Monday, May 22, 2017

Tuesday's Giveaway Link Up- May 23, 2017

Welcome to Tuesday's Giveaway Link Up with your hosts Karen @ Tots and Me, Emily @ Emily Reviews, Shelly @ The Attic Girl, and Rena @ An Ordinary Housewife.

So glad you could join us as we share our giveaways on  Tuesday's Giveaway Link Ups. 

This link up will be posted Monday at 7 PM est. and run all week long! Make sure you stop in as often as you can to list your latest giveaways.

Here is how to use the Giveaway Link Up

1. Post your reviews and/or giveaways, as many as you have, be sure to add the end date (family friendly please)

2. Help spread the word about the giveaway link up by grabbing our button, Tweeting or posting on Facebook. (Not mandatory- but it helps get more exposure to your giveaways as well!)

3. Take a moment to enter any giveaway that strikes an interest to you!

If you would  like to follow the  hostesses, we will gladly follow you back! Simply leave us a message to do so.

Featured Giveaways

Rock Dog Blu-ray US only Ends 6/2

Thank you for linking up with Karen @ Tots and Me, Emily @ Emily ReviewsShelly @ The Attic Girl, and Rena @ An Ordinary Housewife.

Letting the Creativity Flow With Thin Stix from The Pencil Grip, Inc. {A TOS Review}

If you have visited my blog before, you may have noticed that my children love to create works of art. They are always getting out the paint, markers, and/or crayons. Sometimes they even remember to ask first, which is especially important with the paint. Due to the mess it makes, paint is something I may just have to say "no" to sometimes, while other art media are usually allowed with no restraints. Even though our regular acrylic paints or water colors may be off limits at times, we also have these really cool paint sticks called Kwik Stix. We received the regular Kwik Stix a year and a half ago, and just recently we were given the opportunity, through the Homeschool Review Crew, to try out the new Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc.. We have been using and enjoying them in our home for several weeks. 

Here are the colors that are included in the 6pk of Classic Colors:

Black, Brown, Blue, Green, Red, and Yellow

When I wrote my review for the original Kwix Stix a year and a half ago, I said I thought of them as a combination of paint, a marker, and a glue stick. The reason I say that, is because they are solid tempera paint, and they are in a tube like a glue stick, so when you use them, it is almost like using a marker, but it is really paint. Now, these Thin Stix don't feel quite like using a glue stick, as they are longer and thinner, but the idea is still there. 

Thanks to the thinner tip, it is easier to fill in smaller areas of a painting and making finer lines. 

We love that the Thin Stix, as well as the Kwik Stix, go on nice and smoothly. Because of this, it is a lot easier to fill in a large area as compared with markers. You can also get different textures by varying how hard you push down on the Stix. 

This time around, I didn't really have any specific projects I wanted to work on with the children. We were working on some color mixing projects, but unfortunately, Thin Stix really can't be used for this kind of activity as the color from one stick will remain on the other stick as you combine the colors on the paper. So, while Thin Stix are a wonderful product, they will never be able to completely replace liquid types of paint. 

That doesn't negate all the great benefits, such as not having spilled paint on the table, and not having to wait forever for paintings to dry. We have always been impressed by how fast works of art made using Kwik or Thin Stix dry. The box says it will dry in 90 seconds. Depending upon how heavily the paint is applied, it may even take a shorter amount of time. Though we did notice that it can take a bit longer if it is applied really heavily, like Harold has been known to do. 

Thin Stix at work:

Time to share some of the paintings the children have created. They have huge "art galleries" by their beds where they have been hanging these pictures. Because they are mixed in with works of art that used other media, I decided to have the children pick some of their favorites for me to share with you, as I want to focus on the paintings that use the Thin Stix (though some of these paintings do have mixed media in them). 

Amelia has been using these things like crazy. She was making paintings and hanging them on the easel to "sell" to her siblings. 

This is one of the paintings that includes Kwik Stix as well. That was because she was running out of blue. It seems someone got blue-crazy recently. In some of the other paintings, other things were used because additional colors were desired.

Another benefit of Thin Stix is that they are also allowed to paint with them at the coffee table, because they won't make a mess like regular paint would.

Of course, with two children painting, I am especially glad that they won't be knocking any paint or water over. And if they get a little paint on the table, it is easy to clean up.

We were learning about Japan, and Amelia chose to make a Japanese flag. Also in the picture below, there is an apple tree (yes, that is one HUGE apple) made by Amelia, and a girl made by Hannah.

Here are some more of Amelia's creations:

(A bike, tree with flowers, treasure chest, sun, and apple pie)

Amelia also made some background scenery for a little play she put on, starring her "Cute Little Ugly Bug."

Here is her adorable play:

She even helped me compare the Thin Stix with the Kwik Stix by creating two "Hickory Dickory Dock" paintings.

She found it was definitely easier to make thinner marks with the Thin Stix, and she had more control when she was making the smaller parts of the picture.

Tabitha shared three of her favorite projects.

She has really been enjoying trying to write in Japanese (and now Chinese) as we were visiting Japan and China with our core curriculum. She figured writing in Japanese would also be fun with Thin Stix.

Here are a couple of Hannah's favorite paintings:

And Harold just HAD to share his dinosaur.

As you can see, Thin Stix are quite popular in our house. They usually paint on computer paper and card stock, but we also made some paper bag puppets using the Thin Stix. They can also be used on cardboard, wood, and canvas, but we haven't had the opportunity to try that out. 

We are definitely going to have to invest in a bigger pack of Thin Stix some day soon. There is a 12 pack available, plus a 6 pack of Neon, or a 6 pack of Metalix. Or I could really thrill the children with the Creativity Pack which contains all the colors (12 normal, 6 Neon, and 6 Metalix). 

These Thin Stix are just as wonderful as the original Kwik Stix. I am so glad that they have made a thinner variety, because one of the things I mentioned in my previous review was that smaller areas were not able to be painted with the thicker Kwik Stix. Granted, really fine lines or spaces will still be tricky, but these are a step in the right direction. 

I highly recommend Thin Stix as a wonderful addition to your art supply shelf/cupboard. When you need a product that will allow your children to create works of art without having to worry about a mess, these fit the bill. 

You can find The Pencil Grip, Inc. on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Don't forget to click the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about the Thin Stix 6 Pk of Classic Colors.

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

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Getting Our Homeschool Back on Track with Homeschool Rescue from Only Passionate Curiosity {A TOS Review}

Homeschooling...It's a wonderful, wonderful thing. There are so many benefits of homeschooling. There are so many reasons I know I do not want my children in public school. Yet, there are still days I wonder if I am doing the right thing. There are days the children are driving me batty, and I wonder if public school would be a better option {gasp}. Yes, there are times when I am stressed, but I know this is the right path for our family, and thankfully my husband supports me 100%. When I learned of a new, online course called Homeschool Rescue from Only Passionate Curiosity, I wondered if it could help me get on track, maybe help me relieve the stress. However, I was ambivalent about receiving it because it would mean extra work, which I was afraid would make me more stressed. Ultimately, I figured, if the Lord thought I needed this course, I would get a chance to review it. And that is just what happened (obviously). 

Heather from Only Passionate Curiosity created Homeschool Rescue to help moms who might be feeling overwhelmed or inadequate. Personally, I love her idea to "breathe new life into your homeschool," and this is what I needed. The thing is, I needed to take a hard look at my homeschool, I had to acknowledge where I was falling short, and be willing to change. And I don't do well with change.

As I already mentioned, Homeschool Rescue is an online course. This course is broken into five different modules, each of which then has 3-5 lessons. These lessons start with a video of Heather teaching us, usually in the form of a voice over while important points come onto the screen. These videos are usually 20 minutes or less. Then she assigns homework, usually in the form of a worksheet, the link for which is found underneath the video.

She also includes resources, helpful links, and various bonuses. These bonuses aren't just found on the lesson pages either, she has included some bonuses that you can find by clicking on the "bonus" link at the top of the home page. Here you will find the link to the private, members-only Facebook group, where you can go to discuss the course with others who are taking it. She also includes student accountability checklists and ten different ultimate planners, all of which are printable. Speaking of printable, you can also print out the downloadable transcript, which is great if you are one who prefers to read the lesson material. In addition, there is an option to download just the audio of the lesson.

So, what exactly have I been learning?

The course starts with having you take an honest look into your homeschool. Heather calls this "triaging" your homeschool. I needed to think about such things as what I would change about our homeschool and what I struggle with. Everyone knows there are going to be some days that are worse than others. So, another thing we looked at was making a plan for those "worst" days. In this module Heather also wants us to look at our children and figure out their learning style, and the best way to teach them, in addition to looking into their future. We were also supposed to come up with a Homeschool Mission Statement.

I actually found myself struggling with these first assignments, and honestly would like to come back to them again and really dig into them. The ones I struggled with the most were coming up with a mission statement and coming up with goals for the children's future. I was able to sit down with the children and ask them what they thought they were good at, and what they thought they would like to be when they grow up, but I really need some time to talk with them and their daddy at the same time, and this is hard to come by with my husband's work schedule. I decided I needed to move on to module 2, and figured we could come back to these worksheets. Besides, what I really needed to get to was looking at time management and organization.

In lesson 1 of module 2, we are encouraged to say "no" to additional obligations. For me, this isn't very difficult, as I really don't have a lot of outside obligations. I teach Sunday School, we go to co-op (though it is over for this school year), we go to the Y (which isn't going to change), and I have my blog and various reviews. The Homeschool Review Crew is not something I feel I want to drop at this time, as we have definitely received some curriculum that have really rounded out our learning, but I have been trying to limit how many review products I receive. (However, if you saw the list of all the products we are currently reviewing, you will see that I haven't done a great job limiting them recently). My biggest problem with time management comes from not being able to say no to Facebook. Seems, no matter what little thing I get onto Facebook to do, I always end up distracted and sucked in. A close second would be not being able to stop playing games on my phone. You know, the whole, "just one more try" that turns into 15 or 20 minutes of wasted time. 

From there we moved on to a couple of lessons I really appreciated. In lesson 3: Teaching the Masses, Heather gave some great suggestions for keeping children busy, and teaching them to work independently. After listening to the lesson, I asked the children to fill out the assigned worksheet to figure out what they could do to stay productive when mommy was busy with one or more of their siblings. 

My husband and I helped the younger children come up with ideas as well. It's a good reminder that children can learn to be productive on their own, and shouldn't need a parent telling them what to do 24/7. But, I need to remember that it is up to me to train them, so they are able to do so. 

I am currently working on some suggestions given in lesson 4 of module 2. There are so many great suggestions for ways to work with multiple children, such as a buddy system, using timers, and adding in brain breaks. However, in order to implement some of these, our schedule is going to need quite a bit of modifying. 

I am looking forward to getting to Modules 3 and 4, but I want to finish figuring out a daily schedule that will work for us, utilizing the different suggestions mentioned above. Module 3 will be looking at curriculum and how to make sure we get to all our scheduled lessons, in addition to looking at our homeschool space. Module 4 will look at setting students up for success, which is something I really need help with. With children who do not listen, I am really in need of advice on reward systems, training children, and consequences. One of my biggest struggles has always been follow through.

Here is a glance at what is available in this course:

Homeschool Rescue is a really helpful course for getting your homeschool back on track. What I really appreciated was, although a 60-day course plan is provided, Heather is constantly reminding us to give ourselves grace and go at our own pace. In fact, at first I thought I was behind, because I was looking at this schedule, and then one of the emails she sent out told us to erase the word "behind" from our vocabulary. As a homeschool mom, Heather realizes that we lead busy lives. So, instead of the two or three lessons a week with the homework as shown on the schedule, I have decided to stick with a lesson a week, so I can take time with the homework and not feel stressed. I figure this will give me the time to complete the assignments thoroughly. My best time for working with the lessons is before the children wake up. Used to be I could work after they went to bed as well, but I have been so tired at nights lately. Guess my body is telling me I am not getting enough sleep. 

I have really appreciated being assigned to this review. Yes, the Lord knew I needed it. And yes, I have found some great ideas that I need to implement, and it has reminded me of some things we used to do, that I should start doing again, such as having children teach days, where the older two pick a younger sibling and teach them some lessons while I get other things done. 

If you are struggling with feelings of inadequacy or even thoughts of sending your kids to public school, I would highly suggest trying out this course to get your homeschool back on track, and do what is best for your child. And the great thing is, once you purchase this course, and take it, you have life-time access. How's that for awesomeness?

You can find Only Passionate Curiosity on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+.

Don't forget to check out my fellow Crew Mates experience with Homeschool Rescue. Just click on the banner below:

Homeschool Rescue {Only Passionate Curiosity Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Throwback Thursday Blog-Style #152: May 18, 2017

Welcome back to... 

I know, I know, Throwback Thursday seems to be all about sharing pictures from the past, great memories that mean something to you, that you would like to share with others. At least that is how it appears to me. Throwback Thursday wasn't something I was participating in, and then I came up with an idea.

I thought it would be great fun and a help to my blog to share old content, but not just any old content. Each week I will share an old blog post from a previous year, any year, BUT it has to be from the current week (for example, something I've posted around May 18th, from any previous year)  I will go in, edit the post if needed, add a pinnable image if I don't already have one, and share it on Facebook.

Last year I focused solely on review posts for the posts I wanted to share. It was fun remembering some of the review products I had forgotten about. This year I will be focusing on recipes I have shared in the past.

Would you like to join in? You do not need to edit your past post in any way, you don't need to create a pinnable image, though it couldn't hurt, in fact it will help your blog traffic to add quality pinnable images to your posts.

Just go into your archives, choose a favorite post from this current week from any previous year, and link it up below. (If you don't have anything from this current week, it is still okay to link up with a post from a previous year around this time. And if you haven't been blogging for a full year, feel free to share any earlier post.)

Please make sure to share from the past as instructed above if you would like your post to qualify for the Featured Post. Most weeks I find that there is a wonderful post, but I can't feature it because it is a current post, not from the past. I love reading the current posts, if you want to share them. However, I am not able to feature them, because the spirit of Throwback Thursday Blog-Style is to share posts from the past.
Thank you

I will be pinning posts to my appropriate Pinterest boards and will be randomly selecting a Featured Throwback Thursday post to share next week. Just a note, I will be sharing a picture from your post if you are selected as the featured post, but I will link back to your post. I will ALWAYS give credit and link back. By linking up you are giving me permission to use your picture in the post. 

Here is my Throwback Thursday post:

Here is this week's randomly selected
Featured Throwback Thursday:

From a Doll's Eyes shared 

To participate, link up below. It would be great if you could visit several of the other posts that have linked up. Stop by, comment, and pin images so we can help each other.

If you would like to help spread the news:

Tots and Me
Happy Throwback Thursday!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: May 17, 2017 (w/linky) : Big Helpers

We needed to get rid of some big items, and were given the opportunity to use the township garbage trailer. The children insisted on moving the love seat by themselves.


Daddy offered to help, but they refused. So, he was relegated to supervisor while I was photographer. 

They were not happy that daddy tried to help.
So, he stepped back.

They finally admitted they probably needed some help getting it onto the trailer.

After the love seat was safely on the trailer, they moved on to other things.

So, what does this count as for homeschooling?

Looking forward to seeing your Wordless (or not so wordless) Wednesday posts this week.

Tots and Me

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