End of Summer Favorites

I rounded up my favorite things lately to share with you guys. I do have a few things that I don’t like, as well.

We’ll start with these Pilot Frixion Ballpoint Gel Pens. I’ve been using these to write in my Gentle Feast planner as well as take notes in my textbooks. I just like the way they write. Sometimes on glossy paper, they do act a little funny and they will smear if you don’t let them dry. But overall, I’ve been reaching for these pens the most. The “eraser” on the top is the perfect size. (If you buy these pens, to use, you click the pen clip down.)

These Pilot Frixion Fineliners, on the other hand, fall into the dislike category. They do this weird disappearing thing on glossy paper. They don’t completely disappear, but they don’t look like they’re staying, either. They work well on Bible paper, so I’ve been taking them to church on Sunday to take sermon notes in my She Reads Truth Bible, but that seems to be their only use. The “eraser” part is also really large and clunky to work with.

This is a regular favorite– Zum Mist. I absolutely love this stuff. I swear I’m going to branch out beyond the patchouli scent one day, but every time I try, I end up rebuying patchouli because I love it so much. I came really close to buying the sea salt scent this time, but they were out. This is an essential oil spray. It doesn’t leave oil or color stains on clothes or fabric. You can spray it on anything. I usually spray it on my person. It is strong enough to notice, but never overpowering. This is also a great option for tweens and teens instead of their body spray. (Whoever made Axe body spray hates mothers.) This is all natural and they can spray as much as they want and it won’t knock you down when they walk by. I get lots of compliments on this scent.

Another Zum product that I have been loving is this Dragon’s Blood Zum Rub. It is very oily and thick, but it is magic on rough hands. I’ve been having issues with really dry, cracked cuticles and fingertips and this stuff is just magic. It smells nice and it makes my hands look soft and pretty again in no time. It is very similar to the Badger Balm Healing Hand, but I like the Zum formula a little better. The Badger Balm can be a little bit gritty feeling as you’re rubbing it in.

Nubian Heritage soap is the stuff dreams are made of. I absolutely love this one. The Patchouli and Buriti scent is do perfect. It does leave your skin smelling like patchouli– not quite as much as a Zum Bar, much more subtle than that. I have tried a few of the other scents, and while they are lovely, I apparently have very strong postive feelings toward patchouli. It is just my happy scent. I also really like the Nubian Heritage deodorant. It isn’t my all time favorite natural deodorant, but it is really nice. The smell is perfect. It is my go-to pick when I don’t have time to wait for my favorite to ship and need to run to Sprouts and pick something up.

Since we’re talking about deodorant, I posted on the Facebook page about this one. This ZionHealth ClayDry deodorant is the best natural deodorant I have ever tried. And I have tried A LOT of them. I’m not currently using this scent, I’ve currently got the Palo Santo scent and I really love it. It is a bit firm, so if you have trouble with it, hit it with the blow dryer or warm it under your arm and it’ll spread better. But this stuff not only smells awesome, but it leaves you feeling great and fresh for a very long time. I do not order this from Amazon, I usually order from Adamaminerals.com and they send great coupons and have excellent customer service.

I’ve been wearing this lip gloss pretty much every day. It is the Dominique Cosmetics Lemonade lip gloss in the color peach tea. It is just the perfect color and the gloss is shiny and moistuizing, but not tacky or stringy. It is a gloss, so it isn’t super long wearing and does need reapplication. But the light color makes it so you can apply it quickly like chapstick without needing a mirror.

On to the two makeup products I very much dislike. This Becca Hydramist powder is the worst powder I have ever used. I usually love Becca products, so I was so confused to find I hated this one. I was trying to upgrade my Coty Airspun powder. (Turns out, Coty Airspun is just the best loose powder, even though it is super cheap.) This powder feels wet when you put it on. It also doesn’t dry smoothly on my skin. It bunches up and has patchy spots. It is so weird. It is cooling, but it looks awful. I tried to bake the under eyes with it, which was a nightmare. I tried just using it as a finshing powder, but that turned out horrible, as well. It is just not a good formula at all.

I was really excited about this Wander Beauty Glow Ahead Illuminating Face Oil. It is more of a serum feeling primer, which is why I was excited about it. I’ve been looking for a glowy primer but this isn’t it. It isn’t terrible. It doesn’t do awful things to my skin. But it really just doesn’t do anything at all. It looks pretty and shimmery in your hand, but one your skin it looks like nothing. It looks just like any other serum. If you’re looking for a glowy primer, skip this one and try the Becca First Light Primer. It actually makes you glow.

I bought this book quite a while ago, but just got around to reading it. Our ladies book club read it and I’m really glad I finally read it. It wasn’t at all what I was expecting. It was so much better. I did not anticipate being so deeply moved by this book. I figured it would just be encouragement to read the Bible daily. And it was that, but it gave so much more depth to holding tight to God through Scripture. This is one of those life changing reads. It deals a great deal with grief and loss, and I didn’t know how much I needed that right now. I highly recommend this book. I know I’m always recommending the She Reads Truth stuff. It is just all so worth checking out.

For The Children’s Sake is another book I’ve been planning to read for a long time and just got around to. We have been moving toward a Charlotte Mason approach from the Well Trained Mind classical approach for the last few years, but this year we made the leap into a fully Charlotte Mason curriculum. I felt like I needed more of an understanding of the methods as I began that endeavor. I’ve listened to podcasts and taken some online classes, but this book is just so much more. It feels a little dated, but there are some really great things all homeschool parents need to hear in this book. I’m really glad I read it. This is one I would say is a must read for homeschool moms.

A book I greatly disliked was Defiant Joy. I was sweetly sent an advanced reading copy of this book, unfortunately I just didn’t like it. It is so shallow. There is this push to put out Christian Living books, particularly for women, and so many of them just lack substance. Many of them aren’t even Christian. I felt like she was saying the same things over and over, and spreading a wide net, and not diving deep into the subject at all. There were a handful of inspirational quotes for your Instagram wall, but nothing truly noteworthy about the book.

I know I posted this in my Homeschool Resources post, but it is definitely worth repeating. These digital cards from Twig and Moth are just the most beautiful little things. You purchase the digital files, print and cut them yourself. I print them on cardstock and they turn out beautifully. I’m not kidding, I fully plan on giving some printed card sets as gifts this year– they are so lovely. I use these with our nature study. I print each kid their own card set. They love them. Each card has a beautiful watercolor illustration and and explanation with it. We used the Seeds and Seedlings last week and are breaking out the Minibeasts this week.

That is all my favorites and not favorites for right now.

**This post contains affiliate links. These links do not cost more to use, but they do benefit your favorite content producers when you use them. A big thanks in advance for all your support.**

***Items sent to me free for review will not necessarily get a positive review.***

Homeschool Resources

I realized that I haven’t shared my favorite homeschool resources lately. I have been finding some really awesome things for the kids that we have all really enjoyed. I’ve also found a few things I thought would be awesome that were complete duds.

Firefly Nature School

I happened to get a resource from Firefly Nature School in a bundle pack I purchased. It was so beautiful and so well done. I immediately went and did a full year subscription. If you sign up for emails, they do send out coupon codes, so keep your eyes open for that. The lessons are really beautiful and fun. They can be used for a wide range of ages. You can incorporate them in as science or nature study curriculum or you can just use them as a fun, planned outdoor activity.

Twig and Moth

I have been loving the Twig and Moth resources. I print the cards onto cardstock and my kids absolutely love them. They are so beautiful with lots of information. They go well with our Nature Anatomy books and Exploring Nature with Children.

Exploring Nature with Children

This guide is such a good resource for science or nature study. It would also make an excellent and fun co-op, for anyone inclined toward that sort of thing. I have the guide, the print guided journal, and the cursive guided journal. The guide contains a year round curriculum for nature study. It includes book recommendations and activities. The guided journal has a poem for the child to copy each week and papers to go along with activities. We’re using it again this year because one year wasn’t enough.

Brave Grown Home

We have been loving the nature guides from Brave Grown Home. I highly recommend the Full Nature Guide sets. For weeks when we have some more time for nature study or science, I love pulling and printing these lovely cards and posters for the kids to enjoy.

A Gentle Feast

I know I’ve already talked about it on the Facebook page, but we are going full in with A Gentle Feast this year. Being in school full time, I didn’t have the time to plan every detail of our curriculum myself, which is what I usually do. A Gentle Feast has all the planning done for me. I’ll give a full review in the future, but I am really happy with the choice and it fits our family really well. This is a Charlotte Mason curriculum that is meant to work well for people who have kids in multiple grades at the same time. The main curriculum has all the plans for history, science, literature, grammer, French, Spanish, and more. Just add math. The Language Arts add on pack gives all the copywork and dictation right there on the page so you aren’t pulling it for them each day. The Morning Time packets are for poetry, Bible, fables, art, and music. If you’ve never started your days with Morning Time, I highly recommend it. A Gentle Feast also has a reading program and handwriting program.

Our Handcrafted Life

This website has several beautiful free printables you can use for science or nature study. They are really lovely when printed onto cardstock. (My kids adore cards, can you tell?)

The Peaceful Preschool

This site only has resources for up to age 12, but they are beautiful. They have full curriculum, but also several unit study type packs. They also have some really nice free resources, including the book lists for their full curriculum!

Intentional Homeschooling

This one is actually in the dud category for me. I really thought I would enjoy several of her paid resources, and I was really disappointed in what I got. I bought the Guide to Annotating Books, thinking it would be great for my 8th grader. It was a 17 page document that was really just a glorified blog post. It should have been a free blog post. There was no technical information, just pictures and rambling about how she highlights and writes in her books. It was not helpful at all and I felt pretty ripped off. I also bought her mini planner, which I think I actually bought in a bundle pack with other brands and things. It was okay. Nothing spectacular. Most of the things in it were things I already have bullet journal spread for. It was just very basic. I just feel the content of her work isn’t necessarily worth the price.

Teachable.com

I’ve actually purchased a few things lately that use the Teachable.com platform. I’m just not a fan of things that come in the format. It is obnoxious. I’m usually just looking for PDFs. If I want to listen to something, I’ll listen to a podcast. These Teachable classes are just cumbersome and not the best way to get ideas out there. I’m sure some types of learners love these. But I have my current load of online classes with being in school full time and don’t want to waste my time on this.

As usual, this post may contain affiliate links. These links help me and they don’t cost you more to use.

2017-2018 Morning Basket Curriculum Review

You can find the post of my plans here. This was my first year incorporating a morning basket into our homeschool routine. It was something I picked up from Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. And while we generally stick to The Well Trained Mind, morning basket sounded like something I wanted to adapt to our homeschool routine.

img_1639-2

This school year, I had a wide range of ages. And from here until people start graduating, the range will continue to expand. I really wanted something to keep them all together while they are all going their own ways. That makes no sense, but maybe you follow. I ended up not getting as much covered as I expected. I did not account for how much time would be spent either reading with a distracting toddler or while trying to nurse a new baby. I was pretty okay with relaxing my standards a bit. So, some books I planned to read didn’t get touched.

History

We are sticking with The Story of The World for history. Younger kids jump in wherever we happen to be in the history cycle. This year, we were on Year 3. I read a chapter once or twice a week during morning basket. We actually ended up finishing it in term 2, so term 3, we went back and read some supplemental materials we didn’t get around to in the first pass instead of proceeding on to Year 4.

I used The Activity Guide, The Well Trained Mind, and Ambleside to make up our supplemental reading list. I will get into the grade specific supplements in later posts. For this post, I’m just focusing on the ones we used in our Morning Basket.

The Landing of the Pilgrims was a bit dry, but it did give a good picture of what was going on with the pilgrims as they settled North America. Diving into this gave a better picture of how America was built with certain aspects of life in place. It gave a better understanding of what “religious freedom” would have meant to these people. The kids recalled the details of the book really well, despite only listening to me read it. It ended up taking up an entire term to read this because of the whole having a baby thing.

George Vs. George is a picture book with lots of information. We actually spread this out over a week of reading. My older kids were later found rereading it in their own time. Apparently they liked it.

Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George? is another info packed picture book. The kids really enjoyed it.

If You Can Keep It is not a book written for children. It is a very interesting read. It pretty much went over the heads of the younger crew, but the older three did seem to understand much of what we read and it lead to some very interesting dinner table discussions about liberty, freedom, and religion. It made a good read aloud supplement to the American Revolution for my logic aged kids. It would make a good independent reading book in the rhetoric stage. It deals with lofty topics, but it written in a very approachable way.

John Wesley: The World and His Parish was an excellent read. Anyone in the Wesleyan tradition should read this to their kids. It is a bit on the dry side, but it is really interesting. It doesn’t sugar coat the situation at all. You’ll better understand Wesley’s ideas and intentions through reading about his life. This probably falls more in line with character development than history, but we ended up having a good bit of cross over with John Wesley’s world our history studies.

Operation World was again a big part of our geography studies. We focused in on the Caribbean islands this year since The Pastor made his first trip down to Haiti to teach at a seminary there. We also read Under The Storyteller’s Spell, which is a collection of Caribbean folk tales. We found them pretty interesting and they sparked discussions of the culture of these people. It ended up overlapping into history as we were talking about the slave trade and the revolutions of South America and the Caribbean islands a bit.

Science

We started the year using the Berean Builder‘s curriculum.  But really, I couldn’t keep up with the experiments with a newborn, so we had to switch gears a little bit.

It Couldn’t Just Happen ended up taking most of the year to get through. It wasn’t the length or difficulty so much as I didn’t want to throw too much out at once. I felt like taking it slower gave them more time to process the information. This book is essentially answering the question, “Did the universe and all that is in it just happen or is their a Creator?” The book is not dogmatic about creationist issues (literal 7 days, young earth/old earth, etc.) It simply points out the evidence that supports that there is an intelligent design to our world. It is an argument against Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. It does allow for natural evolution, but not the Theory of Evolution. It is a very interesting look into the scientific process and about how we “know” something to be scientifically true, only to find out later it isn’t as true as we thought. Science exists in theories, so we have to have some flexible system of working through the evidence as it arises. My 10 year old said this was his favorite part of the school day.

We also read excerpts from The Handbook of Nature Study. We also grabbed up library books to explore topics as they came up. When talking about the gold rush in history, the topic of gold and geology arose, so we investigated it through library books.

Prayer

I had this plan of the prayers we would learn as a family. I picked too many. I picked 3 prayers per term, meaning we’d learn one prayer each month. At the end of the month, they were just getting to the place of memorization of the prayer. I felt like I was pulling the rug out from under them when we switched. So, for term 2 and 3, we went with one prayer per term. Getting much more familiar and comfortable with the prayer before moving to the next. That worked much better, even though we weren’t memorizing as much.

Truth

For Bible memorization, we simply chose a verse each week. The older kids would look it up and read it each morning. The little kids would repeat after me. By Friday every week, they had all memorized the verse. It was a very simple process. I did have the kids who could write keep a list in their binder of all there verses. So, the older kids did write the verse out once a week.

For Bible study, we started with Herein Is Love: Genesis. I really love this series. It does go through Genesis at a snail’s pace. For the younger kids, I would read whatever story we were on in one of our storybook Bibles. (Jesus, Jesus Calling, Character, Adventure, Friends)

Once we finished that, we moved into doing The Talk once a week. I’m not entirely sure what I think about that particular book. First, it is very small. 7 lessons total. They recommend them once a week, so that is what we did. They are very scientifically accurate, which I liked. Very straightforward, which I liked. I’m just not entirely sure about the order of the lessons and I am not entirely sure about the skimpiness of the lessons. There are recommended videos, which are free. I used my iPad to screen share through our Xbox Air Play app to show the videos. My kids had questions way beyond what were in the lessons. The first three lessons are learning the differences between male and female, sex, and fetal development. It then gets into the moral issues around sex and bodies. I think the order I would have liked to have seen would have been differences between male and female and then respecting other people’s bodies, good touch/bad touch sort of thing. Then move on to sex and the moral issues around adultery and sex outside marriage. Then fetal development and birth. That would have made more sense in how the conversations took my crew. I also have to note that my oldest daughter was very uncomfortable with the questions her younger brothers were asking. I think if I were to do this again, I would split up my boys and girl since they had entirely different questions and ways of looking at it.

We also read Indescribable during the days we weren’t reading The Talk. My kids really enjoyed it, but I think it is more devotional reading than a Bible study. I think it would be awesome for Family Devotion time. Just for a homeschool Bible class, there isn’t nearly enough meat. Though all my kids absolutely love it. It is really quick, under five minutes.

I included our character study in with Truth. First, we read 7 Men. This is not a kid’s book. This is a biography of seven different men written for adult readers. However, for a read aloud, it was quite appropriate for children. Now, there were some issues with Jackie Robinson, as there are some very harsh words to be reading aloud to kids. There were also issues in reading about Pope John Paul II in terms of sex. These items are easily glossed over or skipped if you choose, or you can have a conversation about them, which is what we chose to do. The kids really enjoyed 7 Men. They immediately asked me to read 7 Women.

We also really enjoyed Manners class once a week with Modern Manners. I did skip around a little bit, because my 8 year old has no interest in email etiquette at this point. But the kids really enjoyed it.

Beauty

This was a mixed bag. Turns out that my kids are not the biggest fans of poetry. I ended up only doing poetry for one term. I’ll introduce some more next year and see how it goes.

Art appreciation, they loved. 50 Artists You Should Know was a little on the dry side. It was also not conducive to be looking at tiny versions of the art in one book when you have 6 or 7 people gathered around. What I ended up doing was picking one artist. I’d read from the book and throw the art onto our TV from my iPad via the AirPlay app on our Xbox. This way the kids could all see the pictures we were talking about. Some weeks, I gave them the opportunity to recreate some of the art. They particularly enjoyed making a Chinese Bridge in watercolors and painting with scissors like Matisse.

We ended up stopping the hymns after one term. My kids were just too jacked up to do it. If I did the music at the beginning, it took me forever to calm them back down. If I did it at the end, it took forever to calm them down to move onto their independent work. They just lost their ever-loving minds with the simple move from around the coffee table to around the piano. I don’t know what happened, but for sanity, we removed it. It was a lovely idea. It just didn’t work out for us.

Goodness

I had planned to read so much. We didn’t make it beyond 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. I ended up reading one chapter a week, spreading each chapter over two or three smaller readings. Which meant the book took the entire school year to read. The kids really enjoyed it. I didn’t think they were into it, but then they told me they loved it and wanted to reread it. So, I guess it went well. It just wasn’t the pace I had originally planned. But this is definitely a read aloud kind of book. Though brush up on your latin or you’ll be stumbling all over the Latin names for every sea animal and plant mentioned in the book. I’m kind of wishing we had done an audio book instead. But my kids listen to me reading aloud so much better than they listen to audio books. It is the weirdest thing. But I would have enjoyed the audio book more.

the crew

Overall, morning basket went really well for us this year and I definitely plan to incorporate it next year. I’m glad I had planned a lot, even if I didn’t get to use it all. It gave me something to choose from when we were finishing up in one area and moving to the next.

**This post contains affiliate links. I do benefit (get money) when you use these links when you shop. Affiliate links are a great way to support your favorite bloggers!**