Embracing a Healthy Family

Three Necessities for Making Home Remodeling Projects Easier

My blog sometimes goes all over the place with topics. As I homeschool, I am also a grandmother to two and a mother to three but only two require me full time as the oldest, 30 years old, has her own family. Recently, we purchased a home and have been remodeling it as it's over 100 years old. From my experiences, which is not vast when it comes to home repairs, it's been an experience. I am so very grateful to my father for being from the old and best generations who actually did things without hiring others. Being a daddy's girl, I spent large volumes of time with him and with that, came an opportunity to learn a lot. I am appreciative today of him not getting annoyed with my questions and all that he taught me is priceless today. I'm also lucky in that what he did teach me and how he raised me, allowed me to raise my children the same. 

Today, they are also eager to learn and help in the same way I did with my dad. They are good kids from wanting to learn to cook and other chores to their artistic and authoress ways. They are really chips off the old blocks of myself with a huge credit to my father. Now that I'm working with tools and learning the tricks of the trades, I've been wanting to teach them too. As I stumble through learning curves and finding ways to make jobs easier, I found some tools that I deem essential to home repair. These will also be tools that I'll teach my girls to use as one never knows when the opportunity might rise to use them.

My first basic tool is the t-square. No job is complete without an accurate tape measure and the t-square for straight lines. My eldest requested it one day when helping me and now, it's an essential tool for me. It's a large in size allowing it to be more versatile. The accuracy has saved me a time or two from wasting wood due to slanted lines.

My next two favorite tools are the brad nail gun and the framer nailer. I purchased the KNT50AB finish Combo kit from Metabo HPT is ideal for a wide variety of finish work and cabinetry projects. The 6 Gallon 150 max PSI air compressor provides just what I need with from the NT50AE2 2 in. 18-gauge finish nailer, It allows me to move fast with accuracy and a flawless finish.  I absolutely love it and it's not loud or heavy! My only complaint with this is although it's super easy to load, it keeps firing even when the cartridge is empty.

The NuMax SFR2190 Pneumatic 21 Degree 3-1/2" Full Head Framing Nailer is amazing. It allows me to save my wrist while quickly pounding in nails with precision and ease. My two complaints are it's very loud and it's extremely heavy but I am building up my biceps and arm strength so that is an unintended benefit! 

There are many other tools that are a necessity of course but these three really make jobs easier.

That Nagging Feeling of Being Unappreciated

Ever provide your time as a volunteer and feel unappreciated? Do you take the Christian high road and dismiss it or do you let it eat at you? I provide my time to help in an endeavor that I feel is my return activity for being part of a bigger picture that ultimately benefits myself and my children. When you get to the point where you feel you are annoying others by asking questions or getting through the learning curve, do you just bail or persevere

I think it's important to give your time whenever you can and it's also an important lesson you can provide your children when faced with uncomfortable situations. I haven't decided yet what I'll do but as I move forward with remodeling an extreme fixer upper, moving out of a home that is five hours away while still trying to homeschool, I have to wonder if it's worth the stress to spread myself so thin to feel unwelcomed or appreciated.

Christian Focus' Big Bible Science Book Review

Science and God go hand in hand and when one has the opportunity to teach in a homeschool environment, it’s an excellent opportunity to show children how much both are entwined. We had the opportunity to review Big Bible Science (RTM 5-7; RM 7-11) by Christian Focus. It’s a fun and comprehensive book full of experiments that allows parents/teachers to explore God’s world with their children/students. It’s a thorough book with a detailed table of contents, an introduction, how to make the most of each lesson, chapter components, safety, miscellaneous information, notebooking and of course, experiments.

Experiment sections are broken into various subjects such as Newton’s Law, plants, animals, solar, body systems and so forth. The variety is plentiful offering experiments that should interest and stir imaginations for ages 5-11. The description of ages and levels are explained in that "RTM 5-7" means “Read to Me,” and "RM 7-11" means “Read Myself.” The span of ages allows younger students to conduct and be a part of the experiments while the older students have the opportunity to expand their knowledge and thought processes by elaborating more. The units provide various levels of activities while reinforcing a Biblical viewpoint and creating an awareness about how science goes along with God.


The way I tackled the units was first to acclimate myself to the Big Bible Science book and prepare by looking over the experiments and finding the ones that I thought would appeal most to my children. Each experiment has the following sections:

  • Objectives which provide essentially the learning goals.
  • The materials section provide the opportunity to prepare for each lesson ahead of time. Materials were chosen to minimize expense which is a nice feature of the curriculum.
  • The Big Idea provides a scientific explanation of the lesson.
  • Activities include a variety of activities that include games, demonstrations and experiments.
  • Apply It extends the lesson to have students apply it to things outside the book and experiments. It helps to reinforce Biblical and scientific aspects of what they learned.
  • Go Beyond is for older or more advanced students providing additional opportunities to expand the lesson.

One other item to note is the Miscellaneous section is geared towards the parent/teacher or the child/student and provides a break down of activities that can be done by a student alone, by a student with one or more partners, or only with a teacher. This provides more information to aid in planning ahead and with older students, the opportunity to instill responsibility by encouraging working without one-on-one parental help.

Another key aspect to Big Bible Science is notebooking. As the book notes, notebooking is an excellent opportunity to integrate math and literacy within each chapter. I love this idea and think it’s a great way to educate on more than just one topic. It makes sense to merge the opportunities for reinforcing skills such as writing experimental findings into a research type report and so forth. I also liked the suggestion to only write on the front pages and leave the back side for sketches , quick notes, photographs, etc.

We completed a few experiments from the book and and here are a couple of my children's favorites activities from Experiment 7: Acids and Bases.

The experiment starts out discussing foods, tastes and how God fits into everything including food. Explaining how even our tongues can detect the chemistry of food and furthering the children to prepare for a taste test and forming a hypothesis before actually tasting two sour acidic foods and two bitter bases.

The first part of the experiment was tasting lemons and here is the verdict:

Next we tried limes and that invoked the same response as the lemons.  Here is a mixed reaction to cocoa powder:

Another part of Experiment 7 included different activities. For Activity 1, it was an integration of trying a new food without judging by appearance and utilizing Psalm 34:8. After creating our Green Eggs and sausage, I had no ham, we referred to the book to answer questions posed to the children about the appearance and taste of green eggs. It smoothly moved into questions about Jesus and referring us to sharing the word of Jesus by stating we need to be like Sam I am from Dr. Seuss and share the news about how tasty green eggs are. 


We really enjoyed Big Bible Science (RTM 5-7; RM 7-11) by Christian Focus. It provided many options and experiments that were fun and challenging. It's a lot of material to read on each page but preparing ahead of time and planning each experiment will alleviate any apprehensions one might have. The flexibility is also golden so I can gear it towards my children's interests. My youngest proclaimed it's fun and can't wait to try more. 


Follow Christian Focus on Facebook, TwitterYouTube and Instagram.


Check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew a division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine thought by clicking on the (photo) link below:

Big Bible Science, Elizabeth Prentiss, God is Better than Princesses,  God is Better than Trucks. {Christian Focus Reviews}

Nothing by Natalee Creech Book Review

Children's books are fun to review since they bring delight to children's little minds. Books that are Bible based are a win-win in our family as well. My grandchildren and I had the opportunity to review Nothing by Natalee Creech by WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group. It's a hardcover book, recommended for ages 4-7, that provides answers to Romans 8:38-39 on how nothing can separate us from God's Love. It is beautifully illustrated by Joseph Cowman providing children with a delightful view as the story proceeds.

My oldest daughter said:

The author provided an opportunity to utilize fun illustrations and scenes with descriptive sentences in reaching out to children and to learn, no matter what, God will still love us. From space to the ocean to all in between, Ms. Creech provides a playful set to draw children into wanting to read the book and to see the beautiful illustrations.

This was one of my favorite pages with the whimsical little girl being held up high by an assumed parent being reassured that nothing can separate us from God's love.

My eight-year-old granddaughter said:

It's very fun to read to them first, and then to watch my granddaughter read. She really enjoyed reading to her little brother and as you can see in the photographs, they really did have fun reading Nothing by Natalee Creech.


Overall, it was a wonderful book to introduce or reinforce Romans 8:38-39 to the welcoming mind. The whimsical illustrations drew my grandchildren in to see what might be next in the story of how God's love never leaves us. The author did a fantastic job in creating a story that was short enough to not lose even the youngest of listeners while robust enough to provide the beginner reader an opportunity to learn on their own. The scenes included boys and girls and fun objects that all young children love from space to the sea to sharks to camels. It's a fun book to read to your children or have them read to you. It's also, in my opinion, not one that should be read and shelved as it's one of those that could be read again and again.


Follow on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.


Check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew a division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine thought by clicking on the (photo) link below:

Nothing (Nothing Can Separate You From God's Love) by Natalee Creech {WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group Reviews}

Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum: US History Review

I'm a huge history fan which has influenced my children to want to learn more about history and the United States. When presented with the opportunity to review the Pathway to Liberty's US History Year 3/Level 3 by Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum, I was very interested. 

Pathway to Liberty's History Curriculum provides history from a Biblical worldview which I like. Our country was founded on the principles of Christianity and with teaching history, I feel it's an absolute that they go hand-in-hand when taught. Level 3 is designated for grades 7th through 9th as it requires logic, reasoning and application of principles. Pathway to Liberty's suggestion to utilize the curriculum four days a week allowed us to complete four weeks for this review. I liked that there is flexibility in the curriculum. For instance, one can start at the beginning or somewhere else within the book. The curriculum is also designed for one student or more and the material will cover 26 weeks of study beginning with Creation through Ancient Greece for grades k-12. The entire set I'm reviewing is:

  • US History Year 3 Level 3 Teacher's Guide;
  • US History Year 3 Level 3 Student Guide;
  • Chain of Liberty; and 
  • Chain of Liberty Studyguide.

US History Year 3 Level 3 Teacher's Guide

The Teacher's Guide is very comprehensive and when starting out, is broken into key sections on how to use the curriculum along with on-line resources. There is also teacher support available by way of question and answer sessions available by weekly appointments and via e-mail. Additional resources can be found online and lessons utilize YouTube videos to enhance the learning experience. For our level, the core recommended book is The Chain of Liberty and The Chain of Liberty Studyguide by Jayme MacCullough along with some others but I noted those two books since we are reviewing them. 

There is a Table of Contents broken down by the 26 weeks along with a Course Outline that corresponds with each week.

Each week starts out with a Weekly Overview discussing first what the content's theme of the week is along with instructions on how to use the week's lesson. The lessons are organized to be flexible and to fit the lesson plans according to your child's needs. Pathway to Liberty stresses that 'you have the liberty to adjust as you see necessary.'

Each section has the answers to the Student's Guide questions.

US History Year 3 Level 3 Student's Guide

The Student's Guide is set up similar to the Teacher's Guide with Table of Contents, Course Outline and Weekly Overview. As Pathway to Liberty suggests one has the option to do, we jumped to Lesson 21 The Civil War: The Cause. We followed the Weekly Overview provided which resulted in our four weeks of work in the suggested time period.

Since we started with Level 3, I wanted to take the opportunity to explain the different levels and how it works within a lesson:

  • Level 1 students will study through literature by reading a biography and identifying literary terms such as character, setting and plot.
  • Level 2-4 students will watch segments of a documentary on The Civil War by Ken Burns and the study guides help to retain key elements. They will also author a research report throughout the four weeks by selecting a key person. This is now where the differences for these Levels come about. Level 2 students will write a 5-7 paragraph paper using 1-2 sources. Level 3 will write a 7-10 paragraph paper using 2-3 sources and Level 4 students will write a 10-12 paragraph paper using 4-5 sources. Anyone who has taken standardized tests knows how important it is to write essays so learning how to source and write good sound introductions and conclusions is critical.

The lesson starts out with providing a brief summary of the key players within the War as well as highlights from diaries and letters from two soldiers from the North and South and an introduction to Frederick Douglas and his importance through the War. The Teaching Objectives are short and concise.

What I also like about each Lesson, is it starts out with a Scripture, a Principle and a Leading Idea as noted below.

Every lesson for each week has repeating tasks such as the week's Scripture, Principle and Leading Idea in the Student's Guide. Other tasks vary such as for Lesson 21, Level 3, students are instructed to read from The Chain of Liberty, complete the corresponding The Chain of Liberty Studyguide, watch a YouTube video on the Civil War, return to The Chain of Liberty Studyguide and choose a topic to research with guide.

Our first week looked like this:

  • Scripture, Principle and Leading Idea rewrite.
  • Read chapter 12 from The Chain of Liberty.
  • Completing The Chain of Liberty Studyguide questions.
  • Watch Ken Burns' The Civil War Part 1 - The Cause.
  • Complete Student Guide's questions.
  • Chose a topic for the research component.

That was a lot to accomplish and cannot be done in one day so we spread it out over the four days as recommended.  I first made sure I acclimated myself with the week's assignment because the material is across many sources. Once I understood where to locate everything for each task, I felt more confident in teaching the week's assignment. An older student, or one that is more independent, could navigate on their own or with little supervision. For me, I enjoy this topic so I wanted to be an integral part of the learning process.

Subsequent week's assignments looked similar to our first week which made it easier to progress forward with less preparation required. 

Our fourth week concluded wrapping up the studies for this topic. We watched Part 5 of Ken Burns' Civil War but ended up switching over to my paid online video account (external to Pathway to Liberty) to watch it on the TV. My student then proceeded to complete the Student's Guide assignments as well as The Chain of Liberty Studyguide assignments as shown below.

The Chain of Liberty and The Chain of Liberty Studyguide

This was fun to read with my student as I was able to ask questions and answer questions. This time, I read the assignment pages to her because I wanted her to really focus on what I was reading. She asked me what did it all mean and I was able to explain to her that our Christian forefathers created the Constitution as such to avoid an over-archiving federal government and how it's being misused today. After I read it, I had her read it again on her own to ensure she truly absorbed all that she read. The assignments in The Chain of Liberty Studyguide also reinforced what she learned as well as provided an opportunity to apply critical thinking and write answers in her own words.

The Chain of Liberty provided reasons why America is in trouble and I completely agree with the author of the book. It is presented in a way that really details how our founding fathers wrote the Constitution and how the interpretation is being eroded by Executive Orders and judicial decisions. It's a great way to introduce children to civics relative to why they need to be the change. My daughter asked me how can she possibly be the change and I told her to learn and educate others. Become a journalist, a politician or a judge. She said she will write a book! These type of courses are fundamental for our children to be educated on so we have hope in returning to the country our Christian Forefathers had planned.

Here is another example with The Chain of Liberty and The Chain of Liberty Studyguide side by side:

A final aspect that I liked about Pathway to Liberty's US History Level 3 was the emphasis on research and writing. The beginning lessons contain instructions and guidance on researching and writing which is what I utilized to help my student complete her writing assignment on a person from the Civil War. The following is Research Model-the 4 R's which helped her to start her weekly assignments on writing her paper. The two other photos are her beginning her paper as well as the rough draft.

Final Thoughts

Overall, my student was challenged with the Pathway to Liberty's US History Level 3 by Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum work. Once I was able to get the hang of the curriculum, as with most, it was easier to teach. She also found that it once she got used to it, she did enjoy what she was learning. She's big into the Bible and enjoyed learning more about different aspects of our Founding Fathers, subsequent US history and how it all relates to the now. She's eager to start our next lesson. I would recommend the Pathway to Liberty's History Curriculum

Social Media

Follow Pathway to Liberty on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram.

More Reviews

Check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew a division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine thought by clicking on the (photo) link below:

Universal History,  The Middle Ages,  US History & World History Curriculum {Pathway to Liberty Homeschool Curriculum Reviews}

Home Remodeling via IKEA

We bought a fixer upper last year and have been working fervently in getting it ready to sale. The home was in quite a state of disarray when the elderly daughter of the owner passed away in her 90's last June. The woman was still grieving months after we connected with her and was fretting on how she would ever clean it up which is where we entered the picture to purchase the home in an as is status. This was a bigger task than we realized as we didn't have a home inspection or anything so formal aside from a title check. Fast forward and we have nearly finished the kitchen and dining room. The house posed issues as it is 112 years old and was pretty much neglected. It did have the fuse box upgraded and a newer furnace and water heater but I believe everything else was still either the original works or anything that might had been updated in the 1940's or 1950's.

In the past, I've used IKEA products to provide storage solutions for my kids education room as well as their bedrooms. I prefer real wood products but what I like about IKEA is the durability of the. I purchased three tower type bin shelving units back in El Paso and they look just as great even after moving from El Paso to Virginia to Georgia to Indianapolis to Munster, Indiana and finally to Valparaiso, Indiana. Most particle board type furniture would never stand that type of abuse as anyone who moves, knows it's very harsh on furniture to move once not to mention five times. That is why I turned to IKEA for some finishing items knowing that one of the kitchen walls was an add-on years later and didn't have the stud placement to hold heavy cabinets coupled with dishes and food.
This is a great storage option to the kitchen that will allow formal dishes, decor and more to add a level of beauty to the room. I did purchase an additional shelf unit that will act as a coffee bar and microwave holder. It will fit in the middle of these two units offering a great look while complimenting the mocha crowned molding that adorns the ceiling. We ended up using a white brick paneling on the room and the contrast with the white and the black should look amazing.

The dining room ended up taking some turns as I had originally envisioned keeping it true to the time period but decided I wasn't quite ready to live in my grandmother's house which is no offense to her. I ended up putting up drywall with the help of my son-in-law, daughter and sister and finished it off with a fresco type texture and a yellow color. I'm hoping the bookcases below will end up meshing the color combinations.

The ceiling fan was replaced with a sparkly chandelier and a medallion to add to the look. My son-in-law proved to be very handy with all that he knows as he replaced the lighting fixture for me too.

All in all, it's been an interesting journey and most of the products were purchased from Menards but I liked having the final touches by IKEA.

Study.com's CLEP and DSST Prep Materials Review

Online learning programs have been a great resource for me in the past in picking up knowledge whether to help me in the business world or for personal enrichment. One of the things I have neglected to think about is how I could utilize that knowledge or new knowledge and exchange that for college credit. This is why after checking out Study.com and seeing all they had to offer for online courses, I was eager to try it out with my 9th grader. They have CLEP and DSST Prep Materials, in addition to many other courses, which is a great way to save some money by testing out of subjects. The CLEP and DSST programs, available through Study.com, can provide a path in earning college credit. The online courses are also versatile to use either as a full program or on an as-needed basis to improve knowledge or gain a new skill. In addition to earning college credit, they would be beneficial to the homeschooler as well as an adult wanting to learn different subjects. Other great features I found were the ability to learn whenever and wherever one wants either with a desktop or via the mobile app. It's set up in a manner that would allow the student to learn without requiring side-by-side parental assistance due to the user friendliness of each course.

For this review, I'm going to focus on both the CLEP and DSST and in between, I'm going to check out a subject or two outside of the CLEP or DSST. First, I'll get started with the CLEP Prep Review.

CLEP Prep Review

The CLEP program provides an abundance of resources from thousands of practice questions to 30+ CLEP study guides to 3,000 test prep video lessons.  They even offer a guarantee of a higher score of money back. Some of the most popular courses include:

  • CLEP Biology: Study Guide & Test Prep
  • CLEP Introductory Business Law: Study Guide & Test Prep
  • CLEP Humanties: Study Guide & Test Prep
  • CLEP Natural Sciences: Study Guide & Test Prep

For this part of the post, I had my daughter start and review CLEP History of the United States I: Study Guide & Test Prep. The course requires only a few weeks to complete and can be more or less pending one's schedule. Upon viewing the Course Summary, the user will be able to:

  • Track progress and pick up where you left off;
  • Add the course to your Dashboard;
  • Study with practice tests; and 
  • Receive a certificate of completion at the end.

When you sign up to take a specific course, a pop-up message will confirm you are taking the specific course and for your own goal, you can provide a finish date to help you track and keep you on schedule for completion.

There are 14 chapters for the course and as you start each chapter, there is a Course Navigator that lists each lesson and the time it will take to finish the video. There is also a place to record your own notes if you prefer online note taking. 

Each course has a lesson transcript, information about the instructor, videos and quizzes. The photos, maps, videos and other graphics really enhance the course. I had her take this course because not so long ago, I watched an online course about Mesoamerica so that was a great way to see if I retained my knowledge while watching her take the course. The instructors sometimes change with each lesson but each instructor was easy to understand and kept my interest. Each lesson for the chapters concludes with a quiz and along with the answer key and an option to watch to see the correct explanation. I dislike courses where the answers are not easily available or aren't explained. 

Another nice feature is being able to complete or print off worksheets and answers. I like to have physical copies to study in between times when I don't want to be hooked up to some device and since we travel a lot on the weekends, it was nice for her to take with us.

Finally, as she returned to her courses via Dashboard, she can see where she left off very easily as well as see her goals to include viewing if she's behind on a particular course:

Although she has not finished her course, I really like the set-up of each chapter and lesson. It's just the right length and it isn't bogged down with too much information. The worksheets and quizzes ensure that I'm retaining the important information for the course. So far, the instructors have all been very good as well.

At the end of each chapter is a chapter practice exam that reinforces what you retained from all the lessons within a chapter. It's timed and allows the user to retake it. This is an example from Chapter 4: Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill: The American Revolution Begins:

There is also an opportunity to apply for a chance to win a scholarship to help pay for CLEP exam.

DSST Prep Review

The DSST Prep area is similar to CLEP Prep on Study.com. The DSST used to be called DANTES and are credit-by-examination tests and administered by Prometric. These were once reserved for military members and their families but are available to anyone. There are 30 exams in six subject areas and are accepted at 1,900 schools. The CLEP is administered by the College Board and has 33 tests covering five areas. They are accepted at more than 2,900 colleges and universities. Some of the more popular practice tests include:

  • DSST Environmental Science Practice Test
  • DSST Lifespan Developmental Psychology Practice Test
  • DSST Health & Human Development Practice Test
  • DSST Organizational Behavior Practice Test 

These short tests may help to identify strengths and weaknesses, how you might compare to others, and videos to watch for ways to improve. This is a nice way to ensure you are taking the course you want or to increase knowledge.

For this part of the post, I'm going to first start with the DSST Criminal Justice Practice Exam.

After taking the test, I opted to continue with the course DSST Criminal Justice: Study Guide & Test Prep.  This course has 15 chapters and a total of 102 quizzes. It is also self-paced, and the average lesson is only eight minutes. Upon completion, a certificate is awarded. 

Each course provides the suggestion on which week one should complete each chapter. For example:

This is helpful in ensuring I was staying on track. One of the final chapters also provides more in-depth information on the DSST and it concludes with a chapter of flashcards that can be completed online or printed.


Overall, I really was drawn to Study.com and the array of subjects that are offered. I showed it to my husband, who is a nurse, and he also was very interested in learning more, so I think we will be expanding our 3-month subscription for myself.  Both the CLEP and DSST Prep Materials would be ideal for anyone planning on attending college to possibly test out and save some money, the adult wanting to learn new skills as well as the homeschooler to practice or learn new information. There are many other courses to take in addition to the CLEP and DSST courses. The user interface is easy and intuitive, and I liked the ability to see progress easily as well as to pick up where I left off. Whether it's for earning college credit or just for personal enrichment, it's really a good resource for both the younger student or the adult. My daughter liked the course videos because they weren't too long and weren't difficult to understand. They were broken up in smaller segments that allowed her to be able to retain what she learned. She also liked how she could print off the answers and re-review the one's she didn't get right. 

Study.com is a 20% discount on the first 3 months of their subscription. Use the code TheOldSchoolhouse.


Follow Study.com on Facebook and Twitter.


Check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew a division of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine thought by clicking on the (photo) link below:

CLEP & DSST Exam Prep {Study.com Reviews}

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...