where other adventures took place.  The Captain's alter ego is a young librarian named Josiah King.  Choosing that name for this character was no accident.  He is named for a real Bible hero, the young king, Josiah (from 2 Kings), who "champions God's Truth" through all his kingdom.

The Captain's nemeses in the Legion each represent a worldview that is in conflict with a Biblical worldview and do not believe in God's absolute truth.  They are convinced that their beliefs are better and preferable to the truths of the Bible.  Dr. Relative believes in a changing truth that morphs as circumstances change.  He developed this worldview in the same accident that created Captain Absolutely, but instead of landing in the Bible section of the library they worked together, he landed in the philosophy section.  The Unifier thinks his way is the only way.  Cap'n Crastin says that life is hard and people should just relax.  And watch the shows on his network.

Not everyone is evil.  Some people are just misguided.  Take Sloppy Joe, for instance.  He's *trying* to do the right thing.  He just might not know exactly what is right.  Anita Lin just thinks Christianity is too dangerous for her daughter.  And not everyone stays evil.  Why, Lord Foulspleen (from AIO episode "Push the Red Button") is now making the most of his second chance.  Each of the villains represent people and beliefs that we all run into in this world.  The trick is to separate those beliefs from God's ultimate truth.

This is not your mama's comic book.  When I was a kid, they were pretty boring by today's standards.  The paper was thin and the color was wanting.  Captain Absolutely is a bound book of over 100 brightly colored, glossy pages.   The boys were waiting anxiously to receive this new graphic novel.  Xav read it the very first evening we had it and has read it over multiple times in the last couple of weeks.  Mal read it once and now prefers to turn to his favorite pages and read the action over again.

Focus On The Family

Xav had this to say.
It was exciting.  In it, there's a bad guy called Dr. Relative.  He likes sunflower seeds.  And there's the Fear Chemist guy and a bunch of other villains.  Fear Chemist thinks fear will make him powerful.  All the bad guys are called the Legion.  The Legion tries a bunch of stuff to take over the city and turn the world against God.  Thanks to something one of the bad guys of the Legion (Unifier) can move stuff around in his mind and accidentally squished Captain Absolutely's secret hideout.  He thought he was doing good things by bringing hospitals to where the sick and injured people are.  I liked the book and I like Adventures in Odyssey where I first heard of Captain Absolutely.  My favorite thing was the back of the book which told the characters worldview.  Captain Absolutely's biggest problem was paper cuts because he reads a lot of books.  All in all, it's a good book.

And Mal's review.

Dr. Relative, Farmer Vile, Cap'n Crastin, Fear Chemist, Baron Von Confuser, the Pajama Bandits, Unifier, and Sloppy Joe make up the Legion.  Baron Von Confuser's contraptions are a crop duster, a big, red mecha-knight, and clones of himself.  Farmer Vile has hypnotonic radishes and robot ants with mind altering rays.  Dr. Relative has a thing called a lyris.  I liked the plane scene with Baron Von Confuser, because I liked the look of his plane.  And he likes to rhyme... all the time.  "Left or right, low or high, you can't catch me, but you can try."

I like the yellow arrows throughout the book.  Most point out Bible verses and give their reference, there may be some foreshadowing, and some are there for fun (like when Josiah is fighting the vile ants, he is "looking for ant-swers").  One references a non-rhyming line of Baron Von Confuser and the arrow points it out and calls it "slant rhyme" and makes the claim that it still counts.  (I had to look it up, slant rhyme is an almost rhyme, also known as half rhyme of near rhyme.  Yeah, I never heard of it. has a bar that shows the difficulty index for slant rhyme is quite high.  That means that few English speakers likely know the words.  Well, I do now.  As a purist, I don't think I'm a fan of it.  *grin*)  But, hey, there's some new vocabulary for you.

As Xavier said in his review, there are character biographies in the back of the book.  If the character was in an AIO episode with Captain Absolutely, it is clearly marked so you can give it a listen.  As I read through the novel, I was thinking how I should start making notes and put together some sort of discussion guide for the boys.  Though the story is often quite clear, I think some of the word play and the references were abstract enough that my punks didn't pay them a lot of attention.  Then, I got to the end of the book and found Big Questions, a section devoted to discussion prompts with the pages numbers clearly marked for follow-up in the story.  It's a great starting point for just the kinds of things I had in mind.

Captain Absolutely: Defending Truth, Justice, and Lots More Truuuth! is a really fun read for any child who is a fan of Adventures in Odyssey, the Clubhouse Magazines, or graphic novels in general. 

Social Media Links:

Captain Absolutely {Focus On The Family Review}

Crew Disclaimer

May 16, 2017

Homeschool Rescue ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

It seems like most Mom Blogs lean either to the bright-and-sunny-everything-is-awesome side or, in an effort to be "real," take a darkly humorous look at the foibles of momming and the pitfalls of running our homeschools.  I look for blogs with balance to follow.  I try to be a blog with balance.  And I'm here to say, sometimes homeschooling is *hard.*  Sometimes, it's super hard and you just want to throw in the towel.  Now, there comes a time, when that is exactly what has to happen.  But more often than not, it isn't what you want, it isn't what the kids want, and it isn't what God wants.  So, what do you do when you are struggling to stay afloat?  Reassess your situation.

I am always thinking about doing just that.  I know I need some direction and support, I just am not exactly sure what to do.  I'm the kind of girl who needs a "how."  I have so many times said, "Yes, but how?" to so many people on so many topics.  I really benefit from that guidance.  And that's where Homeschool Rescue comes in.  Seems like I have been following Only Passionate Curiosity for quite some time.  Long before I was a Homeschool Crewbie.  Heather has designed an amazing online tutorial that walks me step by step through everything I need to reassess, rewrite, and revitalize our homeschool.  This course is an amazing homeschool parent resource.

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

What exactly is Homeschool Rescue?
With Homeschool Rescue, you receive *lifetime* access to
  • all of Heather's modules (that's videos, worksheets, and resource lists). - One great feature (outside of all the actual content) is that you do not have to sit and watch each video.  There are options to download the audio or the transcripts of each video's topics.
  • planners and an accountability pack for helping students learn to work independently.
  • a super exclusive Homeschool Rescue Facebook group. -  I found the group to be very helpful.  You have direct access to Heather as well as other homeschool moms who have completed the course or are working right alongside you.  Everyone is moving along at their own pace, but the topics that come up can benefit any one of us.
  • a 60 day checklist and schedule. -  But don't worry.  It is a suggested schedule that will guide you through each step.  You won't need to follow it exactly or stay at the same pace.  Some modules just might be a breeze for you, while you'll want to spend a lot longer on others.  Every homeschool is different and we all have different needs at any given time.
  • and you can even email Heather. - She is fantastic and is such a helpful soul.
The five modules are
  1. Triage Your Homeschool
  2. Time Management Systems and Organization
  3. Curriculum Planning and Organization
  4. Setting Students up for Success
  5. Teaching Older Students 
Each module consists of three, four, or five lessons.  Some of the lessons will have you creating a mission statement for your homeschool, compiling a list of ten things your child must know before he graduates, and setting up a chore system.  All very sensible assignments, with no fluff to waste your valuable time.

  1. The big screen where everything happens: Heather's video, slides, etc.
  2. Run time for the video (this won't include your homework).
  3. A synopsis of the lesson. 
  4. A link to download your audio to play on portable devices.
  5. A link to download the transcript to read on your screen or print and put in a binder.
  6. Note pages show each slide of the video lesson and have lots of room for, well, notes.
  7. This is where you find your homework and other resources Heather has put together for you.  Somethings you'll find here are books for further study, sanity savers, practical helps, and charts.
I liked to sneak off to my bedroom with my laptop and watch the videos in peace.  That worked great when Dad was home, otherwise I just watched them in my usual computery spot at the kitchen table after bedtime.  I really preferred to watch the videos over the audio, though solo trips were nice to listen to the audio in the car.

Though the videos were my preferred method to use Homeschool Rescue, I like being able to print the transcripts of each lesson and keep them in a binder with my "homework" and the schedule.  It makes me feel organized and that I actually accomplished something. 

I found a couple of things very helpful as I'm moving through the modules.  They aren't easy, but you'll get way more out of the program if you follow this advice.
  • Be completely honest with yourself.  This might make you a bit squirmy, but you can't move forward if you aren't.  No one is looking over your shoulder.  No one is grading you.  No one is going to knock on your door and demand an accounting.  Just face the facts.
  • And then, please don't beat yourself up.  Give yourself grace and do what you can to make the necessary changes.  Don't look back.  You can't change the past, but you can change course, and head for calmer seas and sunnier skies.
I remember in Module 1 Lesson 1, I may have been projecting a bit while playing the video.  In the segment on dealing with burnout, Heather said, "Take your kids to the library on a Monday..." and I thought, "... and pick them up on Friday."  Ha ha ha ha.  Hmmm....

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

Now, instead of dreaming about that big yellow bus (the Freedom Bus, as my husband calls it), I'm working hard on shaping our homeschool the way we want it to be.  I can see myself using Homeschool Rescue as a homeschool check up each spring.  Now is the time that we are worn out and so over school.  We have a bit of spring fever.  Paperwork has been submitted to the state.  We school year round, because we work best with a schedule, but we feel kind of done.  Homeschool Rescue is helping us work through all those issues and will be a wonderful guide to refresh our school each year.

My favorite Todd Wilson comic, because THIS Jodi can relate to THAT Jodi.

If you take the summer off from lessons, this is a perfect time to work through Heather's lessons.  And if you don't take off the summer, you can still take this course, it just may take you a bit longer to complete it.

Since Heather is offering a "live class," a few times a year, the course is available to purchase now through the end of May.  It will then go live for June and July.  You will want to take this course now, even if you feel like you've got this covered.  There are off days, off seasons, and off attitudes and you will never know *when they will strike*.  By working through this program now, you will have a plan in place for most of the things we get derailed or burnt out by.

This workshop is great for new homeschoolers who want to develop "the plan" now.  And it's also perfect for moms who've been pulling this gig for a number of years and either just need to freshen up a bit, or need a complete overhaul.  Homeschool dads who join will not feel out of place, the gang is there on Facebook to help every parent.

Heather is offering a FREE WORKSHOP on Wednesday, May 17 or Thursday, May18.  Just go sign up and choose your date.

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

So, to sum up my thoughts on Homeschool Rescue.
This online course walks you step by step through planning and organizing your homeschool, including making plans for days when you. just. can't. There are videos, planners, lessons to help you prioritize and focus on what you want from homeschooling for your family. When you sign up, you get lifetime access. I think that setting the whole plan up is kind of time consuming, but it's better than spending the time putting out the same fires over and over all year long. Once you complete it, it would be easy to go in and tweak it each year as the kids grow and your family's needs shift.

Find Only Passionate Curiosity on social media.

Homeschool Rescue {Only Passionate Curiosity Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

May 11, 2017

Firstborn Boy

Happy birthday, Dave!
With his brothers.
Ah, what to say to the birthday child that hasn't been said in all of these years?  I may not have the coveted "FIRST" spot to wish you a happy birthday today on The Facebook, but no one can ever beat the mama to your first ever happy birthday.

First picture.  First time dressed as an alien.  First apartment.  LOL

You are my son, my friend, my truest first love.  You're funny (though a bit dark).  You're a pretty responsible guy.  There's no one else I would have wanted to "grow up" with.  I am so proud of the man you have become.

Such a little man.  With Loki and Ti.  (Short for Titanic Turbo Killer Kitten.)

You made me a mommy the day before Mother's Day.  The most wonderful Mother's Day gift a girl can receive.

With aunts, uncle, and cousins.  Top right: check out his hair.  Bottom right: not keen on a baby cousin.

I wrote this about you on The Facebook in 2012.
On this day in 1985, at 9:29 PM, I gave birth to my first son. He had tons of black hair. Who knew that 6.5 lb bundle would so completely rock my world? We grew up together, laughed and cried together, played together. I learned about the incredible bond with and love for our children that you don't understand until you have your own child. I experienced his fears and celebrated his achievements. I wished I could be sick in his place when he was ill. I would, and sometimes did, give up anything for him. I dreamed for him. I pray for him. I love him. Happy birthday Dave! Mom

The hair.

 Happy birthday to my number one son.  I love you!

algebra for breakfast ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

I am so not an algebra person.  I always refer to it as fake math, which tends to make the algebra-minded people in my life cringe.  I guess to me, math is arithmetic.  All this algebra stuff is too abstract to me.  So, I tend to worry about teaching this kind of math to the boys and being able to explain it to them so that it makes sense (since it doesn't to me!).  So today, I'm going to tell you about Bob Hazen's Algebra for Breakfast - math enrichment program which is a monthly subscription.

Algebra for Breakfast offers two levels of instruction, one for grades 3/4 and one for grades 5/6.  We used the 3rd-4th grade video exercises.  I was a bit nervous about algebra at a young age.  It seems like algebra is generally taught with any depth in junior high.  I didn't need to worry.  Algebra for Breakfast gently introduces algebra concepts to young students.

These courses are online, but you do need a few things to get you started at home.  The Full Membership Package option includes the video lessons for one grade level and
  • A Mortensen Math Combo Kit - a set of manipulatives (math rods)
  • A set of Math Dice (two 12-sided dice and three 6-sided dice in a drawstring bag)
It's strongly recommended that you also purchase and download
  • The Original Skip Count Kid’s Skip Count Songs OR The Skip Count Kid’s Bible Heroes Skip Count Songs both by James McGhee (available on iTunes)
(While listening to the skip counting songs and familiarizing yourself with the chorus is imposrtant, Mr. Hazen also encourages students to sing, recite, and write the choruses since each of these activities use a different part of the brain.)

If you already own the manipulatives, there is a Reduced Membership Package option which includes just the videos and the Math Dice.

When we log into our account, there is a column to select a lesson range for the grade level we are using.  From there, we select a prep activity or a lesson.

The prep activities are videos that guide you through making a special set of playing cards and provide instructions for a few games.  We enjoyed 10-20-30.  Here, you lay down cards face up and try to find a sum of, well, 10, 20, or 30.  Another game we especially liked was the Math Dice game.  With them, I had the boys add the two 12-sided dice together, then they used the 6-sided dice to add, subtract, multiply, and divide their way to get as close to the first number as possible.  Merrick thought he was playing this game also.  Basically, he just counted the dots on each die.

Generally (with some variation), each lesson has a very short introductory video, a lesson video about 10 minutes long (sometimes shorter), worksheets, and a parent corner where I can see or download the answer keys for most of the worksheets.  There is sometimes a video for parents, as well.  The grade 3/4 option currently has 45 video lessons available.  Several more are listed, but not up yet.  The lesson videos take place in a real classroom.  With real kids and real manipulatives of their own.  The instruction is sound and the lessons are often quite fun for the boys.  One of the things I like best about the program is that each lesson page has a form where you can submit a question.  If something is not clear and you can't find it in the parent's section or a previous lesson, Algebra for Breakfast is happy to answer any question you or your children have.  We haven't needed it, but it's really nice to know it's there.

The classroom setting for the videos is kind of distracting for my boys, however.  Listening to the children's chairs, rods, and voices, as well as the instructors corrections *can* be overwhelming to students who need a bit of quiet to remain focused.  In order to keep things a bit more low key here, I have them first just watch the video rather than try to work along with the video.  Then we work through the lesson and I explain the worksheet.  After that, they head over to our math rod collection.  We no longer have a nice tidy tray (I'm so jealous)!  They're divided in baggies and stuffed in a drawer!  You can rewatch the videos as many times as necessary.

Algebra for Breakfast is not a full math curriculum.  It is a supplemental math program specifically designed to introduce students to algebraic thinking.  The intended pace is 1-2 lessons per week in conjunction with your regular math curriculum.  We have been using it for 4 weeks and have completed ten lessons, so we're right on track.  I think that is a great pace for us and the math games make everything a bit more fun.

Algebra for Breakfast

Bob Hazen is an instructor, speaker, self-published author, and a lesson designer on  His love for math and desire to see children develop the same interest in math that he felt, led him to becoming a teacher.  It wasn't long before he realized the 7th grade students were coming to him ill equipped to learn algebra.  He put together six principles of algebraic thinking and, with his wife, he eventually created an algebra summer camp which later became the online lessons of Algebra for Breakfast.

On social media?  You can find Algebra for Breakfast on Facebook.

Other members of the Crew tried out the two levels available from Algebra for Breakfast. 

Bob Hazen's Algebra Lessons {Algebra for Breakfast Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

May 6, 2017

Lured to the Table

A table is a fine piece of furniture.  In my home, we eat at it, have school at it, make arts and crafts on it, and build with Legos on it.  I confess, our table is also a catch-all.  Mostly it's my pile of school stuff and my computer.  I also have to remind the boys to clear their things off pretty regularly, as well.  Usually a couple of times each day.  "Whose Legos are these?"  "Please take care of your crayons and scissors."  I think many homeschoolers have the same issue.  We're home all day together (except when we aren't!) and there is more free time for the sort of thing that clutters the table.

I'm starting to learn Latin with First Form Latin from Memoria Press.  I already knew one Latin word though, mensa.  Mensa means table.  It's the name of the high IQ society that requires members to score in the 98th percentile or higher on certain allowable exams.  Many years ago, when I was a single mom of one punk and I had zero self-esteem, I splurged on a proctored Mensa exam in Binghamton, NY.

Lo, and behold!  I was accepted into Mensa.  With just a small membership fee, I was awarded a card for my wallet that said I was smart!  Me!  Smart?  Err...  the average student who never did homework.  The "secretary" with an Associates in business administration.  When my friends and family (the few I told) found out, no one congratulated me.  They all said, "If Jodi can be in Mensa, I'm sure I can be, too."  Seriously.  Everyone's first thought was that surely they were smarter than me.  I'm not book smart.  I'm not street smart.  But I have "intelligence." 

Are most Mensans important people?  Don't they all do important work?  I don't know because I've only met a few people I knew were Mensans.  I coordinated activities for my region for a while and no one attended them.  Turns out many Mensans aren't especially sociable.

A friend of mine is a neuro-biology professor at a university.  Is she a Mensan?  I don't think so.  She used to date a Mensan, though.  He was a jerk.  Anyway, my friend liked to "test" her students in Psych 101 with a "guess the Mensan" quiz.  I was an example.  The underachieving, single mom of one who became a stay at home mom of several,   I used to think it was funny.  Now, I'm not so sure.

God gave me a brain.  It's not an Einstein brain, but it's a good brain.  What have I done with it?  Not much.  I don't think I even really have an aptitude for anything.  My husband is "wicked smaht" as they say in these parts,  Or do they?  Anyway, he is book smart, movie quote smart, gEEk smart, and trivia smart.  He's so smart, he never joined Mensa (though he could because his IQ is smarter than mine).

I went to that Mensa exam because I wanted some validation in my life.  I paid for that Mensa card because it reminded me every time I saw it that I wasn't a total waste.  Eventually, I decided I didn't need to spend $XX for that smart declaring card every year, and I don't anymore.  Knowing that I'm Mensa smart used to be a comfort in some odd way.  But now?  Now I want to figure out what I can do with these smarts.  Was I given them for a reason?  How do I figure this all out?

May 3, 2017

Lamplighter Publishing ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Mark Hamby first began Cornerstone Family Ministries, which later became Lamplighter Ministries, in order to publish books which inspire Christ-like character.  There are currently over 130 encouraging titles in print by Lamplighter Publishing.  Lamplighter Ministries' mission is “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord, by building Christ-like character... one story at a time.”  I believe the most interesting part about Lamplighter Publishing's works is that they carefully edit all of the volumes they sell to remove any problematic content.  If it doesn't reflect God's character, it is faithfully removed.

Today, I'm sharing about a book entitled The Secret Bridge by Amy LeFeuvre.  The Secret Bridge was first written in 1899 and just published by Lamplighter this year.  The 272 page hardcover book boasts a lovely teal cover with leather-like feel and embossed gold insert.  When I first saw it, I was absolutely amazed by the quality of the book.

I'd like to walk you through some of the thought process I went through before requesting The Secret Bridge.  First, it's a romance.  I have boys.  I was pretty sure they would have little to no interest in this book.  The book is intended to be enjoyed by ages 12 and up.  At first, I wanted to avoid this title.  As I read the description on Lamplighter's website, I saw the words, “Acquaint thyself with Him.” and I knew I had to read this one myself.  It's always kind of a surprise when something you don't have a high interest in, just reaches out and grabs you like that.  So, while I was right about the boys' interest levels, I was happy to read the book.

The Secret Bridge, set at the end of the 19th century, is the tale of a young woman in a new country, utterly alone and penniless, through a run of unavoidable circumstances.  Bridget has met a man named Godfrey, who has taken her under his care as best he can.  He even impulsively proposes marriage, which she declines.  Eventually, though, her needs are greater than her pride and she accepts the arrangement the day before he goes to sea.  For various reasons, she is required to keep their marriage a secret and Godfrey provides a room and allowance for her.  I think the fact that Godfrey is away most of their first year, is required so that Bridget can spend her time in the ways she does, becoming acquainted with her new family (who have no idea who she is), learning about developing a relationship with God, and caring for her neighbors in ways a married woman might not have been able to do on her own.

Of course, there is a shocking revelation mid-way through the book, which I didn't even see coming until a chapter or so before, though something was niggling away in the back of my mind!  Suddenly, the complications caused by secret keeping became multiplied and many-faceted.  Through it all, the romance is secondary to the young woman's pursuit of God.  Our heroine goes from knowing of God's existence to developing an adoring love for God and sharing that with all of the people around her.

The *only* thing I did not care for was the overbearing way Godfrey behaved while trying to "win" Bridget's hand.  I think it is pretty typical of romances nowadays as well.  I was just surprised by it in this older novel.  I want to be clear, he was not cruel or anything.  The "courting" of Bridget just seemed odd to me.

Some things I really appreciated about the book were
  • the "clean" romance.  I think there were a couple of kisses in the book.
  • the copious footnotes.  There were plenty of references for bible verse, poems, definitions, etc., all clearly marked.
  • a different font for each letter writer.  Whether it was Bridget, Godfrey, Godfrey's mother, pretty much anyone, all the letters were printed in a different font.
  • the illustrations.  There were just a few of these, but the black line drawings were a nice glimpse into homes and situations that were important.

I would recommend this book for teen girls and women.  It's a bit of fluff, but also such a lovely look at romance and the growth of godly character in a strong young woman.

At the end of the book, you'll also find the Lamplighter mission statement, other books published by Lamplighter (including other titles by Amy LeFeuvre), some books listed by recommended ages, and information about the Lamplighter Book & Audio Club.

And just because I enjoy audios with the boys, I wanted to include this information.  Be sure to look for a radio station where you can listen to Lamplighter Theatre dramatic audios.  Depending on where I am locally, we have a station I can pick up in the car and I just love to catch them when I can.

Find Lamplighter Publishing on social media.


The Secret Bridge {Lamplighter Publishing Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer