Wednesday, June 29, 2022


Sidge and I volunteered to help with our church's VBS. Our specific job is "Farm Camp." Each morning, the kids got to choose something they wanted to "specialize" in. We have the "Farm Campers." Thank you Aliceson Bales (and her son Marshall) for helping with this. 

We are halfway through the week, and we have had a fun time. Hannah is the only one of my kiddos attending full-time (9-2). But this "only being there an hour thing" has been really great for us! I love it!

This little guy is full of life and a ton of fun. 

The daughter of one of my good friends. Such a fun kiddo!

My Sidge helping!

Our group with their Origami Chickens (Marshall lead this!)

Marshall reading a book with one of the kiddos

Marshall and David

Origami chickens

We brought our duck ...

And a goose! This was all Sidge. He was so excited to show the kids our animals.

Marshall brought in two of his chickens.

Aliceson and Marshall with two of their lady hens.

A picture of all the kiddos attending SPLASH this year!

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Reviewing CTC Math (for the 5th time!)

I tell EVERYONE I know about this program. It is the one consistent in our homeschooling curriculum. We have used it since 
my boys were in kindergarten. 
And this year they will start 8th grade!

Here we are now, it's 2022, and I am STILL in love with this program. It is still one of the major math features for our family. My boys are going into the 8th grade. They have been using this program since 2016 -- nearly all of their school years. And my daughters joined in when they hit pre-kindergarten. They are still going strong (entering 3rd and 5th grades this fall!)

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 2016.  

Why do we love this program
Honestly, there is so much I can say, but I want to mostly say that using this program is SIMPLE. My kids have confidence and a positive attitude because the videos are short and to the point. They can learn at their own speed and are not working against anyone else. They can watch the videos as many times as they need to until they get it. I, as the parent/teacher have full parental control and it is EASY to use. I don't have to struggle around to figure out how to move forward. The stress is eliminated, the scores recorded ... I can instantly see what they are struggling with and move on accordingly!

Quick Summary
This review covers their family membership (good for up to 5 students.) We have a Family Membership to CTCMath. We use this program with our sons (who are entering fifth grade) and my two daughters (second and kindergarten.) 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. 
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.

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.
NEW to CTCMath
Because I have reviewed for this program so many times, I want to make sure I highlight a NEW feature that I think is really fantastic. This is the "Question Bank Wizard." This allows you (the parent and teacher!) to make practice questions for your kids on areas that they need. There is an entire video HERE where you can learn more about this new feature, but take it from me, it's a great one!
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.
I honestly believe every single person who is homeschooling should be using this program. It's that good. And it's that EASY to do. It makes math a joy in our home, and I have recommended it without hesitation to every single person I talk to about "what do you do for math?"

Check out these flashbacks to when my kids were MUCH younger and their opinions about the Math programs. As they've gotten older, CTC still causes relatively little complaining. 

"What I like most about CTC is that the lessons are short and mostly easy." Isaac (age 11)

"CTC has a video to explain everything before they just plunge me into questions. I like that." Sidge (age 10)

"CTC is good that it teaches me math." Hannah (age 5)

"I like the accent of the guy who teaches you." Abigail (age 7)

For this lesson, you can click on the "Lesson Summary" in the bottom left section or just jump to the video. You can also do the questions or a worksheet as well. 
CTCMath's Single Membership is now available for you to try for free! You do NOT want to miss this opportunity. You truly have nothing to lose. Two free weeks to see how it works for you. 

If you are a homeschooler, you can now purchase the Family Membership for under $150 for the year! This works out to about $13 a month. You can also choose to purchase a single membership (if you have only one child) or a monthly membership as well. 

Other questions? Email me at and I'll fill you in and tell you to ORDER IT today! And please take a moment to read some reviews from my fellow Homeschool Review Crew members by clicking the link below:


Monday, June 27, 2022

Cousins "Sort of" In Town

My brother, Keith, and his wife and four kids came into town last week. We were supposed to get to spend two days together before they borrowed our RV and headed to a camp ground in Pigeon Forge for some family time. But Abigail had COVID, and thus, our hopes were dashed. 

Once Abigail had recovered, I decided to drive the four kids to Pigeon Forge so the kids could spend time with their cousins.
Kids went swimming and then hung out in the back of our expedition. I've always thought Huisman #2 (Baylee) looks a lot like my Hannah. 

We went to the local German restaurant for lunch. Baylee taught me a new way to make a heart. 
These three are good buds. Charleigh is very bummed that it appears she is done growing (at 5'8") and both the boys have passed her. 
We love AD.
Teenagers are always taking "selfies."
When they come back to Bulls Gap, the girls and I are headed out of town the next morning for Jackson,  Mississippi and a ballet camp. So my girls won't get much time with Baylee. We therefore decided to let Baylee spend the night one night with us. (Char will get some time with the boys while we are gone to Jackson.)
Baylee LOVES her some ice cream. It is the way to her heart. I was happy to oblige. I was going to get everyone a "small" blizzard until my BFF, erin Dunham, decided to call on our way to DQ and talk me into mediums. We had done SOOOO much framework that day that we promised the kids a little treat. There isn't much near us on the farm, but DQ is at Exit 23, and we probably get it way too much. I have a new favorite flavor that Baylee loves too. (Oreo Dirt Pie -- however I get mine WITHOUT the gummy worms -- yuck!)

Baylee really likes our farm. "Florida has SO many people and buildings. Look at all these trees," she said. "Where I live, you can NEVER escape the people."

Agree Baylee. Agreed.


Sidge keeps growing

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Intensive Week 2

Photo from Week 2

Abigail finished her first week of intensives and then got Covid. Saturday after Week 1, she looked awful, and I just thought she was exhausted. But, in fact, she had a fever and had Covid. 

So she took Monday off, did Tuesday and Wednesday virtual, and then returned to camp Thursday and Friday. 

This was a group photo from Week 1

Intensives are long, challenging days immersed in strengthening old skills, learning new skills, expanding dance repertoires and bonding with fellow students and teachers.  We are so thankful for our time together at CBT Intermediate/Advanced Summer Ballet Intensives.  Thank you Mrs. Lori Ann and guest teachers Dillon Davis, Pierceton Mazell and Crystal Newson for sharing your gifts with us. 🥰

Youth Retreat

The entire group at Chik-fil-A on the trip. Love us some Jesus chicken!

Travis Chapman (far left) is the new youth minister at our church. His sons include Lucas (in glasses right behind him) and David (in green in the front. Isaac has become friends with both of these guys because they are renting our trailer in Mosheim while they await the building of their house. Isaac roomed with Lucas (who is nearly the exact same age as him) during the trip. 

The Boys' youth group went away to Cleveland, TN for a four-night Youth Retreat. Sidge didn't wan to go this year, but Isaac was totally on-board. Isaac is technically 9th grade age, but we have him in 8th grade, so he really could choose between middle and high school as to which retreat he wanted to go to. He chose to go to the middle school retreat.

However, everything almost fell through when Abigail came down with COVID on Saturday morning. We decided to test Isaac on Monday morning, and when he was negative, we let him go to camp. If he hadn't have been able to go, he would have gone to the high school retreat instead which is the second week of July and would overlap with the "GUY TIME" coming to the farm. (I am taking the girls to Mississippi for two weeks, and John will be staying home with the boys.)

While Isaac was gone, John was on nights, so Abigail slept with me, and Hannah stole Isaac's bed. We said we weren't gonna tell him, but we did, and he took it okay because Hannah and Isaac have a very special relationship. Those two really get along, and I think he was fine with Hannah using his bed!

Cookies from Scratch

It would take more words that I can possibly use to share about THIS kid. She is SO fun. She was SO hard as a toddler -- but Oh, the LIFE in her! She made these cookies from scratch BY HERSELF with no help from me. She loves to cook. She loves to sew. She has such a unique outlook on the world. In fact, she used the Barbie in the background to hold her cookbook. 

I just LOVE Hannah. She has finished off are family of 4-kiddos so perfectly, and I love her SO much!

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Karate grappling

The boys have been doing karate for around five years now I think. Ben Sparks does SUCH an amazing job with them.  They have learned SOOO much. They got to grapple each other the other day, and I got a video. Ben always has to watch very closely when the brothers are grappling because they can get carried away. So fun to watch all they've learned. 

Pounce like a tiger


Technology can be fun sometimes!

Raven is SUCH a fun dog. She is so much littler than our other dogs and SUCH a sweet heart. Everyone has a favorite dog. Isaac doesn't love dogs but would probably say Raven. Sidge would say Ritter. Abigail would say Raven. Hannah would say Raven. And I would say Arabelle. No one loves Arabelle like I do. Ritter is a pile of fluff, and you can't not like him. But ohhhh, our Raven girl. The girls call her "Buts-uh" because her butt is always a-wigglin'

Monday, June 20, 2022

24 years together

Today is our 24th wedding anniversary. When my kids saw this picture of us as teenagers, they said: 

Sidge: “Mom? Why are you wearing a crop top?"
Abigail: “Mom, why are you sticking your bum out?”
Hannah: “Mon, is that an anklet??”
Isaac: “Wow. You guys are like my age!” 

Here is the tribute post John wrote to me on Facebook.

29 years ago we started dating.
I was 17. She was 16.
24 years ago, I knew I was marrying my best friend, but I had no clue about the adventures in store for us.
We’ve lived in 4 states and on 3 continents, travelled over half the globe, and have had over a dozen jobs between us.
Now we are sharing life with 4 amazing children on a farm in East Tennessee.
We’ve grown closer and more interdependent on each other over the years that sometimes it’s hard to see the other as a separate person… but this is such a miraculously good thing.
I’m more blessed than I deserve.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Keep building the ark

Year after year (maybe for 60 - 70 years), Noah did the same old thing— hammered, nailed, and kept on building his ark. He did not have time to do all the things that everyone else was doing. He just kept on slogging and being faithful, doing the same thing every day for all those years. In doing so he condemned the world. 

He changed the world because he stuck with the job he was given to do! While others did their own thing, Noah gave his life to building his ark. He was mocked, ridiculed, and persecuted, but he was the only one who saved his family!

Sometimes you may feel like Noah. You may wonder what you are doing. Family and neighbors think you are strange. Life is not always easy. Dear mother, I want to remind you that your daily faithfulness in the home is not in vain. You may not have time to do all the “vain” things that others are doing around you. But as you commit your life to building your ark, you will save your family. Also the generations to come, and for eternity. 

Hebrews 11:7 says: “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark TO THE SAVING OF HIS HOUSE; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” 

It’s another building day. Keep at it.

Blessings from Nancy Campbell
Painting by Steve Atkinson

Ballet videos

Abigail just finished her first week of ballet intensives. Following a week of very hard work every day from 11-5, the girls (and some guys -- including Isaac who helped partner!) put on a performance. I managed to get videos of the dances that had a lot of people who are special to us in them. I don't share links to dances of other kids without permission, but because these were already performed in front of an audience, I feel they are free for me to share. Here are the links! 

Modern dance (includes niece Ana and our dear friend Maryah)

Partnering (includes Abigail, Isaac, and our niece, Kari)

Ana and Partner (our niece Ana partnering with a young man from ballet)

Gabe with Partner (nephew Gabe partnering with Ay-la)

Class dance (features Abigail and niece, Kari)

Kari (group dance)

Ana dance (includes Maryah)

Abigail's group dance (includes friends Johnna Beth, Ella, and Sarai)

Older girl group dance (includes Ana and Maryah)

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Seeligers visit

Our friends, Nick and Kristy, and their five children: Noah, Jonah, Liam, Oliver, and Angelica stopped by for a visit while vacationing in the Pigeon Forge area.

The Seeligers were stationed one year ahead of us first in Eglin, then in Turkey, and finally in the Azores. Our families were very connected, and a huge part of support for each other. It truly was AMAZING to see them again.

John is an introvert and doesn't often say "I'm so glad we did that" with company. BUT MAN were we glad we did that!

Way back in the Azores (July 2012)

And way back in Turkey (2010)

Locust Springs