5 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Homeschooling

We all decide to homeschool for a reason. Maybe that reason has to do with health issues or scheduling. It might be because of bullying or poor school choices in your area. And it could be a decision that you made long before your child was ready to start school. Whatever your reason, you have decided to take this unconventional path. There will be good days and bad, and some days you might question your decision.

When you start on your homeschooling journey it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. With so many different options, just picking curriculum can be daunting. I know when I was first looking into homeschooling I felt stressed. I wanted to make the “right” choices and do the best for AJ. If I could go back, the first thing I would do would be to relax. We are now in our sixth year of homeschooling and I have learned quite a bit along the way.

With the knowledge I have now, here are five things I would tell myself six years ago at the beginning of our homeschooling journey.

5 Tips For those who are starting to homeschool

1. You Don’t Have to Do it All!

Some homeschoolers are able to teach all of the core subjects along with art, logic, Latin, Spanish, and do huge hands on projects. That is great for them, but it isn’t for everyone. When you are starting out, focus on what you have to teach according to your state laws. Then if you have the time and desire add in an additional subject or two. If your third grader isn’t learning Latin, it isn’t the end of the world. Focus on your child and what is best for them. Give them a strong foundation in reading, writing, and math, and the rest will follow.

2. Ask Your Child for Input.

Giving your child options about their learning can change their entire attitude. If your child is not enjoying their current history study then give them a few options for what historical period they want to study next. I don’t give AJ final say, but I will ask her what topics she wants to study. In the beginning I made all of the decisions. Now I have a list of things I want her to study and give her the choice of what to learn about next.

3. Sometimes it is Worth the Money to Buy a Good Curriculum.

Writing has been a difficult subject since she was in public school. I tried a few free and cheep options to help her improve. We tried daily journal writing, but nothing seemed to help. She hated writing and it was a subject that brought constant tears. We were finally blessed to review IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing) and it has changed the way she views writing. I wish I had spent a little bit more money in the beginning. I can’t imagine how much better her writing would be by now if she would have been using it from the start.

4. Start Independent Work Early.

This was one of my biggest mistakes! Independent work is important. The child needs to be able to practice what they have learned on their own. Since it was just the two of us, I usually was close by to help AJ when she needed it. That made her very dependent on me. It got to the point where she wouldn’t do any work unless I was sitting right with her. I am glad we have moved passed that point, but if I could go back I would make her do at least two subjects by herself daily. They wouldn’t have to be major subjects. It could be writing spelling words or working on math problems. Copywork is another subject that can be easily done independently. Find something your child can practice on their own. It will help to build their confidence and improve their work ethic.

5. It is Okay to Make Mistakes.

Making mistakes is part of the learning process. Let kids know that they don’t have to be perfect, that they need to work hard and do their best. Sometimes failing a math lesson or a spelling test is a good thing. It lets them know they need to work harder. It may mean they need to approach a task from a different perspective and try new methods. This goes for parents too. You might make the wrong choice on curriculum or feel like you are not getting through to your child. It will be okay. Try something new the next day and learn together.

Homeschooling is a journey. You will have hard times, but there will be so many great times. You will get to see your child grow and learn. You will see them preserver through subjects that are difficult. The best part is you get to be with them as they discover the world and how it works.

What is something you would go back and tell yourself at the beginning of your homeschooling journey?

MyFreezEasy.com ~ Review

About a year ago I was getting ready for a major surgery on my foot. I knew that I would be in the hospital for a few days and that I wouldn’t be able to cook for a while once I got home. Since I am allergic to corn, and it is in just about everything, I knew that I needed to do something to make sure I would have something to eat during my recovery. I couldn’t depend on a TV dinner or a can of soup because the majority of them contain corn products. In the end I decided to make a bunch of meals ahead of time and freeze them. It was a lot of work to find recipes that would freeze well and would work for our family, but having the meals ready to go made our life a lot easier.

We ended up with a few favorite meals that I still try to make ahead and keep in the freezer for days when I am hurting too badly to cook. Unfortunately, we also ended up throwing away too much food because some foods just don’t freeze well. I was in the middle of trying to find new freezer recipes to try when we were given the chance to review an amazing product that I thought would be perfect for our family. We were given the chance to review the MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership from MyFreezEasy. We received an annual subscription.

Fill Your Freezer with homemade meals!

What is MyFreezEasy.com?

MyFreezEasy.com is an online subscription based product that helps you to quickly and easily find recipes to make ahead and put in your freezer. The process is simple!

First you decide on a plan that fits your family.

MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
There are enough options to satisfy the majority of families. You can pick from meal plans that change monthly including:

  • Traditional Meal Plan – This includes a variety of different meats and cooking methods.
  • Gluten-Free Meal Plan
  • Slow Cooker Meal Plan
  • Clean Eats Meal Plan
  • 20 Meals Plan – This has 10 different meals that are each made twice.
  • All Chicken Meals Plan
  • All Ground Beef Meals Plan
  • All Pork Chop Meals Plan
  • Or a Build a Menu Meal Plan – This lets you pick a total of five meals from any of the meal categories.

Most of the meal plans have five different meals that you will double giving you a total of ten meals to put in your freezer.

MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
Once you select the meal plan that fits your family, you decide how many servings of each meal you want to make. Then you simply save the meal plan to your computer and print it off. You can also print labels for each of the meals.

For each recipe in the plan you are given directions for making a single meal and the assembly and preparation directions for how to make two of the meals. You are also given a shopping list for each recipe individually and a master shopping list that includes everything you will need to make all ten or twenty meals. The shopping list is even divided by the sections of the grocery store. One spot has all of the spices you will need while another section lists all of the canned or boxed goods. The process should make for a simple shopping experience.

MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
Then you simply return home, batch cook the meals, and freeze them. The result is a freezer full of home cooked meals that you can pull out and make with little effort on busy days.

How We Used MyFreezEasy.com

When we were first given access to the website I began looking through the different meal plans. None of the premade meal plans were a good fit for our family so I decided to make one of our own. After looking through dozens of recipes I was quickly discouraged. While the site has a lot of different meals I found a lot of them to be very similar. There were also a lot that required things like Alfredo sauce or cream soups. I have to make my own Alfredo Sauce and cream soup base from scratch, and they don’t freeze well so instantly a lot of the meals wouldn’t work for our family. After looking over the different recipes I found 8 that sounded like they would be something we would like and something I wouldn’t have to make too many changes to.

The process of making the meal plan was easy once I decided on the recipes that I wanted to make.  I selected the meals, put in the number of servings, and printed off the lists. I wasn’t sure how big the servings would be so I decided to opt for more than I needed to make sure there would be enough. The serving sizes are actually quite large and in the future I will be able to make less and still fill up our family.

After I printed off the shopping list, I had someone take me to the store and came home ready to cook. The meals I decided to make were: 5 Ingredient Chili, Slow Cooker Chili Mac, Lightened Up Chicken Parmesan, Slow Cooker Butter Chicken, and Ranch Chicken and Baby Potato Bake.

When I got home I made up the chili, chili mac, and the butter chicken. But when I went to make the chicken Parmesan I found out that I didn’t have bread crumbs and they were not on the shopping list that was generated. I was a little irritated because I can’t drive and it isn’t always easy to have someone take me to the store. Since I didn’t have bread crumbs I couldn’t make that recipe. Then when I went to make the other recipe I realized I didn’t have bacon, and it wasn’t on my list either.

I decided the three meals would be enough to start with. We tried the chili first. It was ok, but we needed to make some changes to fit our taste. It is a recipe we will make again in the future. Next we tried the chili mac. It was a meal I was looking forward to. The first time I cooked it like the directions said and the macaroni was way over cooked. It was a starchy mess that we had to throw away. The next time I only let it cook part of the time and didn’t add in all of the macaroni. It was dry and again it had to be thrown away. I thought for sure that we would like the butter chicken. But we didn’t.

What We Thought

I love the idea of MyFreezEasy.com. Cooking ahead and having meals ready to throw in the oven or the slow cooker makes dinner time go a lot smother. Unfortunately, because of food allergies that limit what we can eat and a somewhat picky family, a lot of the meals won’t work for our family. We plan to make more meals form MyFreezEasy.com in the future, but we won’t be freezing any of them until we try them out and like them first. My grocery budget can’t handle throwing away food.

I loved how easy the site was to use. The way the shopping list was set up made for an organized trip to the store, but they need to find a way to make sure all of the ingredients end up on the shopping list. There were also errors in a few of the recipes making it hard to know how much spices needed to be added.

Between the lists, helpful videos, and labels, this really is a great way to get started in freezer cooking. If you don’t have a lot of food restrictions and have family who is willing to try new dinners, this is a good product to try.

Find out what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about MyFreezEasy.com by clicking on the graphic below.

MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
Crew Disclaimer

10 Best Things About Spring

10 Reasons why you should enjoy spring.

Spring is in the air; well it will be soon, anyway. Who knows what this crazy weather will bring? Where I live in California, it is usually nice out and it may get hotter or cooler depending on the month. Our winter is very mild and cool; spring is rainy, windy, and nice; summer is hot; fall may be cool, but still nice. With the drought we are going through right now we could really use some rain.

One thing that really bugs me about Spring is that we can’t really plan ahead what we should wear for the week. In a single week, my 11 year old may wear pants with a light jacket one day, shorts with short sleeves the next day, and a tank top, shorts, and flip flops the next day. Sometimes I wish that we lived in an area that had distinctive seasons, but then I see how others have tons of snow while we are running around in shorts. I guess everywhere has its advantages and disadvantages.

There isn’t a season that I don’t like, so today I wanted to share my top ten reasons for enjoying spring.

  1. The flowers. I love to see the beautiful new flowers starting to bloom all around. They smell wonderful and really put me into a good mood. I can’t seem to keep flowers alive, but I love to look at what others have grown.
  2. Easter. Easter is a favorite around here. From coloring eggs, to egg hunts, there is fun all around. We focus on God, but still take part in a lot of fun activities.
  3. Fresh air. Spring time is usually when the house can be open. We don’t need the air conditioner or heater going so the windows can be open and fresh air can fill the house.
  4. Day light. I hate changing the clocks in the fall. I don’t like that we lose an hour of sleep when the clocks change in the spring, but I do love the fact that it is lighter later into the day. AJ can ride her bike longer, and I can run errands longer without being in the dark.
  5. Rain. (Well, I hope there will be rain.)They say April showers bring May flowers. I am not sure how true that saying is, but I love the rain. I love to listen to it, and smell the freshness after the rain. We are currently in a drought so we can use any rain that comes our way.
  6. Birthdays. May is a busy month for us. It is AJ’s birthday, my grandma’s birthday, my birthday, and Mother’s day. Even if we don’t do much it is a fun time of year.
  7. Spring Break. We don’t do anything special for spring break, but it usually means that AJ’s friends are able to come over and spend some time with her. Between school, sports, and life we don’t get to see her friends as often as we would like. When the public school is out that means more time for friends.
  8. Fruit prices go down. Spring and summer bring affordable fruit prices. I am the mean mom who won’t pay for grapes and strawberries unless they are on sale. Spring time is when we start to see 99 cents a pound sales and we enjoy a greater variety of fruit.
  9. The birds. Listening to the birds out your window, and seeing them fly by just make the day a little bit better.
  10. Summer is just around the corner. Summer here means swimming and spring time means that we are that much closer to jumping into the pool. We could live in the pool and often spend hours swimming. If we have a warm spring we might even get to swim before the season officially changes.

What is your favorite season?


The Day My Child Disappeared

I looked everywhere, but she was nowhere to be found. I picked up the phone and diled 911

The day started off a little more stressful than usual, my mom had just returned from the hospital and we were waiting on a home health nurse to come and check on her.

I got on the computer to refill grandma’s prescriptions and had AJ(12) take out the trash. I told her to come right back because I wanted to get the kitchen cleaned up.

After about 10 minutes, she wasn’t back. I had finished on the computer and started the dishes. I assumed she had gotten side tracked, like always, and that she was probably playing with the dog.

I called her name a few more times, but she didn’t respond. At this point I was getting angry! She was told to come right back and she just ignored me. I yelled for her again, and then checked if she was outside.

She wasn’t in the back yard, or near the trash can. The gate was unlocked so I knew she had went out, but normally she locks it up when she comes back in. It was odd, but I wasn’t too alarmed.

I figured she was in helping mom or grandma, so I checked. She wasn’t with either of them, at that point I began to panic.

I hobbled to the pool, had she fallen in and I not heard her? My heart sank. She knows how to swim, but I know accidents can happen. I looked around the pool and then checked the bottom. She wasn’t there. I breathed a sigh of relief and then realized that I hadn’t seen her in about 20 minutes.

I checked each room, the garage, the front and back yard, the car, but couldn’t find her anywhere.

I screamed for her at the top of my lungs, but she was nowhere!

I looked outside. It was eerily quiet and empty. There were no cars and only 3 people. A teenager who was flying by on his skateboard, a teenage girl who we have never seen before, and an older woman who we see once in a while walking by the house.

As I screamed her name the skateboarder didn’t flinch, he went on his way. The girl looked at me and then ran off, and the older woman just stood there.

At that point I was terrified. Had she been kidnapped? I knew the only kids she ever played with lived in the cul-de-sac in front of our house, and they weren’t home. The two neighbors she sometimes visits weren’t home either. We don’t know anyone else, so where could she have gone?

I grabbed the phone and dialed 911. While I was waiting I kept calling her name. I was in tears thinking of the millions of possibilities. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children  states that the first three hours are the most critical when trying to locate a missing child, so I didn’t want to waste any more time.

As I was giving the police my information she came walking up from around the corner. The older lady waved at me said, “sorry” then disappeared.

I hung up from the police and collapsed. I was crying so hard that I could hardly catch my breath. I was finally able to ask where she was and what happened. Her answer floored me!

She was “helping” the older lady who could hear me screaming and who looked right at me. She had told AJ that she needed help finding her dogs that had run off.

AJ knows better, she has been told since she could walk to NEVER take candy from strangers and to NEVER go with someone who wanted help finding their dog. AJ has always been a people person and an overly trusting kid, so we frequently talk about strangers. The very day before this happened we were discussing that just because she has met a person a few times didn’t mean that she knew them.

I was relieved, happy, and thankful that she had come back, but I was angry that she didn’t use her best judgment. She is 12, that age where she thinks she knows everything and thinks she could have defended herself if someone tried anything. She thought she was just helping an older lady out and doing the right thing.

To be fair, there were two dogs that were running around, and maybe it was an innocent situation, but I have my doubts. There is a park at the end of the street. And that young girl who ran off when I called AJ, ran into the park. There was also a van parked there that drove off a few moments after AJ appeared. We haven’t seen the dogs since she came back either.

Was it a tactic to lure her away and kidnap her, or was it just an older woman who needed help? We will never know. But I do know that she won’t be taking the trash out by herself for a very long time.

I am not telling this story to embarrass her, but as a reminder that it only takes moments for a child to disappear. Please take a moment and remind your children about strangers.


Motivate Your Child Action Plan – Giveaway

A few months ago I was given the chance to review the amazing, eye opening book, Motivate Your Child. It really changed how I thought about discipline and motivating AJ. After reading it I changed some things and honestly life has been a little bit better. We still have issues, but not as many as before. When I was recently given the chance to review the Motivate Your Child Action Plan, I was sure it would be amazing. It is like a workbook to help you make changes. It helps you focus on your child’s strengths and areas that need improvement. You will be able to read my full review in a few weeks, but until then, enter this giveaway and join me at the Facebook party!
Motivate Your Child Action Plan Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Motivate Your Child Action Plan, we are joining other members of the Launch Team in a wonderful giveaway filled with an iPod Touch, $50 iTunes Gift Card and several biblical parenting products! A value of nearly $350!

Here’s what you could win:

Apple iPod touch 16GB Black/Silver  ($195 value)

  • In the Box – iPod Touch, Apple EarPods, Lightning to USB cable, QuickStart guide
  • Brilliant 4 Retina display with Multi-Touch IPS technology
  • Front-Facing FaceTime camera with 1.2MP photos & 720p HD video recording.
  • iOS 6 features – Siri, Apple Designed Maps, Integrated Facebook, Shared Photo Streams, Passbook & more

iTunes Gift Card ($50 value)

Because you’ll need apps and music for that iPod Touch!

The Christian Parenting Handbook and Companion Guide ($56.95 value)

The Christian Parenting Handbook contains nuggets of parenting wisdom condensed into 50 short chapters, each one biblical, practical, and relevant for parents of children ages 2-18. Learn appropriate ways to correct, instruct, and set limits. Glean wisdom for dealing with emotions, conflict, and developing closeness in your family… and much more. These 50 strategies provide you with hands-on tools for parenting children of any age.

The Companion Guide is a workbook of 50 lessons along with 50 audio tips to take you through The Christian Parenting Handbook step by step. Each lesson contains advice from Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller in a 5 minute audio tip and then offers teaching, an assignment, a Bible verse, and a prayer to help you apply each idea or strategy in your family. The tips are available to you as MP3 downloads and access to them comes in the workbook.

Family Time Activities Book Bundle ($45 value)

Your kids will have fun learning about God’s Word and how it applies to their lives. Science experiments, art activities, and games are all designed to reinforce spiritual truth. Each lesson is clear and simple, yet profound even for parents! You’ll teach kids how exciting it is to learn about God and his ways. Your kids will love these books, but more importantly you’ll build spiritual memories of Family Time in your home. Titles in this giveaway include:

Seeing Is Believing 

Playing for Keeps 

Running the Race

Enter the Giveaway using the Rafflecopter below! This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY to those 18 years of age or older. Void where prohibited by law.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Join us for the Action Plan Facebook Party on Wednesday, May 20 at 9:00PM ET. There will be even more prizes and giveaways there and the authors of Action Plan will be present to answer your questions! The winner of this giveaway will be announced at the Facebook party!

RSVP here for the Party!

Action Plan Facebook Party

Family Toolbox Review

AJ and I were recently given the opportunity to review a new program for families with kids ages 10 to 18 called Family Toolbox. The Family Toolbox was created by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN from the National Center for Biblical Parenting. It is meant for kids and parents to work together and learn 16 life principles.

What is the Family Toolbox exactly?

It is a video based program that includes 8 different videos that are each 2 to 3 minutes long. The videos show a realistic real life situation between parents and teens. To go along with the videos there is a workbook designed for both the teens and the parents to complete. In each video two different life success principles are addressed. Some of the life success principles include; avoiding arguing, developing internal motivation, accepting no as an answer, viewing the family as a team, and so many other useful skills. The workbook includes thought provoking questions about the video along with Bible verses that go along with the topics being discussed. There is also a second set of videos that are each about 10 minutes long. They are designed to be watched by the parents. These videos go along with the short videos and include great parenting advice and practical solutions. 

How long is each lesson?  

Each lesson lasts about 10 to 15 minutes. The lessons are divided into four steps. The first step is the introduction where a little bit of background information is provided to set up the scene for the video that you are about to watch. Step two is to watch the video.The third step is the discussion. During the discussion there are questions the teens are to answer in the workbook about what they watched on the video. This is where the life success principles are addressed and the teen is asked thought provoking questions about each principal. After each success principle there is a Bible section. In this section there is a Bible verse along with an explanation as to how it applies to the success principal. The final step is conclusion and prayer. In this step the teen is asked how they can apply the principles to their own life, and then they pray with their parents. There are a total of 8 lessons in the program. Find out more about what is covered in each of the lessons here.

What did we think?

After reading through the workbook and watching some of the videos I was surprised. I usually stay away from parenting books and anything that tries to tell me how to raise my little one, but the video here made me want to try the program out. I wasn’t sure what to expect…. but I was pleasantly surprised. The videos weren’t preachy. Watching the videos actually made me feel like a friend was sitting down giving me a little bit of practical advice. 

I really enjoyed the short video clips. The scenes were believable and unfortunately I saw myself in a few of the parents in the clips. While not necessarily doing something wrong, they were not making the best decisions in some of the situations. I liked the fact that the blame for the difficult situation in the video was never put on just the parent or the child. In the discussion section we were asked questions about the behavior of both the kids and the adults in the videos. 

Both AJ and I appreciated how short and too the point the lessons were. While the workbook is designed to be written in, we decided to just discuss the questions. She hates to write so I figured that the lessons would work better if we just completed them verbally.
Overall I feel that this is a solid program that can help teach great family values. While it is too soon to tell how the program is going to turn out, I think it offers a lot of great advice. I have already learned quite a few tips that both AJ and myself can use to make the coming up teen years a little smoother. 
The only thing that I disliked about the program was the price. For a downloadable copy of the program it is $79.95 and for a physical copy it is $99.95. While it is a great product I personally could not justify that price. However I am a cheapskate. If you were to go to parenting classes or workshops you would more than likely spend way more, so if you and your teens are butting heads, this may be the perfect program for you.

Family Toolbox Giveaway

AJ and I have just started to use a new program, The Family Toolbox, and I think it will be a huge blessing to our family. A little less attitude would definitely be appreciated around here so I am hopeful that this program will help. Watch for my review of this new program in a few weeks, but  In the mean time take an opportunity and enter this great giveaway! It is full of outstanding tools to help bring your kids up right. This program is not restricted to homeschoolers, if you have preteens or teens it may help your family.
    The Family Toolbox is a DVD/video-driven program that brings parents and teens together for constructive dialogue around significant issues of discipleship. Conversation is sparked by engaging video clips. Sixteen Life Success Principles are communicated through eight lessons that give parents and teens biblically-based, practical topics for discussion. The format grabs teens and gets them interacting. The Family Toolbox has 8 lessons. Each one has a 1-2 minute scene of a family living life and experiencing common challenges in their relationships. A discussion guide prompts dialogue between parents and teens and a 10-minute teaching session for parents featuring Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN gives practical tools to use right away. Family Toolbox Giveaway I am excited to be joining with the National Center for Biblical Parenting (NCBP) to bring you a wonderful giveaway to celebrate the release of the Family Toolbox.  The giveaway includes a $50 Amazon Gift Card + a bundle of biblical parenting resources from NCBP, including: 

The Christian Parenting Handbook and Companion Guide

The Christian Parenting Handbook contains nuggets of parenting wisdom condensed into 50 short chapters, each one biblical, practical, and relevant for parents of children ages 2-18. Learn appropriate ways to correct, instruct, and set limits. Glean wisdom for dealing with emotions, conflict, and developing closeness in your family… and much more. These 50 strategies provide you with hands-on tools for parenting children of any age.  The Companion Guide is a workbook of 50 lessons along with 50 audio tips to take you through The Christian Parenting Handbook step by step. 

Cultivating Responsibility: Parenting Wisdom for Ages 9-12 Years

The later elementary age years are among the greatest times to build responsibility in children. Heart transformation takes place when parents use other tools than behavior modification. Sometimes though, bad attitudes, disrespect, and a lack of cooperation can muddy the waters. You’ll want to learn from the experts how best to navigate these years. Your children are making significant developmental leaps in their cognitive, social, emotional and spiritual growth. Understanding how best to help children through these years is essential.

Family Heart Moments

The Family Heart Moments book is a treasure. Over 70 inspirational true stories from parents who are eager to connect with their children’s hearts. The heart is a special place in the life of a child. You don’t want to miss it. This book will give you practical ideas for touching your kids in the deepest place.

Family Time Activity for Teens

Teenagers are in an exciting time of life. They’re learning a lot about themselves and the world, and they need lots of spiritual guidance. The activities and applications in this book are designed specifically for teens. The object lessons and games are captivating and the biblical lessons are timeless. Walking Billboards, Fear Factor, and Gender Differences, are just a few of the titles. Nineteen lessons are included, all unique and powerful. Make Family Time a regular part of your family’s spiritual growth. 

Learning About Sex: Love, Sex, and God

In a natural, conversational style, this book answers tough questions that help teens separate sex and love facts from myths. Straight facts on dating, marriage, sex, and sexually transmitted diseases are presented here.

Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining and Bad Attitudes, in You and Your Kids

It affects the way people think, the way they act, and the way they treat others around them. Honor motivates parents to treat children differently. It gives children more constructive ways to interact with their parents. It helps siblings develop tolerance and patience. Honor builds incredibly strong bonds that, in turn, benefit all members of the family. This book shows you in practical ways and shows how honor can transform your family. To enter, use the Rafflecopter below. This giveaway is open internationally to those age 18 and older. a Rafflecopter giveaway   Also, please join us for The Family Toolbox Facebook Party on Thursday, October 16, 8-10PM ET where there will be even more great prizes, an opportunity to ask your parenting questions, and lots of fun and fellowship! The winner of this giveaway will be announced at the Facebook party! RSVP for the Party here: https://www.facebook.com/events/876232019055940/ Family Toolbox Facebook Party

Horrible Manners

A few days ago there was a question asked on one of the homeschool Facebook groups that I often visit. It was a simple question. What is something non academic that you want to teach your child by the time they were finished with school? There were all kinds of answers ranging from cooking, cleaning, and sewing to life skills and good character qualities. The question really got me thinking. There are so many things that I want to teach AJ before she is all grown up. One thing I really want her to learn is something I see lacking in today’s society, manners.

We were grabbing a hamburger while we were finishing up our running around yesterday and I was shocked. A young couple with their toddler were in eating at the table across from us, they were ignoring the child looking at their cell phones, and the kid was just throwing food everywhere. I know kids will be kids and I have had to clean up a few messes that my little one has made over the years, but the way that they left the table was ridiculous. There were fries and ketchup all over the floor along with napkins and food wrappers all over the table and floor. The mess was not all from the child either. I couldn’t believe that when they were all finished eating, they picked up the kid and walked out.

I may not be able to teach AJ everything she will need to know, no one will, but one thing I will ensure she learns is manners. She will learn to clean up after herself at home and in public. She will learn to show respect and to put down her phone (if she ever gets one) when she eats or is with others. She will learn to make eye contact and listen when she is speaking with others. In this day and time I think it is important to stress manners, it is so easy to get caught up in other things……. but I hope I am able to instill manners in AJ.

Gymnastics and a Bike

It has been a busy couple of weeks around our house. It seems like we are always on the go between doctors and gymnastics.  I had to see a new doctor regarding my work injury to my leg and foot. This doctor couldn’t believe I was still working and decided to keep me home. It isn’t going to be good money wise, but maybe it will give my foot a chance to heal. They are going to send me for more tests and hope to figure out the problem. I hope they can because three years of this is enough to drive anyone nuts. It is sad that there are so many hoops to jump through just to get better, and that those few bad apples that want to cheat the system make it harder on the rest of us. Well I guess that is enough complaining. We had a few good things happen this week.

On Tuesday my little one {from now on I plan to refer to her as AJ} had her second inner squad of the season. She has been practicing very hard and really trying to fix those little mistakes in her routine that get points deducted. Up to this point she had never received a score of 9 or above on the bars. She normally gets a pink or purple ribbon on the bars during competition and honestly I didn’t thing a rainbow ribbon would be possible. Well I was wrong! On Tuesday she got a score of 9.2 on the bars and she was beyond excited. She was so proud of herself. When we got home she started to call everybody to tell them she finally got a 9 on the bars. He routine was very good and aside from her leg hitting the bar during the leg cut it was the best I have seen her do. This was not a real meet but it was judged by a real judge. She doesn’t have another official meet until the end of May so her goal is to get a rainbow ribbon in the next competition. I think that score gave her the confidence boost she needed.


AJ has been saving her money since Christmas and finally spent it this week. She bought herself a bike. She has had a small bike for a while but it has training wheels and she couldn’t ride the bike without them. Since I have not been able to walk very well for the last three years, teaching her to ride a bike was something that just couldn’t happen. She was determined to ride though and after a few minutes struggling she got it. She can’t turn very well yet but she is getting the hang of it.


School work has been about the same. Her reading comprehension skills are getting better and she is doing a lot better at reading out loud. In multiplication she is doing well. This week she will be focusing on her sixes. I am anxious to see how she does once she gets to the “harder” facts. Problem Solving is coming around and I can see her using her thinking skills to solve the problems. We finished the second week of spelling and she got 100% on the spelling test. I really like the Soaring with Spelling program and hope it continues to work for us. We started our volcano lap book and so far she likes the lap book idea. If this one goes well I plan on doing more of them with her. We are taking a break with Spanish now that the review is done and plan to pick it up with the start of next year.

We have decided to try and make a menu plan for the month of May and stick to it. We are going to do a big shopping day for the month and hope to cut out all of those last minute trips to the store. I am hoping by doing that we will eat out less and save some money. I will let you know if we are able to stick to our plan.

That’s how our week went. It never seems like there are enough hours in a day but we get through it.

We Choose Virtues – Review

Obedience, honesty, helpfulness and kindness are all qualities that the world needs a little more of, so when I was given the opportunity to review We Choose Virtues I was excited. It is a program geared towards kids ages 3 through 5th grade to help teach them to be:











Attentive and


The best part is that there is no right or wrong way to do the program. I was given a few different things to help teach the different virtues. The first thing I received was actually a free product, the Family Character Assessment. It is a downloadable page that is a self assessment to see where your child feels they are on all of the different virtues. I figured my little one would say she was doing great on all of them but it turns out she knew where she needed help. She decided the virtues she needed to work on the most were honesty, perseverance, and obedience. I agreed with her and we started with Honesty, she likes to lie about the craziest things even when there is no way what she is saying could be true. It was nice to see that she knows what she needed to work on though. Another free resource available is a list of memory verses, heroes and truths that reinforce the virtues.

The item I feel was the most important was a set of Virtue flash cards. You get 12 cards; each has a cute picture of a child whose name starts with the first letter of the virtue. Hockey Stick Nick is the Virtue Kid that helps you to remember Honesty. On the back side of the card there is a kid friendly definition of the virtue along with a memory verse that goes along with the virtue.

Honesty says, “I am a truth teller I am not a liar, a thief or a cheater and I don’t change the truth to get my way!

The cards come in KJV, NIV or secular. It is recommended to focus on one virtue each week. We talked about each virtue each week and then picked one to focus on through out the week. My little one really liked the cards and loved how the definitions were written in words that she could understand. Some may feel that the pictures on the cards are a little too young for older kids, but my 9 year old seemed to like them a lot. The cards are $14.99 and I feel they are definitely worth the price.

I was also given a sample parent card. The parent cards tell a story about the virtue kids and give ideas to help reinforce the virtue. The parent cards are $34.99 and I will be purchasing the entire set in the future because I think they would help to grasp the virtues better, and She enjoyed the story about Airplane Betty Jane (attentiveness).

I received a downloadable coloring book as well. It is a good value at only $3, but my little one is not too into coloring, and she didn’t care for the pictures too much. I think for a younger child the coloring book would be good.

I also received a downloadable teacher’s handbook; it costs $5 and has a lot of ideas on how to learn virtues in a group setting. Even though I only have 1 little one I found some very useful ideas. If you have more than one child I think it would be useful to get. There are numerous other products available including posters, awards and goal charts. While those items may be helpful I feel that the virtues could be easily taught with just the Virtue Flash Cards and the Parent Cards. Check out the other products and more about the program here

There are also different kits available for church groups and home schools. Throughout the month of April there will be a discount code available if you would like to purchase the Home school kit. Type in Home20 before check out to receive 20% off of your home school kit. Another code that is available forever is Virtue15. It will give you 15% off any purchase through We Choose Virtues. The two discount codes can not be combined.

Overall we enjoyed using this product. I like how the virtues are backed up with verses from the Bible and really enjoy that they are written in a child friendly way. Character training is a life long lesson and we plan to continue to use these products to help us to live a better life. I have seen a change in my little one’s behavior while using the cards. I hope your family is able to enjoy this product as well.

Product at a Glance

What is it?

It is a character training program for kids.

Who is it for?

Kids age 3 through 5th grade

How much will it cost?

The flash cards are $14.99, but there are other products available including different kits.

Where can I get it?



I like it because it is kid friendly and is easy to teach!