Thursday, October 19, 2017

I love my husband

I love him so much.

I've felt like I was falling apart the last few days. Failing at everything. Not being good enough for anything.

I have been forgetting everything. Important things. Unable to keep up with my life but not sure what part of my life can be cut out.

I love our life. I love our farm. I love our family. But is it really possible to homeschool four kids and run a farm and be a good friend and wife and mom all at the same time?

Somehow, every time, JB talks me off a cliff. Sometimes he gets a little frustrated with me, but he always knows how to handle me. And I never feel like I'm in danger of losing him even though I often don't think I deserve him.

I have a good life. I have a happy life. And I have a FULL life. My life will not always feel like it feels now. There will not always be voices calling for me. I'm so blessed I have those voices. How long I prayed that my house would not be so quiet. Wow is it ever not quiet now. I must remember that this is a season. And it is a GOOD season. It is a full season. I have a husband. I have children. I have animals. Man, I have a lot of animals. My husband has a great job. All of our needs are met and then some.

As I think about it, I realize that four children in five years can't ever be calm. And homeschooling those children to boot. This is the life we've chosen. It is a good life. There is a lot of green grass growing. And a lot of children growing too.

Tonight I go to sleep.

And tomorrow, I do my best again,

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

We Bought a Farm: A Wall

I hit walls now and then.

I think I'm hitting one now. It's a big wall. I saw it in the distance, but I thought it would go away by the time I got closer. And now I'm closer. And it's huge.

I'm forgetting a LOT of stuff. I just truly feel like I am doing and being too much. I can't find my phone numerous times a day. I totally forgot about the kids' speech appointments yesterday. (Thank goodness Grama didn't.) A child will ask me to do something, and before I know it, I am onto the next thing and they are yelling for me because I forgot what I was doing. I have left water running more times than I can count on the farm. So many times over the last few weeks a kid has basically said: "Mom, you forgot about me!"

I've also been dealing with bad migraines. They are both sinus-related and hormone-related, each one behaving differently. I've also been eating way below my standards.

I've spoken with some good and knowledgable friends about this, and they all think I'm just being pulled in too many directions. But I don't know how to limit the pull. I have no idea where I can shave off responsibility.

I have no idea, right now, how to cut anything out. I truly feel I am doing the things that have to be done. I am not doing any extra. I'm praying. I'm thinking. I'm looking.

As always, I'm trying to keep it real on this Blog. I'm trying to not pretend I am anything but a real human being with real and genuine emotions and feelings. I'm happy. I'm doing well emotionally. But I'm just hanging onto a frayed rope and having trouble with my grip.

Review: The Pencil Grip, Inc.

The Pencil Grip, Inc.
I'm always impressed with products we receive from The Pencil Grip, Inc. This time we received The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors and The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit

Scissors
Let's start with the scissors. Folks, these things are just really, really cool. I have really wanted to introduce cutting with my four-year-old Hannah, but have really and truly worried about her inability to focus and instead cut herself. She doesn't react well with "dull" scissors or things that aren't up to grown-up standards. (She wants to use high-quality products and doesn't want to not do what the big kids do.) So I knew I needed something that would feel like the real thing without the real risk. That is exactly what these scissors are for Hannah.

Here are some pictures of the scissors in action with my six-year-old daughter Abigail serving as the model!



The Ultra Safe Safety Scissors

I love how their website says "Safe no longer means dull." That is exactly what we found in our house. The scissors cut so well, but there is virtually no way to hurt yourself while using them. 

I'll be honest, I found it a little difficult for my veteran cutters (like my third-grade boys) to use the scissors as they didn't grow up on them. But my younger daughters, neither one incredibly profficient with cutting, both did beautifully using them. Abigail especially. Hannah is still a tad too young (and untrustworthy) but Abigail knocked it out of the park as you can see from the pictures. 

The following is taken from the description of the item on Amazon:

Safe no longer means dull with The Ultra Safe Scissor! Unlike other safety scissors with blunt blades, the Ultra Safe Scissor is sharp but harmless with the permanent shield making it impossible for kids to cut themselves. The ergonomic shape is easy to hold allowing the user to cut with safety and precision. A flexible spring automatically opens after being squeezed closed, making it useful for a child with limited strength or coordination. The spring can also be folded in for less restricted use.

Oh, and did I mention the best part? They are only $4!

Pencil Grips
Next up is the The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit. One of my two sons has really poor grip when he writes, so I was really excited to try out this product.

How did we like it?

Well, the short answer is: it works great! It forces the child to hold their pencil the correct way.

The long answer is that my son, in general, gets frustrated with new things. So while I think this is great for a child his age, I want to really suggest it for new writers. Start with this from the beginning! I think it is a great idea and will work fantastically!

Here's a picture of my son who has trouble with his grip practicing with one of the grips.


So how does this product work? Well, firstly there are three grips (which come in assorted colors):
  • The Crossover Grip -- use this one first with adult supervision to train the child.
  • The Pinch Grip -- used on all writing instruments for transition
  • The Pencil Grip -- Graduation!
Here is a picture of the three grips we received: 
The 3 Step Pencil Grip Training Kit

From Left: The Pinch Grip, The Pencil Grip, the Crossover Grip

Note that you can buy these separately if you desire. However, the pack of three is just under $9 -- a very affordable rate for the quality of product you receive. These are not going to break easily.

You can learn more about The Pencil Grip, Inc. by checking them out on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest and as always, feel free to email me at wkitsteienr@gmail.com for more information. We really liked both of these products and think they will make a great inclusion to your home products!
Ultra Safe Safety Scissors & Pencil Grip Training Kit {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}

 Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tribe Life Tuesday: Community & Honor


A weekly post from my childhood to grown-up friend Carrie ~ 
sharing her awesome life and her desire to have community while doing it!


Community is as rewarding as it is messy and, believe me, it can get messy. To be in community with someone looks like making room for them, all of them, the really great parts and the less great parts.

For example: I remember a period of time when I purposely disconnected from community because I believed my view on a matter was the right one. I saw no fault in me and lots of faulty thinking in the other party. Confrontation would turn into arguments without any resolution and that is never the point of confrontation.

Several years after my disconnection and reconnection to community, I was reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Danny Silk, in which he states, “the goal of confrontation is to restore connection.”

That was like a sonic boom in my mind. Why didn’t I know that or see that?? Of course that’s the point! I have been doing this wrong the whole time… 

You see, my goal of confrontation was to get you to see my point. More importantly, I wanted you to change your mind and embrace my way of thinking. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. I was young and dumb and that was my truth but all it did was isolate me and remove me from a healthy relationship.

When we isolate ourselves we put limits on our life. We limit our capacity to be in healthy, authentic, self-less relationships.

Community is where you get to fully be you and I get to fully be me. Here we lay down our weapon called control. When we do that, we create safe places for one another to grow and be loved unconditionally in a judgement and competition free zone. This is what authentic community looks like. It’s face to face, it’s joy and sorrow, it’s hope and pain, it’s success and failure and we share it all together. Once we allow ourselves to be in such a community, honor is a natural outflow.

“The principle of honor states – that accurately acknowledging who people are will position us to give them what they deserve and to receive the gift they are in our lives. Honor creates life giving relationships.” – Kris Vallotton 

Honor is seeing people for who they are not what they’ve done, or what they can do for you. It’s being able to look at them through a lens of kindness, forgiveness, mercy, honesty, and love. Honor is invaluable; it’s an unmatched currency and can only be given by those who have fought for it.

Let’s choose to fight for honor within our communities today. Though life may be messier when done in community, there really is no better way to live.

Carrie

Review: Learning Eggs

Reading Eggs

Wow! WOW! WOW! I am just not sure I can adequately write this review. I have never felt completely overwhelmed with a review for GOOD reasons. There is so much on this program, and it is fun for the kids that I just don't even know where to start. My kiddos absolutely LOVED LOVED LOVED the fun online learning opportunities in the Reading Eggs program. Honestly, I have NO idea how to write this review and actually make it not be thousands of words long.

There are FOUR main sections:
  • Reading Eggs Junior (Ages 2-4): This is where my four-year-old daughter placed
  • Reading Eggs (Ages 3-7): This is where my six-year-old daughter placed
  • Reading Eggspress (Ages 7-13): This is where my two boys placed
  • Mathseeds (Ages 3-9)
Reading Eggs was developed for kids ages 2-13. It starts at the very, very beginning so kids need NO previous experience to get started. This program is great for homeschool parents but it is also designed to supplement what children are getting at school.

Reading Eggs was so fantastic that my boys have BEGGED me to buy them a spot. Here's the reason why. As part of my "review agreement", I received TWO free six-month subscriptions. I used them for my daughters (ages 4 and 6). My boys each did a free two-week trial. When it was up, they were absolutely begging me to get them subscriptions. They were absolutely fanatical about the program and just begged to do it every day.

Reading Eggs allows you to know exactly how your children are doing by providing an email delivered to you at the end of each "map." As a child finishes the "map", they take a quiz, and the parent receives an email sharing how they did. In addition, on each of my kids' dashboard, you can instantly see an overview of the reading skills they have learned and the number of books they have read.

One of the reasons they loved the program so much is that the program was set up with rewards. As the child completes lessons, they earn acorns (math program) and eggs (reading program). These can then be turned in for games and fun things to do. The inventors of this program really nailed it on the end combining the things kids LOVE to do (games, songs, variety, and rewards) in such a nice package that they truly can't resist wanting to log-in again.

Here is a video of my nine-year-old, Isaac, working through a lesson in the "Reading Eggspress" portion of the program:


And here is a video of my six-year-old daughter doing the "Reading Eggs" portion: 


There are also some fantastic BONUS materials on the site, totally your's for the using!
  • Activity Sheets -- there is actually a worksheet for EVERY lesson that they do. It is seriously never-ending. These printables give you something hands-on that you can use for each lesson that your child does.
  • Homeschool -- Of special interest to me was the curriculum breakdown, week by week, for my K-2nd graders. 
  • The Eggsperts -- This is a video series which follows Sam, Jazz and Tom which takes young kids on a quest to find clues, hatch eggs, and meet friends in every episode (which is just under 8 minutes.) (You can also download the Eggsperts Appisodes). 
  • If you log in, there is a chat available at any time to help you with any problems you have.
Reading Eggs
Here's the greatest news! You can get a free 4 Week Trial 4 Week Trial of the program for your child or children. But be forewarned. If you do this trial, your kids will want you to purchase them spots. I promise! It is just too fun of a program not to want to be a part for longer.

To get a Reading Eggs account, visit here. And follow these links if you want a free 4 Week Trial of Reading Eggs 

Check out reading eggs on: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube. Review:

Reading Eggs

 Crew Disclaimer

Saturday, October 14, 2017

We Bought a Farm: Turkey Processing Update

Turkey processing day came and went. In the end, it was a success. To share a breakdown/comparison:

2016
Last year we processed 48 turkeys.
We had 1,030 pounds of meat.
This was an average of 21.45 per bird.

2017
This year we processed 30 turkeys.
We had 638.14 pounds of meat.
This was an average of 21.27 per bird.

We had nearly an identical return this year even though we monitored how much we fed the birds much more this year. We did 12 skips flat of feed everyday during their last four weeks.

After we sold 18 of the turkeys, there were 12 left for us. Ten were immediately broken down and ground. The other two will be used for our Thanksgiving dinner and the grandparents Thanksgiving dinner (we are celebrating separately this year.) We will eat our 255 pounds of meat for free.

A few notes:

  • Don't let your kiddos bring the ice to the filled chill tank without specific instructions that loading the ice in a dirty wagon first isn't okay. We had to empty and refill the chill tank to start the morning.
  • Having a freezer break the moment processing began is a lot less than ideal.
  • The Lord always brings the right people along to help us.
  • Turkeys are processed when they are 18 weeks old.
  • Our smallest turkey was 13 pounds and our largest was a quarter of an ounce shy of THIRTY pounds.
  • We are so thankful for the way the Lord always provides the help we need to get the job done. Our new friends Annie and Susie joined us. They are co-workers in Knoxville and really love our farm and have been volunteering periodically. Oh my gosh! We absolutely could NOT have accomplished the day without them and still have been standing at the end of it. So blessed to have them there. We also had our WWOOFer Tijmen here to help. Wow did we need him. (More about him in a bit!) We also helped process our friend Kymberly's five geese. She and her daughters came and helped and then we processed their geese. 
We have decided we will NOT be doing turkeys again next year. We have decided to cut back and this is one of the areas we are going to cut back. However, I think that we would like to do turkeys again in the future, and we may consider doing a few for ourselves in the upcoming year. 

Do I love processing day? I do not. I don't like killing animals. However, I really appreciate seeing our hardwork pay off and what happens when you raise animals the way they are supposed to be raised. There is a great feeling of accomplishment.
This picture is right before we got started in the morning. The turkeys are brought up from a kennel right over grampa's (in hat) head. Susie (yellow shirt) and Annie (white shirt) were absolutely INCREDIBLE. The boys helped the entire day -- although we found the turkey's weight prevented them from helping as much as they do with the chickens.

Our WWOOFer, Tijmen, with a goose feather in his hat after we hit a delirious point at the end of the day. Tijmen's strength was really, really important as getting the turkeys up into the kill cones was really challenging because of their weight. Truly, the Lord brought the PERFECT people along to make for the smoothest possible day!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday Funnies

Hannah decided to make a potty out of an egg. I never know how she comes up with these things, but you'll hear her tell everyone that the potty swallows poop and pee:



*****

Sidge corrected Hannah the other day. When Hannah tried to argue, Isaac said: "No, Hannah, Sidge is quite right."

*****

Hannah: "Hey Mom, I'd like this clock in this magazine for Christmas."
Me: "Okay, we could ask Santa for it."
Hannah: "No, I just want it from UPS."

Review: Time in my Pocket


Okay so this is a very cool review for me to write, and one I am incredibly honored and excited to share.  

I actually worked with this author, Gina Dewink, at the RLS Foundation for a number of years. We actually worked remotely together (me from northern Florida and her from Minnesota) so we have only met in person one time. However, we became friends during our regular correspondence through work. I actually ate lunch with her and my co-workers from the Foundation with little Isaac in tow the day before I had to stop questioning my perpetual stomach upset-ness and take a pregnancy test and learned I would be a mother again very shortly.


But I digress ...

This review is for Gina's first book: Time in My Pocket. And folks, it is really, really good. 

I'll be honest. I don't have much time to read. And I love to read. So when Gina mentioned sending me a copy of her book in exchange for reviewing her book, I wasn't sure what to expect. A self-published by a first-time author. Would it be worth my precious reading time?

The answer: YES, YES, and more YES! 

I actually found myself yearning for my before-bed reading time so that I could have more time with the characters in this incredibly well-researched and incredibly well-done novel. In fact, I actually brought it with me for the reading time I get during bits and pieces of Abigail's ballet lesson and on the couch with kids swirling all around me. (I very rarely attempt to read during the day as I get frustrated when the kids interrupt me. But I simply could not wait until night time to keep reading.) 

It was THAT good.

Whatever I expected was BLOWN out of the water by this novel. Gina's writing was FANTASTIC. I especially loved her ability to paint a character in vivid imagery and colors. I could absolutely picture each of the characters both in present day and after the novel shifts sixty years in the past.

Did you know that most people in the U.S. check their smartphones 150 times a day? Keep this in mind as you think about what it would be like for a modern day housewife to be suddenly transported back to 1947 Hollywood in the body of a much younger woman?

While all of Gina's characters were well-painted, it is her drawing of Liza Anderson in Time in My Pocket that set the tone for this novel. I love the voice of the frumpy mom from my era suddenly finding herself living in the thighs of a buxom beauty from the 40's in Hollywood. Can you even imagine? 

Gina imagines for us and the voice of this character and the others who walk alongside her are brilliantly depicted in the pages of this novel. I'm sure we've all wondered what would happen if we were younger again. Or if we could live in a different era. But if we were doing so while quite aware that this wasn't our life?

I loved the wit and dangers intertwined into this novel. I loved that it combined romance and modern-day problems with those of the challenges of life decades ago. Oh the importance of a library before smartphones! And while I will refrain from ruining the book for you, I will say that I thought the ending was brilliantly done. Oh, and while there is a small amount of bad language in the book, I did think it was properly placed and overall a pretty clean novel fitting for younger readers as well.

Okay, I could go on and on. Instead, I'd like to do a giveaway of this book as I really would like to share Gina Dewink's writing with others. I also would really like to encourage you to go to Amazon and download or purchase a copy of Time in My Pocket for yourself. Simply leave a comment along with your email address below this post and in one week's time, I will randomly choose a winner!

Well done Gina! I am incredibly proud of you and proud to say I know you!

P.S. Oh and the cover of this book was SO WELL DONE! I absolutely thought it fit the novel perfectly!!!!


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Review: Brinkman Adventures

Brinkman Adventures
Brinkman Adventures As my husband and I were growing up, we were big fans of Christian audio adventure series. Some of the ones we listened to are still around, but I decided to try a different one with my children during the last few weeks. We had the opportunity to review the Brinkman Adventures -- specifically we tuned in for the Brinkman Adventure Season 4. 

Prior to listening to the first episode, I lazily did not do a lot of research. However, after Episode 1 which chronicled the family's "failure" of a family vacation, I visited the website and spent some time really browsing around. 

I think that to understand this product, it is vital to understand what goes on behind this product. You need to know that these are based on a real life family and that while the names have been changed, the actors and actresses play themselves! Knowing that makes these adventures really come alive. Sometimes I would think a certain voice seemed a little bit off as I listened. But then I realized that they weren't necessarily using locals to do the voices -- they were using the actual family to produce this. This gives you a whole new appreciation for what you were hearing. In addition, while some of the events are dramatized or changed a bit, most of the adventures are based on things that really happened to this story. 
Even better is that you can read about the story behind each of the adventures on their website. However, you have to be warned that if you view the backstory, it could spoil the adventure for you.

It is always hard for me to "show" an audio program because it is so, well, not visual. But I thought if I highlighted one episode we really loved and discussed it, it would make the program come as alive for you as it does for us when we listened. I have included pictures of our own farm along the side because this episode left us talking about our farm and attempt to "use the land" correctly for quite a long time.
I'd like to take a closer look at Episode 43 with you. This was by FAR our favorite episode, and I should warn you that this will be a spoiler (but well worth it in my opinion!)

This episode looked into the lives of Glen and Rita who serve in a remote part of the Congo where they run a Bible School that trains villagers to be pastors. Glen also flies into these villages with no roads between them using a powered parachute and will show these people the Jesus Film. Most people have never even seen a movie so seeing videos (and even ones that Glen has taken of them are incredibly amazing to them.) 

In the episode of The Mysterious Palm Feller we are transported via the powers of audio to their mission which is on 1,000 acres of land that has been with their ministry since the 1930's. They talk about the people in this area are hunters and gatherers which means they often kill any animals they can get a hold of whether they are young or old. As a result, wildlife has become scarce and the only thing they can really plant, corn, is very bad on the soil. So they started to cut down trees to make room for more corn to be planted.

Glen and Rita are using their 1,000 acres to show people in the area how to take care of the land. This was so interesting for our family to listen to being as that is what we are trying to do on our 100 acres in rural Tennessee. They are showing people how helpful planting trees are and also that you can raise domestic animals for food to help save more of the wild animals. 

I love what the website says about the "real story" about this episode 
when the author writes: "It is hard to convince people who are hungry and barely surviving to trust that the extra work will be worth it." This really resonated with me. This is how I feel here on our farm. Not that we are hungry, but the old farmers around us don't understand why we would waste our time doing the things we are doing! One of the actors in the story said of Glen's mission: "I can see that as a mission, you're not just dealing with people's spiritual needs, you're dealing with their physical needs." And the response is: "Yes, I like to call it a holistic ministry!"

In this particular story, someone was chopping down the palm trees on their mission's land. They were trying to catch the person responsible but were not fast enough t do it. He ended up confronting a man he thought might be responsible and was lead to a local witch doctor which is who they were collecting the palm sap. He ended up confronting the witch doctor and bringing him to Christ! It was an incredible story.

This is just one example of the great stories on these adventures. When this episode was finished, Abigail begged for me not to turn off the radio, and she ended up listening to the next one all by herself! We ended up listening to all twelve episodes but in various ways. Sometimes one child would listen to one. Sometimes we would all listen to one together. Sometimes a few children would listen together. We did it in various ways. We really enjoyed all the episodes. 

Both of my boys said that Episode 43 was also their favorite. But Abigail really enjoyed Episode 42 "The Crashed Kitchen." 

The Brinkman Adventures is produced by Beachglass ministries which is a non-profit and non-denominational Christian organization. Take a moment to check out the Brinkman Adventures on Facebook by visiting here! 
Brinkman Adventures Season 4

 Crew Disclaimer

Tribe Life Tuesday: Community & Honor


A weekly post from my childhood to grown-up friend Carrie ~ 
sharing her awesome life and her desire to have community while doing it!


Hi! I am Carrie and I am so excited to be sharing with you today. As we dive in, I’d like you to consider the following questions:

  1. Am I happy? 
  2. Am I with people who make my life better? 
  3. Am I contributing to making the lives of others better? 
Continue pondering your answers to these questions as we begin our discussion of two subjects I’m deeply passionate about: community and honor.

Community: 
A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals; joint ownership or liability

Honor:
High respect; esteem; a privilege

So, how do these two gifts pair up? I immediately think of a hot air balloon – it’s massive, there are two main parts, it has a unique woven design that is stunning when it rises to fly, and it doesn’t explode under pressure.

In this metaphor, community is the balloon (referred to as the envelope) and, like the beautiful colored balloon, the tapestry of humanity choosing to share life with each other is a design that is unmatched. Your community is much like the balloon with its fabric intricately woven together. It is no accident that you have ended up where you are, with the people you are with.

Now honor is definitely the basket. It’s the weight that contributes to the sturdiness of the entire structure. It holds everyone together.

The balloon doesn’t fly without the basket and the basket doesn’t fly without the balloon. You see, community won’t be all it can be without honor and honor can’t be fully achieved without community. And, none of this happens without a little fire! There will be moments in community where fire is present, it will get hot and probably uncomfortable, but the balloon has a protective sealant preventing it from burning up. Covered with the right coating, the fire is an accelerant that allows you to take flight.

This is COMMUNITY!

When you are with the right people, even the difficult moments, like having an honest conversation, setting healthy boundaries, and being vulnerable, don’t seem as hard because you are covered by the right people who will protect you.

So how does this apply? What does this look like walked out day to day?

Well, one of the most important things to keep in mind as we pursue being in community with people is keeping the main thing the main thing. We have to be sure that we are seeing people in their best light and not looking for fault or failure in them. Community really is about coming alongside and helping each other live our best lives.

Here are a few tips that you can keep handy as you do life with others – consider this your pocket guide to community:

  • Everyone is welcome into community 
  • Community is about relinquishing the desire to control others
  • Community is a gift 
  • Honor makes us better humans 
  • Be wildly rebellious, brave, & strong & find community
See you next Tuesday!

Carrie

Monday, October 09, 2017

Review: CTCMath

CTCMath
Hang on to your hats folks -- this program is simply and utterly AWESOME! I raved about it when I first reviewed it, and I am raving about it again!

Rave Reviews
Those of you who read my Blog regularly will not be surprised with this review. I have raved about this product since I was first asked to review it back in August of last year. (Rave is really not strong enough of a word in explaining how much we love this program.) CTCMath made our Review Crew's list of 2016 favorites. And I included it in my own personal "favorites" list as well which you can read by clicking here. You can read my original review by clicking here. And now for the most awesome news of all! CTCMath's Single Membership is now available for you to try for free! You do NOT want to miss this opportunity.

Quick Summary
We have a Family Membership to CTCMath. We use this program with our sons (who are doing third and fourth grade math) and my daughter (who is in kindergarten but is now doing first grade math with the program.) My individual child logs into the program with their unique login and password. He/she then goes to the next lesson in their list. They watch a short video on that lesson and then they answer questions that go with that lesson. Each of my kiddos work through each lesson individually and without parental involvement or help. If they have trouble with a lesson and get a poor score, then Dad or Mom will watch the video with them and they will try it again. 

Breaking it down
To give you an example, let me focus specifically on my six-year-old daughter Abigail (pictured with her Daddy to the right) and her work in the first grade portion of the program. 
This is what the "outline" of the first grade program looks like. (Please note that I broke down the individual lessons in "Whole Numbers" and "Addition" to give you an idea, but didn't do it for all the lessons in each unit.)
  • Numbers, Patterns and Algebra
    • Whole Numbers
      • Place Value
      • 1 to 100 Number Chart
      • Counting to 100 by Tens
      • Numbers to 100
      • Writing the Numeral
      • Ordering Numbers
      • Before and After
      • Ordinal Numbers
      • The Number Line
    • Addition
      • Looking for Tens
      • Adding to 10
      • Adding up to 20
      • Adding up to 20
      • Number Line addition
      • Rolling Dice
      • Addition of Larger Numbers
    • Subtraction
      • For the sake of time and space I am not going to continue listing individual lessons; hopefully you get the idea. :)
    • Multiplication
    • Division
    • Fractions
    • Patterns
    • Money
  • Measurement
    • Length
    • Area
    • Capacity and Volume
    • Mass
    • Time
  • Space and Geometry
    • Plane Shapes
    • Solids
    • Position
  • Statistics and Probability
    • Graphs
    • Chance
Lesson by Lesson
Each of the square bullet points are "Lessons". For each "Lesson" there is a short video and then questions to answer to gauge the students' understanding of that particular lesson. Here is Abigail sharing about her experience with CTCMath's individual lessons.


Reports
I can get detailed reports telling me exactly how Abigail did on each lesson that she takes. It will tell me her "Efficiency Rating" and will tell me what her result was on her first attempt and what her highest attempt was. It will also tell me how many times she took the lesson in an attempt to pass it and what date she passed it on. I also can get reports emailed to me (which I do!) and get information about when and for how long my student was logged into the program.

Other Features
In addition, there are a few others features sort of "off-the-beaten-path" that I wanted to emphasize. 
  • Speed Skills: Work on speed in addition, subtraction, multiplication or division!
  • Times Tables: Provides a game for your student to practice their multiplication skills.
  • Swap the Pieces: A logic game that requires some major thinking!
You have two choices when purchasing this product. You can order a single membership by month or for the year. Or you can purchase a family membership which allows all children in your family access to the program. 
CTCMath

Two great offers!
Homeschool parents can currently received 60% off the normal purchase price PLUS they get SIX bonus months. To use this offer, please click here. 

Just by reading this Blog post, you can get TWO FREE WEEKS of the program. Click here to use this offer!

As always, feel free to contact me individually at wkitsteiner@gmail.com with individual questions about this product. We never get complaints when it is CTC time! We just LOVE this product and plan to use it for MANY years to come!

CTCMath Online Math Tutoring {Reviews}

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Sunday, October 08, 2017

We Bought a Farm: Our Veronica

My life ... our life ... with Veronica goes wayyyyy back. I have known her since she was four and somehow, we have ended up living in the same "place" four times. First Kentucky. Then Minnesota. Then Turkey. And now ... Tennessee.

Veronica lived with us for a year in Turkey and was our "nanny", helping me as I had to go to Germany to deliver Abigail. Now, she is going to school about four hours from here and has decided to spend some weekends on the farm helping us and just being with her "family."

I love this girl sooooo much, and I'm so glad to have her back with us. I truly believe God has great plans for her life, and I look forward to watching them unfold.



Review: Fire Road


WOW! WOW! WOW! WOW!

If I could give Fire Road by Kim Phuc Phan Thi ten stars I would do just that. It was, by far, the most powerful book I have read this year. 

I have decided not to put the famous photo of Kim on this Blog post even though it is the cover to the book. (It was actually the only thing I was "bothered" by with this book. While an incredible image, it was hard for me to read around my children because I don't feel they are old enough to see the picture yet.)

However, if you click on the link above, you will see it and instantly know who this woman is. The photo was taken during the Vietnam War, and it is probably one of the most famous photos ever taken. Kim was only nine-years-old when she was commanded to run from the Napalm bomb that was about to land on her village. This book details her happy life before war struck her town and also the life she has lived since from her home country to Cuba and ultimately Canada who allowed her refuge from the prison her country had put her in.

Left for dead in the morgue, Kim somehow survived the burns that covered a large percentage of her back and arms. What follows is a story of how her country used her for propaganda and her journey through hate and anger to a faith in Jesus Christ. The book is simply incredible and beautiful and moving and inspiring. I can't possibly encourage you to read it enough.

But I do want to do a give-away. It is just that good. I want to share it with others. So please leave a comment on my Blog with your email address, and in one week, I will randomly pull a winner from among the commenters to win a free copy of  Fire Road by Kim Phuc Phan Thi.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

We Bought a Farm: Camping Weekend

We have bought this handy-dandy camper, and we intend to use the thing as often as we can! We absolutely LOVE traveling via our camper. It fits our family sooooo perfectly. It has everything we want: removal of technology (for the most part), time together as a family, eating simple foods, and enjoying nature.

This past week, we got to do that campin' thang with some amazingly awesome friends. 

My friend Michelle and I have been friends since we were five-years-old. She is married to the awesome Hershal and they have three great kids who match ages with my kiddos nearly perfectly. They are also a homeschool family which means we can take off in the middle of the week. 

They tent camp and do it OFTEN. Michelle works many weekends, and Hershal will go camping with the kids and himself at least once a month! That is some serious desire to bond with nature. 

A few months ago, JB and I were looking through a list of National Parks, and we realized that there was a National Park in South Carolina: Congaree. We also noticed that it was about as far away from us as it was from Hershal and Michelle. So we asked them to join us on a camping trip.

Oh did we have a blast! It was so much fun to do this with friends. (Even better was that Hershal handled the dinners -- what a blessing that is.) We ended up staying at a park nearby Congaree: Poinsett State Park beings Congaree doesn't allow RV camping in their park. 

I also had an opportunity on the drive there to quickly stop by and see my sister-in-law and her daughter. They have recently moved to South Carolina -- just FOUR HOURS FROM US! I am ecstatic about that. 

Anyways, here are some pictures from our fun time camping:

A family that is permanently etched in my heart. Edward (left) is the perfect companion for my boys, Anabelle is a sweet and gentle spirit just like Abigail and even though they are two years apart, they match well. And Benjamin is their little "Hannah"!

Two of the greatest people I know.

The boys. These three are inseparable. I love that Edward is such great friends with both of the boys and that he can handle their fighting with each other so well!

These hammocks were incredibly popular! (Yes John is reading Fancy Nancy loud and proud!)

These two: enough said.

Congaree had a 2.5 mile board walk. We did the whole thing!!

The seven musketeers. I see a lot more camping adventures in our future together as families!

My brood.

On the boardwalk.

The thing I love the most about camping: my kids can just be kids. The thing I like least: how dirty they get being kids. Hannah is, of course, without shoes. (I have decided that I am not going to fight the shoe war with here anymore because it was making me a grumpy Mama.) The kids needed showers each night and had to be majorly scrubbed down!

Enjoyin' nature!

We did homeschooling every day we were there. This was a fun game that Michelle brought to see who could build the most successful marshmallow tower. The girls (and the dad) won.

The boys were NOT happy about their loss. But I love this picture. This so shows the personality of these three guys. I could not ask for a sweeter boy to be friends with my sons. We also did a junior ranger program at the campground. I hope to have pics and blog more about that soon.

I can't imagine my life without this lady in it. I love you Michelle. You truly are my sister.

I'll conclude with a fun video of Hannah. She has gotten very into singing this song from the movie Moana. However, she only sings the same few lines again and again. (She didn't know I was filming here.)


I have a few more parts of our trip I hope to share in an upcoming blog post. But for now, I hope you enjoyed a reflection of our trip. Sorry to be a bit MIA for a few days, but I really try to "disengage" while on vacation with my kids. I put my phone down and try to release all responsibility.

And, like all good parents, now I am home and trying to spend many days unpacking from my packing!