TOS Review: Apologia What on Earth Can I Do?

Apologia Review

I love doing Bible studies with my kids and learning more about the Word of God. However, as they have gotten older, I have felt a need to include more worldview studies in our curriculum as well, because I want to prepare them for the challenges they will face as they leave my home and enter the world. I fell in love with the elementary worldview curriculum from Apologia Educational Ministries a few years ago, and was so very excited to get the chance to review the fourth and final book in the series, What on Earth Can I Do?

Apologia Review

This curriculum is aimed at grades 1-6, but I started using it with my boys when my youngest was in 3rd grade, and now I am finishing up the series with him in the 7th grade and I would say it is still very appropriate for him. First, like everything that comes from Apologia, the hardback book is absolutely beautiful. The illustrations and soft colors make all of their books stand out from the crowd. The focus of this book is stewardship, and how to use what God has given us to serve Him. It includes 8 lessons that always begin with some type of story, followed by the lesson itself, and a closer look at the parables of Jesus at the end. Since this is the first book of the series, it follows the Who Is My Neighbor? book but I think you could really do the series in any order you wanted to and I would highly recommend doing the entire series with your child.

Apologia Review

The curriculum comes with several extras including a Notebooking Journal, Junior Notebooking Journal, and Coloring Book. If you are familiar at all with Apologia’s notebooks from their other courses, you know how incredible they are. If not, let me tell you, they are the perfect complement to the textbook. They include questions, crosswords, copywork, word searches, mini books, and more that relate to the lesson. The fact that the notebooks are tiered make them especially appealing to homeschoolers because it allows you to use the curriculum with multiple ages at once. When we first started this series, my oldest son was doing it along with us. As a sixth grader, he used the regular notebooking journal while my third grade son used the junior journal. While you can certainly just read the book without the journals, I feel like they add a lot to what kids learn in the book.

Notebooking Journal Mini Book

My children enjoy the variation of activities, and I feel like doing the extra work helps them to remember more of what we are learning. Plus, the journals give you a great keepsake at the end of the course.

Mini Book

At the front of the Notebooking Journals there is a suggested schedule which makes planning really easy. The book itself also contains a lesson plan. Basically, each chapter is divided into six lessons, with plans for you to work on the curriculum two days per week. Now of course, this is highly tweakable! 😉 and we actually worked on this daily, because I wanted to get through as much as we could before summer. I would say we spent about 15-20 minutes per day working, with reading and activities.

Apologia Review

Lessons begin with a fictional story meant to demonstrate some aspect of the lesson. We have read some wonderful stories in these books, and the first one in this case focused on a family living in Britain during World War II. My son was instantly drawn into the story, and each time we started a new lesson he couldn’t wait to hear what happened next. Probably my favorite part of the lesson was the Parables of Jesus at the end. Each chapter closes with a retelling of the parables, using actual characters so you can connect with the story. They provide beautiful illustrations of how God wants us to use our talents here on Earth.

I think that What on Earth Can I Do? is a fabulous curriculum I would recommend to anyone. The hardback book costs $39.00 while the journals are $24.00 each and the coloring book is $8.00. I think they are well worth the price, but if you cannot afford everything, definitely get the book. I look forward to snuggling on the couch and reading this with my son each day. This curriculum takes all those things I am not very good at explaining, and puts it all on pages for me to read easily. After completing this worldview series, your child will have a much better understanding of what it means to be a Christian in today’s world.

To find out more about Apologia’s curriculum, check out their social media pages:
Apologia on Facebook

Apologia on Twitter

Apologia on Google+

Apologia on Pinterest

To see what other members of the crew thought of this curriculum, click here:

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Asian Style Pork (crock pot recipe)

Asian Style Pork

This is an easy recipe that tastes delicious and makes plenty of leftovers!

3-4 lb. boneless pork butt
1 medium orange
3 tbsp. soy sauce
3 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
2 tbsp. teriyaki sauce
3 cloves minced garlic
3 tsp. garlic chili paste
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup beef broth

1. Zest 1 tbsp from the orange and add it to a small bowl, then squeeze the juice out of the orange into the same bowl.
2. Mince the ginger and garlic and add them to the bowl.
3. Stir in the soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, chili paste, salt, and beef broth.
4. After mixing everything together, pour it over the pork in the crock pot.
5. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

That’s it! I served this with stir fry veggies and rice. My hubby and kids loved the spicy-sweet flavor. Thanks for joining me this week. Be sure to check out new recipes at Try a New Recipe Tuesday here:

Crock Pot Beef and Broccoli

Beef and Broccoli

I love take out, but it is not always practical to pick it up. So, I figured I would try this recipe for beef and broccoli in the crock pot instead!

1 lb. beef flank steak cut into strips
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
2 tbsp. soy sauce
10 oz. frozen broccoli florets
white rice or serving

1. Marinate the beef in teriyaki sauce for about an hour before cooking.
2. Place the beef in the crock pot.
3. In a small bowl combine the soy sauce, beef broth, and brown sugar, then pour that over the beef.
4. Cook on low four about 3-4 hours (check to see how fast the meet is cooking, since the strips are thin they tend to cook faster).
5. About a half an hour after the meat is done, add in the broccoli.
6. Serve with white rice.

All in all, this recipe got a thumbs up from the family. You could easily follow the same recipe for chicken or pork if you wanted to and just adjust the cooking time. Thanks for stopping by! I will see you next week. In the meantime, check out other recipes from Try a New Recipe Tuesday here:

Our Top Curriculum Choices


The topic of our crew round-up this week is favorite curriculum choices.  Oh boy! I LOVE curriculum. Honestly, I see it and I want to try it all! So, narrowing down the choices to just a few…that is going to be hard. I change things up a little each year, but there are a few favorites I have found over the years that we will be sticking with. Here they are:


1. Apologia:

We used the Apologia Astronomy curriculum our first year of homeschooling and loved it! Since then, we have tried their elementary Human Anatomy & Physiology, Zoology, and Chemistry and Physics for science as well as all four of their books from their worldview curriculum. I have always loved every single thing I have used from this company. The books are beautiful, and so well-written, and the activity journals make their courses complete! I am sad to be finishing up their biblical worldview curriculum next year, because I think it is absolutely top-notch, but I am excited to see my youngest move into upper level science!

2. Math: I have discovered two favorites in the math area. For my kids younger years it just doesn’t get any better than CLE Math. These little workbooks are inexpensive, and very thorough. My kids use them all the way through 7th grade and always score well on our standardized tests each year. In many cases, I choose not to buy consumables, but for math, it works out so much better to just have my kids write in the books, and these cost around $40-$50 so I do not mind spending that each year. For the upper grades, I am really starting to like Life of Fred! If you have read anything about my struggles with upper level math, then you know this is an area I have had a hard time finding something that works.  I bought the geometry curriculum as a last resort this year, and it has worked very well, so I plan to keep using Fred for my boys in the near future, with my oldest moving onto Algebra 2 next year and my youngest starting the pre-algebra.

3. High School: We started My Father’s World High School when my oldest son began ninth grade. Wow! Can I just say that I am so impressed with this curriculum? It is thorough, detailed, and VERY challenging. The literature and writing alone are  just so in-depth!! Now, I have to say that this is definitely something that requires a lot of hard work and even though my son does the work on his own, he needs a  lot of support from me to keep up. And yes, this one is expensive. However, I buy used and find deals on eBay, and most of the curriculum is non-consumable, so I will have it for my younger son too. At any rate, it was really important to me that I find a high school curriculum that would prepare my kids for college level classes, and I feel like they will be more than ready after finishing this program.

4. Electives and other Stuff: We have gotten to sample or have tried out various other programs with varying degrees of success. Some of our other favorites include: Spanish For You!, Mango Languages, Victus Study Skills, Homeschool in the Woods, Logic of English, and Progeny Press. Our top choice for an extra that REALLY teaches you but you have so much fun you don’t realize you’re learning is The Presidential Game.

What are your curriculum favorites? Let me know in the comments! To see what other crew members had to say on this topic, click here: (goes live 5/21/14)

Favorite Curriculum Choices

TOS Review: Micro Business for Teens

Micro Business for Teens ReviewDo you have young entrepreneurs in your home? Are you wondering how to encourage them and help them get started with their own business? I believe that helping your kids get started in business at a young age is a great way to prepare them for life. Who knows? Maybe one day they will be running their own company! For this review, we got to check out products from Micro Business for Teens. We received two eBooks: Starting a Micro Business and Running a Micro Business as well as the Micro Business for Teens Workbook. This product is aimed at ages 10-18 and I used it with my 12 and 15 year old sons.

Micro Business for Teens ReviewFirst a little background: My oldest son started his own business detailing cars when he was 13 to earn money to pay for youth summer camp. That first year he earned over $450 in about 6 months washing cars. For the last two years he has built a consistent business that allows him to earn more than enough to pay for camp as well as spending money for himself. I am very proud of his hard work and dedication, but I was not sure how to get him going in the right direction to make this a solid business he could use to support himself while in high school. My younger son loves to watch Shark Tank, and he is always coming up with ideas for businesses, but not all of them are feasible. So, I wanted to find a way to help him hone his creative ideas to come up with a workable plan.

Micro Business for Teens ReviewWe read the Starting a Micro Business for Teens book first. It begins with a discussion of what a Micro Business is, how it functions, ideas for a Micro Business, and developing a business plan. These first chapters were very important. Through our discussion, my younger son decided he would like to start a dog-walking and dog-washing business. We live in a very dog-friendly neighborhood, seriously, people are walking their dogs all day long around here. One of the basic principles of a micro-business is that it has low start up costs. Also, micro businesses are easy to manage and often have only one worker, the owner. Dog washing and walking costs very little to get started. Basically just soap, towels, leashes etc. It is also easy to schedule time-wise. For my older son, he was interested in developing the business plan so he could take his car detailing business further.

Micro Business for Teens ReviewThe Micro Business for Teens Workbook was very helpful. It had questions and exercises for each chapter that helped students brainstorm ideas, write up their business plans, draft financial plans, and more. My older son in particular was interested in working out a long-term financial plan for his business. His main costs were the materials he uses to wash the cars, and gas to get to and from different locations. He looked at the costs of several car washes, waxes, etc. to find the best product he could use for the best value. By the time he finished the exercise, he had a solid draft of a plan that I think will help him a lot going into the summer.

In the Running a Micro Business for Teens eBook, students get into the topics of sales, marketing, record keeping, and legal issues. The information on sales and marketing was especially appealing to both of my kids. My older son wanted some ideas of ways he could promote his business to get more customers, while my younger son was looking for ways to just get started. They both came up with some ideas of how to further promote themselves, mainly focusing on encouraging referrals from current customers, and using social media to advertise for free.

You can set your own schedule for working through these courses. Depending on the age of your child, it could take anywhere from six weeks to a few months. We are still going through the Running a Micro Business book because I wanted to make sure we give it an in-depth look, and I think if you combined this with other resources on the internet and from the library, you could flesh this out into a half-semester course. The best thing about these products is their low cost. The Starting a Micro Business and Running a Micro Business eBook costs $4.95 while the paperback is only $9.95.  The Micro Business for Teens Workbook  eBook costs $9.95 while the paperback version is $14.95.  If you have teens or preteens who want to get started in their own business, or children who have already started a business and just need some direction to keep it going, I think these are definitely worth it!

Learn  more about Micro Business for Teens on their social media pages:

Micro Business for Teens on Facebook

Micro Business for Teens on Twitter

Micro Business for Teens on Pinterest


To see what other TOS Crew members thought of these products, click here:

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Menu Plan Monday 5/19/2014

Hello! Welcome to Menu Plan Monday! This week is going to be very busy for me. Not only is this coming weekend the Memorial Day holiday, but it is also my oldest son’s 16th birthday!! So, we have the whole family coming in for his party on Saturday, then we have another party on Sunday, and a beach day with friends on Monday. For that reason, I am keeping this week’s meals simple, because I have a ton of errands to run and I need to get my house ready. The good thing is, my hubby is smoking a pork butt for the party, so we will have plenty of leftovers to feed us for a couple of days after that.

Here’s whats on our menu for the week:

Monday: Pork and Black Bean Soup

Tuesday: Chicken Caesar Salad

Wednesday: Spaghetti

Thursday: Chicken with Rice and Beans

Friday: Pizza

Have a great week and wonderful holiday weekend! Thanks for stopping by. I will see you next Monday!

Stuffed Pork Chops

Pork chops with Spinach and Gouda

This week I am sharing a new recipe that I just tried and that my whole family loved. I have never made a stuffed pork chop before, choosing to go the easy route and buy my chops already stuffed, but I decided to give this recipe a try. It was actually very easy and came out so moist and juicy, I have no idea why I waited so long!

Seasoning for the outside.

4 large bone-in pork chops (you could certainly used boneless if you want)
2 cup Italian bread crumbs
2 tsps. seasoned salt
1-2 cups chopped spinach
8 thin slices of Gouda cheese

Stuff with spinach first

1. Use a sharp knife to cut a pocket in the pork chops.
2. Stuff each chop with the spinach, then two slices of the cheese.

Gouda cheese!

3. Spread horseradish on both sides of each chop. (I made sure the chops were completely covered, you can adjust this part to your taste)

4. In a shallow dish, combine the seasoned salt and the breadcrumbs.


5. Dip the porks in the breadcrumb mixture, covering each side.

6. Place the chops on a baking sheet that you sprayed with non-stick spray.

7. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chops.

That’s it! Like I said, I thought something like this would be really complicated, but it wasn’t. I served this with green beans and rice and my kids each wanted more when they were done! If you know of any other stuffed chop recipes, let me know in the comments. Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out the rest of Try a New Recipe Tuesday here:

It’s a Wrap!

Bring on summer!

We are closing in on having about three weeks left in our school year and my boys are ready to trade in their books for bathing suits!! We follow a traditional calendar around here, so summer vacation is on the horizon. The end of the year is always a little bittersweet for me. On the one hand, by this time I am usually ready for a break too, but on the other hand, I realize that next year I will have an 11th grader and an 8th grader and that scares me a little!! So, how are we wrapping things up? Well first, I have a LOT of paperwork to do (ugh!). All that stuff I was supposed to be filing all year?? Well, it is sitting in strategically placed piles glaring at me right now.

Papers papers papers!

Sigh….it’s my own fault, I know it. Every year I swear that THIS is the year I am going to finally stay organized! I WILL file and grade every week! I WILL NOT get behind and let stuff pile up until I start to feel like Sylvia Stout! And…every year I start off great. But then, I don’t know, life just seems to happen and stuff gets busy and there is a crisis or two (or four, or seven!!) and the next thing I know I am knee-deep in stuff!! So, my job for the next three week is to sort through all this stuff and put it away. Maybe next year will be my year! 😉

The next part of our year-end wrap up is deciding what my kids may need to read or touch up over the summer. My older son has some speech lessons to complete to finish out his credit, and they both have some reading they will be doing. Beyond that, they pretty much finished everything, and my youngest will continue with the second half of Mystery of History Vol. III next year.

New school stuff!

One of the fun parts of wrapping up the school year (at least for me) is starting to plan our next year! Oh how I love curriculum. Seriously, if there were a job called “professional curriculum shopper and try-outer” I would apply! I definitely have some old standards we use from year to year, but for areas like science and electives, I love to try new things. I’m also thinking about looking into some geography for my youngest next year too. So, I will be surfing the web and waiting for boxes in the coming weeks, which always makes me happy!

On our last day of school we usually go out to breakfast at a favorite local restaurant, then end the day at the beach. I can’t believe how fast this year has flown by! In fact, writing this post has made me realize just how much I have to get done in the next three weeks so I guess I better start today!

How do you wrap up your year? Let me know in the comments! And check out what other crew members had to say at our Crew Carnival here: (goes live 5/12/14)

Wrapping Up the Homeschool Year

Menu Plan Monday 5/12/14


Summer is almost here, and in Florida we are definitely feeling it! My garden is growing nicely but we have to water it a lot to help it stand up to the heat. Right now we have green beens, tomatoes, swiss chard, and peppers coming in and the black eyed peas should be next. I can’t wait until I can cook with my own vegetables. In the meantime, this is what’s on our menu for this week:

Monday: Mexican Pizza

Tuesday: Lasagna Soup

Wednesday: Pork Casserole

Thursday: Sloppy Joes

Friday: Tacos

Thanks for stopping by for Menu Plan Monday! See you next week.

TOS Review: Logic of English

Logic of English ReviewIf math is the bane of my older son’s existence, then handwriting is the same for my youngest son. This boy and I have struggled for YEARS to find a way to improve his handwriting. For this review, I was excited to check out The Rhythm of Handwriting Cursive Complete Set from Logic of English to see if it would work for us. This program is aimed at ages four and up. My son is 12 and in 7th grade. You can learn more about the program at the Rhythm of Handwriting information page.

Logic of English ReviewThe first thing that drew me to this program is its use of tactile instruction to teach cursive writing. The program begins with the tactile cards that include sandpaper upper and lowercase letters your child can trace with their fingers. Logic of English breaks cursive handwriting down into movements that really make sense. Children learn how to make a “swoop” and a “swing” and a “dip” motion. Then, when they are given instructions on forming letters, these terms are used. So, the instructions for a lowercase S tell students to “swing up to the midline, scoop around, touch, and glide”. I cannot tell you how much easier this makes it to teach your kids handwriting so they will really learn it. Rather than learning each letter individually, they learn motions and apply them to the letters. For some reason this just makes so much more sense to me, and it really seemed to click with my son too. The cards also reinforce phonetic sounds, which would be useful with younger students.

Logic of English Tactile Cards

In addition to the tactile cards, the program comes with a whiteboard that has the printed lines for handwriting practice, as well as a workbook, and a laminated sheet with instructions for each letter. Together, they combine to create one solid program. My son worked on two letters each week. We started the week tracing the letters and movements on the tactile cards first, then practicing them on the whiteboard. At the end of the week we moved on to writing the letters in the workbook.

Practicing on the whiteboard

So what did we think of this program? Judging by my son’s progress and the lack of tears when we used it, it was fantastic!!! I have seen huge improvements in his writing, and because he is learning motions rather than just letters, he seems to be picking it up much quicker. Honestly, I wish I had found this years ago. The lessons only take about 10-15 minutes per day, and I believe they are very effective.

Logic of English practice page

I feel like by the time we finish Logic of English, he will have very solid handwriting. The program starts with lowercase letters and then moves onto uppercase. After working on individual letters, the workbook moves on to writing words and learning how to connect the letters. Logic of English costs $65.00, and I know that sounds a little pricy, but if you have a child that truly struggles with handwriting, and nothing else has worked so far, I would definitely recommend giving this a try.

Connect with Logic of English on their social media pages to learn more:
Logic of English on Facebook

Logic of English on Pinterest

Logic of English on YouTube

Logic of English on Twitter

To see what other members of the crew thought of Rhythm of Handwriting and the other programs we got to check out, click here:
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TOS Review: Maestro Classics

Maestro Classics ReviewI believe that music education is so important, but finding a way to make classical music exciting for my children has proven difficult. So, I was very happy to get a chance to review two CDs from Maestro Classics with my kids. I had been eyeballing their products for a while because they seemed to be a perfect fusion of music and storytelling. And I have to say, they far exceeded my expectations! We got to listen to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Casey at the Bat.

Maestro Classics ReviewThe first CD we listened to was The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Now of course, when I think of this story I can’t help but picture Mickey in his sorcerer’s hat, but my son has not watched Fantasia in a long time, so I don’t think he saw it that way. First of all, the music for the Maestro CDs is expertly played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. But, what really caught my son’s attention was the narration. As he listened to the music, he was also carried away by the story and even asked me to replay it a second time. In addition, the CD contains a separate recording of the March of the Brooms as well as information about the music, and even a play-along using pots and pans from the kitchen!!

Maestro Classics The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Each CD is accompanied by a small booklet that contains information about the orchestra, the composers, the instruments, and fun activities for your child to complete. Also, the Maestro Classics website has links for extra resources like study guides, sheet music, and crafts. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is listed for ages six and up, but I think the whole family would enjoy it.

Maestro Classics ReviewThe second CD we got to review was the story of Casey at the Bat. I chose this CD because my youngest is a baseball fan, so I thought he would appreciate the story and I think this is the CD he enjoyed the most. This CD includes so much more than just the famous poem and the “Casey Tango” composed by Stephen Simon, it also includes the Casey March performed by Michigan State University, the Flight of the Rabbit, and more. The booklet has a copy of the poem as well as activities related to music and baseball.

Casey at the Bat–Maestro Classics

Casey at the Bat is appropriate for all ages and will definitely entertain the family whether you are in the car or at home.

So, the big question is, what did we think of Maestro Classics?? Well, I say we give them a big two thumbs up. Since we first listened to the CDs together, I have caught my younger son listening to Casey in his room while playing with his Legos. He even asked me if we could get the Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel CD! As a mom, I feel like this is a great way to introduce classical music to children that makes it fun and exciting. The CDs for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Casey at the Bat cost $16.98 each and they are also available for MP3 download for $9.98. Personally, I prefer an old-fashioned CD myself!! I think the cost is well worth it, because I have a feeling your kids will want to listen to them over and over again.

To find out more about Maestro Classics, check out their media pages:

Maestro Classics on Facebook

Maestro Classics on Twitter

Maestro Classics on Pinterest

To see what other members of the crew had to say about  Maestro and the other products they offered, click here:
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My Mexican Pizza

Mexican Pizza!

This week I am sharing a recipe that is one of my boys favorites for nights when its just the three of us and daddy is at work. Its really easy to make and can be ready in 20 minutes. I generally use prepared pizza crust (just because I’m too lazy to make my own on most nights!) but you could certainly use your own dough for this too!

1 pizza crust
Olive oil
1/2 red onion
1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup frozen corn
sliced black olives
shredded cheese (I used the Mexican blend, but you could use your favorite)

1. Brush the pizza crust with enough Olive oil to cover the whole thing.

2. Spread a layer of salsa over the crust.

3. Top the salsa with some cheese.

4. Top the cheese with the black beans, onion, and corn.

5. Cover the toppings with more cheese and add the olives.

6. Bake at 400 for about 20-25 minutes, until crust is golden-brown and cheese is melted. (or follow the directions for the crust that you are using)

Now, if I make this recipe for a family dinner when my husband is home, I have to make two of these. And my hubby likes to have meat at every meal, so I usually brown up some chorizo and add it with the rest of the toppings.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to come back next week. And check out the rest of the recipes from Try a New Recipe Tuesday here:

Enjoying the Outdoors

Lake Lure, NC


The topic for this week’s Crew Round Up is Nature Journals. Our family loves the outdoors. Living in Florida, we are fortunate to be able to enjoy weather that lends itself to being outside year-round. Now, when I first started homeschooling, we tried to do the traditional nature journals with sketching and field books and everything, but it just wasn’t our style. However, both of my kids LOVE to take pictures. My oldest even has a little photography business going! So, our nature study involves photography, and getting out to enjoy the beauty our state has to offer.

In my post about Fall, I share some of my son’s pictures from a day we spent outside, and some of the creatures he was able to get up close and personal with.

In this post about our Outdoor Adventures, we share pictures taken from a trip to Juniper Springs when we were visiting my mom, and also some pictures from our vacation to the mountains of North Carolina, where we always get in at least one hike and get to watch deer on the deer path behind our condo.

Sometimes I turn to my computer to offer my kids a look at some of the nature we don’t get to see here in Florida. This post talks about how we use the Internet for Nature Study.

And finally, in my post Peace, I shared some beautiful pictures from the Pisgah National Forest as well as my thoughts about how enjoying nature brings me closer to the Lord.

Thanks for visiting me for this Round Up. I would love to hear how you do nature study at your house. Let me know in the comments. To see how other members of the Crew handle their nature study, click here: (goes live 5/7/14)

Philosophy Adventure

Nature Study for Your Homeschool