Thursday, October 7, 2010

I Made My Bed (with hubby's help)!

We have had our bed & dresser for 10 years and I was ready for a change. I've had my eye on this Pottery Barn bed (above), but the $3000 price tag has kept me from making the purchase! And I cannot seem to find it on Craigslist [I search often]. SO I was ecstatic when I found Ana White's website! Ana has FREE furniture plans in all kinds of designs...from beds to deck chairs and everything in between. It's awesome! Most of the Pottery Barn designs are available, as well. Looking at Ana White's site gave me a grand idea...turn my existing bed into a whole new bed! I have a handy hubby (he can build anything). All I have to do is come up with crazy plans and tell him to 'make it work'.

My old bed had panels across the bottom and I wanted them to be across the top, so Greg cut the headboard off, flipped it upside down, secured it, and put two boards on top [to create the 'chunky' top]. We put two boards on the foot board, to match and then I painted it all a dark, espresso brown. A fun project that took an afternoon of work and approximately $60! Now I have a new bed! I painted my side tables and dresser to match. Here are the pictures:




I LOVE it!!

JOYful, Kristi

Sunday, September 26, 2010

School is in session...

I'm blogging more over at POOL School! We are in full-swing with our new year and new schedule. Come visit!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Travels of Wiglington and Wenks Virtual World

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Come travel the world, explore the continents, & learn...Wiglington & Wenks allows you to do all of this & more! *Warning*: Your kids will LOVE this website! It is a Virtual World intended to help 7-14-year-olds interact with history, geography, landmarks, inventions, nature, wildlife, the environment, and more.

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Each traveler creates a virtual character who can travel to locations on every continent except Antarctica. Learning more about history and geography helps the traveler open up more locations or find more items.

Along the way, the traveler can interact with a diverse group of people — from Beethoven to Chief Joseph, from Genghis Khan to St. Patrick. The game sends them on a quest to locate and help these historical figures.

The travelers also have a chance to play games, design an island, dress up in costumes from many cultures, and interact with kids from around the world.

Start your child in Wiglington & Wenks by setting up a *FREE* account. You can then upgrade to a paid subscription ~or not [the free account is lots of fun!]. A paid membership will allow you to gain access to some of the special features that are only available if you buy one of the membership plans. They are reasonably priced at $5.99 for one month, $16.99 for three months, $29.99 for six months or $59.99 for one year. My son absolutely loves W&W, so we paid for 3 months...if he continues to ♥ it, I will go ahead and purchase the year plan. I'm honestly amazed at all he has learned and it is computer time that worthwhile. EnJOY!

Critical Thinking Co. ~TOS Review

Critical Thinking Co. is known for their award winning products that sharpen the mind and create real thinkers! Recently they sent me a copy of Language Smarts, Level C ($39.99). This is a language arts product targeted for grade 2 [it also introduces several skills and concepts normally taught in third grade]. It is a HUGE book (320 colorful pages!) that teaches language arts concepts and skills including vocabulary, grammar, punctuation, reading and writing skills. And it does so with a variety of fun activities.

This book can serve as a core curriculum for language arts or as a supplemental resource. We are using it as a core curriculum, 3 lessons a week, and I will stretch it through this coming year. I like that the lessons are short (10-15 minutes) my 8-yr.-old is able to work independently...I get him started and he 'thinks' his way through each lesson. You can check here to see what is covered at this level and check here for samples. Also, you can choose another level here. Overall, we ♥ this product! EnJOY!

Family Mint ~TOS Review


Family Mint is a *FREE* online money management tool, where the parents hold the money and act as the banker. You do not actually put money in an on-line bank, you are simply using an on-line tool to keep track of your child’s money and to teach them financial wisdom.


It is fast & easy to set up each child's 'bank'. They are then able to track their money and set goals for saving, spending, & giving. It is a simple tool that teaches money management.

Main features of this program allow your children to see on screen:

  • Automated Allowance
  • Automated Interest
  • Matching Deposits
  • Transactions
  • Goals
  • Children can personalize their goals with custom pictures
What I love about this online tool?'s FREE, easy, & effective! Go HERE to sign-up and get started.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring= Deck time!

We *finally* built a deck on the back of our house! It has been on the 'to do' list since we moved in, but life happens and we are just now (2.5 years later) getting it done. Oh well, we had other goals ahead of a deck {like having a baby~ha!}. Anyway, it is built and it is wonderful! Can't remember the house without it. It really adds room to our home. I love how it connects the two back porches and makes it all one, large space. I'm going to get a different outside rug, and we are going to get some sort of umbrella/shade, but here are the pics.

This is my latest yard sale find...a little picnic table for $20! Retails for $79! It looks brand new. It's the same picnic table I had when we lived in Houston...we gave it away and I'm not sure why, because I really like the 'nature' look of this model {you know how it is when you are moving and you just get rid of everything!~ha.}. I was very excited when I spotted it at the yard sale! It's a perfect place for the kids to have lunch and it matches our new deck.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

CBH Ministries ~TOS Review

Children's Bible Hour (CBH) has a new picture book series, titled Seasons of Faith, adapted from their classic programs. They recently sent me the 4 books and we have greatly enJOYed them in our home!

The 4 books in the Seasons of Faith series:

1. Race with Midnight
Becky spends spring break on her cousin Sarah's horse farm in Montana. Taking horse rides amidst the beautiful mountains and valleys, Becky tries to share her faith with Sarah as she talks about God's creation. Will Sarah listen?

2. You Can't Come
Adam and his new friend Zack decide to build a tree fort one warm summer day. After zooming down a hill and falling into a muddy pond, Zack asks Adam about going to church and salvation. Will Adam be able to explain his faith to Zack?

3. Seventy Times Seven

Batter up! When Brad accidentally breaks the ice cream shop’s sign, the owner forgives Brad. But when his best friend Doug ruins Brad’s favorite baseball cap, will he be able to forgive Doug?

4. Braving the Storm

When Thomás moves away from his neighborhood and into a mobile home in his grandparents’ backyard, he misses his friends. There’s nothing to do around the apple orchard with no friends, his dad works a lot, and his little brother was hurt in an accident. All his sister wants to do is play with her dolls. Will Thomás be able to rely on God to get through the difficult times?

Each book also includes a CD of Uncle Charlie reading the story.

From the CBH website...

Seasons of Faith

The Seasons of Faith illustrated books encourage children to learn about their faith in God. Based on CBH Ministries’ treasure trove of radio scripts, these stories teach core truths of the Bible so that kids can easily apply them to their lives. Each book focuses on a season of faith-developing topics.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”

I read to my kids during our regular school time, but at night they ♥ to listen to books on CD. They all gather in one room {on the same bed} for a story, so they were VERY excited when we received this set in the mail! They listened to a new story each night and loved all of them! The stories are adventurous and keep their attention. I like that each story teaches a faith-building lesson in a way that is easy for a child to understand.

Each book in the series cost $10 [softcover w/ CD]. When you use the code FREESHIPAPR15 between March 17 and April 15, 2010, you can receive free standard shipping with the purchase of the 4 book set.

Go HERE to see a video on the series.

Discussion questions are provided HERE to foster teachable moments.

As always, you can read more reviews on the TOS Crew Blog. EnJOY!

CBH Ministries gave me a set of the Seasons of Faith book series in exchange for an honest, fair review.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Homeschool in the Woods ~Old World Style Maps!

If you have never heard of Home School in the Woods, grab a cup of coffee {or tea} and head to their will be there a while! The site is full of wonderful information and resources galore. Amy Pak and her sweet family do home school in the woods and they offer a plethora of materials to help you teach history in a fun, meaningful, adventurous manner!

Amy recently sent me a set of her *new* Old World Style Maps. They took the Old World Style maps from the Record of Time timeline notebook and expanded them into two sets, offered in both CD & download...LOVE these maps!

The World Map set has over 130 maps~ beautiful hand-illustrated black-and-white maps with an 'old' look. They offer a hands-on experience that reinforce any history lesson! The set has both Ancient and Modern styles with or without labels. Plus a Bonus..over 40 fact sheets to be used as notebooking pages. I particularly enJOYed using the colored flags for our passports, while studying various countries. For a sample of the World maps click HERE.

The United States set has maps of each state, Washington D.C., and over a dozen American History maps! They are offered in three ways: with labels, without labels, and in outline form. Also included are Fact Sheets for each state and full color state flags to cut & paste to the fact sheets. We have enJOYed using the Fact Sheets & maps in our 'State Study Notebook', as a part of our postcard swap. For a sample of the United States Maps click HERE.

Price ~

Download version: $18.95 per set OR $28.95 for both sets {BEST deal!}.

CD: $19.95 per CD set OR $29.95 for both sets on CD.

This is a great find! You will use these maps in ALL of your history studies! Work the price into your 2010-2011 school year will thank me later. :)

For more reviews, on this incredible set, go HERE!


I received both sets of the Olde World Style Maps in exchange for a fair, honest review.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Artistic Pursuits ~TOS Crew Review


I LOVE art and I want my children to love it as well, so I have always tried to encourage it in my home. I have bins full of 'art supplies' and I tell my kids to create. I also display work from famous artists in our classroom, but when it comes down to 'teaching art'...I'm clueless!

So, I was beyond excited to find ARTistic Pursuits a few years ago. After looking at their website {tons of good info.} and reading several reviews {all saying great things about the program!} I bought the K-3 Book One and used it with my [then] 1st & 3rd graders. What caught my eye and caused me to buy this program, was the fact that ARTistic Pursuits combines art appreciation with art instruction...all in a fun manner that offers a variety of assignments.

The program is written by a homeschool mom, Brenda Ellis, and it is a homeschool art program that meets the specific needs of homeschoolers at home. However, it can be used by anyone!

When given the opportunity to review an art book {as a part of the TOS Review Crew} I allowed my 11-year-old daughter to make the choice between Book One & Book Two (grades 4-6). She loves to paint, so she decided to go with Book Two ~Color & Composition.

One thing I really liked about this book was the fact that my daughter could open the book and do the lesson on her own. She does one lesson a week {I put it in her workbox on Wednesday}. The picture, above, is her 'Final Project' from the 1st lesson. She is enjoying this book a lot and learning some great techniques. She is gaining confidence and it shows!

Things I love about ARTistic Pursuits:

♥ Real art lessons...not craft projects
An excellent study of art history
♥ High-quality books with excellent images
♥ Step-by-step insturctions
♥ Creates artists!

The BEST thing about this kids love it!

The price is $42.95 for the non-consumable book. It can be purchased on their website or on the CBD website {if you have other items to purchase, it may save on shipping}.

Read more reviews {other books were reviewed} HERE.

I received a free Artistic Pursuits book for the purpose of writing an honest review.

Homeschool Library Builder ~TOS Review

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"Fill your bookshelves without emptying your wallet"

Are you a book lover? I am for sure! Recently I visited my friend's home {a 20+ year homeschooling family} and she took me to her basement {aka library} was amazing! Wall-to-wall bookshelves FULL of wonderful, living books. I must have been drooling, because I was so envious...I want a library like that! I quickly asked, "How" and she told me to buy {and keep} books! Hmmmmm...sounds to easy, but I do have a nice *beginner library* and with the help of Homeschool Library Builder I know I can do it.

What is Homeschool Library Builder? HSLB is a Christian family-run book business dedicated to providing great literature at affordable prices. They offer new and used living books at bargain prices.

One feature I especially like about HSLB is the ability to search for books by curriculum! Curriculum search options include:
  • Ambleside
  • Beautiful Feet
  • Five In A Row
  • Heart of Dakota
  • Sonlight
  • Tapestry of Grace
  • Veritas Press
Oh, and check this out...'Spotlight on the Season' gives you book suggestions for that month's holidays and special events! You can then do a search for the books that interest you.

They have a FREE membership/rewards program that allows you to earn points toward books! Sign-up HERE...just do it, it's FREE and when you buy books from their site, you earn points. For each dollar you spend, you get one Book Point. Once you earn 15 points, you earn $1 towards future purchases.

I'm looking forward to using HSLB to purchase books for the 2010-2011 school year...more books to build my home library! *JOY*

Graphics-Toolbox ~TOS Review

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Graphics-Toolbox is a graphic software program that offers you endless creativity! This incredible software has too many features to list...go HERE to see them all. If you have ever wanted to design your own cards, change color in a photo, make a blog button, you can!

Graphics Toolbox was created by a team of software designers with over 20 years of experience in graphics programming. Their plan was to create a program for everyday graphics needs that would be easy to use and understand. The product they created is perfect for a wide range of people - from students to business people.
Here are just a few of the ways you can use Graphics-Toolbox:
  • Christmas cards
  • Birthday invitations
  • science diagrams
  • photo editing
  • notebook/lapbook pages
  • posters and business fliers
  • photo cartoons
  • scrapbook pages
  • blog headers and buttons
The GT website has lots of examples you can look at and they have a 30~day 'try before you buy' offer. The cost may seem steep at $149, but keep in mind this is a one-time price for the whole program! When you look at all that it includes and all you can do with it...I think you will agree with the price.

The online training sessions are a must...they will save you hours of time and make this program a breeze.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

March Madness & The Schoolhouse Expo!

If you're looking for homeschool encouragement, resources, and fun, check out all that is going on at The Old Schoolhouse!

Right now March Madness and Win Big are going on in the Schoolhouse Store. During March Madness, over 240 items are 10 to 40 percent off! Click HERE to read the details.

Then, if you're customer 139,000, 139,500, or 140,000, you will win over $348 in prizes. Prizes include a 5 year subscription to TOS (U.S. only), Scripture Sleuth literature series, guitar lessons on CD, and more!

School House Expo

The BIGGEST news of all--The Schoolhouse Expo is coming in May!
Pre-register now and save $5!

This is going to be a fabulous convention! Check out the speakers and topics HERE. Clay & Sally Clarkson and their daughter, Sarah, are featured speakers! I {HEART} the Clarkson family! Oh, and the *BEST* thing about this can attend in your pj's!

Pre-register today for only $19.99 through March 31.You do not want to miss this unbelievable, virtual homeschool convention! PLUS, you'll receive over $300 in free gifts when you register.
Get the details and preregister HERE.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

AAS Beehive Reader ~TOS Review

Marie Rippel, creator of All About Spelling, wrote a delightful reader that correlates with All About Spelling ~Level One. She graciously sent our family this reader to review. The Beehive Reader 1 {160 pages} is a beautiful hardcover book with charming illustrations and sweet, interesting stories.

My 2nd grader took the book out of my hands when it arrived in the mail. He was able to read through the book quickly and then read it again to his younger sisters. When asked, "What's your favorite story?" He answered, "The Bat and King Sam"...funny story! I plan to use this book with my 5-year-old, who will begin AAS Level One soon. I know she will enjoy learning to read the book her brother has been reading to her!

I like the fact that each new story in the reader adds a new reading concept {one at a time}, so it is not overwhelming for the child that is learning to read. And the reader is 100% decodable {correlated with All About Spelling 1}. It is a solid teaching tool that offers fun, interesting stories...hard to find a reader that does both!

Take a LOOK inside the book! You do not have to use All About Spelling to use this reader. It is a wonderful reader no matter what phonics program you use! You can purchase it online for $19.95.

The exciting news is this is the first book in the All About Reading Short Stories series! The next book will be out this spring, so stay tuned...I'll keep you posted! I know this is going to be an awesome reading program!

Go HERE to read more reviews, from my crewmates, about this delightful reader. EnJOY!

Love Legos? Love Star Wars? Check this out...

Hearthside Homeschool Reviews has an incredible giveaway for a 471 piece Lego Star Wars set! Wow...super cool! Go check it out! & EnJOY!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Math Mammoth ~TOS Review

What is Math Mammoth? A LARGE {mammoth} collection of Math resources! They offer a complete collection of supplemental math options for grades 1-12 and complete math curriculum for grades 1-5, all at incredible prices and an easy, instant download format!

The really cool thing about Math Mammoth is ALL the options! The program includes 4 different series:

  • Blue ~ grades 1-5; concentrates on a few topics only {clock, fractions, geometry}.
  • Light Blue ~grades 1-5; complete, self-teaching *mastery-oriented* curriculum.
  • Golden ~grades 3-8; problems only {organized by grade}, for reinforcement or practice.
  • Green ~ grades 3-7; problems only {organized by topic}, for reinforcement or practice.

For this review, I received the Light Blue {grade 4 } complete curriculum [$29.70]. The complete set includes Part A & Part B, 156 Lessons to each part...super value! I placed my daughter according to the placement guide on the website. We have always used Singapore Math and it is heavy on word problems...a true 'mental math' program. I was happy to find that this program is as well! I was impressed with the fact that it requires a lot of thinking on the child's part.

I really like the fact that Math Mammoth Light Blue Series is a textbook/workbook combined. Each new concept is explained in the worksheets, so no teacher manual is needed. The beginning of each new chapter has some general 'helps' for the parent/teacher. I like this format, because it was easy for me to 'jog' my memory on some of the concepts...with them right there on each page. I'm able to place a new sheet in Katelyn's workbox each day and she works on it independently! Everything she needs is right there on the sheet.

I'm going to order some Golden Series worksheets to use for extra practice & review. At $12.50 a grade level...what a deal! I'm loving this site...the options are endless and the value is incredible! Go HERE to download 280 FREE worksheets and check-out all the good stuff!

And if you have a question about a certain series, you can read more reviews HERE. Each crew member reviewed a different series...lots of wonderful reviews to meet your needs! EnJOY!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Zeezok Publishing ~TOS Review

I received a Presidential Penmanship CD, from Zeezok Publishing, to review. You have probably heard of Zeezok Publishing. They sell The Great Musicians Series. I did not realize they had other wonderful resources, so I was happy to receive the Presidential Penmanship CD-ROM. This Complete Program CD-ROM contains handwriting practice pages for first grade through senior high and sells for $39.99, it comes in six different handwriting styles [I received the Italic style]. It is also available in an E-book format for $9.99 per grade level.

I decided to use this product with my son, so my focus for this review is on the 2nd grade pages. The CD-ROM is broken down into each grade level, so I printed out the 2nd grade level and made a 'copywork book' for him to use daily. My son enjoys studying the presidents, so he really enjoys having this book, knowing each quote came from some of his favorite presidents! And having an uncle named Thomas Jefferson makes it extra cool!

In the 2nd grade pages, the child copies 36 quotes centered around the founding principles of the United States and character qualities such as honesty and hard work. These quotes are short enough to memorize, so together we chose a quote for him to memorize [one every three weeks; two per six-week term]. I allowed him to choose the ones he wanted to memorize, which made it more personal and motivating.

Here are the two he chose to memorize, [past six-week term]:
  1. "It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible." ~George Washington
  2. "He who knows best knows how little he knows." ~Thomas Jefferson

Things I like about this CD:
  1. All grade levels on one CD-ROM...print off only what you need!
  2. Can be used for all 4 of my children, all 12 years...great deal @ only $39.99!
  3. Delightful, 'meaty' quotes that are well worth memorizing!
  4. Short daily lessons that tie history & character into copywork.
  5. Meaningful penmanship boring drills!
Here are some sample pages to view.

Now is the time to begin planning for next year's curriculum. You will want to add Presidential Penmanship to your *must have* list! I know you will love it!

My other crewmates reviewed this product and other super products [including the Great Musicians Series] from Zeezok Publishing...go see HERE.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

the Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling [Apologia Press]~TOS Review

Apologia Press sent each member of the Homeschool Crew a copy of The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell, to review. And all I can say is , "Wow, wow, wow!"...where was this book when I first started down my homeschool journey?

This new version has been revised and updated and includes 500 pages of everything you could possibly need to know about homeschooling! A '*must* have' for newbies (or those curious about homeschooling) and a '*must* have on the shelf' resource for veterans.

I must admit that I have not read a 'how to' book on homeschooling in many years. When I see a book like this I usually think it is for those beginning homeschooling, so I did not think this 'homeschooling guide' would benefit me much, being that I am a 7-year homeschool veteran. ;) Boy, was I wrong about that! From the very first chapter {Determining Your Destination} I was hooked and it was hard to put the guide down. I've learned SO much! Part 4 of the guide: Preventing Burnout really spoke to my heart and refreshed my soul. This is truly a guide that belongs on every homeschooler's book shelf.

SO what does it cover? the Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling includes 10 parts:
  1. Homeschooling: Is It for You ~ looks at the challenges and advantages of homeschooling and also includes information for single parent families along with tips for success.
  2. Choosing a Curriculum ~ "How do I decide?", learning styles, curriculum fairs
  3. Organization and Planning ~ learning environments and daily schedules
  4. Preventing Burnout ~ examines 5 ‘Burnout Busters’
  5. What to Teach ~ When and How ~subject-by-subject guidelines
  6. Homeschooling Teens ~ "Should you do it?",course study, college admissions
  7. Computers in the Homeschool ~ Hardware and software
  8. Creative Solutions ~ toddlers, reluctant learners, transitions [school to home]
  9. Measuring Your Success ~ assessment methods and targets
  10. Resource Guide ~ products/supplies, academic contests and competitions
Go see a sample chapter [Six Ingredients of a Successful Home School] and the table of contents.

This incredible guide can be purchased directly from Apologia Press [$20.00] or from Amazon [$20.00].

Go HERE to read more great reviews on the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog!

*Apologia Press gave me a free copy of the Ultimate Homeschool Guide to review, in exchange for my honest opinion of the product. I'm grateful for the opportunity!