Thursday, December 21, 2017

Magic Stix Washable Markers Review

Ok so we have had the pleasure of being able to do a short review for Magic Stix Washable Markers! If you have read any of my reviews then you will recall how much we love the Kwik Stix by The Pencil Grip, Inc. Their products are always so well made and are always such a wonderful addition to our school!

Today I want to give you a look at their Magic Stix. These aren't just any markers. I know if you have kids that you have walked in and found the markers with the caps left off. Many times they've been left off for a few days and here you are with a dried up marker that has to go straight into the trash. Magic Stix are called magic for a good reason! These markers are GUARANTEED to not dry out for at least 7 days!! That right there is a great reason to buy them.

We did a short test. I didn't have them for the full 7 days before I needed to make this post before Christmas so mine is only 4 days worth. But four days with no lid is still amazing!

As you can see the marker still works and the ink is still very bright! No issues what so ever!!

Ok so what are other features that make these markers stand above the rest?

  • They are odorless. I love this since my son suffers from headaches. 
  • They are washable. This is always a plus because of obvious reasons!
  • They are non-toxic! Another plus when you have small children who want to use them!
  • They are available in 12 and 24 pks
I also want to mention that they are bright and bold colors! Here's a little illustration of most of the colors. I hate when you get markers that are so light that you can barely see them. You won't have that problem with these!

I also wanted to mention one final point. I'm a planner girl and I'm always looking for new tools to use in my planner. I like to lightly shade boxes to stand out etc. I tried using these markers to do that and there was no bleeding! That is a huge issue when it comes to markers in planners. You don't want it to bleed through to the next page. Now if you colored it really dark and thick, I'm sure some bleeding would occur, but just a light shading had no effects in my Happy Planner! I will definitely be using them there in addition to our school!

I know everyone is going to be eager to get started back to school after the holidays are over, so why not add something fun to your collection! You can get the 12 pk that we are reviewing or the 24 pk on Amazon! They even have free shipping for all of you Prime customers!

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wordless Wednesday ~ Unicorn

So this week is a little bit of a combination Wordless Wednesday and Crochet Corner. This unicorn blanket is my latest crochet creation hot off the hook!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Busy with the holidays and Snow!

The last few weeks have been what only one word can describe. Busy! I hosted Thanksgiving this year and it was absolutely wonderful. It was my first year, and we had family that traveled 300 miles to be here. I shopped, I planned, prepared, and cooked. I am pretty proud of myself that I did it, and I have to say that it went pretty flawlessly. We ended up with a feast and leftover turkey for days. It was definitely time well spent, and we made lots of memories!

Added on to the Thanksgiving holidays, I got to spend two weeks with my sweet grand doll Mila Rose! She's almost three years old, so we get to not only play together, but also have some pretty fun conversations. We went on a few adventures to see some drive through light displays, lunch at Chick-fil-a, and shopping at Costco. She had a lot of fun!

After Mila went home, later in the week we had a pretty big event for us Texans! It snowed, and by snow, I don't mean icy wintry mix that we like to call snow if it does happen.  I mean REAL powder white snow that stuck to EVERYTHING!! It was magical and beautiful! When it started I would have been happy for the kids to be able to catch a few snow flakes, but God showed off that night! We saw snowflakes the size of quarters! They were HUGE and beautiful! It wasn't long before it started sticking to the cars, and trees, and then the ground was completely covered! My kids all ran outside and to hear their laughter, and excitement was even more magical for me. You could hear the entire neighborhood laughing and running around throwing snowballs at each other. I don't think there was a house around who didn't have a snowman. Ours was small, but we saw some that were huge! 

Monday, November 13, 2017

November 13-19 Meal Plan Monday

I have been meal planning for awhile now, so I thought why not share it here! It really saves my family money to have our meals completely planned out for at least two weeks. I am trying very hard to get it to once a month, even if I still do my grocery shopping every two weeks. I will be honest, meal planning is not my favorite chore to do. I get burnt out on trying to find different recipes to keep my people happy. I figure if I can meal plan for the entire month, then all I have to do is go shopping when it comes time. Much more efficient use of my time if you ask me!

I don't use any special planners for this except a sheet of paper, and a blank printable calendar. My calendar is used for notes I may need for other meals, and sometimes looks messy because I erase and move meals around. The first thing I do is write the meals in on the calendar. I will then take a sheet of paper and write down each meal's ingredients. That way when I make my grocery list, I won't forget anything. It may take a bit longer, but I normally have all of the ingredients I need. It also makes me check my pantry and refrigerator for staple ingredients.

Here's a peek at my crazy calendar!

So, here's this week's meal plan. If there is a recipe that I use on Pinterest or elsewhere, I will add the link for it.

Sunday ~ Fried Rice and Eggrolls
Monday ~ Spaghetti with home made sauce and gluten free noodles, fresh baked Italian bread (I make it earlier in the day), and salad
Tuesday ~ Black Beans and Yellow Rice (I do not use the peas) served with salsa
Wednesday ~ Whole roasted chicken with brussel sprouts and baked potatoes
Thursday ~ Orzo pasta with spinach and parmesan cheese It's very unusual for us to have pasta twice in a week, but this recipe looked so yummy, I decided to add it anyway! Also, this is not EoE friendly, but we have other meals in place for Gav that he loves if this happens. It's not often, but sometimes it does.
Friday ~ Chicken Paprikash over rice
Saturday ~ Sloppy Joes with potato salad (I make the buns myself earlier in the day, and Gav eats it on his home made gluten free bread)

With next week being Thanksgiving, I will probably post my Thanksgiving menu separately from our weekly menu.

Ya'll have a great week!


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Thinking Like an Engineer from Innovators Tribe ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

One reason I love being on the Review Crew is because I learn about different vendors and products that I have never heard of before. It's even better when they turn out to be a favorite of the kids. We have had a lot of fun with this review of Thinking Like an Engineer from Innovators Tribe.

Finding curriculum that has something to do with my children's interests can sometimes be challenging. Awhile back Gavin had made the comment that engineering and architecture interested him. I knew when I saw this review come up that he would be totally excited for it.

Thinking Like an Engineer is a hands on interactive program taught by Mr. Kroeplin aka Mr. K. Your child will be taken on a learning adventure that includes so much more than just basic information about becoming an engineer. They are presented with self paced lessons, hands on activities, design challenges, and so much more. They get to dive into their creativity and really put their problem solving skills to good use.

This course is designed for grades 6 - 12 and is geared for both girls and boys! I love that because it's definitely a great fit for either. We have currently been only using it for Gavin, but I think when he's done, we are going to let Edyn use it for at least a partial credit in high school.

Thinking Like an Engineer is divided in to six units. They include:

  • Introduction to Engineering ~ In this unit they will learn exactly what engineering is, and they will start to use their problem solving skills in the hands on challenges.
  • Introduction to 3D Design (tools for modern design) ~ this is Gavin's favorite part so far. Your student will be introduced to the engineering design software and will participate in activities and challenges using it. 
  • Engineering Rollercoasters ~ This is another one that Gav is super excited about. Your child will learn about the importance of the design of a rollercoaster, the construction of one, and even how to become a rollercoaster engineer. There are plenty of hands on activities too.
  • Engineering Bridges ~ I personally find this one interesting. Lessons will include discovering different types of bridges and more 3D design work.
  • Nano Engineering ~ Here is all about the engineering the small things. It's a shorter unit but still looks like a lot of interesting and fun lessons!
  • Thinking Like an Engineer (course conclusion) ~ Just a short closing of the entire course.
The course is a combination of videos, text like a Power Point slide show, and plenty of hands on activites/challenges. The videos are interesting and completely engaging for your student. 

Gavin loved working on the challenges. The items you will need are very easy to find, and you will most likely already have it on hand at home. For example, the first challenge that he worked on only needed paper and tape. Easy simple items! I wish I could say that I had all of the pictures from this night, but something happened to my camera and I lost most of them. Gav and his dad work on the challenges together. They REALLY enjoy this type of thing, so I let them take over. The first challenge was a tower challenge. They watched a short video and discussed the tallest tower in the world, the Burj Khalifa. Their design challenge was to build a tower of their own using only 4 sheets of paper and 1 foot of masking tape. The hard part was that they had to make the tower at least 5 feet tall, it had to stand on its own for 10 seconds, and it was to be done in an hour. 

 Their first attempt at cutting it into strips was a close shot, but it failed. It only stood for about 3 seconds at a time. They did some revamping of their idea and finally got a finished product that worked. I sure wish I had the pictures to show you! Anyway, the time and effort they put into it was a lot of fun. It really made Gav dive deeper into the thought process of how to make something work, and if it doesn't work the first time, then keep trying until it does!

This program went above and beyond what I thought it could be. Gav is having a blast using it, but the important thing is he's learning some really cool stuff! This is the type of program that can give your child a taste of something they might want to make a career out of. If you're wanting something fun and different to add to your homeschool, go check out Thinking Like an Engineer OR Thinking Like an Architect from Innovators Tribe. It's well worth it!

If you would like to read other reviews about Thinking Like an Engineer or reviews over Thinking Like an Architect just click the banner below.

Thinking Like an Architect or Engineer {Innovators Tribe Reviews}
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Knowing when enough is enough

Sometimes you have to take a step back from something in your life and say enough is enough. Whether it's a temporary thing or a forever thing, sometimes you have to take control and just step away.

Unfortunately I have suffered from extreme anxiety and horrid panic attacks for a long time. About 16 years ago, it actually became debilitating for me, and even caused me to become agoraphobic. In case you aren't familiar with that, it means that I didn't want to leave my house. I would have severe panic attacks when I left my house. It was a very rough time in my life for a good two years. After suffering through and barely living life for that long, I just up and decided one day that I had had enough. I made the decision that I wasn't going to live that way anymore, and started making strides to get myself out of the depths and despair of depression. I basically said, "Here ya go Jesus. I'm done trying to do it myself." It's amazing what can happen when you let Him back into your life after you've pushed him away for so long. I still fought the battle, but I wasn't doing it alone. 

Fast forward to now. I am a completely different person than I was 16 years ago, but I still struggle with anxiety. It's not a fun thing to live with every single day, but it is what it is. I have just learned to deal with it rather than let it take over my life like I did years ago. I obviously couldn't do it alone without Jesus and my family. Over the years, I have learned what my "triggers" to anxiety are. Some are pretty strange such as bright and white light places like Walmart, but mainly hospitals. I don't like to be around a lot of people because it will set me off. I need my personal space, and to be able to breathe, so I avoid these situations like the plague!

Lately we have had a lot of sad and crazy things going on in our world. My anxiety has been so bad that I can feel myself getting depressed, and I don't want to go back there. I kept telling my husband that I feel overwhelmed with life. Everything is just a weight on my shoulders and I can't get rid of it. No matter what I do, I feel like I am going to hyperventilate. It's awful for someone like me who deals with anxiety.

Listening to the constant bad news of the world was getting to me. I'm on social media like most of the world, and all forms of it! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, I use them all, some more than others. Facebook was my number one go to. I woke up in the morning and got on Facebook and scrolled and scrolled for sometimes an hour. I would inadvertently pick up my phone while waiting on the kids to do their school work, or sometimes just while I was watching T.V. I was reading things I didn't care about and things that were giving me obvious sadness or anxiety. I couldn't get on Facebook without seeing something awful. I can tell you that 90% of what I was reading from other people was either sad, scary, pure anger, or just plain depressing. Two months ago, I watched so many friends and family lose all they had in Hurricane Harvey. It was awful knowing the heartache they faced after that storm. I followed and looked at pictures day after day. People losing all they had but pulling together to rebuild.

If Facebook was making me less than happy, just as those other triggers, then why don't I avoid it in the same way? I have come to realize that not only am I inundating myself with all of this sadness from Facebook friends, but I follow every news source that has ever been. I literally couldn't get away from all of the bad things going on in the world. For some people it's just another day, but for people like me who suffer from anxiety, it's hell.

Sunday morning right down the road from me was the worst mass shooting ever in history in our very large state of Texas. It shook me to my core when I heard about it, just as Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, 9/11 and most other tragedies have. It was all over the news, and because it was in my backyard, it was being talked about among my neighbors and in my local groups. It was devastating, and it was very real this time being so close to home. Monday when I got up, I started reading stories, because I'm going to be honest, I'm not going to just pass them up like I should. People like me should not be reading an every second account of what happened. It makes me physically ill. While I should be down on my knees praying for these people, I'm too caught up in how it's making "me" feel and that's just selfish and wrong. I need to step away from the news and reading what happened, and focus on flooding heaven with prayers for the families that have had to endure this tragedy. I can't do that while I'm inundating myself with sad news stories because of how it effects ME. I had to make the decision to stop making it about me and step away.

I'm mainly talking about Facebook because it's the one that is not good for me, at least right now. I don't get anxiety from Instagram or Snapchat. I never feel overwhelmed on either one of those platforms. Stepping away from Facebook is freeing to me. I can concentrate on what's important. I don't have to live with my head in the sand, but I can also make the decision to take myself out of a situation that is hindering me from living my best life.

Sometimes you don't even realize what you're doing to yourself. While Facebook has become a constant in most people's lives, it doesn't mean it's always a good thing for everyone. For some of you, this makes no sense because it doesn't convict you like it does me. Right now, I feel that God is leading me away from Facebook, whether temporary or forever, because it is not edifying to my spirit. It is not giving me peace in my heart so it has to go.

So sometimes, you have to step away from the things of the world that are breaking you down. You have to be obedient to what God is doing in your life, and if it means getting rid of something that is as easy as Facebook, then why wouldn't you want to? It's almost embarrassing that I would continue to let something like Facebook knowingly continue to depress me! Hello!! lol

I'm not sure whether it's temporary or forever. I just know that right now, I need to focus on so much more than what's going on in Facebook land. Like my best friend says, please bring back 1983! I agree with that so much! There is no privacy anymore, at least not like it was back in the good old days of a time before social media lol!

If you are battling with something that is not edifying to you, or is bringing you down, I encourage you to take a step back and look at it carefully. Is it worth your time and effort, or do you need to say enough is enough?

Love and Blessings,

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Thin Stix Creativity Pack by The Pencil Grip, Inc. ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

I always get excited to be able to review any kind of art products, but these are some of my favorites. This time around, we were able to review the Thin Stix Creativity Pack by The Pencil Grip, Inc. and we love them! We have reviewed these a couple of times before, and they never get old!

What did we receive?

Like I said before, this time around we got whats called the Creativity Pack which is 24 of the Thin Stix! It has all of the colors including:

  • 12 Assorted Colors 
  • 6 Neon Colors
  • 6 Metalix Colors
What are Thin Stix?

If I were to describe Thin Stix to someone I would say it's a combination of a marker, a twistable crayon, and tempura paint. They are some of the neatest art tools that I have ever seen. They actually are a tempura paint, but there is NO water needed, AND they dry in 90 seconds! An art tool that is mess free? That's almost unheard of! 

Another thing that I love about using Thin Stix is that you can use them on almost anything! We have used them on canvas, wood, paper, card stock, and even aluminum foil! You can see that review and project here

How did we use them this time around?

Well with it being fall I really wanted to do something with pumpkins. I actually thought of buying pumpkins and letting the kids decorate them with their Thin Stix, and it would have worked beautifully, but at the end of the day I know my kids. They would have "painted" or Thin Stixed that pumpkin until there was no Thin Stix left lol! I decided that we better just stick to some good old card stock.

So we grabbed some card stock and our Thin Stix and went to town! I decided that we would have a quick lesson on gradient, so that's how I had them color their pumpkins.

First I had them draw a pumpkin using a pencil. I told them it could be tall and skinny, short and fat, or somewhere in between it didn't matter. 

Next they started coloring them in. They used yellow for the top, and then transitioned to orange, and then finally red. 

After they finished coloring in the pumpkin, they drew curved lines so that it took on a 3D effect.

I let them color the sky and grass however they wanted. 

This was their final pictures!

This was a super quick and easy project that they loved doing. As you can see from their pictures, Thin Stix do not lack in color at all! They are so vibrant and will make any project pop. Doing a project like this with Thin Stix works well because you have to kind of layer the colors. The fact that they dry in 90 seconds makes it extremely easy. They dry completely too! 

I have read that you can even add a little water to them after you color/paint with them, and it will give you a water color effect! We will be trying that very soon!

I highly recommend the Thin Stix Creativity Pack by The Pencil Grip, Inc. for not only homeschool activities, but they would also be great in schools, daycares, churches, or anywhere you want to have mess free art! With Christmas coming up, they would also make wonderful and affordable gifts. The ideas with them are limitless!

Be sure to follow along on Social Media!

If you would like to read other reviews, just click the banner below.

Thin Stix Creativity Pack {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

No AC/Rhett and Link/Austin

October has been a crazy month. It honestly feels like it's been a full year, a full 365 days, since October started. On the evening of October 5 our air conditioner went out. That's a problem in Texas because it's still hot here in the beginning of October. We have one of those wonderful home warranties. They did the job, but the customer service was very poor and it took a solid three weeks to be able to get our AC repaired. Three weeks of everyone living downstairs, including two dogs and a hamster, with two tiny window units.

During our time of no AC, we took the kids to see their favorite YouTube stars, Rhett and Link, in Austin. It was a wonderful day, but it was very long. We waited in line to get in for four hours, and it was hot. It was well worth it because we ended up on the third row. The kids were excited and the smiled spread from ear to ear the entire time.

Here's some pics from our day.