Friday, July 25, 2014

TOS Review - Apologia Educational Ministries (Flourish: Balance For Homeschool Moms)

Flourish Book Review
What is Apologia Educational Ministries?

Apologia Educational Ministries has been a total favorite around here in our homeschool, for both myself and the kiddos. We have had the opportunity to use so many of their wonderful products and have never been disappointed. If you are unfamiliar with Apologia, here is a quick overview of their company. Apologia is a curriculum company based solely for homeschooling families. This company offers several different subjects from Science to History to Language Arts to Biblical Worldview. They also offer products for parents as well. You can check out their website,, for all of their great products!

As mentioned above, Apologia offers different products for parents alongside the curriculum they provide for students. Apologia has recently added a new book just for homeschooling Moms titled, Flourish: Balance For Homeschool Moms

Flourish: Balance For Homeschool Moms is a book written by Mary Jo Tate, a seasoned homeschooling Mom. Since 1997, Mary Jo has homeschooled her four sons, along with being successful in many other areas. She has written several books, teaches high school literature for a homeschool co-op, blogs at Flourish at Home: Joyful Balance For Busy Moms and hosts a radio show, "Flourish At Home" on the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network. 

Flourish Book Review

Obviously, balance is a must in Mary Jo's life. In this book, she shares her personal story, her struggles and a great plan to overcome a busy schedule, thriving along the way in life as homeschooling Mom. Throughout the book, she acknowledges the lives of stay-at-home Moms, single Moms, working Moms. Mary Jo Tate leaves no one out as she gives practical advice for how to balance life. 

Flourish: Balance For Homeschool Moms is only $15.00.

What I Received and How I Used It:

For this review, I received a soft cover copy of Flourish: Balance For Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate. When the book came in the mail, I looked at the cover and knew I would love it. It's so pretty, calming and inviting. It is one of those books you want to curl up in the bed with or on the couch with, light a candle and just indulge yourself. And well, that is pretty much what I did. 

Most of my reading is done when the children are napping or after they have headed off to bed. 

To say this book could not have come at a more prefect time is no understatement. This school year, I am adding Kruz (4) to the mix 3 days a week, in which I am certain Kohen (2) is going to want to be right alongside of his Big Brother and Bestest Bud. So not only are we adding a full preschool curriculum this year, but our family is also adding a new Baby Sister any day now. All in all, next year's homeschool is going to look completely different than last year's. I needed this book. I needed to be filled with ideas, encouragement and ways to thrive as a homeschooling Momma with a busy life. 

Over the past few weeks, I have read just about this entire book and am looking forward to finishing it up soon.

Flourish Book Review

What I Thought About It All?

I have had the pleasure to take part of this wonderful ministry, Apologia Educational Ministries, by using their products several times over the past couple years in our homeschool. Some of the products were ordered by choice and others were given to us by way of review. When I say I have never been disappointed, that is no understatement. Myself and my children have always loved what has come our way from Apologia Educational Ministries. And of course, Flourish: Balance For Homeschool Moms, has been no different. 

I would say this book is for all of us homeschooling Moms who are at all different seasons. Whether you are starting out fresh or have been homeschooling for years, this book acknowledges all different stages of this journey. 

There have been several different spots in the book that have really resonated in my mind, others in my heart. One of my favorite chapters so far has been Chapter 6: What Do I Do Next? In this chapter, Mary Jo provides Seven Essential Planning Tools that allow us to focus on goals and where we are at with them. Another chapter encourages us Moms  to rest. And sometimes, I need to be reminded that is okay for me to rest. Another chapter encourages us Moms to create a time log and assess where our time is really going each and every day. 

I really could go on and on, but I think I have said enough that all the homeschooling Moms reading this are going to grab this book and consider it a gold mine.

Important Information:

Price: $15.00

Along with the purchase of this book, you will also receive downloadable links to loads of extras like To-Do Lists, Schedules and Planners. 

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Friday, July 11, 2014

To Kruz: While You Were Three ...

Oh . My . Lord, Child of Mine, there is no one like you. And that's pretty much the only way to describe you, along with a few extra words - independent, feisty, caring, sassy, strong-willed and so thoughtful. Being three was such a big year for you. I feel like you went from half-Baby-half-Big-Kid to all-the-way-Big-Kid. 
A lot happened since last July ... 

Over the past year, you and Kohen have pretty much become the best of friends. And I have loved watching you two become so close. You and Kohen started sharing a room and you both absolutely love it. I hear you in the middle of the night, soothing Kohen back to sleep. You stick up for him. You fix him a cup every.single.morning. You always have tabs on where his paci is. You play with him, teach him and just randomly kiss on him throughout the day. I can just see you guys in 20 years from now, being those brothers, the ones who hang out all the time - not because you're family, but because you are best friends

You are still obsessed with mowers and would still rather be outside with your Daddy than any other place in the world. 

You are a hard worker. I mean, hard. 

You started learning your letters this year and can recognize just about all of them. You have learned how to spell and write your name. You drew your first self portrait. 

You made me have school work for you every day, so you could be like your brothers. 

Your favorite color is orange.

You are funny when it comes to getting dressed. You always have to "match", even when you are just in play clothes. You have specific shirts that are only for church, you say. Your favorite shoes are your Toms and you wear them proudly just about every day. You must have on sunglasses and you love to wear hats. 

For Halloween you decided to tag alongside Kollin and Kolt (shocker) and dressed as a ninja. We did our Trick or Treating in YahYah's neighborhood and as we walked down the street to the next house, you called your Daddy over to someone's yard and said, "Daddy! Come here. You have got to feel this grass."

For Christmas, Santa brought you a Leapster along with some other goodies. We thought you would love it and to be honest, you really didn't. You're just not a gamer. You are so much more of an outside kid and have played with your soccer net that YahYah got you much, much, much more. That and the flippin' BB gun your PawPaw bought you. When he asked about buying you that, I told him it had to stay at his house. It has and you love to shoot with him when you go over and spend the day. 

While you were three, you had your first real snow. You hated having to be bundled so much, but you loved sledding down the hills in our neighborhood. 

You have become such an early bird. You are just about always my first one to wake up. Your morning ritual is to come get in my bed and watch videos of yourself on my phone or take a hundred self portraits of yourself. 

While you were three, you started Rainbows at church. You have earned several badges and have learned five very important rules from Mrs. Katherine:
1. Follow directions quickly.
2. Raise your hand for permission to speak. 
3. Keep your hands and your feet to yourself.
4. Make smart choices. 
5. Keep your dear teacher happy.
You can recite these and it's just about the cutest thing I've ever heard. 

You love to pick me flowers from the yard.

You have become quite the champ at going to the dentist. Your first couple cleanings were awful and Mommy had to hold you in her lap, now you just climb up in the chair like a rockstar! 

While you were three, you found out you were going to be a BIG brother to a baby sister.  You are always asking questions about her, when she will be here and are always telling me what you are going to teach her about. You call her Baby Khloe and you are always rubbing (and kissing) on my belly. 

You love the beach and the pool and you just about got the swimming thing down. 

You still take naps, most days. And believe me, I rejoice like crazy on these days. 

While you were three, you went to your first VBS. I was worried you'd cry each day when I left. On the first day, I was shocked. You walked right in, started coloring and talking to your teacher like you'd known her for years. You got a little teary on day four and five, but you felt so accomplished at the end of the week. You earned a new tag for your necklace every day and you love wearing it all the time. I was so proud of you for going all week!

You are obsessed with making tooting noises on your arm. 

You love PAW Patrol and Mickey Mouse. 

Well, kiddo. I think I'm about out of things to type from your three year old self. Now you are four, FOUR! I am blessed and grateful to be your Mommy, to laugh with you, teach you and watch you make accomplishments each day. You make me laugh till I cry and you drive me absolutely crazy all in the same day. You are so strong willed and even though we butt heads most days, we always work it out. And I love those moments when we hug and kiss and giggle and cuddle. 

Kruz Amon Nichols, Mommy loves you!!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

TOS Review - Moving Beyond the Page ...

Moving Beyond the Page Review

Moving Beyond the Page is a company that supplies homeschooling families with full homeschool curriculums based on age level in the subjects of Science, Social Studies and Language Arts. The sets of curriculum from Moving Beyond the Page are written by a great team of highly qualified writers, all who have homeschooled their own children. Having had this experience of their own, they understand the daily struggles of homeschooling and this truly helps them to provide  the best of the best to other parents and children. 

Their curriculums are offered in print or as an online download. 

Their website offers great guidelines to follow while purchasing curriculum for your children. Within each age level, there are links to watch an overview, read more on what is offered and a link to review samples. 

What We Received and How We Used It:

For this review we received the complete curriculum for two individual units: Communities Change Over Time ($41.97) and Charlotte's Web ($20.92). 

For Communities Change Over Time, we were given the physical version. Within our set we had the curriculum workbook, a hardback book titled A Street Through Time (A 12,000 Year Walk Through History) and a soft cover book titled Weslandia. The curriculum workbook includes nine lessons. At the beginning of each lesson, there is an overview for the parent (which I loved) that includes the overall concept of the lesson, vocabulary and skills to be learned and the materials needed for the lesson. There is also an overview of each activity. 

For Charlotte's Web, we were given the online version. For this type of set, we were given the soft cover version of Charlotte's Web and the downloads for the lessons, activities, worksheets, etc. 

The sets we received were from the age level 7-9. 

Kollin (7) was the only one to use this curriculum. Kolt (6) listened in on the stories, but chose not to work in on the activities with us and I was okay with that. Kollin didn't look at it as work and I thought that was cool. Little did he know just how much he was learning. We started with Charlotte's Web first, Kollin's choice. Kollin really enjoyed the Charlotte's Web set. Before receiving this review, I knew Kollin loved this movie. I was thrilled when we were chosen for Charlotte's Web. I chose to read the book aloud, since this was a little above his reading level. I loved seeing him connect the book with the activities. We were able to complete several of the lessons throughout the review period. 

According to Kollin, the Communities Change Over Time was "a little more work than Charlotte's Web, but still interesting." Kollin was very fascinated by the book we received  A Street Through Time and I caught him several times looking through the book while we were not even working on the completion of the activities. This is a great book to add to our library. We didn't complete quite as many lessons in this one, Kollin seemed to go much slower throughout what we did. I think it's because his attention was grasped so much about the learning material and he just wanted to really go deep. I was totally okay with that. We plan to pick back up with this unit in our school year coming up and complete the time capsule at the end. 

What I Thought About It All:

I have been very impressed with Moving Beyond the Page! Everything about this company, from the website to the books received to the online downloads, have been wonderful and of great quality. 

Using the curriculum has been a breeze. I love when all of the information is laid out for me and I am able to prepare the lessons for my children painlessly. The curriculum workbook was wonderful in preparing their lessons. 

Kollin learned so much from the Social Studies unit we worked on and really loved the Charlotte's Web unit. As always, if my kiddos are learning and enjoying the process, I am a happy Momma. 

Important Information:

Price for Communities Change Over Time (Physical): $41.97
Price for Communities Change Over Time (Online): $37.91
Price for Charlotte's Web (Physical): $24.98
Price for Charlotte's Web (Online): $20.92

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

To Kolt: While You Were Five ...

Oh My Koltee. Are you seriously SIX already? Seriously? I mean that is enough. No more getting older, just stay little forever and please don't lose anymore of that babiness off your face. You're looking way too grown here lately. I'm kidding, I mean of course I am. What choice do I have? I got to let you grow. I am so thankful to be your Mommy, to watch you grow. You are such a fun kid and so full of life. You have not a care in the world (unless one of your brothers touches your cars or DS). It is a privilege to watch you grow and take on this world. Five was a big age for you, lets look back ... 

You started Royal Rangers this year at church. You love all of the arts and crafts and most of all, getting to be with Kollin. Throughout the year, you have completed several badges including Community Service by going to feed the homeless.

While you were five, you played your second Fall season of football. You played on Alabama again, still represented #8 and learned so much about the game. You played defensive tackle (I hope that's really a position, otherwise I'm in for it) and took down some pret-ty big boys this year. 

For Halloween you and your brothers decided to be Ninjas and it was loads of fun. You wanted to be the Blue Ninjago, so we ordered a karate uniform and dyed it blue. We Trick or Treated in YahYah's neighborhood and you got loads of candy! You never missed a "please" or "thank you". 

During December you had your second major trip to the Emergency Room. You and Kollin had a little mishap at bedtime that resulted in loads of blood, rushing you to the hospital and two staples in the back of your noggin. You took it like a champ though and by the next morning, you would have never even known someone had taken a staple gun to your head the night before. You wore this thick toboggan for a week straight - played in it, watched tv in it and slept in it. That was hilarious. It was all fine and dandy until the staples had to be removed, and that, well - that was awful. The nurse pretty much had to pry them out of your head and you screamed and cried and Mommy made it better with waffles at Waffle House. 

You took your first trip to The Fox Theater with Mommy, Kollin and YahYah to see a condensed version of the Nutcracker. You loved the rats with swords and hated the rest. Go figure. 

For Christmas, Santa brought you a Nintendo DS and my oh my how you love that thing. I would say your favorite game is Mario Brothers! You tend not to take it too seriously, but Mommy has to limit your time on that thing for sure. 

You went to your first circus in February and l.o.v.e.d it. Your favorite part were the motorcycles in the cages and getting your light up sword at the end of the night (the one Mommy and Daddy swore we were not going to spend $17 on, good thing your YahYah was there to chip in). 

While you were five, you found out you were going to be a Big Brother to a Baby Sister. You've never been the one to be interested much when it comes to babies and adding new ones to our family and this one wasn't much different. You are excited (a little) to meet her though and are always asking for prayer for her and me in Sunday School. 

You were in Aunt TeeTee's wedding! You were asked to be the Ring Bearer and you rocked it kiddo. You looked so handsome in your suit and suspenders. I was so proud of how well you walked down the aisle with the Flower Girl, how you stood and watched the ceremony and of course, your dance moves at the end of the night were impressive. I think your favorite part was the photo booth, the fridge is still covered in your tons of photo strips. And every time I look at them, I laugh. 

While you were five, you started KARATE! You chose this as your choice of sport and are doing great at it. You knew so much going in from Kollin and are improving your skills with every class. You have just graduated to your White/Gold belt and were thrilled!  

You officially completed your first year of "real school" and have graduated into First Grade. And although you were technically a Kindergartner, you rocked First Grade math. It is definitely your favorite subject. You impress me Kiddo and remind me so much of Daddy when you blurt our random things like, "Hey Mommy? Did you know 112 plus 34 is 146?" Along with math, you really worked on your writing skills this year and learning how to spell. 

And I must say you are pretty darn good at it too. You love all of the 'I Can Read' books from the Dr. Seuss Collection.

You are still obsessed with Hot Wheels. You particularly love the ones that are actual cars, like the Mustangs. You still love to line them up, oldest to newest, by colors, by model, by speed. I find you in your room so often just playing with your cars. Your imagination runs wild ... 

You have started collecting Lego sets and Lego figurines too. And I swear, if I step on one Lego a day, I step on a hundred. You and Kollin could sit for hours creating, building, tearing apart and starting again. 

You have started eating so much more fruit, finally! You are eating apples, bananas, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries and kiwi - all of which you wouldn't touch a year ago. Makes this Momma a Happy Camper. 

It's been a great time since last July and I can't wait to see what being six will bring you! Keep shining, keep keeping God first in the mornings by reading your Bible and praying, keep sharing, keep smiling and for heaven's sake never, ever lose that giggle of yours. 

I love you Koltee!

Love, Mommy

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Thirty Five Weeks, Four Days ...

We got to see you again this morning Little Love! And can I just say you have your Daddy's lips for sure and some chunky cheeks. Seeing you is like a breath of fresh air and it just makes this Mommy that much more eager to meet you!

You are measuring right at 35 weeks, which is great news. Mommy has upped her calorie intake (all for you, of course) and so I think this made you gain a little more weight. Hence, the chubbiness in your cheeks maybe ...

Mrs. Lisa said she saw some hair on your little noggin in the ultrasounds! I hope you come out with a full head of hair, I am so ready to clip some bows on you! And if there's not enough, I have plenty of headbands ready to go!

We found out today that Mommy is dilated to a 2. And although you have no clue what that means - one day you will appreciate numbers in this way as much as I do. I'm drinking this tea called Red Raspberry Leaf and taking Evening Primrose Oil, getting all ready to get you here safe and sound. 

You look so much like your brother Kruz in these pictures! All of your brothers are just waiting to meet you, maybe not Kohen as much, but that's okay. I'm sure he'll come around, eventually ... 

Well Baby Girl, we wait. We wait until the Good Lord says it's time for you to make your grand entrance and join this world. Until then, keep fattening up those cheeks in there so I can smooch 'em!

Mommy Loves You!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

What Thirty-Five-Weeks-Pregnant-With-Four-Kids Looks Like ...

It looks like a constant messy house ...

It looks like making your kids clean a whole lot more than they used to and then you asking yourself why the heck you didn't do this sooner ... 

It looks like your toddler having major mood swings ...

It looks like morning walks become your saving grace ... 

It looks like your clothes clearly not fitting and yet you wear them anyway ... 

It looks like loads of library books, Tums and crackers for dinner ...

It looks like letting your three year old bring toys into your room after you have said over and over for him not to because well, you are picking your battles ... 

It looks like feeling like you hit the lottery when all the laundry is done ... 

It looks like eating loads and loads and loads of ice cream ... 

It looks like being crazy enough to get the office painted in your house knowing all the chaos that will come with it, but at least the walls are pretty ... 

It looks like dragging all your kids out of the house just to get a Starbucks because there are some mornings you actually need it ...

It looks like PB&Js happen for lunch ... 

It looks like leggings are your only functioning piece in your wardrobe and your seven year old asking you why you're "so dressed up" ...

It looks like just what it sounds like. I am 35 weeks pregnant with my fifth kiddo. And life is messy and forgiving and crazy and beautiful and miserable ... 

Friday, June 27, 2014

TOS Review - Library and Educational Services ...

Go Science Review

Library and Educational Services is a small, family owned and operated company based in South Michigan. L.E.S. has been in business for 35 years now! 

L.E.S. is a wholesale distributor, offering their products to libraries, schools (including homeschools, of course), churches, daycares, missionaries and more. All of the material they choose to offer their customers are sure to be biblically based, matching with their own Christian values.

One of the many products they offer is the Go Science DVD set, featuring 7 DVDs. 
The DVDs included in the set are geared toward ages 4-12 and are just $8.97 each. 
The set includes the following titles:

Volume 1: Sound, Gravity and Space
Volume 2: Life Science and Weather
Volume 3: Air
Volume 4: Motion, Friction, Electricity, Light
Volume 5: States of Matter and Water
Volume 6: Chemistry
Volume 7: Engineering, Design and Flight

In this series, Ben Roy, a Professor of Science at the University of Tennessee, teaches science in such a kid-friendly way that your kiddo is sure to love and be inspired by! The DVDs are filled with enthusiastic, energetic experiments pertaining to the subject. 

Go Science Review

What We Received and How We Used It:

For this review with Library and Educational Services, we received two of the seven Go Science DVDs. We were able to choose which two DVDs we wanted and I decided to go with the Life Science and Weather Go Science DVD and the Engineering, Design and Flight Go Science DVD. 

Our days here are filled with pool time, squeaky swings, bouncing on the trampoline and free bowling. Other than an occasional cartoon in the morning, my boys do not watch much TV during the day. Bedtime is about the best time for them, and by them I am referring to Kollin (7) and Kolt (5), to calm down long enough to really focus on something. I handed them the DVD cases as I put one of them in and the looks on their faces were priceless. I laughed a little and told them to just wait until they actually watched the DVD before they made crazy faces. We popped in the DVD (they chose Life Science and Weather first), I pulled their door and headed to my room. All I heard for the next hour was, "Whoa!" and "That's so cool!" and "Did you see that?"

Pretty much, it was pure bliss for this Momma. 

Go Science ReviewGo Science Review

What I Thought About It All:

Of course, if it is something my boys rave about and they ask to watch it again - I am going to love it too. 

Although the DVDs are obviously based in the 80s, they were pumped full of fun, education-filled experiments. I loved that with each experiment, God is given credit. I just love that! Another thing I loved was how fast paced it was, this really kept their attention and they didn't get bored or sidetracked at all, even in a room full of Legos and HotWheels. That has got to say something!

I asked Kollin and Kolt what was their favorite part of watching the videos and here is what I got:

Kollin (7): "My favorite part was the experiment where they mixed really, really hot water with really, really icy water and it started steaming and blowing up smoke!"
(From Life Science and Weather)

Kolt (5): "My favorite part is how in all of the experiments a different kid gets to help."
(From Life Science and Weather)  

Overall, I am loving having these DVDs in our collection for our home school. These are going to be great "extras" when we start digging into science in the upcoming school year. The prices are very reasonable and I definitely see us ordering more of these and attempting some of the experiments together at home. 

Important Information:

Price: $8.97 (Price listed is per DVD)

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