Friday, August 1, 2014

Back to School

We school year round here in Australia, starting late January and ending early December.  In the middle of the year we get 4 weeks off.  So while all you in the states are getting ready to go back to school, we are starting the second half of our school year.  It was a nice break, but I prefer the school routine!

We are finding that ACE isn't working well with all our subjects, so we're branching out a bit for science and are going to learn about bones.  We may go back later to ACE, but for now we needed to change it up a bit.  I like to have at least one subject that the kids can do together, and science is a good one for that.  Thanks to my friend, Susie, and her awesome blog, I have some great online resources for bones and lots of fun learning activities.

Cody wrote this letter for his daddy.
I'm so thankful for his tender heart.

Thursday, July 31, 2014


Lots of changes going on around here.  Change is good, it means things are moving forward.  But I don't always handle change well.  I have found that when I have circumstances or changes in my life beyond my control I tend clean and organize like a nut, which is basically me changing what I can control!

This past week I found this great organizing stand on our local buy, swap, and sell facebook group.  I have been wanting something similar to organize all our craft supplies so that the kids have easy access.  Now all our craft supplies are all organized!  They've been making lots of crafts, so now I need a big bulletin board to hang up all their works of art.

God is good!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Graham Blanchard - Children's Books for Growing Up in God {Book Review}

Recently I was sent three beautiful board books to review.  They are from Graham Blanchard Inc.  They are sweet children's books that talk about God and Who He is.

$8.99 Ages 0-7
This is from a series of books, others are called Jesus Invites Me and Jesus Shows Me.  Its a beautiful book based on John 10:14-16.  Each page has a verse with a photo and explanation of the verse.  I love the photos of the shepherd with his sheep.  The last page is for grown-ups to help the child learn and gives tips for different age groups: baby, toddler, and child.

$8.99 Ages 3-6
Another beautiful book that talks about the unseen parts of us, our heart, mind, strength and soul.  It's based on Mark 12:30. I loved this little boy dressed in a super hero costume learning about his inner self - his heart, his mind, his sgrength and his soul and how they grow along with him.

Close as a Breath by Callie Grant
$8.99 Ages 0-6
This book was probably my favorite. I just loved how it showed that although we can't physically see God, we can see Him in His Creation.  God is right there with us.  Sometimes He may seem distance, but like the book says, "You can't see God or grasp Him but you know that He's there.  His love and His power are alive everywhere."  It's set in the fall season, and the illustrations are just beautiful. 

Graham Blanchard's Learn, Absorb, and Praise categories give more emphasis to each book.  Here are the themes for each category:

Learn - Know the heart and mind of Jesus
Absorb - Meet with God in my inner life
Praise - Remember God in everything I do

They also give "Grown-up Tips" for the books.  This helps the parent expound on the books with the kids.  It gives more topics to talk about, simply building on the book.  Its such a great idea.

Each book is in the New International Version, I prefer and only use the King James Version so I just changed the verses as I was reading it to my kids, most were familiar.  

These are lovely books to share with your children.  We've read them through a few times and I plan to pass them on to family.  Take some time to check out the Graham Blanchard website and see their other great books.

The books are "printed in China by Oceanic Graphic Printing, which adheres to independently audited environmental standards and meets all CPSIA safety testing requirements."

I was given the three books for free in exchange for a review.  The review and opinions are my own.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Jeff, Autumn, Cody, and I went out looking for more geocaches in our area.  This was the first time we took the kids along, and they really enjoyed it.  Autumn found this one after we spent about 30 minutes looking for it.  It was well hidden along a popular walking trail in our area.  Cody said he knew where it was the whole time.  :) 

We find some very quickly and others can take time.  We had one that we gave up and went back later and found it.  There is one that we still cannot find at another location, but plan to go back and check it out again.

This was a fun one and at a place we pass often.
(The geocache instructions were very specific which is why I thought it was ok to share this photo.)

One of the things I love about this geochaching is finding places like this nearby that I never knew existed.   This is right down the road from my house.  (You can click the photo to enlarge it.)

I was also out with a friend this week and was telling her about the geocaching, and was showing her the app on my phone.  It turned out that there was a geocache very close so we went looking for it.  She enjoyed it, so hopefully I'll have a partner in crime when my brother leaves.  (But we're not talking about him leaving because it makes me incredibly sad.) 

I'd love to hear your geocache stories!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

VBS - Day 5

Our Vacation Bible School went well.

Our last night, we had some fun with the games...
Jeff and I had shaving cream put on our heads...

and the kids threw cheese balls at us.
The team who got the most cheese balls to stick won.

My Cindy Loohoo impersonation.

I think the kids enjoyed it as much as we did.

We had a family that "happened" to be waiting for a taxi in front of the building we hire for church.  The kids invited them to the VBS and the entire family came along.  Afterwards Patrick and I dropped them off.  So now we know where they live to go back and visit. :)  Although we've seen them several times this past week around town.  Praying for them.

We know there are no accidents with God.  He has a purpose for everything.

The last night we had a sausage sizzle and invited all the families.

I'm so thankful for all those that helped and sacrificed their time in preparation 
and just in being there each night.

God is good!

Monday, July 21, 2014

HomeschoolPiano {TOS Review}

Homeschool Piano Review

Are you looking for piano lessons for your homeschool?  Are you looking for a way to pay just one set price?  Would you like your children to learn at their own pace and in the comfort of your own home?  Well, I may have found a solution for you - HomeschoolPiano.  HomeschoolPiano is a great online resource for children of all ages and for all levels of piano knowledge and ability.

I was given a lifetime subscription (for up to 5 students) to HomeschoolPiano - Complete Set of Books

It is a very easy to use website.  We have the website saved in our favourites and the login info saved, so we just click and get started!

There are three units and each unit is split into six lessons with each having a bonus lesson.  Each lesson is about 5-10 minutes long, and you have practice time afterwards.  My daughter was able to do more than one lesson at a time because of the shorter videos, and moved on as she understood the new concepts that were taught.  Your child can move through the lessons at their own pace, and easily repeat a lesson if necessary.  There are also quizzes to help see how well the child is understanding the new concepts.

Each unit has an accompanying PDF book that you can print off.  They are referred to often, so I highly encourage you to print them off.  I put ours in a binder, but have seen others have had them spiral bound which I like better.

To give you an idea of what you learn during a lesson.  In unit one you learn how to properly grab the piano keys, quarter notes and rests, rhythmic vocalization, and much more.

homeschool piano lessons

Their method follows a 6 step cycle: technique, rhythm, ear training, reading music, song, and improvisation.  This six step cycle works with the National Standards for Music Education.  If you are at all interested in this program, I highly recommend you follow that link and read more about the 6 step cycle.  I tried to do my own explain of it, but they do a way better job as I don't know all the technical words.  :)

If your child has never had lessons you just start on the first lesson.  My daughter skipped through a bit until we found a lesson with new concepts.  This didn't take much time, and gave us a good grasp of how the program works.

I like how the video shows the teacher's (Willie  Myette) hand placement on the keyboard.  We would put our iPad where the music books go on the piano and my daughter could easily follow along.  I felt the teacher spoke in an easy to understand manner, and didn't use over complicating words.

Homeschool Piano Review

What you will need for this online course...
- a computer, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone
- a keyboard with at least 61 keys
- the books you print off from the website

Sign up for a free lesson!  Click here.

Homeschool Piano Review

I think the only downside to this program is that you do not have a live teacher being able to pick up any mistakes that are made.  I can read music and play piano, but I'm not very good and missed a lot of theory.  My daughter has had lessons off and on the past few years as we were able to find a piano teacher wherever we were living, so she has some foundation.  She enjoyed this because she could do it at her own pace and because we're on school holidays, she did it whenever she was in the mood to do it.  Which was more often than I had anticipated!

HomeSchoolPiano has two payment packages and the pricing is as follows:

1. Success Package (One payment of $299)
Unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students.

2. Payment Plan (Payments of $99.97 per month for three months):
Unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students.

Depending on what you have had to pay for piano lessons will determine if you think this is a reasonable price or not.  Because it is a lifetime membership and can be used for up to 5 children, I think it's quite a good deal, as long as you have children interested and can work independently.

We plan to continue using this program and as we start back up from our mid-school year holidays I plan to start them with my son, and also hope to learn a bit myself.

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Crew Disclaimer


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

VBS - Day 2,3, & 4

My hubby made balloon hats for Jared (who led songs)
and balloon animals for the kids.

Ms. Lauren on crafts.  She's done a great job!

Game time
Each child took a turn drawing the days of Creation.

Lesson time for 9-12 year olds

Dino Memory Game

Reviewing Bible verses

Minute To Win It Game
Eating a donut on a string with no hands!

Jeff and I decided to show them how to do it.

Jeff won

Snack - bird's nests
This night we talked about God's unique creation.
It didn't just happen, God made them that way!

Lesson time for ages 5-8

Tomorrow is our last night.  We're ending with a sausage sizzle.  We've had a few visitors through out the week, praying for a big last night!