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Blushes! Wordless Wednesday

Okay, so one more makeup post this week!


This is one of the long, wide Alex drawers. It's hard to see, obviously, but the standouts here are the Tarte blush wheel (the purple disk on the right), the Urban Decay blush in Rapture under it, and the Lorac blushes on the left. The Kiko blushes are also surprisingly awesome for the price. 

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What Love Looks Like

Love looks different to everyone, but in my house love is a 6' x 4' nail polish rack. I wanted to organize my polishes better before posting this picture, but I couldn't wait any longer (I've told too many people about it and they want to see pictures!):





The lack of organization and the prevalence of ugly orange stickers (hey! I love a sale!) demonstrate why I wanted to wait until everything was picture perfect before posting, but Henry's great work deserves mention. Also, nail polish racks are so expensive that I wanted to show how easy it was for him to make me one. All of this was readily available at Lowe's. It took him just a couple of hours to throw it all together. I am very, very lucky! And he was afraid it would be too big and I wouldn't have enough nail polish to fill the whole thing...


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Social Media Tips from Fr. Troy

My priest's letter to the parish was so good today that I'm just linking it here. Everything he says about social media makes so much sense. I'd already come to most of these decisions on my own, but seeing him say it just reinforces what I'd already decided. I really encourage you to read what he has to say:




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How Long Do I Keep Trying?

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn has a quote that I love. He says, "How long do you keep trying? Until." That can be a bit of a hard pill to swallow sometimes. I know that I am highly motivated by endpoints. In fact, I have always looked to them to get me through tough times (and I'm defining days as tough times here!). There have been times (lasting months) when I get up in the morning thinking, "All I have to do is get through the next 14 hours and I can go back to bed." There's an endpoint. I realized at the very start of graduate school (as in orientation week) that a PhD in political science wasn't for me. I hated statistics. I didn't think statistics could answer the kinds of questions I wanted to investigate. I am nothing if not tenacious, though (Henry describes me as a bulldog with a steak), so I told myself, "I just have to get through the next seven or so years" (turned out to be 7.5. I had two babies during that time!). An endpoint.

What about when there is no endpoint, though? Example the first - children! I am sure that there are some people out there who don't know what it's like to have that child who keeps you up at night (I'm not talking about crying, teething babies. They have an endpoint!). The kid whose behavior is a mystery to you or whose illness is as yet undiagnosed. You go to bed wondering how you can keep going. You just can't get through to this kid. You can't convey to them that they are making their own hell and that they alone hold the key to their own happiness. Their mind is a mystery. It wears on you. At times you wonder if you can do it all again the next day, holding your breath and wondering what the mood is going to be, just waiting for that shoe to drop. But you have to keep trying. And some kids don't just magically stop being worrisome when they grow up, either. I know that's a huge shock to parents of adult children! You keep trying, though. You have to.

Example the second - marriage. Absent physical abuse (I hesitate to say emotional abuse because I think that word is vastly overused and the definition is a very personal one), you keep trying. Until the ring is on the finger, you don't owe a person your undying effort. You owe it to yourself to make sure that you're making the right decision. Because once that ring is on the finger, you keep trying until. Marriage isn't a sprint and it isn't a marathon. It's a slog. A lifelong slog. A lot of it is uphill, and the really hard part to swallow is that sometimes the downhill runs don't come in proportion to the uphills. My friend's mother told her that a marriage is like two horses pulling a cart. Both have to be pulling in the same direction and at the same speed. Otherwise, it all goes to hell (well, that last part is my own interpretation). If one pulls in the wrong direction or at the wrong speed, it's no bueno. That makes perfect sense to me. I'm a huge fan of marriage, don't get me wrong, but it's not easy. And you keep trying until.

For most other things in life, though, look to the endpoints! If you have to get through something hard, realize that you won't be doing it forever. And find something to treat yourself with at the end!


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Review of The 101 Series

Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}
For my final review of the Crew year (how hard is that to believe?), I have a super fun science product to share. The 101 Series has a series of really neat science DVD sets, and I was fortunate enough to receive Chemistry 101 to review. Although Physics 101 and Biology 101 both look amazing, too (so amazing that I can see myself purchasing them in the future), Nicholas (13) is passionately curious about Chemistry, so choosing which DVD set I wanted was really a no-brainer. 
Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}
Chemistry 101 consists of 4 DVDs with 19 segments varying in length from 20-45 minutes. Also included on the DVDs is a PDF guidebook containing quizzes of the material and a one-year high school course booklet. Although the course is intended for ages 15+, there is nothing contained on the DVDs that is inappropriate for younger ages. In fact, there is much that would be enjoyed by all ages. At 13, Nicholas had no trouble following the material. 

The DVDs consist of the following material:

Disc A - The Road to the Periodic Table
1. Introduction & The Last Alchemist
2. Birth of Modern Chemistry
3. The Bold Russian
4. Lots of Mystery Rays

Disc B
5. The Likable Rutherford
6. The Period Table at Last
7. The Period Table - Main Group
8. The Period Table - Quantum Mechanics

Disc C - Chemistry Essentials
9. Neutrons, Isotopes, and Ions
10. Compounds and Molecules Part 1
11. Compounds and Molecules Part 2
12. Balancing Equations 
13. Essentials Wrap-Up

Disc D - Meet the Elements and The Future
14. The Four Main Columns
15. Non- Metals and Poor Metals
16. Transition Metals
17. Rare Earth and Radioactive Medals
18. The Future of Chemistry Part 1
19. The Future of Chemistry Part 2
Guidebook and Accreditation Booklet (PDF)

The videos are hosted by Wes Olson, who also hosts Biology 101, a graduate of Multnomah Bible College and a 20 year-veteran filmmaker. His engaging and serious manner are perfectly suited to the subject matter. The included 128 page study guide make it easy to turn this DVD set into a course, but it's just as easy to watch the DVDs as family entertainment. 

The guide contains extensive notes on the DVDs, much like the notes you would take if you were rigorously writing down everything Mr. Olson said. It also contains discussion questions and quizzes. It's black and white, making it easy to print at home.


DVD 4 also includes an accreditation guide. The guide walks you through the process of using the DVDs as the backbone of a 1 year high school Chemistry course. This is a huge value add for this program! The guide is thorough and understandable, and it answered any questions I had about possibly turning this into a high school class for my kids in the future.

What We Thought of It

Because Nicky is only in 8th grade and is not taking Chemistry for any kind of credit yet, I just gave him the DVDs to watch on his computer at his leisure. I didn't have to tell him twice! As I mentioned, he loves chemistry. He loves learning about the periodic table. These DVDs suited his purpose perfectly. They didn't feel like school to him. While I did peruse the guide at length, I didn't use it with Nicky because I didn't want to make the DVDs feel like school to him. Right now I want to keep him in love with science. I can absolutely see using the guide in the future, though, as we work through the DVDs more rigorously.



I love the ease and versatility of The 101 Series and I definitely plan to check out more of their offerings in the future. To see their other products in use, be sure to click the banner below!


Physics, Chemistry & Biology 101 {The 101 Series}
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Review of Chara Games

Commissioned {Chara Games}

My family, like so many others, loves board games, so when I find out that there is one coming up for review on the Crew, I get excited. I had never heard of Chara Games before, but their game Commissioned is one that I am very glad I got the chance to play! 

Commissioned {Chara Games}

Chara Games was founded by a husband and wife in 2014 with the goal of creating Christian-themed tabletop games. The word Chara is Biblical Greek for unspeakable joy. Thus far, Chara Games has released Commissioned with 3 Seeds, their second game, set to hit retail stores by the end of the year! The company is off to a promising and exciting start!

When my kids received Commissioned, they were excited to get started with the game play. It was perfect for my family of six, as it's designed for 2-6 players. A game should take about an hour to play, but plan on more time for the first few games as you figure out this cooperative-style game. I wouldn't say it's hard, but it is a game that you have to play to understand. Don't get bogged down in the reading of the rules; rather, just take it turn by turn and step by step and you'll be playing before you know it. Some games make complete sense right out of the box (you see the whole picture). Commission is a little more nuanced than that, but that's not a bad thing! It just means that it takes a little longer to "get it." Once you do, though, it's really fun!

You are working together to build the church! Acting as Apostles, your team is doing what the Apostles would have done (well, they didn't build their Faith Decks, exactly, but work with me here!): collecting books of the New Testament and avoiding persecution. You do this by taking turns drawing faith cards, facing trials, and expanding your Faith deck. Each player gets a turn as the Elder, or the one who makes decisions for the group. You are working to achieve a scenario's conditions for victory before you run out of time (and before you lose churches!). It's such a neat premise, and what's even neater is that you don't have to know a thing about Christianity or even be a Christian to enjoy this game. I think you derive an extra bit of pleasure from the whole coolness of the concept if you are a Christian, but the game doesn't rely on faith to be fun. It's quite ingenious.

Before we played, we all watched this video:


I would wholeheartedly recommend you do the same, as it is the best possible explication of the rules and demonstration of game play.
Here are my children enjoying their first round of Commissioned!

What Did We Think?
As I said, we love board games, and cooperative board games are especially fun. Overall, Commissioned has been a hit in our house. I think it would make a great Christmas gift, particularly if you have friends who are new Christians this year. As I said before, though, you don't have to be a Christian to like Commissioned - you just have to be a game lover. If you belong to any kind of game club, this would be such a fun one to introduce to the group. It's so different! The premise is different, as is the game play. I really appreciate the ingenuity behind the game, and I am curious to see what Chara Games' newest offering, 3 Seeds, is like!
Lots of Crew families have been playing Commissioned, so be sure to click the banner below to peek in on more of the fun!

Commissioned {Chara Games}
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Review of The Critical Thinking Co.™

Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}
I have been fortunate enough to review The Critical Thinking Co.™ many times. I can honestly say that I have never seen a product of theirs that I didn't love. It's no surprise, then, that Sentence Diagramming: Beginning has found a place in my heart. 

Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}

Recommended for grades 3-12 (so any beginning diagrammer), this 72 page book teaches basic diagramming in an easy-to-understand way that is sure to be a hit with any parent looking to give her child the diagramming advantage. This book starts at the beginning of sentence diagramming (simple subject and verb) and goes through compound predicate adjectives and nouns. Specifically, it covers Simple Subject and Main Verb, Direct Object, Adjectives, Adverbs Modifying Verbs, Predicate Adjectives, Predicate Nouns, Prepositional Phrases (Adjectival) Prepositional Phrases (Adverbial), Compound Subjects, Compound Predicates, Compound Direct Objects, Compound Predicate Adjectives and Nouns.

The book has plenty of room to work on each page with just the right amount of instruction. It was easy to work it into my twins (11) existing school day.


Our Experience with Diagramming

Therese (15) and Nicholas (13) have each done their time with diagramming, Therese more than Nicholas. Both of them enjoyed it, and I like to think that diagramming helped increase their understanding of English grammar. As with so many things, though, Mary-Catherine and Michael (both 3 weeks away from 12) haven't had the same educational experience as the older kids. They have missed out on diagramming! I was so happy, then, to have the opportunity to review this book. As with so many things that The Critical Thinking Co.™ does, the diagramming book is done perfectly. There is just enough material to teach the concept, and to teach it well, with nothing extra. There is nothing to get in the way of the concept, nor is there anything to cause a child to become bored or irritated. It is easy to get in, learn the material, and get out. Because of that, it was so easy to add diagramming to our day. In just a few minutes a day, the twins are becoming diagramming experts!


Also, in case you didn't know, The Critical Thinking Co.™ allows you to make as many copies as you need to for your own use (in your own homeschool classroom, *not* for coop or anything like that), meaning that both of my twins can use this diagramming book. I'm very used to buying two copies of everything (twins - duh), but not to have to is really great! I love The Critical Thinking Co.™'s policy! It has benefited my family many times.

If you are thinking about adding diagramming to your day, look no further than this great little book. If you have younger kids, The Critical Thinking Co.™ has you covered, too. They explain the Importance of Preschool Academics and suggest a software bundle to get them started. You will definitely want to click the banner below to read all of the Homeschool Review Crew reviews, since some Crew members were able to review software from the Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic before Kindergarten™ bundle! 

Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}


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Review of Homeschool Legacy

Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}

We are not regular unit study families, but I do think that unit studies have their place in many, if not most, homeschools. They fill in gaps, provide necessary relief from daily curriculum tedium, and are great for highlighting certain holidays and special times of the year. They can also be a lot of work! Homeschool Legacy's Once-A-Week-Micro-Studies are no almost no work at all, though! I was lucky enough to get to use the Once-A-Week-Micro-Study Victoria and Her World, and I can attest to the fact that it is everything that is great about a unit study with none of the grief.

Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}

Once-A-Week-Micro-Studies are different from other unit studies in that they provide three 30-minute lessons per week (in other words, they don't take over the entire school day). They also don't include library lists, which I *love*. Instead, they give general call numbers so you have an idea of where to look in the library for suggested resources. Those library lists that are common in unit studies always stressed me out. I just knew that the library wouldn't have the exact books I needed when I needed them, and I am not organized enough to plan far enough ahead to have what I need there when I need it. This kind of unit study is so much more up my alley! For my family, a brief detour to Victorian England sounded like a wonderful respite from what has turned out to be a very intense school semester! In fact, we've enjoyed it so much that we might just turn to Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims for another fun break from school reality - what a great time of year to do so, right?

What The Study Includes

Week One includes a basic overview of the literature, music, geography, and government of Victorian Britain. Coincidentally, we had already been studying several of these things in school! I am reading Dickens to the kids (11, 11, 13) and their geography assignment at the time (they are finishing the geography of Europe) was the UK. Part of geography is talking about the government and anthem of a country, so we basically covered much of week one of our unit study without even trying!

Week Two dives more into history, background, timeline, and fashion. Because we are only up to the middle ages in our multi-year survey of history, this was all new material to the kids, and they loved it. My homeschool library is *ridiculous* so I didn't need to go to the library for any materials, which I absolutely loved (major points to this study for not having that required library list!).

Week Three is more history and gets into Victorian Christmas traditions. Now, this is something that I have researched quite a bit in order to create materials for edHelper, so we had a lot of fun delving into this. Week Three also included my least favorite aspect of any unit study - the topical recipe. I'm chagrined to say that I didn't bake the "Queen Cakes." I love to cook, but I hate to bake. It requires measuring. I know that most homeschooling moms love this part of unit studies, though, so I wanted to make sure to mention that baking is included!

Week Four goes into The Industrial Revolution, games, toys, and finishing up the timeline. Another recipe is included with the suggestion of an English Tea. If my kids were younger (or if two of them weren't boys) I may have indulged that idea. 

What We Thought

We really enjoyed this unit study, and I know that there will be some families who will *love* this learning style. For us, specifically, I know that we don't *do* unit studies as thoroughly as many do. I gravitate toward what I love, and that is much more what was included in Week One - the literature, the music, and the geography. In fact, Week One is the only week that took us even close to the hour and a half that each week of this study is supposed to take. Granted, I eschewed the baking, so that explains the quickness of two of the weeks. Much of the time we spent on this study was just me talking to the kids about Queen Victoria, Victorian England, and whatever topic was on the table (Industrial Revolution, customs, etc.). The unit study was more of a jumping off point for us. Now, the fact is that I do have a degree in history and I do read non-stop in this area (Victorian England), both fiction and non-fiction. I even scour the Internet for Victorian broadsheets. Hence, at least for this unit study, I didn't necessarily need much direction to really get going with my kids. If history isn't your thing, or if you really like to stay on track and stick to a schedule, you may just love these unit studies!

A total of 100 Crew members have been using these nifty unit studies, so be sure to click the banner below to see what they thought!



Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}

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Review of Accountable2You

Accountability across all your devices {Accountable2You}

Technology - that double edged sword! How I love it and how I hate it. I'm sure many of you feel the exact same way. I have struggled with allowing my children freedom with their technology; I know that I have erred on the side of too much freedom. I have tried filtering software, but I could never figure out how to let them do their schoolwork with it in place and I gave up. I have never felt easy since...until now. Accountable2You is not filtering software, and its Family Plan allows me to monitor my children's activity on all of their devices. Accountable2You lets me know what they are doing and when, and for me, with children 15, 13, and twins nearly 12, that is far more effective than filtering software.

Accountability across all your devices {Accountable2You}

How Does it Work?

Accountable2You can be installed on up to 20 devices in your home, including desktops, laptops, iPhones, Android phones, iPads, Android tablets, and Kindle Fires. It works on Mac and Windows. Truly, I don't have a device it doesn't work on (and I have many devices)! The directions for installing the software (or apps) on devices are clear, so don't be intimidated by the process - just jump right in and get started. With Accountable2You, you can set words as Questionable, Highly Questionable, or Not Questionable words (for myself, I realized rather quickly that if I didn't want a bunch of flagged items, I should exclude the word "breast." I search for recipes for chicken breasts *a lot*). Once you install Accountable2You, you designate an "accountability partner" to whom information will be sent (typically in a daily emailed digest, although the information can be accessed online anytime under the "reports" section of the website). The idea behind Accountable2You is that when you know that someone else sees what you're doing online (or on the computer), you will be much more aware of your activity.

Our Experience

Last thing's first - I'm very glad to know about this product, and when our complimentary review year is up, I absolutely plan to subscribe to the family plan for $9.99/mo. Having said that, I don't feel 100% good about using it. I have Accountable2You installed on my kids' phones, devices, and computers, and the amount of information that I now have access to about their "on-device" behavior is overwhelming. We are a very technology-driven household. My husband and I each have iPads, Kindle Fires (and I have a Paperwhite), laptops, desktops, Galaxy Note phones, and he has an iPhone for work. My kids all have smartphones and Kindle Fires, and the two eldest have laptops. It would not be accurate to say that we live on our devices, but it would definitely be fair to say that, because of work, school, and activities, we are far from Luddites. I will tell you that I am very aware of what my kids are doing online, and I am probably right 98% of the time, but it's that 2% that causes me angst. Hence, my deep appreciation for this program. 

*Now* I know *exactly* what my kids are doing every single second they are on a device with Accountable2You on it. I see every song played on Spotify and every podcast added to a playlist. I see how long it takes them to read a page on a book. That's why I say the information is overwhelming. The fact that I have access to this information (information is stored for 15 days, at which point you must either download it from Accountable2You or say goodbye to it) makes me wonder who else has access to it. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but the fact is that it must be stored *somewhere* and that means that someone else can get at it. As a Libertarian-leaning conservative, I have a fundamental problem with that idea. So what does a snapshot in my 13 year-old son's life on his computer look like? 


For details, I can select a different view:


This view shows me exactly what he was doing in those 2+ hours on Spotify (Maroon 5 - yuck!). 

Here's what an overview of multiple device activity looks like:


My 11 year-old son, Mikey, generated a highly questionable incident when he was playing Words with Friends on his phone and he tried out the words "nude" and "sex" (hey, if you can put an x on a double letter, more power to you!). Accountable2You is so detailed that I could tell that he was testing those words for point potential, because the screen showed me "nude-cancel," indicating that he put up that word and then took it down. That's what I mean when I say that this program is *detailed*. "Chow" generated a red dot because she initiated a private browsing session on her phone. Accountable2You tracks those and everything in them, too.

In sum, then, I feel much better about my kids being on their devices so much (for school, chatting with their friends, reading, gaming) now, but I feel a little, well, weird, about how much information I have access to. The good thing is that I control how much I choose to see. I can either sift through pages of Spotify song choices, or I can just monitor for "Questionable" and higher hits. Overall, though, I definitely recommend Accountable2You to everyone with teens and tweens.

54 other Crew members have been trying out Accountable2You, so be sure to click the banner below to read all the reviews.


Accountability across all your devices {Accountable2You}


Crew Disclaimer

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