I've got the kettle on, ya got a minute to visit?

I'm so happy you dropped by! Stay and visit awhile and please leave me a comment- it's so encouraging to hear from you!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

When the goin gets rough......

the battered stop blogging.

It has been a rough five months.  I did not get to go to college.  The admissions office dilly-dallied so badly that I couldn't get admitted in time to register for fall classes.....thus began the downward spiral.

I know you don't care to hear all of my unpleasant junk, so I will spare you.  But I will say that, as always, God has been good and taught me a very valuable lesson.  Here it is......

Only He can satisfy the desires of my heart.  HE has a plan for my life- and I may think that I can order things the way I want but the truth is that if it's not in His plan for me, it's not going to happen.

It took a lot of prayer and submission and quiet- but I think I'm coming back around to myself again.  There are still a few issues that God is working through.  But little by little I think I'm coming back.

Also, I became very ill the week before Operation Christmas Child National Collection Week.  For those of you who know me, this was the worst possible thing that could hit me.  Y'all- I'm serious.....I WENT to the doctor and ASKED


for a shot!!!!  No good.  2 rounds of antibiotics and five weeks later- I'm about 80% and very happy!

So during this nasty bout with gosh only knows what, God brought in the most amazing harvest of shoebox gifts! 


That's 5,227 MORE than last year! Praise God!! And the even better news is that OCC is seeing similar numbers all over the country!  I'm just astounded!  Thank you to all of you who packed shoeboxes this year!!!

Ok, now you're all caught up.  I will hopefully be back to posting.  I wandered over here because I saw someone had posted a comment that needed published.  I started clicking around and realized how much I missed Sincerely Home.  She's so therapeutic and good for my soul.  See you again soon.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Did ya miss us?

UH MAY ZING vacay!  3 weeks and one day of food stuffin, pop guzzling, Momma huggin, travel lovin goodness!

First morning with Momma.....

and she treated us to a yummy breakfast.

Vermont is so beautiful!

One of the highlights...Almanzo Wilder's childhood home.  Read Farmer Boy?

Ya gotta love a company with a sense of humor!

Lake Champlain

The Vermont Teddy Bear Company- their bears are guaranteed for life! This one needed some help!

And we're off on our adventure!

Always dreamed of coming here! So excited to do it with my Momma.

Walker's Point- and they said George was in!

Off to whale watch with the kiddos!

Thaaaaaar she blows!!!!!

Paul Revere's home

Abby got a violin- it changed our lives! (For the better!)

Ok, so I know that was quite a few pics- but let me tell ya.......that was just a drop in the bucket!  The highlight reel, if you will!

New England is amazing and if Andy were offered a job there tomorrow, I'd be ready to move by Wednesday! I love the history that swallows you up- to the point that you suddenly don't even realize that you're standing on a dock that is 400 years old!  I was in a boat in the same waters that the Pilgrims parted as they landed in our brand new baby country! The very beginning!


Anyway....back to reality now!  I took the rest of this past week- after getting home- to unpack, tidy up a smidge, and get my bearings back.  Yesterday I gave my first presentation on my trip to Africa and it was exhilarating to talk about it.  Lots of laughing.  Lots of weeping.  Hopefully very effective.  Tomorrow I have committed the day to working on my quilt that I began 2 years ago!  Momma took me to the Vermont Quilt Festival and it was very inspiring!  Laundry and quiltmaking.....that's ALL that's happening here tomorrow!

NEXT weekend is our yearly trip to Atlanta for the Southeast Homeschool Expo.  It's the one day Andy devotes to talking to me about curriculum as long as I want!  We don't do workshops- only the vendor hall- and I feel like a kid in a candy store!  This year I have completed 95% of my curriculum shopping- so I'll be looking at French curriculum and fun stuff like Jim Weiss and Miller Pad & Paper!  Next post I will fill you in on what my homeschooling plan for next year is!  Middle school.....sheesh.  Oh, and a trip to Six Flags on Sunday!  Then.........

Good-bye, Summer!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Second guessing....

I have always loved being from "Momma South"- the porches, the sweet tea, gentlemen holding doors for ladies......

but I gotta tell ya, from the bottom of my heart, I think I was meant to live in New England!  I've been in Vermont for a little over a week and, though I miss Andy terribly, I just don't want to ever leave!

Now I know some of you nay-sayers are thinking, "Just wait until winter hits!  She'll change her mind!"  But I was here last winter and it might have been a bit different but it was certainly not enough to deter my thinking.  I HATE hot weather.  HATE it!!!  I'm the person that schedules vacation for the end of October in Nova Scotia so that it will be cold and we can have a fire!

Having said ALL of that, I miss my bed.  And my pillow.  And my dog.  And my cats.  And my garden.  And my chair.................

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's official....I'm a college girl!

For some unknown reason, this line was the first thought that went through my mind as I read the letter.......
Dear Marla,
  Congratulations!  You have been admitted to Jefferson State Community College pending receipt of all required documentation.
Why am I not freaking out?  Why am I not worried about educating the children AND myself at the same time?  What about Operation Christmas Child?  Why does all of this seem so easy?  Grace.  God's grace.  That accompanied by the fact that I still, after all of these years, love learning.  But, let's get back to the God part....
Sometimes, and this may sound silly to you, I feel God tell me to be an example to my kids.  I know!  Crazy, right?  How can this apply to returning to college after 17 years?  Well- we are struggling with a bout of under-achieving at Cainberly Academy.  My children are capable of WAY more than they are producing currently.  A lack of discipline on all of our parts has lead to some poor work habits and an all around sense of "get-by-it-ness". (Ya like that one?  Totally just made that one up!)  So, what is a mom to do?  Lead by example.  I have 15 hours required to fulfill the 6 I need for my AA degree.  Time to show these kiddos what it means to study, take pride in your work, and do your very best!  And to FOLLOW THROUGH to the end- that may be the biggest lesson.
So, for the next year, if you need me, I'll have my nose in a book.......of some sort........

Friday, June 14, 2013

TOS Review: Birdcage Press- Go Fish for Impressionist Artists Cards

If you have never checked out Birdcage Press, my Friend you need to go look! 

Our final review is for their Go Fish for Impressionist Artists cards!  They are a beautiful set of 36 playing cards which feature works of art from eight Impressionists such as Monet, Pissarro, and Cassatt.  They are stunning in and of themselves, but they also come with a 28 page fact book that highlights each artists and gives pertinent information on their lives and times.  The card series is intended for ages 7 and up and is only $11.95.

Go Fish - Impressionist Artists photo birdcage-gofishforimpressionistartists_zpsacca0576.jpg

Aren't they lovely?  I would go as far as to say one of my favorite review items!  And let me just tell ya, Birdcage Press has a WIDE variety of card topics which have racked up at least 19 different parenting and product awards!  Topic categories include Art, History, Nature and Wildlife, and Air and Space.  While I LOVE the cards, make sure to check out their games and books as well.

So, the Cain kids had to endure a few hours of Momma working in the church library.  I packed some games and the Go Fish cards and hoped for the best.  After working for about an hour, I checked in on the kids and found them playing 'memory' in the floor with the cards!  They said they had  used the fact book to get more ideas for playing with the cards after they had played 'go fish' for a bit! I was thrilled!  We had recently studied Impressionism and I was pleased to see that the children recognized many of the works and the artists on the cards!  Abby loved the Degas and Cassatt cards the most, and her most favorite was the card pictured above- "Breakfast in Bed" by Mary Cassatt.  We've pulled them out many times to play......or even just to admire.

I highly recommend these great visuals if you are hoping to teach your children fine art, and the Crew reviewed the following Birdcage Press products as well:

Art Ditto (

Art Close Up: Museum of Modern Art (

Go Fish for Ancient Egypt (

Wild Cards: Baby Animals Around the World (

Wild Cards: Backyard Birds (

Click to read Crew Reviews

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Excited for Change?!

Did you notice that came with a question mark AND an exclamation point?  Subtle, yet says so very much.

I'm not the kind of person that really likes change- but sometimes you're just ready for it and the cleansing momentary pain it brings.  Lots of change going on around here- so much that I'm not really sure where to  Guess I'll start at the beginning!

The kids are constantly changing and let's face it, there's nothing to be done about it.  I would love to keep them sweet and four with their tiny voices and gargantuous amount of wonder, but their eight and eleven and they have relevant opinions and deep thoughts and I fall in love with them more and more every day. (Then there's days I consider the padlock on the bedroom door- but the good FAR outweigh the bad!)  This homeschooling journey has taught me one lesson very clearly and that is that change is inevitable, and I can't trap my children in one single learning box.  Some years we've done private school in a neighbors beautiful basement schoolroom(2nd and 3rd for Abby), some years I've had Ben to myself, some years we've stayed home and schooled on our own, and some years we've co-opped.  I have to continuously pray and ask for guidance from the One who designed them so that I may better understand how to teach them academically.  Every summer is a time of reflection and decision-making.

Me?  Well I find that change is inevitable for myself as well.  I have recently enrolled in a local community college in an effort to complete that nagging degree that I only have one class left to finish- which I began over 20 years ago.  Why, you may ask, has she waited so long when she has so little left?  Because, I would answer, no college will let you take one class to graduate- they usually require 12-18..... and I just haven't had the time for that.  I'm not sure what this little college trek might look like.  A class here, a class there- online or in a classroom with my kids doing their schoolwork in the hallway?  Hey, dual enrollment! ;o)  I just got a word of encouragement from Andy and felt like it was time to pursue it.  Cross your fingers for me and we'll see what happens!

Now, about the blog.

Do you folks know how much I enjoy writing?  I used to.  And I'd like to get back to writing about our lives and homeschooling and crafting and the Lord and the bajillions of other things that we love, so I'm giving up reviewing for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  It just became too much and dominated Sincerely Home.  I will still post reviews now and then independently, and I encourage you to continue discovering the awesome things the Crew is finding over at the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  By tomorrow afternoon I will post my last review on behalf of the Crew.  I am so grateful for the opportunity they have given me to not only try various homeschooling products and build my knowledge base, but also share those products with fellow homeschoolers who may be trying to wrap their head around the world of curriculum as well.  It's been a true blessing.

So, there you have it!  Enough change for one day?  Are you going through a period of change in your home/family/life as well?  I found great encouragement this morning in what Moses told the Israelites when speaking of obedience.....
Deuteronomy 4:7-10
      "For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the Lord our God is to us, for whatever reasons we may call upon Him?  And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?  Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life.  And teach them to your children and your grandchildren, especially concerning the day you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb, when the Lord said to me 'Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.'"

Monday, June 10, 2013

TOS Review: Motherboard Books just need to try something new.  When we were offered the opportunity to review Let's Make a Web Page, an e-book by Phyllis Wheeler for Motherboard Books, I was a bit apprehensive.  This would seriously be delving into the unknown for us- but it's geared for ages 8-12 so I figured it would be awesome to give the kids the chance to try something totally new.

I sat down with Abby and we read thru the opening of the e-book and got started.  I'm going to disclose, at this point, that computer action is my son's forte.....but that's kinda why I chose to do it with Abby.  I wanted to really put this product to the test because, honestly, I'm a total blank at the computer/techno thing and if me and Abs can pull it off- it's gotta be good stuff! :O)

First let me just say that Ms. Wheeler gives very clear instructions.  Not only does she give clear instructions, but she also provides screen shots of what you encounter along the way.  I LOVE THAT!  The lessons (10) are broken down into very manageable pieces with a reminder to save at the end of each- which tickled me until I realized that is truly a valuable piece of information to a computer newbie!  Below is the Table of Contents so you can see how thorough the e-book is:

Table of Contents

Introduction for Parents.......................................................................4
Lesson 1: An Interview.........................................................................5
Lesson 2: Download and Set Up the Program....................................7
Lesson 3: Add Text..............................................................................22
Lesson 4: Add Photo...........................................................................27
Lesson 6: From the Internet, Add Animations.................................30
Lesson 7: Browser Check, Backgrounds, Photos.............................35
Lesson 8: Sound...................................................................................46
Lesson 9: Links....................................................................................51
Lesson 10: Post Your Work...............................................................55
Appendix A: How to Upload to the Internet....................................58
Appendix B: Troubleshooting............................................................60

Here is a screen shot of the page that Abby made.  The lessons actually asked her to add more (for the sake of learning) but Abby felt it made it too cluttered so she asked if we could leave it.  The act of adding elements send the kids to Google to do some internet searching and I appreciated that Ms. Wheeler was cautious and asked that parents accompany their children to find their elements.

 Let's Make a Web Page retails for $19.95.  Please feel free to check out other reviews of this product and Logo Adventures by Motherboard Books.....

Click to read Crew Reviews

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

TOS Review: See the Light Art Curriculum

My kids LOVE art.  I know what you're thinking.......

"All kids LOVE art class, Marla!"  And you're right- but my kids REALLY love art.

We just had the opportunity to review See the Light video-based art curriculum.  I loved this review because I actually sat down and participated with the kids!  We chose their project DVD inspired by Louis Comfort Tiffany entitled "Tiffany Window".

Pat Knepley was the instructor and I just thought she was fabulous!  Not only did she share history of Tiffany style glass, but also of Mr. Tiffany himself!  The video was broken down into 4 segments which included:

1. Plan Your Composition

Sketch flower, leaves, stems (21 minutes)

2. Rule of Thirds

Complete sketch (24 minutes)

3. Color Theory

Marker Techniques on flower, stem and background shapes (29 minutes)

4. Complete Masterpiece

The stained glass window effect (28 minutes)


As you can see, the lessons were brief, but thorough, and geared toward children aged 5-18.  They kept my children's interest and I would definitely say that they imparted a great amount of technique and knowledge.  Here are samples of our work through various stages:

So here's what I think was the greatest part of the art lesson......when Pat took out her bible and proceeded to pull it all together using scripture!  Art AND a bible lesson!  Fabulous!  If you'd like to check out some free samples, try their freeviews on their website.  They have a plethora of projects and classes on DVD at $14.99 a piece. (Sets are available at $99.99 and so are many other resources.)  I had all of the supplies on-hand.
If teaching art intimidates you, I would definitely recommend See the Light's products.  Check out the Crew's reviews on the many other resources.
Click to read Crew Reviews

Thursday, May 30, 2013

TOS Review: SImplified Pantry - Paperless Home Organization

MYSTIE WINCKLER!!!!!!  Where have you been all my life????

Seriously Y'all- this woman could change your life!  How, you ask?.......

Simplified Pantry is Mystie's front for all things dinner and meal-planning related.  Simply Convivial is her blog in which she addresses life, homeschooling, homemaking, and getting organized with her ebook Paperless Home Organization.  While this review is for Paperless Home Organization, please check out Mystie's ebooks for Simplified Dinners and Simple Gluten-free and Dairy-free Dinners.  You won't be disappointed!

Just so you know, I am one of those people who have lovingly hand crafted a home management binder.  With tabs and a pencil pouch and calculator, upon completion- I was positive this thing was going to change my life.  Mystie puts it so well in the preface when she compares organization to swimming:
  You are either treading water or slowly sinking; progress is getting yourself back to the surface before you drown, not arriving at a destination.  However, treading water at least becomes easier the longer you do it.  At first it takes concentration and focus and energy simply to stay afloat, but eventually you get into better shape and can breathe evenly again.  However, you never get so good at it that you can stop.

Nothing is going to save your life if you leave it on the shelf in the butler's hallway.

Just keeping it real, folks!

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE that binder.  I look at it frequently and think that if I just sunk a little time into it to revamp it, then it would turn into the miraculous device it was meant to be.  But the truth of it is that going paperless makes much more sense.  The hang up?  I am NO techno- gadget- programs genius......and I like that about myself.  So how does a person like me ever get started?

Mystie blew my socks off with this e-book.  Not only does she tell you which 3 programs to use (Gmail, Evernote, and Remember the Milk), but she tells you how to set up accounts with each, download them to your devices, and customize each of them!!  Now I'm not gonna lie, my head began to swim as I read about Evernote and building stacks and emptying my email INBOX down to zero (It currently hovers at 3,021!)!  But Mystie seriously walks you through step-by-step and I'm beginning to catch on. 

This is a whole new process and life change and is going to take some time, but I totally believe the $3.99 is worth the cost of the e-book if for nothing else than merely the "How-To" section for setting up the Evernote account!  Do yourselves a favor, skip the Starbucks today and download this e-book and see if you won't be the slightest bit encouraged to wrestle the techno-organizing monster! 

Check out more reviews of Paperless Home Organization and Mystie's other 2 ebooks!
Click to read Crew Reviews

Friday, May 24, 2013

TOS Review: Joyce Herzog- Choosing & Using Curriculum

Part of my mission in life is to help new and prospective homeschool moms navigate the beginning stages of their homeschooling journey.  Having finished my sixth year of homeschooling, I feel like I may just be gleaning some valuable wisdom from those first few years.  I was very excited to be offered Joyce Herzog's Choosing & Using Curriculum: Your Guide to Home Education book to review.

Joyce is a Christian educator, author, and speaker with over 25 years experience teaching special needs children and 30 years serving the homeschooling community.  She has authored many curricula for reading, math, history, family devotions and more.

 photo L-ChoosingUsingCVR_zpsb0525c5f.jpg

Choosing & Using Curriculum is a great resource for those who are considering homeschooling as well as veteran homeschoolers.  Everyone is likely to find something that is helpful as Joyce has included such well thought out, relevant material in this 108 page paperback.  Be prepared with a highlighter or post-its in hand when you sit down with this one!

The beginning chapters are especially geared toward considering homeschoolers- laying out the foundations for learning and teaching styles.  I particularly loved how she made charts for different curriculum styles (textbook, workbook, directed unit study, real books) with columns that covered advantages, disadvantages, and how to use with special needs students.  Seriously folks, sometimes all you need are some good charts with pros and cons to help you make your mind up about something!

From there, Joyce breaks things down further into specific subjects and offers listings of curriculum with a brief description of each.  If I were to say that I didn't like something about this book, it would be that the lists are not inclusive- they direct you first to the author's product and then to other well known products. (Teaching Textbooks was not listed under math, Phonics Museum not under reading, etc.)  Chapters 19 (Teaching Discernment in Literature) and 25 (Tips for Teaching History) were my two favorite chapters as they were packed with awesome questions to address your students with in regards to their lessons.

There is a companion e-book that goes along with the paperback that lists hundreds of links for homeschooling resources with chapters dedicated specifically to deaf, blind, dyslexic, and autistic students.  At $15, I think this is a great pair for those who are new to homeschooling.  While I think there are good things for veteran homeschoolers to hear as well, in my opinion, there is nothing new or revelatory.

Please check out what the Crew had to say about this and other products by Joyce Herzog...

Click to read Crew Reviews

Monday, May 13, 2013

TOS Review: Papa's Pearls

 photo papaspearls_zps509cd1df.jpg

Everyone longs to leave a lasting legacy behind and that is just what Mr Carol Joseph Flynn did!  In Papa's Pearls: A Father's Gift of Love and Wisdom to His Children and Grandchildren, Dianne Flynn Keith reminisces and expounds upon her father's great euphemisms and love of life.

A light and heartfelt read, this book immortalizes the "pearls" that Mr Flynn planted in the hearts of those around him.  Known to have positively affected not only his family but also his community, Mr Flynn's words resound in even my heart thanks to Mrs Keith's recollections and sweet stories.  This book was a delightful read and a much needed reminder.

"You don't kick someone when they're down- you give them a hand up!"  "What's the worst thing that could happen?"  "I love you.  You know that, right?" "You gotta do what you gotta do!"  These are all colorful pearl's Mr Flynn sewed deep into the hearts of his family- along with many others.  As I read, many sounded familiar to me and I realize that they echo words passed down from my grandfather.  What a great plenty that generation had to teach!

Papa's Pearls: A Father's Gift of Love and Wisdom to His Children and Grandchildren is available directly through the author for $14.97 + $7.00 s/h or through Amazon.

Please see what other Crewmates had to say about it!
Click to read Crew Reviews

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

In Which I Make My Return.....

Friends, it has been a great while since I left for Africa- though it was only 12 days ago.  I long to share with you beautiful faces and ponderings of my heart- but I'm so overwhelmed with processing right now that I can hardly string two sentences sensibly in regards to my experiences!  How about a few of my favorite pics to hold you over until I can more eloquently share?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

TOS Review: Math Rider

I know I have mentioned this before but........... MATH DRILLS ARE SO BO...........


Ahhhhh, redemption!  Math Rider is a computer drills game based on quests and a fantasy land.  The player, upon his fine steed Shadow, jumps math hurdles where he must find the difference, sum, product, or quotient.  Four quests cover the four sets of basic math facts from 1-12.

The awesome thing about this intelligently designed software is that it keeps track of each players progress and repeats problems not yet mastered- so they're not answering the same drills over and over that they already know.  Riders enjoy animated rewards as a fun incentive to continue in their "quest" and an overview map allows them to see how their journey is progressing.

Ben absolutely LOVES Math Rider!  It came at the perfect time as he was studiously memorizing his multiplication facts.  He's a boy and it's a quest!!!  What more need I say?  It appeals to his need for adventure and challenges him in a graphically pleasing- eletrically-stimulating-boy- kind-of-way!  I saw Ben's math skills improve dramatically in just the first week of playing daily.

Math Rider is compatable with MAC and PC.  It's intended for ages 6-12 and costs $47 but there is a 7 day free trial available on their website.  The fee covers your download and updates for life and allows for up to 8 players.  Take 'em up on their free trial- I'm sure your kiddos will love it!

Click to read Crew Reviews

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

TOS Review: Progeny Press "Hall of Doors: The Dragon's Hoard"

I have heard so much about this very reputable classical literature company and was so glad to be chosen to review the book and study guide of Hall of Doors: The Dragon's Hoard by Progeny Press

 photo a6473ab137a9e7725ad14_m_zps8a9801cb.jpg

This provided the perfect opportunity to begin reading comprehension lessons with Ben.  I printed off the study guide and made him a binder for it.  The story is intertwined with  The Hobbit by J. R. Tolkien and was a good fit for an 8 year old boy, full of adventure!  There are dragons, gargantuan spiders, and elves!  He read the entire book IN NO TIME!!!  He really enjoyed it!

We broke the book down into chapters and Ben worked on the questions and puzzles independently, then I would read him the bible passages and we would discuss the "Dig Deeper" questions- which was my favorite part of the lesson.  This was one of the questions that totally blessed my heart:


Great conversations were had thanks to the promptings in this study guide!  It was chock full of vocabulary, word searches, literary analysis, and language arts.  There is also an "After You Read" section with ideas for further study and activity.  Here's a sample of a random page in the study guide:

Designed for 3-5 graders, the book retails for $9.99 and the study guide cd/instant download is $15.99.  There are MANY, MANY to choose from on the Progeny website ranging from 1st grade through 12th.  You can get a complete list of products here.  I have book marked the website- as I am SURE we will be frequenting it!
Click to read Crew Reviews

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Global Connect

I just returned from a life-changing event.  I know, I know!....You've heard that one before, right?  But can you imagine this.......

102 countries- all joined together- singing praise songs- all in our own language- all with the same heart and mission......

Global Connect was the cullmination of 20 years and 100,000,000+ shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.  (I've only been around for 17 of them)  Thought I would give you a glimpse of the celebration....

2000 people from 102 countries breaking bread together.

Girls from my BHM team that joined me.

Lou Giglio

A big surprise! My old pastor from Calvary Chapel ABQ, Skip Heitzig!

One of my new favorites, Matthew West!

And our leader, Mr. Franklin Graham.