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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Book Review! Bessie's Pillow: A Young Immigrant's Journey

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Strong Learning, Inc.

Review Crew

Bessie's Pillow

About the product/service: 
As part of the Homeschool Review Crew, I received a free copy of the book Bessie's Pillow: A Young Immigrant's Journey by Linda B. Silbert from Strong Learning, Inc. This is the story of a young girl named Bessie who travels to America from Lithuania during a time when being a Jew was very dangerous. It is biographical and follows her through her entire life. This book is a real, hold-in-you-hand paperback book, though it can also be purchased as a Kindle e-book. It is available in both English and Spanish. 

I gave this book to my daughter, Bear, who is 15 (almost 16!) and who is currently my most avid reader. She loved it. As a matter of fact, she read the whole book in just one day! She even posted about it on her Instagram account. 

First, I love these kinds of books. I love history, but not just facts and dates; I love the people. That's why I have used a lot of biographies and historical fiction in my homeschool. This book was fantastic. Immigration is a huge topic right now, and it's great to be able to let my daughter delve into the topic in a way that was so interesting. She loved following the life story of Bessie, a young Jewish woman from Lithuania who came over to America in 1906, on her own, when she was just 18 years old. 

Here's a quick plug from Bear:

"I loved the book, and couldn't put it down. It was so interesting to me to learn about the struggles the Jews went through, not just in Lituania, but here in the United States. Although I didn't feel anything in it was inappropriate for younger children, I would say it's most appropriate for kids in junior high and high school and adults. I would highly recommend it!"

Another really cool thing is that even though the book easily stands alone, there is a ton of really cool information on the Strong Learning website that really brings the book to life. There are photos of Bessie's family and other related photos, there is information on topics such as health concerns of the time, what music and movies were popular, the common foods eaten, and so much more. I could easily see someone using this book as a foundation for a unit study. It has been very thoroughly researched and documented. I really am impressed. Check it out at Bessie's America. 

Price: $15.00 paperback (Discounts available for bulk purchases.)/ $3.99 Kindle

Twitter:  @BessiesPillow

Click below to see what my fellow reviewers had to say:

Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, March 20, 2017

New Review! Creating a Masterpiece

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Review Crew

 photo CAM-Logo-Final horizontal_zpsevw9craw.jpg

Creating a Masterpiece

About the product/service: 
As part of the Homeschool Review Crew I received a free monthly subscription to Creating a Masterpiece. Creating a masterpiece is a really cool online art curriculum that has something for every age and skill level. 

What are the pros of this product? 
There is literally something for everyone. There are projects for all levels and even the beginner projects look fantastic when they are completed. There are also many types of projects, so there is something for every taste. There are projects using colored pencils, watercolors, oils and more. There are even things like sculpture, copper tooling, and mosaics. Truly an amazing course! 

The teacher, Sharon Hofer, is very easy to follow and is also very pleasant. She has that "grandmotherly" type of personality that makes you like her right away. Her philosophy is thathe teaching must be simple enough for a child to follow. She has definitely succeeded in making art simple, even for the beginner.

What's not to like? 
I thoroughly enjoyed this course. Thoroughly. I have zero complaints. The only thing I didn't enjoy was not having all the supplies when I was anxious to get started! :) It's also a tad out of my price range as I know I don't have the time to put towards it that I would like to. If I had the time, I would love to use this every day!

The Crazy Mom take:
I really enjoyed this subscription. I love art and so does my daughter, but I admit it gets put on the back burner because we are always stressing about getting the math, science, English, etc. done. I loved doing this review because I was forced to make time for these projects. It was not only fun to do, but it was great bonding time for us.

The first project we did was the sailboat in the storm using charcoal. It wasn't very difficult at all, yet the results were rather good. I would say it only took us maybe an hour. Another project was the clown fish which also took just about an hour. This was a project using colored pencils. What I liked about it was the fact that even though we were just following along, we learned some technique as far as shading and using colored pencils in a such a way that we were actually layering the color to produce a professional look.

Sharon is great about telling you to be creative within the structure of what she's doing. This is great for me and my daughter because both of us are the kind of people who have a hard time coming up with ideas on our own, but are good at copying. The fact that she encouraged us to tweak of projects just a bit to make it our own really helped us to feel confident in our abilities to think outside the box. We really enjoyed these projects and our time together. I would highly recommend this site to anyone. Even kids who say they have no talent will be surprised at what they can do with a little guidance. I'm very glad I got this review. I was reluctant due to the time element, but I am glad we made the time, made the memories, and made the art!

What's the bottom line? $39.99 per month/$349 per year Other options are available. Please see the website.

I am going to give Creating a Masterpiece 5 out of 5 smileys!!! :) :) :) :) :)

Check it out!


See what my fellow TOS Crew members have to say @  

Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews}

*The Smiley System:

:) I can't really recommend this product.

:) :) I doubt this product would be helpful to many people.

:) :) :) This is a good product, but isn't right for everyone.

:) :) :) :) :) Most homeschool moms will find this useful.

:) :) :) :) :) :) This is great, and I would recommend it to anyone!!!

Crew Disclaimer

Friday, March 17, 2017

Hoarder Challenge Update

Well, I have somewhat successfully organized my art supplies. I have a file box that I put them all in. However, I just got a bunch more, so I need to organize them some more. At least they are all in one place. :) I keep the file box right next to "my spot" on the couch, so it's great to just be able to grab them when I feel inspired.

How about you? Have you done any organizing? I hope so! Let me know about your progress!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Want to Join My Hoarder Challenge?

I'm working on some spring cleaning, otherwise known as a "Hoarder Challenge." Okay, I'm not exactly a hoarder, though my family likes to call me one, but I'm also not exactly a clean freak. I live with eight other people in a very small old house with just about zero built in storage. It's quite a challenge to be sure. Anyway, I am always trying to find a way to motivate myself, and blogging about it has worked in the past. Always love it when others join in, so hoping you'll join me!

I have already decided that my next challenge is to gather and organize my art supplies. I'm working on hand lettering and I really need to find a way to keep my stuff from gravitating all over the house.
Is there anything you need to organize. Tell me about it in the comments! 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Little Accountability: My Jewelry Organizer

I finally got around to posting my beautifully organized jewelry. :) I sort of dropped the ball on my organizing kick because I got sick for about a week. I'm back on track, though, and I think the next thing I'm going to tackle is my art supplies. I'm excited because I've been learning to do hand lettering using scripture. When I produce something post-worthy, I'll post!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Little Accountability :)

I was thinking about how in the past I've done my "Hoarder Challenges" and I think it's about time for another. I have a large family, small house, and a lot of stuff. There is so much to do that sometimes I just get overwhelmed and don't do anything. I am thinking I should just decide on a project, put it out there, and then do it. If I put it out there online I will have to do it. Right? Well, no, not necessarily, but it will certainly help.

Hmmm, I am sitting here trying to think of something simple that I know I can do. Oh! I have it! I just bought myself a jewelry organizer yesterday. I am going to sort through my jewelry box before the end of the day tomorrow. That's not too hard. Now I just have to remember to do it. :)

So there it is, out there for billions of people to see and hold me accountable. Haha. I will post a pic when it's done!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 20, 2017

New Review! HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Renaissance and Reformation

Well, hello there!!! I'm so glad you stopped by! :) I bet you'd like to get my posts delivered right to your inbox, now wouldn't you? So why not sign up for Feedburner? Check it out, it's right there in my sidebar! Thanks!!  :)

Review Crew

About the product/service:
As part of thHomeschool Review Crew I received a free download of HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study: Renaissance and Reformation from Home School in the Woods. This is one of a series of unit studies that also includes Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and the Middle Ages. Ancient Rome will be available in 2018. 

This download includes text to read, audio tours, a timeline that you create, a newspaper, postcards from Renaissance figures to their families, a lapbook, and instructions for over 50 projects and activities including art projects and baking, as well as information about additional resources which will add to your studies.

What are the pros of this product?
Since there are many different projects as part of this study, there is bound to be something to appeal to all students. I would think, though, that the hands-on aspect would be the most appealing to most. It's always nice to be able to create something to show that you've learned something. Because most of the work is organized into a three-ring binder, it will serve as a nice way to display all the hard work the student has done. I know many people really love lapbooks, but this includes even more. I think this is a perfect fit for families with kids who love to cut, paste, color, etc., instead of just sitting down with a book, reading, and testing.

What's not to like?
Here's where it gets tricky. Like I said in the pros, if you are one of those hands-on, lapbook-loving people, you'll likely love this! For the most part, it's hands-on all the way. Though there is some reading, and there are audio tours, it's basically a project-based study. True confessions here; I am not one of those people. I didn't love doing all the prep work that goes into this sort of thing, and my kids don't really like doing things like this enough to justify all the work. (When they were younger, they were more into these things, but now that they are older, they would rather do mostly reading.) Also, for me, I was totally overwhelmed by all there was to do! There are a lot of things to print out and organize that honestly had my head spinning for a bit. I am lost when things aren't totally laid out for me sequentially. I realize I am probably totally in the minority when it comes to this, though, so if you are a hands-on, organized type, you'll probably be just fine. :)

What I am trying to say is, for most people, I don't really see any cons. If you're like me, however, and prefer just to have a book in your hand and go one page after another, you might be a bit overwhelmed at first. If you have kids who love hands-on projects like lapbooking, it is probably worth the effort. If they aren't really into it, you might not want to use this resource. I suggest you really just check out the website before making your decision. The photos and descriptions will be a huge help to give you an idea of just what it's all about.

The Crazy Mom take:
Like I said above, it took me a while to get it all figured out. Once I had it all straight in my head, I realized that it's actually laid out in a totally organized fashion. It's all quite orderly; I'm just a little slow. :) It does take a bit of time upfront to get everything all printed out and organized. Maybe a couple hours, not a huge amount of time. I'm just glad I did it over the weekend and didn't wait until school time thinking I could just jump right in.

I decided to use this with my son as we needed something for history for the second semester. I chose this time period because my daughter is also doing the Renaissance period this year, so I thought we could coordinate. Since my son is more into just reading, I have been doing the reading with him, having him listen to the audio tours, and having him glue the figures on the timeline and help put together the laptop projects. My daughter is doing the coloring and drawing and writing for the newspaper. My daughter is also more interested in the other projects so she is doing most of those. I'm not sure if we'll continue to use this curriculum after the review period or not. At first, I was quite sure I wouldn't, but I have to admit it has grown on me since I have it all figured out now, and most of the prep work is behind me. We shall see!

Here's just a sample of what we've done so far:

What's the bottom line?
$33.95 Download/$34.95 for the CD

I am going to give HISTORY through the Ages Project Passport: Renaissance and Reformation 4 out of 5 smileys!!! :) :) :) :)

Check it out!

See what my fellow TOS Crew members have to say @

HISTORY Through the Ages Project Passport World History Study Reviews

Social Media Links:




Twitter:  @HSintheWoods

*The Smiley System:

:) I can't really recommend this product.

:) :) I doubt this product would be helpful to many people.

:) :) :) This is a good product, but isn't right for everyone.

:) :) :) :) Most homeschool moms will find this useful.

:) :) :) :) :) This is great, and I would recommend it to anyone!!!

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!

What? You say I'm a day late? Nope. Not at all! Several years ago we decided it was crazy to pay full price for candy that would be half off on the 15th. So we created our own family holiday. None of the kids seem to mind at all, as long as they get the candy! LOL Valentine's day is just a made up holiday anyway (as opposed to St. Valentine's day which is quite different) and we are not bound by man's traditions, right?

Anyway, just wanted to pop in here and share some love with my readers. Have a blessed day!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

CLASSIC CRAZY MOM: Driving Miss Crazy

Originally published 06/25/2010

The big moment had come. First Born was going to take his driver's test and get his license. The test was at 9:00 a.m. so the plan was to leave at 8:30 in the morning. The form the testing people gave us had a list of paperwork we needed to bring. I had told First Born to look over the list and make sure we had everything so we would be all ready to leave in the morning.

We were up and out of the house by 8:30. We got to the test place with time to spare. We gathered all the papers we needed, but, wait! Where is the proof of insurance?

"Here it is!" I shout. "No, this is the old one! It must be here somewhere! I just put it in here the other day!" I shuffle through the center console and the glove box, papers falling everywhere.

You see our policy had run out on Oct. 1st and it was the 8th. I frantically look at the clock. Good, it's only 8:50.

I know I just put it in here! "Why didn't you check for it last night when I told you to check everything?" I asked First Born, growing even more frantic.

So he proceeds to tell me he checked his stuff. You know, his permit and driver's ed certificate. He figured he shouldn't have to check on ours. Why would he think that???

"Drive up to the door! NO! Wait! Let me call Dad! No! Just start to go home in case I can't get the AAA number and have to get the copy! No! Wait! Drive me to the door! Go! Hurry! Hurry! I need to make sure they can get a copy faxed!"

So I run in and ask if it's okay if the insurance company faxes them a proof of insurance. They say it's no problem, and they give me the fax number. I run back to the car.

"OK," I say to First Born, "we can just have AAA send a fax. Now how do I get the number?"

I look on our old proof. No number. I try my husband, but can't get him. I panic again and tell First Born maybe we should still drive towards home just in case. He starts to drive home and I finally call information on my cell. I get the main AAA number and call it. I get a phone tree. Do you know how much I hate those phone trees? I tell the robot lady, "Come on! Come on!"

I tell First Born to pull into the nearby parking lot.

I sit there until I get a real human and tell her I need an emergency proof, give her the fax number and she puts me on hold to make sure it went through. I tell First Born to go back to the test place.

We get there and the test place already has the fax. It seems like forever, but it's really only like 9:01. The whole thing was simple, really. And could have been a whole lot simpler if I had not panicked.

So we take the road test and I sit in the back seat reading a magazine and First Born passes without a hitch. God must have felt like giving me a break after my rough morning, so we were actually only at the DMV to get his license for about a half hour. That is unheard of.

Later, I relay the story to my husband who tells me I gave him the proof in the living room and he had put it in his wallet. Oops!

So now my oldest son has his license. I'm just guessing, but I have strange a feeling the panic is just beginning!

~The Crazy Mom

Monday, January 30, 2017

Lessons Learned

Originally published 05/18/2012

I think we all learn best from our mistakes, so I should pretty much be a genius! Now, I've been a parent for over 20 years now, so I've had a chance to make quite a few mistakes. Every day.  Looking back (and forward) I can think of one really huge mistake that I am still trying to recover from.  If you don't want to make that same mistake, read on...

Okay, enough suspense, what is this terrible mistake? Well, it comes from teaching my older kids how to help our around here really well. How can that be a mistake? The problem is that because my two oldest boys were, in fact, the two oldest boys, I pretty much always called on them when I needed something. So did Sane Man. When my oldest was nine he could pretty much do everything around here I could do, and in some cases probably better! He seriously once painted a room all by himself when he was only about six. Now my son Baber, 8, complains when I ask him to clear the table! 

The mistake was not training the next two boys in the same way we trained the two oldest. Why didn't we? Why would we? It was much easier to ask one of the two older boys to do something they could already do, than start from scratch with the third or fourth. So zoom ahead to the present and my two oldest are in college and will pretty much do whatever I tell them. The next two are 16 and 17 and it's more of a chore to get them to do something, than it is to do it myself.

So what about the next four kiddos? Am I making the same mistake with them? No way! I have learned my lesson well. My four youngest kids now do pretty much all of the daily chores around here.  Princess, 14, is in charge of cleaning the living room and dining room. Dode Man, 12, makes my bed, sweeps the kitchen floor and back landing, takes out the trash, wipes down the appliances and one of the kitchen counters, and cleans up after the dog. Bear, 11, does two loads of laundry, cleans the bathroom, and wipes down the oven top. Baber, 8, though he complains about it, gets the dog food and water, clears the table, makes sure my nightstand is clear, and shakes out the rug in my room. 

I know we have failed my third and fourth sons by not giving them nearly as much responsibility as the other kids. They will have to learn it the hard way. Right now they think they got off easy, but I know better. I couldn't believe it when I complained to my own mother that she never made me cook or do laundry. I can't go back into time to change the way things were, but at least I can pass on my advice to you! Put that second, third, or fourth child to work! It may take you a little while longer to get things done now, but it will pay off in the future!

Happy child training!

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