Monday, July 6, 2015


Today's prompt for the July blogging challenge was simply "10." I thought a lot about what 10 things would best describe my life. Finally I decided that the 10 I thought would be most revealing to you would be my 10 favorite books. 

As a Mama who has spent the past 12 years educating her girls, these books have brought me encouragement, and have challenged me to continue on. If I were to give a gift to my younger self, it would be a box with these ten books, and a note to trust God - no matter what comes!

My 10 favorite books to read, and reread...

homeschooling, encouraging books, Mom's reading list

10. Dictionary - how many times has one of our girls asked me about a word, yet I only had a vague idea of its meaning? Lots and lots!

9. 101 Hymn Stories by Kenneth Osbeck - encouragement for the journey, and a song to sing while doing the housework.

8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - I also really like Persuasion, and Sense and Sensibility, but this is my favorite of all of Austen's works.

7. Beyond Survival, and Reaping the Harvest both by Diana Waring. Beyond Survival was my favorite when the girls were little, after about 5th grade you should read Reaping the Harvest.

6. The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tower - A reminder to seek God and follow His ways.

5. The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer - every Mama needs the reminder that she was a wife first, and her home and attitude should reflect God's beauty.

4. For The Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macauley - just read it!

3. A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola - My absolute favorite book about the actual process of educating your children and growing them up into adults one day at a time!

2. In His Steps by Charles M. Sheldon - This is my most often read book besides my Bible. I am blessed to have my Grandpa's copy and reading the story over and over again reminds me how his life followed Christ, and mine should too.

1. My Bible - If I had no other book with which to educate our children, this would be more than enough. 
Only, always, Jesus!

CursiveLogic Workbook ~ A Crew Review

Can I just say WOW!?! We have had opportunities to review many quality curriculums, games, and other products over our years here on the Schoolhouse Review Crew, but I have to say I have been blown out of the water by our latest review item from CursiveLogic! The 96 page full-color CursiveLogic Workbook has made a transformational change in Arlene’s writing in just five weeks. Before I tell you more about CursiveLogic, I want to take just a moment to tell you about why Arlene and I were intrigued to learn about a new cursive workbook.

cursive curriculum, all ages, writing

Arlene just recently turned 15. Most students who are going to learn cursive have mastered it long before this age, other students learned just enough to get out of third grade and have never used it again. 
The thing is, Arlene is not like most students. About a year ago we discovered Arlene has Dysgraphia. 
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes defines it like this: Dysgraphia is a neurological disorder characterized by writing disabilities. Specifically, the disorder causes a person's writing to be distorted or incorrect. In children, the disorder generally emerges when they are first introduced to writing. They make inappropriately sized and spaced letters, or write wrong or misspelled words, despite thorough instruction.
In layman’s terms: writing is a physically painful process because what the student learns, and what they can reproduce are so vastly different. The two sides of Arlene’s brain have a difficult time working together when writing. Reading is not a problem, nor is comprehension, Arlene is a wonderful artist and a solid student, but her learning to write has been painful for both of us.

Once we discovered that Arlene has Dysgraphia, I set out to find a way to help her. We have been blessed to find exercises that have helped her tremendously with her manuscript (printing,) but that still left the process of cursive. At 15, Arlene does not have the time or desire to learn cursive the old-fashioned way ~ one letter at a time. In fact, we had tried this process in the past, with other cursive workbooks, which usually ended in a dismal failure, or with Arlene in tears, or both. 

Enter CursiveLogic.

Writing in cursive is no longer a chore, it is actually something Arlene does willingly. I highly recommend this program to parents who have students with a learning disability, as the logical, thorough process seems to bridge the gap that so many other programs miss. 

Please note: your child does not need to have a writing struggle to benefit from this program. Any student who is nine or older and has mastered how to print the alphabet can utilize this program with help from their teacher, whether at home or in a school setting.

cursive curriculum, all ages, writing

This wonderfully thought out program of CursiveLogic designed by Linda Shrewsbury is a real gem! 
In CursiveLogic, the letters of the lowercase alphabet are divided into four groups based upon their basic formation (shape.) The groups are taught through a muscle-memory based technique, utilizing color, and a catch-phrase to help students of all three learning styles (kinesthetic, visual, and auditory,) master each group. Letters are first traced on the page with the student’s finger, then traced with a pencil or pen, then written independently. Arlene preferred to do her lessons with fine tipped colored markers. Part of the genius of this program is that the student is learning to write the letters in strings, thus learning how to write an individual letter, plus how to connect it to other letters all in the same lesson.

I remember back to second and third grades when we were taught cursive. It took forever to learn enough letters to actually write out anything. Your student will be writing actual words by the time they reach their fifth practice page. Learn, practice, succeed. This is a key point for older students, as they are sometimes embarrassed by their lack of skills in penmanship. Once the student learns the first string of letters (the orange ovals) they can write several words confidently.

If you have an older student who does not have any learning struggle other than cursive, they could be signing their name in cursive in just a day or two. Because of Arlene’s struggles with Dysgraphia, we decided to work on one section of a lesson each day. That ended up with Arlene finishing the book in five weeks. After learning the four letter groups and how to write the letter strings, the CursiveLogic Workbook has pages that teach the formation of basic Uppercase letters and how to connect them to the lowercase letters. The uppercase group practice pages include writing out proper nouns like Rhode Island and Zambia.

The remainder of the workbook includes practice pages where the student trace and then write short passages, and ends with three laminated pages where the student can practice their letter strings as many times as needed with a fine tipped dry erase marker. Some students will use these pages everyday, others may only use them once or twice. CursiveLogic has additional practice pages available which include the Gettysburg Address, passages from the Psalms, and the Declaration of Independence. I printed out the Gettysburg Address for Arlene, and she has been working on it over the past week on her own. That’s right folks, Arlene who used to cry in frustration when I told her to copy one line in her old cursive book is now writing cursive on her own without complaining. Hallelujah!

Maybe you’re wondering if it is really necessary to learn cursive?! Linda Shrewsbury’s son Nathan summed it up wisely in his post back on April 16th of this year for the CursiveLogic blog: Cursive writing prepares student for academic success, the same way a tricycle prepares children for a bicycle and myriad other physical activities and mechanical devices by coordinating movements of the hands and feet. Learning to make those 26 letters in a consistent uniform way builds familiarity and understanding of written language while integrating fine motor skill and the innate human desire to create something. 

I could not have said it any better myself.

From Arlene: I like that you work on one shape of letter at a time and master it before you move on. If you’re learning cursive for the first time it can be really confusing to learn a, then b, which is drawn a totally different way. Then you’re like “what am I doing?” The spiral binding is nice because you don’t have to hold the book open. I liked that it didn’t take forever.

cursive curriculum, all ages, writing

We are so pleased to have found a tool that has helped Arlene find success with cursive in such a short period of time. This spiral bound workbook flips like a calendar so the student never has to write over the spiral, and it can be easily used by either right or left handed students. If you are an adult who has never mastered cursive, this could be an investment in yourself - you’re never too old to learn! At only $29 this CursiveLogic Workbook will revolutionize how students learn cursive! Imagine spending only a few weeks learning this valuable skill, not months or years. 

Four lessons to the whole lowercase alphabet in cursive. That is the beauty and simplicity of CursiveLogic. As the parent/ teacher you can decide how fast your student should go through the lessons, as each is broken into 5 short parts. Arlene spent just a few minutes a day for five weeks. You can choose to spend a little bit longer daily and complete the whole workbook in just a week or two if your student catches on quickly. Plan to finish each lesson in no more than one week. Once the four letter strings are mastered, every writing assignment is an opportunity to practice their cursive. Please go and look at CursiveLogic’s website to learn more!

Thank you, thank you, thank you CursiveLogic for such a wonderfully designed program! You have not only transformed Arlene’s handwriting, you have instilled a confidence in her that no other program has. You live up to your tagline: An intelligent new way to teach cursive!

Come connect with CursiveLogic on Facebook

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CursiveLogic Review

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Sunday, July 5, 2015


What do you think of when you hear the word Home? Do you imagine the house where you now live, or the place where you grew up? Is it a comforting word? It should be. A house is just a building. A home is somewhere you go to feel loved, cherished, secure. Home includes more than just yourself. A home may include feelings, sounds, smells, memories.

Home to me is where my heart resides. Home is wherever Kurt and the girls and I are together. Home might be in our house, or on a beach, along a trail through the woods, on a road trip, or at a football game. Home to me brings a feeling of peace and love. 

Life isn't always peaceful, people aren't always loving, yet home is a place where those things exist, even in the midst of struggles. 

Home, my favorite place to be!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Weeks 19 & 20 ~ The Other Bedrooms

clean your room
If we were on schedule, which we’re not, I would be blogging about week 26 and cleaning out and decluttering our attic. Except we are not on schedule, and the attic is HOT. So, let’s go back to some things that have been getting cleaned and decluttered, but we just haven’t had time to write about. 

Back in weeks 19 & 20 our challenge from Michele was to work on the other bedrooms. (Every other bedroom except the master one we had supposedly already cleaned.) I’ll let you in on a not-so-secret thing: life happens. In our house life happens right now with Kurt working nights. That means to clean the master bedroom, I would have to start it at 9 p.m. and work overnight. Not going to happen. I purged and cleaned the closet, and I try to keep the rest of it picked up. I even like to make the bed, although some days that seems pointless since it’s only a couple of hours until someone will sleep in in again- KWIM?

Back to my point. I told the girls about cleaning THEIR bedrooms back in week 19, and they’ve each cleaned their room several times since then. The problem being that when they were clean, I was too busy or too tired to take pictures. Then when I had time to squeak in a blog post, their rooms were messy again. Anyone else have teenagers? If you do, then you know exactly what I mean.

clean your room

Earlier this week I left for work one morning with this message to Emily and Arlene: “Clean your rooms and take pictures. Otherwise I’m going to blog about how awful your rooms look.”

Yes, it worked. Their rooms weren’t spotless, but they were much, much better when I got home. It really helped the girls that they had already purged their dressers and donated several small bags of clothing they had outgrown. 

clean your room

Emily still needs to work on her bookcases, and Arlene needs to work on her desk, but considering that both girls are in the throes of 4-H sewing, they did a good job. Personally, I’ll be happy when next Thursday arrives and the first of the 4-H projects goes off for judging. I’ve been working on the yard, but with all the rain we had in June, its hard to tell a difference. Once 4-H is over, I’ll get back to trying to catch up on this cleaning journey. It’s definitely a journey - not a one day thing!

What have you been working on?

My view

The view from my window changes often. Right now we are watching the butterfly garden flourish. 

Yet even more than looking out at the world through the window, we love to go outside and experience all God's creation has to offer. 

Go out and have a wonderful Independence Day weekend with your family!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - 7/2/15 - Summer

What foods make you think of summer? For me it is watermelon and fresh, homegrown tomatoes!
I'm thankful for fresh food from our garden. Doesn't this tomato look yummy?! Time to make some tacos.