Saturday, July 31, 2010

NOT Back-to-School Blog Hop

If you've been to any store lately, you're sure to have seen school supplies and school lists.  Well, homeschoolers love new school supplies too - we just get to choose our own rather than having to follow a list from a school district!  When homeschoolers celebrate the start of a new homeschooling year with our families, we are known for having "not-back-to-school" parties.

There's also a "not-back-to-school blog hop" - last year's hop has fantastic info on it (I didn't know about it, but I'm going back and reading all the posts!).  This year I'll be participating - watch for the first entry here next week!  It's being hosted by (see the blog post at for details - you can also see the posts for all four weeks of last year's blog hop at this post).

It's going to be great fun! Won't you blog hop along with us?

Naturalist Art Camp

We are very lucky to have a great nature center near us ( that offers homeschool classes and summer camps.  It's the only place in our area (at least that I know of) that offers classes for homeschoolers that combine classroom learning with outdoor exploration/observation - the classes are priceless, and my girls absolutely LOVE them.

Last summer they took several camps, and wanted to do the same this summer. This week they've been taking the Naturalist Art Camp (ages 8-12).  They've observed nature, and they've drawn nature - today's topic was butterflies. 

Here's Punkin's painting:

and here's Puddin's painting:

I thought they were pretty good!  Puddin was upset because she drew the butterfly's antennae on his bottom too, but I think it's adorable anyway.

Our nephew from Germany is also taking the camp - I can't find his painting or I'd post it too!

I'd rather have these than a Rembrandt any day.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Sale at The Old Schoolhouse Store!

Read carefully--some wild things going on in the Schoolhouse Store July 30 and July 31 ONLY!

For 2 days only, grab your 9.95 or 17.95 subscription deal from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine! YES, you read that right--9.95 for one year.

Or 17.95 for two years AND receive the May 2010 Schoolhouse Expo To Go for FREE! Here are some links to check out with all the information

Here are the two crazy deals:

Here is the information on the FREE Expo To Go you'll receive with your 17.95 two-year subscription:

I love a bargain!!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blogwalking Wednesday...Week 7

Here are this week's blogs. 

1. Closing Time - The title of her blog came from a lullaby that she and her husband wrote - cool.

2. One Blessed Mamma - Check out her pics of their recent trip to Chick-fil-A!

4. Alive in Spirit - She has a "storm" coming and could use our prayers.

5. Ozark Rumblings - You have to go read about - and see the pics of - the VBS her son attended. Incredible!

6. Army of 5 - All it took for me to love her blog was to see the pic in her header - I love it when the sun does that!  I know there's a word for it, but I can't ever remember what it is - anyone?  My girls loved the pic of the baby goose - I'm sure they'll ask to go back and see it again!

7. Fenced In Family - She makes cute glycerin soaps!

8. Debbie's Digest - Debbie is the crewmate who designed the cute little blog walk graphic!  And judging from her post from yesterday, I need to go book shopping with her.

9. Footprints in the Butter - I've known Debra in cyberspace for several years know, and have always loved her blog.  You have to go read her post from yesterday - we've all had days like that.  It's funny, but it's *not* funny.

10. Got Chai?  I discovered that Denise and I share something - a favorite children's book, which always makes us both cry.  I had no idea there was a YouTube video to go along with it. 

I'm glad I had the time to add a little bit about each blog on this weeks' list - hopefully it will entice you to visit each one.  :)  I'm also going to try to go back and edit my old blogwalking posts to do the same. 

Hopefully you're finding some new favorite blogs to follow!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

TOS Homeschool Crew Review: TOS Travel Kits – A Simple Way to Bless Others.

I’m excited to be a part of the 2010-11 Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew! While the crew hasn’t officially launched and set sail, we were asked to do a practice review – for my practice review I received TOS Travel Kits – A Simple Way to Bless Others (for ease, I’ll refer to it from now on as “Travel Kits e-book”) put out by by The Old Schoolhouse and authored by Donna Rees. You can find other e-books offered by The Old Schoolhouse here.

Let’s get the basics out of the way. Produced by The Old Schoolhouse (, the Travel Kits e-book is available as a download here for $12.45 (see a sneak peek here). At a whopping 93 pages, this e-book is chock full of ideas to bless others and to help your own family in traveling.

The Travel Kits e-book is divided into fourteen different chapters, covering everything from the basics of travel kits, planning and preparation of travel kits, presentation of the kit, what to include in a kit, and the payoff for giving a travel kit – and everything in between! There are suggestions for places to find little gifts inexpensively, ideas for different types of travel, and ideas for other kinds of kits (birthday, birth, etc.). As if that information wasn’t enough, there is also a bonus features section which includes travel tips from other families, trip preparation tips, and a great book list with suggestions for different age ranges.

What, you say, is a travel kit? The definition taken straight out of the Travel Kits e-book:
A travel kit is a collection of items that will entertain and/or delight the passengers (especially the younger passengers), thus making the trip more pleasant for everyone.

Here's how it works:
  • Each item is individually wrapped.
  • All items are placed in some sort of container (canvas bag, plastic tote, decorative box, etc.)
  • The lucky child/ren open the gifts at certain times (in the morning, when you cross a bridge, when you see a McDonald's, etc.)
  • The child is entertained - happy ending!

I’m betting a travel kit will lessen the number of times you hear “are we there yet?”. This idea would also make a great missions project for any group (scouts, American Heritage Girls, etc.).

You can also customize the travel kits according to your destination. Going to the beach? Get beach-related toys, and wrap them in fun summer paper and use a big bucket as the container. Your imagination is your only limitation!

For visual folks, the Travel Kits e-book includes many pictures of what a travel kit might look like.

When I started thinking about who we could bless by creating a travel kit, I couldn’t think of one single family that had a trip scheduled. Nor could I think of any family that seems to live in the car more than we do. So, selfishly, I tested out this the Travel Kits e-book by creating a travel kit for my own girls, 8 and 10. For the coming school year, each Tuesday is going to be a tough day, because we have lots of activities outside the home – violin lesson, science class at a nature preserve, and ballet for my oldest. I was already dreading herding everyone into the car on Tuesday mornings, but the travel kit is going to make everything easier. Modifying it a bit to use on a weekly basis rather than on a long trip, my plan is to allow the girls to choose one package from the basket each Tuesday morning. The mere lure of a gift should enable me to get them in the car on time on Tuesdays, don’t you think? This shows the versatility of the ideas in the book - travel kits can be used not only for long trips to keep kids occupied, but also for the every-day errands/tasks/trips that consume so much time. I've always loved Target's dollar section, and Dollar Tree - now I have another reason to love those places.

Added bonuses that are included:

  • ways to bless moms too!
  • websites to visit before and during travel (including tourism websites)
  • tips for traveling snacks
  • and don't forget that book list at the end!

Pros - what I liked:

  • Lots of pictures and suggestions
  • Simple instructions – something I value because I’m constantly in a rush
  • It was fun. I can imagine that it will be more fun when we do it for someone else, and I can include the girls in the preparation and shopping

Cons - what I tweaked or suggestions for improvement:

  • I can't think of any. This is a great e-book with TONS of information, ideas and suggestions.

In case you’re wondering what I put in our travel kit:

  • Playing cards
  • Fancy ribboned pens
  • Small journal-type notebooks
  • Squishy-rubbery light-up toys that I don’t think even have an official name. J
  • Play jewelry (yes, my girls are 8 and 10 but play jewelry still fascinates them)
  • Travel games (the magnet kind)
  • Ping pong balls (for learning to juggle!)
  • Stickers (who doesn’t love stickers?)
  • Harmonicas (yes, I'm a brave soul, aren't I?)
  • Stationery sets so they can write letters to famly/friends
  • Colors (love the smell of a new box of crayons!
  • Several other things that I’ve forgotten (guess I’ll also be surprised when they unwrap the gifts!)

The possibilities are truly endless, and can be customized according to each child. I wanted to include some “edibles” (this is also covered in the Travel Kits e-book!) but we live in Texas – and I figured edibles in a minivan when it’s 100°+ outside would not be pretty.
If you add edibles to a travel kit that you bless someone else with, please ask about any food allergies the family might have.

I’m going to keep the Travel Kits e-book handy so that the next time we hear of someone traveling (or hear of another family who is in the car as much as we are!), we’ll be ready to bless them with a travel kit!
I'll also be ready for the next two-day drive to Florida! To see other reviews of this product, click here. For giveaways, other product reviews and other fun things, follow the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Crew blog at:

Disclaimer: As part of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received a complimentary copy of the product in this review in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased (and not necessarily positive) review. No other compensation was received.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Future chess champs

Punkin and Puddin and G., their cousin from Germany (here for 4 weeks!) are attending UTD's chess camp. The camp was highly recommended, and I have to say that all three are loving it! G. has played chess in the past, but the girls are both beginners. I'm going to have to put this camp on my list for next year too!

Blogwalking Wednesday...Week 6

I'm learning that my crewmates are some pretty incredible people! Won't you join me on my blogwalk this week? Here are our destinations:
1. Deanna’s Corner
2. Light, Liberty, and Learning
3. Bunny Trails
4. Flowers N Plaid Homeschool
5. Gadow Ohana
6. His Wonderful Works
7. Expand
8. Confessions of a Homeschooler
9. The Sojourner
10. A Full Heart

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Blogwalking Wednesday...Week 4

I'm loving these blog walks. Just wish all the blogwalking I'm doing actually burned calories.

Here's this week's list of fabulous blogs:

1. King Alfred Academy
2. Confessions of An Organized Homeschool Mom
3. Curriculum Reviews from Oak Creek Farmhouse
4. I Can't Decide
5. My Life on A Taffy Pull
6. Losing My Tale
7. Made in His Image
8. Serenades and Solace
9. Our Village is a Little Different
10. SisterTipster's Tell'n It!

Walkin', walkin', walkin....