Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Update on Our Homeschool Journey

We have been homeschooling now since October 2013. We pulled our daughter our of 1st grade public school for a few reasons, the main one being common core. It has been the most rewarding thing I have done. We have had a blast. It has taken us until just recently to find what works for my daughter. We have had her on a few different curriculum for math and phonics. After exhaustive research, tears, and lots of prayers, we finally have her on something that works for her.

We started with Alpha and Omega LIFEPACS for all subjects. As a first time homeschooler, I wanted something all inclusive. It was fine at first but we found it a little dry for the younger grades. There were things in math and phonics she was not grasping because of the way it was presented. We ditched AOP and went with A Beka. Growing up in Christian schools, I grew up on A Beka and it worked for me. I love reading and could always read very well because of A Beka. That also was going well at first. She loved the colorful worksheets and she was learning. The more memorization she had to do of the special sounds in phonics the more frustrated she become and she would shut down when it came to reading. A thing she used to love she now hated! So I researched extensively and finally found All About Learning Press. We went with their All About Reading program and she is thriving!!! It is multisensory and mastery based, the stories are fun and engaging, and teaches reading comprehension.  She once again loves reading and is doing so much better. She is on Level 2 and Level 3 has already been purchased to start in August.

playing "change the word"

Reading her story

We continued with A Beka Math and she was doing well. I will add this before I go on. A Beka is an amazing curriculum, but one curriculum does not fit all. The do teach concept in Math, but they do not touch on it enough for my 1st grader and because it is the spiral method of teaching it will touch on a new concept for one lesson before moving on to the next. It will spiral back, but I have learned my daughter does best with mastery based programs. So once again I was on the hunt for something that would work for her. Something that would not cause a look of dread or tears when I said, "Let's do math."

I had heard about several math programs, there are a lot! One that I kept hearing about was Math-U-See. At first glance I thought to myself, "no way. It uses manupulatives, I want my child to use her brain and I have heard it was aligned with common core." I decided to go to the website and watch the demonstration videos. I was immediately sucked in. I couldn't stop watching them. The man made perfect sense. I also seen the manipulatives were not used like some curriculum uses them. They are used to teach concept. The program also teaches mental math and the fact you have to memorize basic math facts to succeed. So my next concern was the fact that it aligned with common core. I called the company after talking to a friend and they put my mind at ease. They added enrichment worksheets to each lesson. There had been parents calling in concerned that their homeschoolers would not be ready for the standardized tests that are required in some states. They not once changed their teaching style. If you compare older textbooks with the newer ones, there is not a difference. I decided to take the plunge and bought both Primer and Alpha for both of my daughters. What is great about this program too is the fact there are no grade levels. There are levels based on the Greek Alphabet which you can find here.  This, like her phonics, is mastery based. You stay on one lesson until the concept is mastered. He does spiral with the worksheets in each lesson to make sure the concept is remembered which is important. I love the smiles I get when I tell her that it is time for math.

Starting in August I will be homeschooling both of my girls. The oldest will be in second and the youngest in Kindergarten. We are having a blast and I am showing my girls that school can be fun and it is not supposed to be something hard, maybe challenging, but not hard.

I will be posting more not that we are in a groove. I would love to share all we do. I find encouragement on other blogs and hope to do the same.

I hope everyone has a blessed day.

"Train up a child in the way he should: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6


Saturday, October 19, 2013


Proverbs 22:6
"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

On September 6, 2013 both of my girls started their school year. We went in with the idea that this would be their last year in a public school. Our plan was to start them in a Christian school the following year.

 Oops, lets back up just a bit. We currently have 2 little girls ages 6 and 4. Thing One, we will call her, is in the 1st grade and Thing Two is in preschool (K-4). We are conservative, Bible totin', gun carrying Southerners that the military just so happened to stick in New Jersey. I was raised in Christian schools and LOVED the smaller class sizes and the fact that Christ was incorporated into EVERY subject. I loved that beliefs, that weren't my own, were not forced on me. For example, evolution to be the main one. Now that you know that I am a conservative you know my feelings on pretty much everything else most likely and that is a entire other post.

Okay, back on track. When Thing One started bringing home her homework, particularly her Math homework, I began very disturbed. I had been talking to my friend about Common Core for about a year now and when I had started talking to her about it, it has not been implemented in our school district, but when she started bringing home that homework, I noticed #1 that she has just went back to a preschool level on her Math. Before this my daughter was adding triple digit sums in her head! She was doing what her teachers later told me was mental math. I thought it was normal math, after all, that is the way I was taught Math as a child. You know, to use my brain? Back to the story, I let the first 2 or 3 papers slide thinking this is all review from preschool right?? I then noticed that the words Common Core were in bold print to the side of the paper. Oh boy!!! This is what my friend was talking about!! I sent a note to the teacher explaining in a very nice, polite way that I was unhappy with the new common core math curriculum and that I felt my daughter was going backwards in her math. I then told her about how she was adding in her head prior to this year. She replied saying she understood my concerns, but that they were teaching the kids to show their work with circles and cubes so later they could show it with words. BLAH BLAH BLAH and all that.

Let me tell you about  how Common Core was teaching my child to show her work. ;) Lets say you have a word problem like, Sam has 3 apples on a table. Lucy brings 4 more apples and puts them on the table. How many apples do you have? Now normally my daughter, after a couple of seconds, would say 7, BUT nope, she can't use her brain to come up with the answer anymore. She has to first off, which this is the no big deal part, but she has to write 4 + 3 = to the side of the math problem. BEFORE she answers though, they wanted her to put cubes or circles next to her numbers. For instance 3 cubes next to the 3 and 4 cubes next to the 4 of course. THEN they want her to count the cubes to come up with the answer or they told her to use her fingers, BUT she had to do one of the two before she comes up with the answer! So here you have my 6 year old that was adding in her head before now counting dang cubes, circles or fingers. She would be doing her math on her fingers at home and when I told her to put down her fingers and add it in her head like she used to she told me that her teachers said she can't do that anymore! WHAT?? That is what prompted the letter to the teachers.

After I wrote the letter to the teachers, me and DH started talking about homeschooling her. It is something we had thrown around in the past. I even joined a closed group on Facebook for military homeschoolers on my base. After prayers and lots of talks with my mom and friends, DH and I decided to withdraw my baby from the public school system and teach her here at home. For now, my 4 year old is still in preschool, but we did start a reading and handwriting program with her here at home so she is ready for Kindergarten next year and then we will be homeschooling her as well. We have Thing One on Alpha and Omega LIFEPAC for her 5 core subjects, Alpha and Omega Horizons for Penmanship and BJU  for Spelling. She is also enrolled in a PE class on base and also a Drama class. She has tons of interaction with other kids. We have also incorporated Professor B Math. Let me tell you, that is an amazing math program!!! A-MA-ZING!!!! Thing One is now adding AND subtracting in her head again!! She breezes through math problems with ease!!

If you would have asked me a year ago if I would ever homeschool I would have told you no way. I do not have the patience for that. Thank the Lord for Omnitrition and the weight loss because of that and all natural products I now feel better than I ever have in my entire life. I feel energized! No more migraines and anxiety! I LOVE IT! It has taught me to eat clean REAL food rather than processed things. I do not eat any grains, no refined sugars!! I eat clean healthy things that God has provided! I eat Bacon for crying out loud. I fry things in coconut oil, butter, and bacon grease! Since I went off the strict phase of the diet, I have lost an additional 4 pounds eating GOOD HEALTHY fats, but that is another post. The point is, I feel great and I really do enjoy homeschooling my daughter. I LOVE that Bible is one of our core subjects and God is incorporated into every subject. I love and adore watching her face light up when she grasps a new concept or she learns about what God created! I have seen an increased interest to learn more about Christ!

She is not the only one learning. I learn everyday too. I learn patience and kindness. I have learned to put my priorities in order, Christ being #1! I have bonded with my daughters in a different way and I LOVE IT! I would love to say I wish I had done it sooner, but I know if I had, I would have given up. This is the most pivotal time in my daughters' lives and I am so glad I am the one teaching them. Me and their daddy are in charge of their education rather than giving that responsibility over to someone else and I LOVE IT! I have said that, I know, but I really do. Let me also add I know there are some people that couldn't do it and I know its not for everyone.

We have also found out that we will be PCSing this summer. After 11 1/2 LONG years in NJ, we will finally be getting out of here. YAY!

I will be posting more on my blog about all of our fun art projects and field trips coming up. Please follow us on our journey. It is going to be a blast.

Have a blessed day.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hershey Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

I was on Pinterest, like I am almost every evening on my iPhone with DH deployed, and I came across this wonderful recipe. Holy cow!! I was in love with the picture and so naturally since its chocolate and I am a woman after all, I had to give this a try. Hats off to Doughmesstic for posting this yummy, rich recipe! Her blog is amazing so please check it out. She has tons of awesome recipes.

Well here we go.

What you need:
10 Tablespoons of Butter (the real stuff please)
3  ozs of Hershey's milk chocolate chips
1 cup of sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla
3/4 cup all purpose flour (NOT SELF RISING)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of unsweetened Hershey's cocoa powder

For the Cream Cheese Swirl
8 ozs of cream cheese softened (please use real cream cheese..this is already so fattening, there is no point cutting back calories with this and it will ruin the texture)
1/3 cup of sugar
pinch of salt
1 large egg
2 tablespoons of vanilla

For the top after it is baked you will need full size Hershey bars to top it with. I used almost 7 full bars

What to do:
Preheat oven to 350. Prepare 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper long enough to hang over all sides for easy removal. Spray the paper with cooking spray.

In a small saucepan or in the microwave, which is what I did, melt the chocolate and butter over medium heat until melted and stir until smooth. Let cool slightly.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla with the sugar until well mixed and slowly add in the chocolate mixture until well combined.

In small bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, and salt and add to the rest of the batter. Mix together just until combined. DO NOT OVERMIX. and pour batter into prepared baking pan spreading it evenly across the pan.

For the cream cheese mixture, beat the ingredients until smooth ( I mixed this in the same bowl I mixed my brownie batter in.) Pour over brownie batter and spread evenly across. Use a knife to swirl together.

Okay so this is where I differ from her, She says to cook one hour to one hour and 10 minutes. I only had to bake mine about 40 minutes before it was done. You need to be able to stick a toothpick in and it come out clean.

Take out of the oven and turn oven off. Top with hershey chocolate bars and return to an already turned off oven until slightly melted.

Allow to cool, IF you can wait that long. ;) Serve with ice cream or milk, but please enjoy!

This is what it looks like pulled out of the pan with the chocolate bars slightly melted and before it was even cut. As you can see. I covered the surface in Hershey bars :)
This is completely cooled! The chocolate is still soft and it is so yummy!

These brownies were so dang good!! I am mean for real. They were rich! So warning, you will need milk.
I hope you enjoy these as much as my girls did. Have a great rest of the week.

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Monday, September 3, 2012

The Deployment Blues

"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord they God is with thee withersoever thou goest. Joshua 1:9
One thing I LOVE about my blog is, I can pretty much "vent" and not get people's panties in a wad like you do if you post on Facebook. I am trying to be more cautious what I do post on Facebook as far as that goes. MOST of what I say is a general statement, but some people take it to heart. Anyway, enough about Facebook. MOST if not all military wives who have been through deployments, and its hard finding one nowadays that hasn't, will tell you that you have your really good days and your really bad days. Your really good days are really good, good mood, all smiles, feel good about everything, feel like you got this. Then you have your bad days which for me are few, but nonetheless there. Those days, I HATE! You feel helpless, like you have been abandoned, lonely, and depressed sad. It is those days when I kind word from your husband or best friend goes a long way.

I will say this. I AM NOT one of those wives that need to be "babysat" while hubby is gone. I am 34 years old with 2 girls. HOWEVER, not everyone deals with things the same way. I had someone say on facebook a while back that people needed to put their big girl panties on and quit "whining" when you don't hear from your husband or quit "bitching", hey that is a quote, because you have to cut your own grass. Let me tell you something. If I wanna "whine" as they put it to a good friend then that is what I am gonna do. End of story. Am I gonna expect someone to do things for me? HECK NO. But what people, me included, need to realize is, not everyone deals with things the same way you do. Ya know? And you don't always know what else that person has had to deal with on top of the deployment.. Now, I know there is a difference between acting like a big baby and venting. I KNOW that. Now that person that posted that was making a reference to several different people as she put it. But from experience, and I am still learning this, you don't need to be dogging other people on Facebook or twitter or anywhere else. If you have something to say to them you need to say it to their face or in a PM. They way I deal with stress is to let it all out. I need to tell someone! I feel better afterwards.

Now as you may have noticed, this is a down day for me. I am not looking for pitty, honestly I'm not. It just helps to get it out. Again, that is how I deal with it.

I hate that my husband is thousands of miles away in a combat zone. I wish I could just go to him and get a big hug, but I can't right now. I hate it. but I know I can deal with it. I know after a good cry and a good conversation with my husband I am better in the end. I know God does not give us more than we can handle and I love and respect my husband for what he is doing. He is doing his part to keep me and his girls safe.

Tomorrow is another day and honestly without, God, family, and my close friends (in that order) I couldn't do this.

I hope everyone has a very safe and happy Labor Day. Enjoy your families and thank a man or woman in uniform today if you see one.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pillsbury's Mo-Carameluscious Pie

Hello all! I have been silent for a while and I am so sorry. Coming back slowly. A little here and a little there. My sexy, sweet man is deployed right now so it is just me and the girls holding down things here at home until he is home again.

I thought why not make my first post back be something sweet and yummy. I got this recipe in an email from Pillsbury not too long ago and decided to give it a try! It was such a hit I have made it twice in 3 weeks. NO changes were needed to this recipe. It calls for a refrigerated pie crust but I cheated a touch and used a Pillsbury frozen pie crust and in place of the chocolate covered english toffee bars I used some out of a package that was already chopped.

What You Need:
1 ready made 9" pie crust (you can use frozen or use a refrigerated pie crust and bake in your own pie pan)
8 ozs cream cheese softened
1/3 cup caramel topping
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon of instant coffee granules
1 tablespoon of hot water
1 Cup of cold milk minus 1 tablespoon (will see why in the directions)
1 box (4 serving size) chocolate instant pudding
1 8 oz container of frozen whipped topping thawed
Additional caramel topping for garnishing
2 bars of chocolate covered English Toffee candies coarsely chopped ( a little out a package that is already chopped that you can find where you get your chocolate chips)

What to Do:
Bake pie crust according to package directions and let cool completely (about 30 mins)

In a small bowl with an electric mixer beat cream cheese, caramel topping, and powdered sugar on medium speed until smooth. Spread in cooled pie crust.

In a one cup measuring cup, dissolve instant coffee in 1 tablespoon of hot water. Add enough cold milk to make 1 cup of liquid. Pour into large bowl and add pudding mix. Beat with whisk until smooth. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of whipped topping and spread over caramel layer. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours to chill.

Before serving remove plastic wrap and spread whipped topping over top of pie. Drizzle with caramel topping and sprinkle chopped candy.

Slice and enjoy :) Cover and refrigerate any remaining pie.

I hope you enjoy this as much as me and my friends. Have a blessed and  fantastic Thursday.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Fettuccine Chicken Alfredo Olive Garden Style

When my friend over at told me about this recipe I had to try it! I made a couple of very small subtle changes and this was so very yummy! This has that wow factor as Cent Less Deals would say!

What You Need:
1 stick of butter ( the real stuff please)
6 ozs cream cheese ( I am sure you could use cooking cream although I haven't tried it yet)
1/2 medium onion
1 - 2 tsps of fresh crushed garlic
1/4 tsp of nutmeg
1 quart of heavy whipping cream (please do not skimp and use light! It will not taste the same)
6 ozs grated parm. cheese. (I used the parm/ Romano cheese blend)

What to Do:
In a medium saucepan melt butter and cream cheese over medium heat. (the cream cheese and butter mixture is not going to be pretty but mix as best you can. It will come together in the end I PROMISE)
Grate onion using a hand grater into melted butter ( I do not like chunks of onion in my alfredo sauce)
Add fresh garlic and stir cooking 2-3 mins.
Add heavy cream, nutmeg, and cheese and stir until it starts to bubble. Turn heat down to med low and simmer for 15-20 mins stirring and checking it often.
Serve over fettuccine noodles and chicken and serve along side some garlic bread! This makes for a very yummy meal!!

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Verse of the Day:
"Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." Hebrews 7:25

Today is going to be a super busy day for me. I just wanted to wish everyone a very Thankful Thursday.  What are you thankful for today? I am thankful for my friends! Without them NJ would almost be unbearable and deployments would be unbearable. Have a great day everyone!

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