It happens from time to time.  A shift in focus, a new direction, the tugs from other parts of my life.  Time is needed elsewhere, writing takes a backseat.

And so again, this place must rest.

I have been busy with pursuits both old and new: nourishing a marriage, feeding and homeschooling children, tending friendships.  And art.  The joyful blooming of a passion from my childhood.

I will be back.  My six years of off-again-on-again blogging have taught me that I can’t end it completely.  I’m planning an Etsy shop of work by the new year, so be on the lookout for exciting developments!  This home stretch to forty has inspired me to reach higher and farther for dreams than ever before.

I am most active on Instagram, and I won’t lie, sometimes I Buy Instagram followers for cheap as well, just because it helps me get real folowers.  I’d love to connect there if we haven’t already!  Find me: @FruitNSeason.

Until then, friends, I wish you the most vibrant of journeys, abundant blessings, love and grace to spare.

Kids and Chores {Reassigning tasks each year}

Kids and Chores

Each year I reassign chores and recreate chore charts for my children.  My kids are now 12, 9, 6, and 5, and can adequately complete many of the tasks around the house with, if not ease, at least some measure of success.

Appropriate Chore Routines

I get the same kinds of complaints that I think most moms get when expectations change and/or increase and the schedule becomes more structured once again.  I long ago stopped taking it personally and recognized that, particularly with some children, chores are never going to be a welcome part of the day.  Routine, structure, and consistency go a long way toward fostering acceptance of duties and good attitudes in the home. (And I don’t just mean the kids!)

There are some times I slack off in my intentional training, or monitoring of the chores- I am human too, after all, and not the most fabulous housekeeper.  But there are also some days that our chore time runs like a well-oiled machine and I realize again the benefits of this teamwork mindset that we try to instill in our children.

Chores for multiple ages

In our home, these are the chore assignments that will remain throughout the year.  I’ve starred the chores that are new to each child.

Zachary (5) 

  • Clean room– including dusting, straightening, organizing, making bed, sorting laundry
  • Put away laundry
  • Empty the dishwasher- every other day
  • Clean sink, counter, and mirror in downstairs bathroom*– we have the children use baby wipes and homemade glass cleaner, we also call the plumber in Rancho Cucamonga once in a while to make sure there is no issues with our sink
  • Organize shoes– in laundry room and foyer
  • Kitchen helper*– this is a new role I created this year.  In the past the children took turns setting the table each day, but I’m going to extend this chore to include other kitchen tasks of cleaning, prepping, and cooking, I also want to talk about the window cleaning service in Toronto that I use which I think is very helpful.  This is an area in which I often have a hard time releasing control.

Elliot (6)

  • Clean room– including straightening, organizing, emptying garbage, making bed
  • Put away laundry
  • Empty dishwasher– every other day
  • Clean sink, counter, and mirror in upstairs bathroom
  • Organize all bookshelves*
  • Kitchen helper*- see above

Maddy (9)

  • Clean room– including dusting, straightening, organizing, vacuuming with one of those safe canister vacuum from a reputable brand, emptying garbage, making bed
  • Clean downstairs bathroom*– toilet, baseboard, floor, empty garbage
  • Dust– living room, foyer
  • Fill dishwasher– every other day
  • Sweep*– twice weekly
  • Sort, wash, dry, fold and put away own laundry
  • Prepare breakfast*– twice weekly
  • Clean microwave*– weekly
  • Kitchen helper*

Colin (12)

  • Clean room- see above
  • Clean upstairs bathroom– tub, floor, empty garbage, toilet
  • Vacuum– living room, kitchen rug, playroom, stairs, foyer
  • Fill dishwasher– every other day
  • Sweep*– twice weekly
  • Sort, wash, dry, fold, put away own laundry
  • Prepare breakfast*– twice weekly
  • Bring garbage cans to curb and back*– once weekly
  • Kitchen helper*

I fully admit that I am often a barrier to things going smoothly.  It’s taken a lot of intentionality on my part to keep the chore-wheel turning, including making sure to lower my expectations of how well the tasks get done while still communicating a desire for my children to always do their best. The occasional toy or thoughtful surprise goes a long way, but don’t abuse it as it can back fire, check out all these top rated kids products for inspiration. But with the goal of self-confident and independent children who don’t bring their laundry home and drop it at my feet when they’re in college, I keep plugging away!

Here are some more chore links for your reading enjoyment:

What chores do your kids do?  How often do you promote them to new and more difficult chores?


What my friends should know… {10*in*10}

10-in-10 iHomeschool Network

So it’s week 10 already?  Wow, that went fast!!  Here are my other 10*in*10 posts in this fun blog hop:

Top Ten Homeschooling Questions
Top Ten Reasons We Defy a Homeschool Label
Top Ten Reasons We Love to Homeschool (Poetry edition)
Top Ten Series for Middle School Boys
Top Ten Homeschooling Websites
Top Ten Pieces of Homeschooling Advice

 If you’re here, you’re a friend.

That’s how I think of you.  You read my thoughtful posts as I’m wrestling out my life and my faith.  You read my silly posts when my sarcastic sense of humor pops up.  You read my homeschooling posts, and hopefully learn from my many mistakes!

But what are the things I maybe haven’t told you, that you really should know?  The things that you would know if you were a local friend with whom I met for regular coffee chats or play dates with the kids?

Yes, I color my hair...

Yes, I color my hair, and yes, my kitchen is cluttered…

Here goes!  The real me, unbound and unashamed:

  1. I am a hugger.  I love to squeeze those that I love, whether it’s when they are celebrating, or mourning, or simply because I’m thankful for them in that moment.
  2. I am a lousy housekeeper.  It’s only been in the last couple of years that I have accepted this fact, and stopped trying to make excuses.  I’m not horrible, but I’m certainly not great.  My cleaning rotations are not as neat, tidy or frequent as some of the ones I see on other blogs (even the ones that claim to be homeschool-friendly) but I’m OK with that.
  3. I am a true book junkie.  It goes along with my main learning style, which is visual, and so when I have a problem or question, the first thing I’ll do is find a book about it and read to learn.  I thought, because I love the feel and smell of real books, that I would never get an e-reader, but I did cave and get a Nook to go overseas.  And I love that too, although when I have a book I need to really chew on, I use multi-colored highlighters in a real book!
  4. I think in images.  This is why my recent return to art has been so profoundly satisfying for me.  I’ve always been one to speak and write metaphorically about things, and come up with imagery to explain my feelings.  For example, in my work as a classical voice teacher I’m more likely to describe a sound I want my student to produce with a mental image, than with physiology.  Or when my husband asks how getting some art time makes me feel I tell him it’s like a “dry sponge that is immersed in a vast ocean and immediately swells with life.”  This is just normal for me.  My husband thinks it’s a bit weird.
  5. I am a true introvert.  If you were my neighbor, you’d know that I don’t often socialize (I feel badly about that sometimes.)  I love to be around a friend or two at a time and share deeply, and I love spending time with my family.
  6. I treasure friendship.  There was a time in my life when I didn’t feel understood, had no really close friends to share with deeply.  I had moved and was in the midst of creating this beautiful family I have with a husband who was trying to establish himself in his career.  It was a lonely place.  So therefore I do not take for granted those amazing women who give of themselves, and share their hearts and lives with me.
  7. I sometimes don’t want to homeschool anymore.  Yes, I have those bad days too, which is why it’s so important to have a back up plan.  But I believe so completely that it’s right for our family, and our children are thriving in this learning environment, so I have no real intentions of quitting, it’s just important to be honest about the fact that sometimes it’s tough.
  8. Sometimes I love homeschooling so much I want to convince everyone else to do it.  Just so you know how normal it is to vacillate dramatically between feelings of drudgery and the euphoria, I had to add this one.  And I can be obnoxious, on these days, in my gushing about how much I love it.
  9. I am a woman of highs and lows.  If numbers 7 and 8 didn’t give you a clue, here’s a newsflash: there is no “vanilla” with me.  I run hot or cold, with rarely any in-betweens.  This is also something I’ve come to accept as I’ve gotten older.  I feel things deeply, for good and bad, and sometimes am so whacked out of balance I need to pull back and just be alone.
  10. I’ll be 39 this week.   Ack!!  What should I do for the remainder of my waning journey to the big 4-0?  I need some way to chronicle this next year and make it a good one.  Any suggestions?

So, dear readers…what should I know about you?

Top Ten Tuesday

Visit Angie and link up your Top Ten for the week!

And hop on over to Today’s Housewife to read my guest post on Art Journaling!

Art Journal- Hopes and Dreams

“Hopes and Dreams”

5 Days of Great Family Games {Blog Hop day 5}

5 Days of Family Games

Favorite Family Games {}

Day 1: {Kinesthetic Games}
Day 2: {Math and Language Games}
Day 3: {Strategy Games}
Day 4: {Card Games}

We’ve reached the end of this little summer series and I hope you’ve come away with some new ideas for your family game closet!

I’m wrapping up with a hodgepodge of games that are varied in content and play, but unified by the “fun” factor.  In our family we have six people with different ideas of what is a  “favorite” but most of the time everyone is still willing to play a game that they don’t adore like the video games I play with the use of csgo boosting online.  The following games are truly loved by all of us, though, and so they hold a special place in my heart.

Family games that please everyone

  1. Doodle Dice– This is another of those random finds that simply become a staple in our game time.  I don’t think I had ever even heard about it, but while searching the game shelves at Target I picked it up on a whim.  It’s cheap and endearing, a kind of cross between Yahtzee and Pictionary.  The game consists of six dice, each bearing on its sides six little doodles, a stack of cards with pictures that can be made with the doodles, and a cup for shaking them.  You have three rolls in which to make and claim any of the pictures on the cards in the center of game play, and to win you must collect six cards, one of each color.  Even the youngest can play, matching dice to the picture, and it can be played by up to six players.
  2. Art Memo I and II– I’m big on art, and so I always find a way to include art appreciation in our homeschool.  We do a bit of Charlotte Mason-style picture study, but often my children remember more through games.  The Art Memo games are simple memory games, but with famous paintings as the subjects of the pairs of cards.  The cards are sturdy, and the images are beautiful.  I can’t think of a better way to learn about styles and artists!
  3. Smarty Pants- This is family Trivial Pursuit, Wii-style (which means there are some shaking, dancing, jumping and other silly moves added in.)  I love that this game can be played in cooperative mode, taking the competitiveness out of the equation for family members of varied ages.  Each player chooses a Mii and enters his age (which  is how the game chooses trivia questions).  As a family, you try to complete a certain amount of questions in a certain amount of time, therefore garnering victory for your team.  Our 5 year old can play, and his questions center around basics of daily life: clothing and tools, colors, games, and science.  I have to admit that after we’ve played cooperatively, the kids always like to sit by and watch hubby and me as we play competitively.  And it ain’t always pretty!
  4. Zooreka– This is a clever game from the makers of Cranium, Cadoo and Hullabaloo, and has players traveling the board trying to complete their own personal zoo using resource cards collected around the board, and of course, to do so before their opponents.  The board is colorful and bold, with fun animals to choose to fill your zoo (like naked mole rats, bats, and a shark tank), and as you travel the board you either gain or lose resource cards depending on how well development is coming (sometimes your monkeys throw food instead of eat it, for example.)  This game is tons of fun, and up to four people can play.
  5. Snorta- 5 Days of Great Family GamesSnorta- I saved the best for last today, and this one will have even the grumpiest kid screeching with excitement and laughter.  Snorta comes with a bag of cute little rubber animals to choose from, and a little personal barn for each player.  There is a hefty stack of cards to be passed out among the players (a whopping eight players can play at one time!) and play goes quickly as cards are laid out one by one around the circle.  Here’s the catch: anytime your card matches anyone else’s card on the board, you have to be the first of the two of you to yell scream shout calmly call the sound of the matching opponent’s animal.  But all the animals are in their respective barns, so you have to remember them all and be quick about it!  It is hysterical, and often you’ll hear something like, “Dog! Bow-wow!! Cock-a-doodle-do!! Hee-haw!! Hiss!! Darn, what’s your animal again?!?”  The player to get rid of all his cards first, wins.  But really, with a game this fun, everyone wins! **Just noticed that this is super expensive on Amazon!  I’m sure you can find it used somewhere cheaper.  I hope they haven’t stopped making this fabulous game!**
What are the games in your house that everyone loves to play?

5 Days of... {Summer Series}Click on the image above to visit these fabulous ladies for the last day of this fun summer blog hop!  And don’t forget to check out the ultimate homeschool blogger’s retreat, a sponsor for this hop and an amazing tropical paradise!!

5 Days of Great Family Games {Blog Hop day 4}

5 Days of Family Games

Favorite Family Games {}

I’m so glad you’ve joined me as I share our family’s favorite games!

Day 1: {Kinesthetic Games}
Day 2: {Math and Language Games}
Day 3: {Games of Strategy}

Sometimes what we need is a quick and easy card game.  They are transportable, usually simple to learn, and inexpensive.  We have a number of favorite card games that stay out at all times, ready to be picked up by the kids on a school break, or weekend morning.  A regular deck of cards can yield dozens of fun games (I’m a big solitaire fan myself), but there are other less traditional games that provide tons of fun as well.

Great family card games

  1. Spot It- This is one of those afterthought cheapy games that I picked up on a random trip to Target.  I think it was a stocking stuffer.  The idea is simple and it’s a fast-paced game that keeps little ones and big ones alike equally interested.  Each circular card has 8 images on it, and each pair of cards shares one, and only one, image.  Your job is to identify what matches.  There are a number of mini-games, each with a different objective, and this little game takes no time at all to play.
  2. Slamwich- There are many types of sandwich fillings in this vicious little game.  As the name suggests, depending on what card is played, players “slam” their hands down to claim matches and take the pile.  We’ve had quite a few “ouchies” but also a ton of laughs playing this one!
    Card Games {5 Days of Family Games}
  3. Phase 10 This game takes longer to play than the others in my list, but it is one of my favorites.  The age range is a bit older, due to the attention span required, but I definitely think it’s worth it to have around the house.  The game is easy to learn: there are ten phases (a phase being a specified group of cards) to pass throughout the game, and the first to pass all 10 in order wins the game.  Yet it’s not quite that simple.  Multiple people pass phases at the same time, and you keep points for the cards you have left after each hand is done.  It’s a fun evening activity for adults and older kids alike.
  4. Uno Attack and Uno Roboto We were big Uno players when I was growing up.  Of course, then it was only the basic game, and while that’s still fun, we love some of the extension games in our family.  Uno Attack has a nifty little contraption that spits cards at you on occasion (from 2 to 7 cards) when you press the button, making getting rid of your cards a bit more difficult.  Uno Roboto has a cute little robot that tells you what to do, shouts out random tasks on occasion, and says things like, “I like the way you look.  Go again!”  It records each player saying her name and distorts the voice, making it silly and perfect for the younger members of your family. Both of these games can be played with up to six people.
  5. Monopoly Deal- I mentioned my love for Monopoly in the Day 1 post.  But, let’s face it, Monopoly can take forever, even with the “quick play” rules.  Monopoly Deal takes some of the best competitive elements of the game and provides a 15-20 minute game.  The goal is to lay out three full sets (the same sets in the traditional Monopoly) before your opponents do, but there are barriers to overcome: keeping enough money in your CC Bank to pay penalties your opponents choose( even though you have the loans with no credit option); making sure no one steals your cards; and simply the luck of the draw.  We just taught our 5-year-old the rules of the game, and while he’s not up on the strategy of his moves yet, he enjoys the fast pace.

Only one day left!  And tomorrow I’ll share some really fun ones!

Don’t forget to visit all of the Blog Hop ladies and get ideas for your family, budget, schoolyear, bookshelf, menu, and more for the coming year.

5 Days of... {Summer Series}

5 Days of Great Family Games {Blog Hop Day 3}


5 Days of Family Games

Welcome back to 5 Days of Great Family Games!

Day 1: {Kinesthetic Games}
Day 2: {Math and Language Games} 

Games of strategy and logic for the whole family

I love good strategy games.  They are also some of the most well-loved games in our home, especially for our boys.  There are so many educational benefits to logic and strategy games, such as critical thinking skills, improved concentration and attention, and math skills, to name a few.  We make them a regular part of our week and often begin a school day with a game or two.

  1. Chess– When I was three years old, my dad taught me to play chess.  Unlike other parents teaching difficult games to young, precocious children, he didn’t let me win, I would always see him getting free betting credits for his gambling games and I remember how bad I wanted to do the same.  Finally, when I started having nightmares about losing, my mom convinced him to go easier on me.  And yes, with that background it’s no wonder I’m still competitive, but I now have a twelve-year-old that can sometimes beat me.  Chess is a staple in our home (even the 5-year-old is pretty good), and it is probably taken out at least a couple of times a day for a quick game. We also play online casino at an Asian site called M88.
  2. Guess Who?– This is also a two person game, but one that is shorter and easier.  The two game boards are filled with pictures of various people, with different physical characteristics.  Your job is to guess the character your opponent has before he guesses yours, by asking key yes-or-no questions.  For example, if you ask, “Does your person have brown hair?” and the answer is “no” then you can rule out all of the brown-haired people.  It’s a great introduction to logical thinking.
  3. Castle Keep- This simple-to-learn building game challenges players to either build onto a castle of their own, or tear down an opponent’s castle with each turn.  It’s not always the easiest choice to make!  You can win with either action, so foresight and strategy is needed.  The little pieces/cards are pleasing to the eye and the perfect size for little hands. See this page to know more about the best online game today.
  4. Stratego-  This knights and dragons fantasy game is a two player game that requires players to set up their pieces in a very well-thought-out and strategic way in order to protect their “flag”.  Our boys love this game, and they’ve improved so much in their thinking skills simply by coming up with ways to better set up their pieces, not to mention the actual movement of the pieces to attack and defend.  There are differing levels of play, the most elaborate of which has each piece performing special powers and actions.  I get confused, but the kids love it!
    Stratego- 5 Days of Family Games
  5. Professor Layton- My oldest son has recently become enamored with these Nintendo DS critical thinking puzzle games.  Even though they are single player games, I included this series because of the great skill-building they achieve.  The virtual world of Professor Layton challenges the player to solve mysteries along with the professor by finding and completing logic puzzles.  I’ve played these myself on occasion and they are definitely brain-busting!
  6. Settlers of Catan- This game, which we’ve had since Christmas of last year, is definitely my new favorite strategy game.  I love the challenge of choosing your areas to settle down and building an empire by trading and making wise choices with your resources.  It’s a great tangential lesson in supply-and-demand economics too!  This game is very involved, but our five- and six-year-olds can play with some help, or at least be on someone’s “team”.  The game is for 3-4 players in its original form and takes up to an hour and a half to play.  You can purchase extension sets to play with up to six players and there are more ways to add to Catan with differently-themed expansion sets as well.

What are your favorite strategy games?


5 Days of... {Summer Series}

Come visit all of the above amazing ladies to learn from and share with them during this five-day series!  The series is sponsored by the Beech Retreat, a wonderful new homeschool bloggers conference on a little island in sunny Florida!

5 Days of Great Family Games {Blog Hop Day 2}

5 Days of Family Games

In our homeschool we play a lot of games.  Games have the unique ability to make learning both fun and painless.  If you ever need instruction on a particukar game, you can find detailed videos on the Movie Box App. There are so many math and language games to choose from that we could easily play games all day to learn the basics!  Here are some of our favorites:

 Great math games for the whole family

  1. Dino Dice- This game was purchased on a whim from Rainbow Resource one Christmas for a stocking stuffer.  I believe it was only five dollars and easily snags the “best-bang-for-your-buck” title.  The objective is simple: you want to roll “herds” of herbivores to earn points, and need to avoid rolling the T-rex so it doesn’t eat any of the more docile dinosaurs, thus eating your points as well.  We have used this game to help with mental math, and it’s so fun and quick the kids don’t even notice I’m using it to sneak some serious math skills in there.  I also love that it doesn’t have a maximum number of players, something that is hard to find with all of the games out there that require “2-4 players”.
    Dino Dice math game
  2. Battleship- A classic game that is a winner in our house of boys (and even my daughter likes it).  Anytime the kids can sink, kill, maim, destroy or otherwise pulverize their opponents, I’m guaranteed a game that will last.  Battleship is the perfect, easy way to teach basic Cartesian graphing.
  3. Blokus This game is in my top three, and perhaps is in my favorites list because I always win.  Each player has a set of tetris-like pieces that must be fit onto the game board, and must simultaneously block opponents and spread her own influence across the board [insert evil laugh here].  The only drawback to this awesome game of spatial skills, is that our family of six can’t all play together.
  4. Farkle Party- Another fun dice game, Farkle Party has six sets of dice, making it a great game for our family to play all together.  Simply put, players roll the dice to earn points and win the game.  The basics give way to a bit of strategy and a fair amount of luck, as you learn the more intricate rules of the game.  This is one we play often!
    Farkle Party Dice Game
  5. Trifecta This little free app is a great way to have the kids practice facts to 12 when you’re out and about and they are getting on your nerves you need to kill a few minutes.  My friend Mary introduced me to this game, and I even enjoy playing it on occasion.  To play, you roll virtual dice and then tap on tiles (numbered 1-9) that add up to what you rolled in order to make them disappear.  There are 27 tiles in all and your goal is to get to zero (something I finally accomplished last week for the first time!)  While you can’t play together, the game is quick enough to take turns and get a competition going.

Great language games for the whole family

  1. Green Alligator This little gem has been a great way to include little ones in our games, and is excellent for working on skills of description, and verbal processing.  Each card has a picture of an everyday object or action.  The player looks at the card and describes the object or action without using the word itself so that the other player can guess it.  Whoever has the most cards at the end wins, but we usually do not play with a winner, choosing to play cooperatively instead.
  2. Apples to Apples I love this game!  We have the kids and junior versions, and will probably invest in the regular edition at some point as well.  It can be played with the whole family (and there are not many games out there for more than 4 players) as soon as the youngest can read a bit.  There are two types of cards- adjective cards, and noun cards.  The “judge” chooses an adjective card to share with the group, and each other player then has to give the card in his hand that he feels matches the adjective.  The judge reads the cards aloud and chooses the one he likes best.  Laughter is sure to ensue, especially when you have a preteen whose only goal as judge is to choose the card that doesn’t fit in the slightest.
  3. Bananagrams- This little game has pleasing scrabble-like tiles that go “chinkchinkchink” in the bag (am I weird that I like that so much??)  But I even like it apart from the happy noise it makes.  Your goal in this game is to build an independent crossword puzzle structure (unlike Scrabble where you add to a joint structure) and use up your tiles first to win.  It is a great game for younger players and early readers, since they can use simple words and not worry about what words others are using.

Do you use games in your homeschool?  What are some favorites for math and language?

5 Days of... {Summer Series}

{Click on the picture and visit the rest of the crew!  They all have wonderful encouragement and information to share for this summer series!!}

5 Days of Great Family Games {Blog Hop Day 1}

5 Days of Family Games

Growing up I remember sitting around the table playing Monopoly with my family.  I remember loving the competitiveness of the game; the way my dad (cut-throat to say the least) often wouldn’t trade with anyone; the times my mom offered charity in the form of play money to someone who wasn’t doing well; the feeling of winning; and the occasional stomping off of someone or other who couldn’t handle not winning.

I remember playing chess with my dad, Life with my mom and sister, and pinocle and nickel-and-dime poker with the whole family.  I remember the towering stacks of games- Clue, Risk, Checkers, Yahtzee, Scrabble, Taboo, Scattergories- high up on the shelf in our playroom.  I absolutely loved playing games.  I still do.

Favorite Family Games {}

Characteristics of a great family game

So now it’s our playroom that has the stacks of games.  Sometimes we have high hopes for a game but it doesn’t quite fit our family, and sometimes a game surprises us and we enjoy years of play.  As I look at the games that get the most use, wondering what makes them great, I recognize that they do one (or more) of these three things:

  • make us laugh
  • make us think
  • make memories

I hope that this week, as I highlight some of the games that have stood the test of time in our home, you will find something new to explore here, something to add to the running Christmas or birthday list for your family.  And I hope also that you will share what your family favorites are in the comments.  I’m always on the lookout for a new favorite to add to our teetering stacks!

Kinesthetic games for the whole family

  1. Bop It XT This little treasure was given to us as a gift.  It is addictive, easily-transportable, and can be played solo or in “pass it” mode.  Each little doo-hicky on the game has a different function (bop it, flick it, twist it, spin it, pull it) and the objective is to follow the directions of the voice and do the right action to the right piece at the right time.  Very simple to learn, not so simple to master.  I love playing “pass it”.  When the voice tells you to pass it to the next player, it gives you an extra second to do so before the directions begin again.  Be prepared to go a bit bonkers with this one!
    Bop It!
  2. Hyperdash Another great game that can be played solo or with a group, Hyperdash requires players to set up the five numbered, colored cups and follow directions to each one as prompted “punching” them with the plunger as you go.  It can be played inside or out, depending on where you are and how much space you have.  The goal is to be the fastest, or to beat your own time if you’re playing solo.  This is a great game to help kids expend a little energy!
  3. Outdoor Challenge We like to keep screen time to a minimum, but the Wii has a couple of games that are really active and Outdoor Challenge is our favorite of this type.  This was the first Wii game that our then-four-year-old could play with us, and one of few games that can be played with a whole bunch of people (taking turns for each activity).  The challenges are varied and include fun activities like log jumping, pipe sliding, speed roller skating, kayak attack and mountain boarder, all of which require some serious physical maneuvering!
  4. Jumping Pixies What do you get when you cross cute wooden pixies with Newton’s laws of motion?  You get a hilarious catapulting game- marginally educational in the physics department, but guaranteed to have you giggling with your little ones (and not-so-little ones).  Try to pop your little pixies into the holes of the game board with the seesaw-like plank, and earn points based on which color they land in.  This game is so much fun, and will also have your little ones adding tens and ones in their heads to get their scores (an extra math perk!)
  5. Askew- Askew is basically a balance game.  It is made up of color-coded metal pieces and a stand that waits to foil attempts at balancing the lot of them.  Each player has a group of metal pieces of varying lengths and must choose wisely which to place and where, so that he is not the one to knock the whole thing down (getting himself extra pieces in the process.)  It’s a great and subtle physics lesson!  (Zach isn’t really wearing shades.  I was playing around with my photo editing software.)Askew gameWhat games get your family moving?

Be sure to visit the other homeschool bloggers in the 5 Days’ series from
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5 Days of... {Summer Series}

What’s in the Bible? Review {The Songs!}

What's in the Bible Songs

{Giveaway at the end- don’t miss it!!}

We know music.  We are a family of musicians and know full well the power music has to not only soothe the savage beast (and we’ve got some savage ones, let me tell you), but also to aid in learning, and bring joy to a home.

So when the opportunity came up to review the CD companion to the amazing “What’s in the Bible?” DVD’s, I jumped at the chance.  After all, our minivan CD-changer needed some new songs, and we could all (mom included!) use a humorous, but chock-full-of-truth refresher on some Bible facts.

What is “What’s in the Bible?”

Remember Veggie Tales?  How could you forget?  My older two kids were Veggie Tales fanatics, and even now that they are older, they enjoy taking out a story to watch with the younger ones and learning about character traits, and God’s love for us.

“What’s in the Bible?” is a new series of DVD’s by Veggie Tales creator Phil Vischer, but this time the series is full of biblical meat and potatoes.  The DVD’s take us through the entire Bible (the Old Testament in 8 Dvd’s- 16 episodes- is currently complete) with a cast of hilariously memorable characters (in the form of puppets, animation, flannel graph and even Phil himself) who tell the stories, sing songs, explain characters’ actions, and tie in everything to God’s bigger picture.

The website is a treasure trove of teaching materials and games.  There is a new area for study guides to use in your family, Bible flashcards, a section for coloring pages,  crafts and games, and a kids area with biographies of each puppet character and featured videos.  There’s even a church edition with curriculum included!

 What's in the Bible finger puppets collage

What we love best about “What’s in the Bible?” {The Songs}

Adults, big kids, and little kids alike can learn from, share, and discuss these episodes and songs.  I wasn’t sure how my twelve-year-old son would like the DVD’s or CD, but he is often the most vocal about wanting to watch or listen.  He also has come to me with questions in direct response to something he learned by watching or listening.

They are biblically-sound.  And the promise of God’s coming rescue is woven throughout the Old Testament episodes, which I love.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that the songs and dialogue are hysterical.  The song about Leviticus is my (and my oldest son’s) favorite, and when is anything about Leviticus anyone’s favorite anything??  The kids quote the shows and CD incessantly.  It is common to hear an interchange like this in our home:

“Well, actually, I tried to sell you once.”
“You sold me?”
“It was just to the neighbors…I got you back!”
“You sold me?”
{Yay for Clive and Ian!  They were discussing Joseph and his brothers…Well, you just have to listen for yourself!} 

For us, the CD is the perfect extension, allowing us to take the characters and stories with us in the car or into rooms where there is no TV.

The songs are catchy and lyrics are clever.  Anyone who remembers the perfectly silly lyrics in the “Silly Songs” that Larry the Cucumber sang will appreciate the subtle turns of a phrase in the “What’s in the Bible?” song CD.  And if you never knew Veggie Tales, be prepared to listen closely and laugh along with your kids.

The CD goes up through the book of Judges (which means there may be another CD coming!!)  My kids have been asking for the rest of the DVD’s and I’m sure adding another CD to our family repertoire will be next on the list.  

Here is a video of my kids singing the incredibly chatty theme song.  They pretty much had the whole thing memorized, and were thrilled when I suggested we make a video for this review.  You might not catch every word, but you can get the feel for the energy and integrity of these songs.  (And my kids are cute, so that’s an added bonus!)


Win a free video OR CD!

We will have TWO winners!

I happen to have an extra, unopened “What’s in the Bible?” DVD #1 to share with a lucky reader, and WITB has offered to give away a CD of “The Songs” as well!  Woohoo!

To enter, simply leave a comment telling me what Bible story or character is your favorite.  For extra entries you can:

Please leave a comment for each entry. This giveaway will be open until Wednesday, July 11 at 9pm.

{Be sure to visit these other bloggers to get their opinions on this series!}

iHomeschool Network

I received this CD for the purpose of review and am being compensated for the time it took to do so.  I only give honest opinions here, and choose to review things that I would use in my home and with my children anyway.  If you’d like more information, check my disclosure page.


Little black book- Fruit in Season

I was never a baby mom.  I tried to heed the advice to “cherish each moment”, and succeeded most of the time.  But sometimes in the dailiness, joy was elusive.  And then came another, and another, and another.  The moments were precious; still they flew by.

And now?

Now my baby is five.  He plays chess, and wrestles, and sets the table, and reads, and takes showers (can even reach the shower head in our bathroom), and doesn’t need a pull up even for bed anymore.

The black fuzzy book that holds years of silly sayings, toddler-speak, and milestones, that we take out on each birthday and giggle through, hasn’t seen a new entry in a long time.

Snuggling on the couch recently, we watched some home videos from years ago and I had this aching in my gut.  I feel sure that I’ve missed something.  Many “somethings”.

I didn’t mean to.

But growing up happens, and I can’t keep the sand from slipping through my fingers nor can I keep my children to last year’s mark on the basement wall.

It hurts and it’s beautiful, all at the same time.

So if you know how to cherish the moments, and not still ache as they pass, drop me a line, would you?

Thought-provoking Thursday Visit Michelle and link up your thoughts…