Sunday, August 28, 2011

Civilize This!


Civilize This! from Griddly Games is an extension pack to their already popular Wise Alec trivia game. This pack of trivia cards can be added to Wise Alec, or played on its own. You are challenged with Ancient, Medieval and Modern History questions; and if you are up for the challenge, you may even score points by getting a Wise Alec card. With this card, you may perform a silly challenge, or lose points just by bad luck. Either way, it's a lot of fun for everyone.


We have added this into our school day a couple of times a week, simply because it's so user friendly and gives the kids a great chance to review information from previous school years. We've all learned several new interesting tidbits as well! As parents, we've enjoyed the educational aspect of the game, but the kids have loved the Wise Alec cards the most. It's so much fun watching the kids trying to walk like Egyptians, or stand on one leg while balancing a book on their head - we've even gotten daddy to do a few silly things...but I'm not allowed to post THOSE pictures! ;)

Civilize This! is recommended for ages 8 and up, mainly because younger kids won't know much about these time periods. But because of the fun that the Wise Alec cards bring in, my 7 year old still loves playing - even if he misses most of his questions! :)

Since we didn't have the original Wise Alec game, we just played it like a card game. Roll the dice, pick a card, answer the question and get your points. We'd usually play to 25 points. I checked out Wise Alec on the website, and it comes with a game board. That may have been a little more fun and interactive for the kids, but we liked it fine the way we have played it as well. Also, with the original game, you can only have 2-4 players. When you just play with the cards, you could have more than 4 playing without any problem.


Griddly Games website gives you a review of their products, but you can't order directly from the site. However, all of their games are listed on Civilize This! is $14.99, as well as their other expansion packs. If you are looking for a fun way to get your kids into history, or you just want to increase their knowledge base, I recommend this game. It's a fun way to learn new facts, plus have a little goofiness added in for good measure - always a bonus in our house!

**Disclaimer: I received a free trial from Griddly Games via TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions stated are my own and my children’s.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Just trying to keep up...

...but it's not all bad! This is the reason I decided to start a little early this year, so I didn't feel pressure to keep to the schedule. We are easing into the year, which I'm so happy about, and it's been a real blessing - especially with changes of plans unexpectedly cropping up the last two weeks.

Chloe, Caleb and I were planning a trip to Ohio to see family. My sister and niece were going to go as well. We were planning on leaving Thursday night, but on Wednesday I found out I was going it alone. <:O I've never travelled more than 250 miles alone, and this was a little scary for me. But I couldn't bear the thought of cancelling the trip. I haven't seen my cousin (who is closer than a sister) for over a year and a half. Her husband is military and they've been in Germany. I WAS GOING TO OHIO!! After a little encouragement from Kelly, we decided to leave early Thursday morning. He wasn't comfortable with me driving overnight, and I couldn't have agreed more!

It was a wonderful trip. We had a lovely visit, and the kids travelled well. I made it to Defiance in under 12 hours, and I made it home on Sunday in 11. I'm so thankful we had this time together.

Anyway, I was a little exhausted from all the driving, so we decided to call off school Monday. The kids did some independent computer work and reading, but I mostly vegged. Not only that, but since we left early, we lost two days last week. So the breakdown of weeks 2 and 3 of school looks a little crazy:
Week 2
Monday - Neosho to grandparents and a drive through Joplin to see tornado damage
Tuesday - school
Wednesday - school
Thursday - OHIO
Friday - OHIO

Week 3
Monday - Mom is pooped - do your own thang!
Tuesday - full gear, let's do school!
Wednesday - school...with a twist

Oh! Did I forget to mention we lost power for 3 hours today? So any subject online was shot, and it got up to 87 degrees in our house. Needless to say, I lost my momentum! But regardless of all the busy-ness and setbacks, I feel like we've done quite a bit this school year already. This is one of the many reasons I love our homeschool journey. No two weeks look the same, and we are learning about and experiencing life...all together. We will start week 3 of our Core tomorrow, and I'm thrilled to say we'll get what we need to get done, done. And the rest will come.

So how has your week gone? ;)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

2011-12 School Year is Under Way...

...and we've all survived!! :D To be honest, we have started slowly. We are doing My Father's World, as you most know, and we started our core this week. We have done math drills and online games to refresh, but not started our curriculum yet. We have not picked back up on English, Spanish or spelling yet, either. My goal for August is to get the kids back into the swing of things, add one more subject in every few days, and be in full swing by September when we start co-op.

As for the core: what can I say except WE LOVE IT!!! The books we are using so far are our Bible, Celebrating Biblical Feasts, Dinosaurs of Eden, Genesis for Kids, God and the History of Art, David C. Cook's Journey Through the Bible and English from the Roots Up. I am so pleased with each book, no complaints as of yet.

This week, we have learned a little about the Sabbath and how it is kept in the Jewish faith. We plan to do this ourselves soon. The kids found it curious that the Jewish people observe Sabbath from Friday night to Saturday evening. We were pointed to Genesis 1, where in the creation account it states, "..and there was evening, and there was morning - the first day." WOW! I had never thought of it, but it's right there in God's Word. One of the reasons I love homeschooling and studying scripture with my kids - His Word is new and fresh every morning!

We have also been reading about dinosaurs - now you know the boys are loving this! I love this book, you need to find it: Dinosaurs of Eden. It gives simple accounts relatable for kids how science and our faith CAN and DO go hand in hand. I'm excited about what's next in this study.

We are using Genesis for Kids for science right now. I can't believe how fun this has already been! We've learned about blind spots and optical illusions this week, and it was just so much fun watching the kids do these experiments. Again, I love that it all goes back to the Lord and His creation.

God and the History of Art is going to be wonderful. We had a lesson called "frustration" on Tuesday, and it resonated with the kids. Have you ever heard of Joni Eareckson? Well, feel free to ask my kids about her and how God has used her life for His glory.

Tonight we are going to Wilson's Creek Battlefield for the 150th anniversary reenactment kickoff. It should be interesting, hopefully not too overwhelming. We have been reading a book called Joseph - 1861 about a young boy in Kentucky forced to choose a side even before the Civil War began. If you have never tried finding living books to coincide with your history lessons, I strongly suggest it. We can read all the textbooks we want, but until we look at the effects of the events on the life of a person or a family, it will never go beyond facts and knowledge. I want my kids to have wisdom and understanding. Every time we read a book like this, I can see their minds and hearts being touched by the event. When they go to a history book and read a paragraph about slavery or a Civil War battle, they will think back on this book and the choices a family had to make. It will change their lives.

So one week is practically under our belt. Greek is not at overwhelming as we expected, and handwriting is...well, let's just say not as emotional as last year. We are all works in progress, and we are doing it together.

When are you starting your year? If you've begun, how is it going? Leave a message so we can share in this adventure together! Blessings!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Busy August already

Do you ever feel like your children have literally grown overnight? Well, I'm feeling like that every time I turn around. It's so hard for me to believe that Canon turned 7 yesterday. I have a 7, 8 and 9 year old - as well as a 3 1/2 year old - for the next month. :O

We had a really great week. My niece, Amanda, spent the night with us on Tuesday. She's 15, therefore the coolest person the kids know at the moment. ;) She babysat them Wednesday so Kelly and I could celebrate our 14th anniversary... a day late, because Chloe and I had plans on Tuesday for a girls day with friends. We had to get my van looked over in preparation for my trip later this month, so we dropped it off at Rick's Automotive and walked the 2 blocks to Bass Pro Shops. We ate at Hemingway's. It had been a while since we'd been there, and Kelly was not disappointed. He loves shrimp and chowder, and he ate every penny's worth! I tried several things, but the salad was the best thing I had...take that as you will. :/

We took Amanda home and visited with my mom for a bit, then headed to McDonald's for a quick dinner. We were meeting over at the Chavez' home for our first bible study and worship time with our new church family, The Catalyst. I wrote a little about it here It will truly be a growing experience, and I'm thankful for what God is going to do with this ministry.

Thursday, my sister Ariel picked up Connor and Canon for my nephew Chance's birthday party. They were headed to 1984 , a really cool, retro arcade. The boys had a blast! We have coupons from our Library Reading Program for this place, so I'm sure we'll go back so I can check it out soon. I packed up Chloe and Caleb a little later and headed to McDonald's with the birthday cake. What a shindig! Grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and buddies - not to mention the dozens of people not with us - made for a very loud, very fun evening. All to be repeated the next day...

We decided earlier in the summer to celebrate Canon's birthday on Friday, because he wanted to go to Incredible Pizza. Now I don't know about some of you, but there are just some places that I refuse to go on the weekends if possible - and one of them is Incredible Pizza! ;) We had about 25 people with us, so it was another celebration with noise levels exceeding the normal limits. Canon had a blast playing games, opening presents and eating tons of food! My dear friend, Christy, let me bring all 3 of her boys home for a sleepover. They recently moved about an hour away, and we hadn't seen them all summer. I've missed them so much, and the kids were so excited to have the entie night together. We went home for a rest, then I loaded all seven of them in the van for a night at the Ozark Empire Fair. Insane, I know! But we met Jason and Steph there, so it was 9 kids for 3 adults - better odds than I'm used to! LOL!

Everyone was worn out by the time Saturday got here, so we made it an easy day. Aside from singing to him and giving him his "birthday spanking", Canon's birthday was pretty low-key. He wanted steak for dinner, so I went and got them from the store while Kelly fired up the grill. We had steak, zucchini squash and mushrooms, corn on the cob, and fried green tomatoes. We could barely move, we all ate so much! It was just a great, quiet evening at home with my 5 favorite people in the world. It couldn't get much better than that - until Connor asked to go shoot for a while. Now it was even better! We took Connor's .22 and one of Kelly's pistols (the younger ones took their slingshots), and off we went to the field. Everyone did really well, and they even talked Mom into shooting for a bit.

These are the nights/weekends that I hope they look back on and know how blessed they were. Not the crazy busy-ness of the week, but the time spent together, at home, will hopefully mean the most to them. Don't get me wrong, I love all the activities we do. But sometimes the quieter moments get lost in the shuffle, and I enjoy just staying home with the family. Playing checkers, reading a book. Rarely is it quiet here, but it's nice to just slow down and stay home, too.

I hope you made some memories with your family this weekend. Whether you were on the go, or stayed at home, savor the moments together. Don't miss out on the little things. Blessings!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Reviews to Come

The TOS Homeschool Crew is moving right along. I've already been assigned several things to review, and I couldn't be more excited - I've even received a few already! :D

I just wanted you all to be looking for my reviews. I'll be adding a new sidebar where you can see what is coming up. This is an exciting opportunity for me and the kids. Not only do we get to try out curriculum, games, devotionals and computer programs, we get to do it for free! And I get to share my opinions with all of you! Be looking for my first review the end of this month. Bye for now, have a great weekend!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Relearning old Truths

Even amidst a depressed spirit and a feeling of letdown, I found great comfort in two things tonight. One: God's Word is relevant to me, in every state of being, in every situation I find myself in. His Word never fails me. Two: Tables can truly turn in relationships, and I am so thankful for the one that turned tonight.

One of my sweet little sisters in the faith has been brought back into my life. God is in the midst of it, and it's been a blessing. I've known my friend since she was 12 or 13, and I was about 21 or so. I was her youth counsellor, and she was a beautiful, bubbly teenager. She had a life story that drew her to me, and we bonded easily. The Lord allowed me to be a part of her life and I saw her grow and blossom and find her life and love in Him. She married a boy I love as much as I love her, and they moved on to be part of a new ministry, doe-eyed and passionate to learn more of His ways.

Here we are, five years later. We are finding ourselves about to start on a new endeavor to bring the lost to Jesus Christ. We are excited, but wary; nervous, but thrilled; ready for new beginnings, but painfully looking back at all we've been through and uncertain as to what the next steps are. But ready to take those steps together.

I am struggling. I am certain of the path we are on. I am certain it is God's will. I am excited and rearing to go, but unexplicably vulnerable and frustrated. After our small group tonight, I completely melted down. I found myself a puddle, and not really even sure why! My friend and pastor spoke words of encouragement, and I'm so thankful for what he had to say. But do you know what really blew my mind? My little sister spoke godly words of wisdom over me and soothed my ways I remember doing for her long ago.

I made the comment to her about a month ago that it was going to be an amazing journey working together - two grown women, instead of youth and counsellor. I told her then that I knew God had drawn us back together for a reason, and I was sure that I would be learning much from her. She laughed and kind of shrugged it off, but I reminded her of my prophetic words tonight. I look at her and still catch a glimpse of the girl that had so many questions about her future ten plus years ago. But tonight, I saw a woman who walks daily with her Lord and had a word from Him for me, a woman she once looked to for guidance. The tables had truly turned, and I couldn't be more thankful. He has grown her into a godly woman that I am honored to call friend.

He has put this group of people with a burning passion to serve Him together for a purpose. He is healing us all, He is stretching us all. I am taking all the words spoken over me tonight by friends and laying them all out to dig through. He who has begun a work in me will certainly see it through. My job is to be still and allow Him to work. It is hard, but He promises to be there right beside me through it all. And He's given me some wonderful friends to be at my side as well. Thank you, Lord, for that.

Monday, August 1, 2011

PRODUCT REVIEW: R&R Games, Flea Circus

RNRGames Logo

We have been dealing with fleas in our home - and it's been a blast! R&R Games' new card game, Flea Circus, has already provided our family with a load of laughs.

RnR Games Flea Circus

The game is a basic counting game with a few twists added in for fun. It is recommended for ages 6-7 and up, but my niece Molly (who is 5) kept up just fine. Here is how the game works:

The story - You are the leader of a "flea" ring circus! Your goal is to have the most dogs and cats watching your act. You may collect spectators from the middle pile, or steal them from other acts! The one with the most spectators at the end of the game wins!

Now I have to admit, when we got the game out for the first time, I was a little skeptical. The graphics on the cards are cute, and the dog and cat figurines are adorable; but when I pulled out the instructions and saw how many rules there were for a kids' card game, I got a little worried. They aren't worded in a difficult way, there were just a lot of them! If I hadn't been playing, I think the kids would have had a difficult time figuring it out on their own. Luckily, we play most games like this as a family. ;) The first round was a little confusing because we kept having to re-read the directions; but after the second round, we all had a pretty good grip on how to play...and it was on!

The kids are very competitive, and one in particular - cough, CONNOR, cough - HATES to lose. So when I realized that stealing from opponents was part of the game, I was concerned. However, he dealt with the blows very well...especially when he could exact revenge on practically the next hand!!

It's a constant back and forth, one stealing, another taking back. You sometimes get caught up in that and forget to use the pick pile. Which is bad if you ever want the game to end...but could be good for those with unlimited attention spans! :D Once the pick pile is empty, the one with the most dogs and cats wins the game.

R&R Games specializes in family oriented games with an educational bend. Their mission statement showed me quickly how passionate they are about family time: "Our Mission is to produce high quality family board games so that we can play around all the time. Fun games. Challenging games. Big games, little games, games that climb on rocks... (Oh wait, that's something else...) Anyway, that's our mission."

They are so excited to share their product, that they sent me a coupon code to share with my readers! Now that's a company I can get behind! If you buy a game from their website, R&R Games, use this code CREW20 for 20% off your entire purchase! And with Flea Circus costing only $15.95, this could be a great buy (think early Christmas shopping, people!)

We have played this game several times a week since we got it, and I've enjoyed it as much as the kids. We've even gotten Kelly, who is not a big fan of games, to play with us a few times. It is good, clean fun for the whole family...even if it does involve fleas! :)

**Disclaimer: I received a free trial from R&R Games via TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions stated are my own and my children’s.