Monday, August 19, 2019

My Thoughts About Norwex

Norwex Party Haul

I just want to start this post by saying, No - I do not sell Norwex and I don't plan to in the future either.  Nor is this a sponsored or promotional post.  Just me - sharing.  I first found out about Norwex a few years ago.  I didn't know much about it.  I bought an Envirocloth to support a friend and went on with my life.  A year later I purchased a window cloth (again to support a friend).  Then I started using the products - they are amazing!  I actually refer to them as my "magic" cloths.  They clean so well with using only water, no chemicals.  Last month I hosted a facebook party to support another friend and many of my friends and family supported me by ordering at my party.  I was able to earn many of the items you see above for free as hostess rewards (including the mop system).  I did buy a few things myself as well.  I have to say that I am a huge fan.  

This graphic really caught my eye.

I was using swiffer mops before my party.  These "cheaper" swiffer mops were rather expensive with all the floor pads and liquid cleaner I was having to buy every month.  With the Norwex mop system I only use water!  I'm looking forward to seeing how my new mop holds up in our home over time.  I am also loving the laundry detergent, which contains absolutely no fillers.  I wasn't sure if it would get our clothes clean but it works very well and I'm actually thinking of switching to it full time.  I've used it to remove stains and clean my tile grout also.  I've been using the one bag you see above exclusively since my party in July and I am not about to run out - and that's for our family of 9!  A little goes a long way.  What are your thoughts?  Do you use Norwex?  I'd love to know.

Overcomer Releases in Theaters August 23rd

I want to share with you the upcoming movie, Overcomer.  This upcoming release is from the creators of War Room, Fireproof and Facing the Giants.  I love the Kendrick Brothers!  I have seen all of their films including their first release, Flywheel.  I'm so excited to see this movie.  Get ready because this films opens nationwide on August 23rd!

Synopsis:  Life changes overnight for coach John Harrison when his high school basketball team's state championship dreams are crushed under the weight of unexpected news.  When the largest manufacturing plant in town suddenly shuts down and hundreds of families begin moving away, John must come to grips with the challenges facing his family and his team.  Urged by the school's principal to fill-in and coach a sport he doesn't know or like, John is frustrated and questioning his worth ... until he crosses paths with a student struggling with her own journey.

Filled with a powerful mix of faith, a twist of humor, and a ton of heart, the Kendrick Brothers return to theaters with Overcomer, their newest feature following Facing the Giants, Fireproof, Courageous, and the #1 box-office hit, War Room.  The inspiring family film stars Alex Kendrick, Priscilla Shirer, Shari Rigby, Cameron Arnett, and introduces Aryn Wright-Thompson.  Overcomer dares to leave you filled with hope, inspired to dream, and asks the question: what do you allow to define you?

To find theaters and get tickets visit  While you are there be sure to browse around because there are some great share tools available including a Family Guide (this post-viewing conversation starter guide allows for great teaching opportunities) and a Team Guide (this tool can be used by coaches and small group leaders to have meaningful conversations with students post-viewing).

Check out the trailer below and get excited.

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Disclosure:  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing me with this information.  I will receive tickets to watch Overcomer in exchange for this post.  Opinions are 100% my own and not influenced by monetary compensation.

Friday, August 9, 2019

D's Mock Meet 2019

D ready to compete

D had a mock meet at her gym this morning.  I was able to see all of her level 4 routines for this competition season.  It was so fun to see all the girls as they prepare for the beginning of their meet season which starts in 2 weeks!  She did really well on all the events.  We should get her scores on Monday.

I'm getting pretty good at the gymnastics bun!

Second Grade Literature Guide Set by Memoria Press Review

E will be in 2nd grade this upcoming school year.  I was super excited when we received the opportunity to review the Second Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press.  You guys might remember I'm a huge fan of Memoria Press as we have used their First Form Latin and Simply Classical Spelling Books.  Their products are amazing.

We received all of the Second Grade Literature Guides without the novels.  This was super generous of Memoria Press as we only had time to review one of the guides in this set.  This Second Grade Literature Guide Set includes both student study guides and teacher guides for all five novels - Prairie School, The Courage of Sarah Noble, Little House in the Big Woods, Tales from Beatrix Potter and Animal Folk Tales of America.  Thankfully, we already owned all of these novels except Animal Folk Tales of America so I am ordering it as we speak.

 Our Literature Guide Set

 Our Books

The student study guides are consumable and expected to be used by one student; whereas, the teacher guides can be reused.  E and I chose to start with Prairie School + Memoria Press Literature Guide.

Our Prairie School Set

E reading

Memoria Press' literature study guides help train students to become engaged, active readers and challenges them to think.  These guides focus on comprehension, vocabulary, spelling and composition skills.  Every lesson has a word study to help enrich students vocabulary.  I really appreciate the comprehension questions that challenge students to think about what they have read and learn to identify the main points and messages.

E's student study guide pages for Chapter 1

And the pages for Chapter 2

Prairie School contains eight chapters and is 48 pages so this guide had eight lessons.  You can have your student read the book to you or have them read independently.  I had E read the first two chapters aloud to me.  She did such an amazing job that I had her read the remainder of the book on her own.  The teacher guide contains a model lesson plan that includes pre-reading, reading, and post-reading instructions.  There are four main sections on the pages of the student study guide:  pronounce and spell, vocabulary, comprehension questions, and discussion.  I really like the Enrichment section that includes activities like copywork, dictation, composition, research, mapping, drawing, poetry work, etc.  I have been so impressed with E's comprehension and discussion ability.  It has been so fun.  E reads the comprehension questions aloud to me and tells me what she remembers.  The vocabulary portion has been so rewarding as E's vocabulary is steadily increasing.  She knew some words, had great deduction for others and learned several new definitions throughout this book like hearth, buggy and primer.  E is very advanced in her reading and this book was one of the shorter ones so our pace was a bit faster than expected.  However, we didn't speed through it because there was such value in our rich discussions!

We have already begun our next journey into Tales from Beatrix Potter.  I am pumped that I will be able to use the rest of these guides throughout E's 2nd grade school year.

Tales from Beatrix Potter Set

Tales from Beatrix Potter focuses on the tales of Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Tom Kitten and Johnny Town-Mouse.  It has the same model plan and includes a life lesson section for each book.

Animal Folk Tales of America Set

Animal Folk Tales of America is on its way to me but it looks like it is 14 chapters long.  There is the same model plan and it includes rhyming, writing a poem and has a few chapter assessments.  

Little House in the Big Woods Set

Little House in the Big Woods has 13 chapters and is 238 pages long.  The chapters are longer in Little House in the Big Woods so many of the chapters are broken into two lessons with a part 1 and part 2 in the student study guide, not all though.  There is the same model lesson plan as the other guides.  There are 4 honors activities as well as multiple assessments as well.

Example of an honors activity

I'm really looking forward to researching Wisconsin with E as we have family there and we have visited many times!

The Courage of Sarah Noble Set

The Courage of Sarah Noble has 11 chapters.  It has the same model plan with 3 honors activities and 3 chapter assessments.

I'm excited about this illustrating a scene activity.

I love that you can see samples of both the student study guides and teacher guides for all five novels on Memoria Press' website.

Be sure to click on the banner below to visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read more reviews of Memoria Press and check out some of their other products including Third Grade Literature Guide Set, Fourth Grade Literature Guide Set, Fifth Grade Literature Guide Set, Sixth Grade Literature Guide Set, Seventh Grade Literature Guide Set, Eighth Grade Literature Guide Set, Ninth Grade Literature Guide Set, and Tenth Grade Literature Guide Set not to mention the StoryTime Treasures Set and More StoryTime Treasures Set.

First to Tenth Grade Literature Guides {Memoria Press Reviews}

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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Building Your Homeschool Library with Library and Educational Services LLC Review

One of the beauties of homeschooling for 10+ years is the plethora of rich books that we have acquired over the years to form our very own homeschool library.  I was so excited to find out about Library and Educational Services LLC because it will allow us to add beautiful Reinforced Hardcover Library Binding Nonfiction books to our collection!  They also carry paperbacks including the Who Was? and What Was? series as well as DVDs, CDs, Bibles and more.

L.E.S. is a small family company in Southwest Michigan that has been in business for over 40 years.  As a wholesale distributor they sell to schools (including homeschools!), libraries, churches, specialty stores, missionaries, daycare centers, and ministry leaders.  So home educators can purchase books at wholesale prices!  That means you will save 30-70% (sometimes more) off publishers' list prices every day.  You will have to create an account to shop but the process is fairly simple.  L.E.S. specializes in educational and inspirational items for kids.  As a Christian company, their products are carefully selected to ensure that they are not contradictory to Biblical standards and values.  I really appreciate that.

Our New Books

As part of the Homeschool Review Crew I was blessed with the opportunity to use this service and receive:
  • A title from their Who Was? or What Was? series
  • A CD from the Lifehouse Theater CD's series
  • A selection of books from their Reinforced Hardcover Library Binding Nonfiction books category

What Was the Alamo?

D will be taking a Texas History class in our CoOp this year so I chose to order What Was the Alamo? to add to our library.  The Alamo was a critical turning point in the Texas Revolution.  This book has 80 black-and-white illustrations included as well as a 16 page black-and-white photo insert to help readers learn more about this famous time in Texas history.

D reading our new book

inside the book

Famous Author Set

You can purchase these books individually or even in fun sets like famous authors, sports figures, scientists and innovators, explorers and engineers, etc.  These sets make topical studies a breeze.

Our new audio CD

About the cast

We chose Lifehouse Theater Trapped in Aesop's Fables for our CD.  This is such a fun addition to our library.  In this audio, Henry examines an old, mysterious chest.  He soon discovers the books inside are doorways to other realms - fantasy worlds described in the books.  He is transported into the tales from Aesop's fables.  This audio is ~ 60 minutes long.

To get a feel for this CD and hear a sampling yourself click on the video below.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

It was a bit harder to choose our selection of books from L.E.S.'s  Reinforced Hardcover Library Binding Nonfiction books category because there are so many options to choose from (over 200)!  Categories include Bilingual, Biographies, Careers, Geography, History, Learning, Nature, Science, Social Studies, Sports and Library Books for Grades PreK-12.  These books have reinforced library binding making them very durable and I love that they are priced the same as many paperbacks making them extremely affordable.

Genius Scientists and Their Genius Ideas Set of 5

The binding is done really well!

I am super excited about the Genius Scientist set that we ordered.  This set is recommended for ages 10+ or Grade 5 and up.  It includes books on Isaac Newton, Copernicus, Carl Linnaeus, Aristotle and Antoni van Leeuwenhoek.  This series chronicles the lives and contributions of these great scientists.  They are great for research and reports as well.

Stories in American History Set of 4

We also chose the Stories in American History Set that includes The Amazing Underground Railroad, The Legend of the Alamo, The Secret of the Manhattan Project and Surviving the Oregon Trail.  These books offer in-depth coverage of the event in American history.  This set is recommended for ages 10+ or Grade 5 and up.  These books are great for leisure reading, research and reports.  They include a timeline, chapter notes, further reading list as well as color and black-and-white illustrations.

Baseball Biographies

The last books we received were a set of 2 baseball biographies on Lou Gehrig and Roberto Clemente.  My boys love baseball and I thought these would be a fun addition.  They are recommended for ages 5-9 or grades K-3.

Animal Mega Pack Books

You guys know that I love animals and I have my eye on the Animal Mega Pack books.  There are so many books and products to choose from at Library and Educational Services LLC - children's books, teen books, adult fiction, nonfiction, audio series, DVDs like Drive Thru History (you already know we love these), biographies and more.  And the prices are so good, you might have trouble limiting yourself.  Not a bad problem to have, especially if you are building a library of your own like me.  I highly recommend this company and their services.

Be sure to click on the banner below to visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to read more reviews of Library and Educational Services LLC.

Wholesale Books for Your Homeschool {Library and Educational Services LLC Reviews}

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Monday, August 5, 2019

G's Circus Carnival Biggie Birthday Party

Birthday boy after bouncing for a few hours

We celebrated G's Biggie Birthday on Saturday with a circus/carnival themed party!  For those of you that don't know, a biggie birthday is when you turn the age of the day you were born.  So G turned 3 on the 3rd of August.  The older girls and I made a bunch of carnival type games, we rented a carnival themed bounce house, and had a petting zoo come!  I'm pretty sure the kids were not bored.

Circus Tent Cake

G wanted a chocolate cake so David made him a circus tent.  He also wanted animals so the older girls and I made lion, monkey and elephant vanilla cupcakes for variety.  They turned out really cute.

Elephant cupcakes

These are made with blue melting wafers (ears and trunk), mini M&Ms for the eyes and banana runts for the tusks.

Lion cupcakes

These are made with mini M&Ms for the eyes, orange Apple Jacks for the ears, heart runts for the nose, and pull'n'peel Twizzlers for the mane.

Monkey cupcakes

These are made with chocolate Cheerios for the ears, mini M&Ms for the eyes, chocolate Jimmies for the hair, purple Jimmies for the nose, and pull'n'peel Twizzlers for the mouths.  You can make a variety of expressions with the Twizzlers.

More monkey cupcakes

Sprinkle Cupcakes

Food Table

We had a variety of food: apples, strawberries, grapes, cheese, tortilla chips, salsa, guacamole, veggies, cotton candy, snow cones, circus cookies, small bags of chips, little smokies with rolls, etc.  And of course the cake, cupcakes and variety of Blue Bell Ice Cream.

A put the cotton candy in smaller cups for everyone.

These are easy to serve and fit the theme perfectly!

Balloon Towers

The older girls and I also made a few balloon towers for the party.  I think they turned out awesome, especially since these are the first ones we have ever made.  We bought the balloons at Dollar Tree so they were very affordable to make.  We used balloons, curling ribbon and our lungs!

The Petting Zoo

We had a petting zoo come for the first hour of the party.  There were goats, chickens, chicks, bunnies and a baby pig!  G loved the animals.

G in the petting zoo.

Petting the baby pig.

The pig took a nap!

 The baby chicks were so cute!  And popular...

G petting a chick.

 A with a chick

 D with chicks

 Having fun with the chicks.

Here is the bounce house!  It was a large one and held up to 10 kids at a time.

G jumping around.

I took this photo at 3:33 on the 3rd of G turning 3 - that's a lot of 3's.

Onto the games!  We had a Ring Toss, Tic-Tac-Toe, Ping-Pong Toss, Army Man Knock Down, Duck Pond, Cup Knock Down, Paper Airplane Toss, Fish Cup game, Bubble Station and water balloons.

Our Ring Toss Game

I had some extra science fair boards left over from the CoOp class I taught last year so I was able to use many of them for the games.  We also already had various colors of spray paint on hand.  First we used a small nail to make the holes for the lollipops.  Then, we spray painted the board gold.  We put the lollipops in the holes and attached our sign.  The girls wrapped IBC Root Beer holders with shiny, red wrapping paper (bought at Dollar Tree).  I purchased the rings on Amazon, they are perfect.  You have two option for this game, get your ring on a lollipop or one of the bottles!  Pretty simple.

Tic-Tac-Toe Game

For this game we hot glued a large piece of red felt to one of our boards.  I purchased the felt from Michael's and used a 40% coupon.  We made the outline of the game with duct tape that had a fun design.  Then I took ping pong balls (from Dollar Tree) and placed Velcro all over them.  I happened to have quite a bit of Velcro at home from past projects.  You toss the Velcro balls at the felt and see if you can get a tic-tac-toe.  It's harder than it looks!

Ping-Pong Toss

For this game we hot glued large red cups and small red cups onto our project board.  We chose to leave this board white and decorate it with green stickers that we already had on hand.  We bought both sizes of cups and the ping pong balls from Dollar Tree.  To play this game, you simple toss the balls at the cups with the goal of getting them in - the smaller cups are a great challenge for older kids.

 Army Man Knock Down

The girls made this game from an old cardboard box.  They cut the holes and spray painted the box silver.  C let us borrow a few of his Nerf guns and bullets.  We purchased a pack of army men at Dollar Tree.  Using the Nerf gun, you see how many army men you can knock down.

Duck Pond

 Bottom of the ducks

For this game we filled a large silver bucket with water beads (we already had these on hand).  Kids love water beads, they are super fun to play with.  We bought several different colored and sized ducks from Walmart.  Using a Sharpie we put different shapes and letters on the bottoms of the ducks.  The goal of this game is for kids to find two ducks with matching bottoms.

Cup Knock Down

We spray painted this board yellow.  We used both the large red cups and small red cups for this game.  The squishy, animal balls (zebras, lions, and tigers) were purchased from Dollar Tree - they are so cute!  For this game, you throw the balls at the cups and see how many you can knock down.

Paper Airplane Toss

To make this game we first cut four different sized circles out of our board.  We then spray painted it blue.  I printed a few white clouds on printer paper and we glued them to our board.  We already had a pack of paper specifically designed for making paper airplanes but any paper will do.  I had the kids make a few samples.  The goal is to get your airplane through one of the holes.  The smaller the hole, the more challenging the task.

 Fish Cup Game

We spray painted this board yellow and kept it super simple.  We filled clear, plastic cups a little more than halfway with water.  Six of the cups contain squirters (purchased from Dollar Tree).  The goal of this game is to throw your ping pong ball into one of the cups with the squirters.  That's it.

 Bubble Station

We had a variety of bubble containers and bubble wands for the kids to use.  I think the favorite was the bubble machine!

Water Balloons

Towards the end of the party, the kids had a water balloon fight.  It was a nice way to cool off.

Tickets and clown noses for the kids.

The clown noses in action!

Clown G

Prize Bucket

We had a bucket filled with prizes for guests to choose from when they were leaving.  Prizes included squishy/animal balls, punch balloons, various lollipops, cars, small zoo animals, mini cotton candy, crazy straws, giant frogs, ring pops, rubber ducks, etc.  There were a lot of options.

G posing with his cake.

Singing to G

I am fairly certain that G had a blast.  He was super happy the entire party and couldn't stop smiling.  If you are thinking about having a circus or carnival themed party it is a great option!