Monthly Archives: November 2011

Why We are Homeschooling

Why We are Homeschooling

I am actually surprised that I haven’t written before about why or how we decided to homeschool.  It seems it is one of the top 3 questions I get asked all the time when someone hears about our fancy book learnin’!  What I can give you is some history…

While I was studying Christian Education at Wheaton College I took at class called Family Ministry and decided to write a paper about homeschooling and had to interview homeschooling families.  We had some friends at the time who were older than us and homeschooled.

Homeschoolers intrigued me.  Not being homeschooled, the only experience I had of homeschoolers were the twin girls who showed up as Freshman in my Orchestra class my Junior year.  They were extremely unsocial—they had no idea how to relate to us at all, and they didn’t even last a whole week.

Once we were married and I had 2 small children I was selling Homemade Gourmet (prepackaged mixes for dinner meals).  During that time I was selling it at a local Farmers Market — I needed someone to watch the kids ages 3 and 1 for a few hours.  I hired a homeschooled teenager from a family of 6.  I still remember like it was yesterday  her mom handing me a Sonlight catalog through her car window to me and saying, “If you ever decide to homeschool here is a great place to start.”

So fast forward a few years and we send Matthew to preschool (mainly because he was strong willed and I thought I needed a break from him to survive).  At the beginning of the year his teacher  heard we were thinking of homeschooling him.  She thought this was not a good idea.  (To this day I am still not sure why).  Anyways, by the end of the school year, she thought it would be the best thing for him.  He is so easily distracted that she thought he would never be able to focus in a classroom setting.

This was our family in 2005 when we 1st started homeschooling!

Joy was signed up to go to the same preschool the next year.  I pulled her right before the year started to keep her home with Matthew.  BEST DECISION WE COULD HAVE MADE.  Once I looked over the curriculum that I had chosen to use with Matthew I knew she would actually be missing out on stuff with us at home if she went to preschool.

Joy in 2007 at Kindergarden graduation.

They are now in 6th and 5th grade, but Joy has done everything with him all the way through and is doing 6th grade this year.  (But I still tell her she is in 5th!) She is going to have a year to “play” with.  She could take a year off and do an internship, missions work, head to college early or just take another year for high school.

Faith working on her school work this year.

We have taken it a year at a time.

There are many reasons why we are homeschooling:

  • Our kids see my husband more and we can travel with him (if you didn’t know he is a magician/speaker/comedian)
  • We get to choose what our kids learn and when, not someone else
  • We love our kids and LIKE being with them
  • We love that they are each others best friends, this doesn’t happen if they aren’t together each day
  • the list goes on and on—-we LOVE homeschooling them
Field trip to the Children’s Museum with a few other homeschooling families this year!

Here are a few other questions I get asked all the time regarding homeschooling:

Do we plan on sending them to school any time?  You know, I am not sure…we trust God to lead us, and we will see where He takes us.  Some of the things that go on in the school system are not things that I want my kids to have to be exposed to, or deal with.

Shouldn’t your kids be salt and light to their peers? No, I don’t think they need to be salt and light to a bunch of classmates.  They have plenty of time to do that and in the meantime they can be salt and light through our family setting to those we encounter on a daily basis…the librarians, people at the grocery store, kids in the neighborhood (Ask me about Backyard Bible Club sometime!).

Do I think homeschooling is for everyone, or that everyone should homeschool? No, if a parent isn’t fully committed to what it takes to homeschool, they shouldn’t.  I think that there are plenty of parents out there who would be awesome at it if they would give themselves a chance.  If you haven’t read my posts about Parents Who Choose to Homeschool after Having their kids in School please take some time to read them.  These interviews are one of the best things on my blog, at least I think so.  I interviewed families who have done that and they told me all the ins and out of how it worked and what didn’t!


And the winner of the Chickadeedee giveaway is….

And the winner of the Chickadeedee giveaway is….

Chosen using….

Congrats to the 28th comment…..Lisa McClanahan. She is the winner of the $20 gift certificate to Chickadeedee

A huge thanks to Stephanie from Chickadeedee for offering this giveaway. If you didn’t have a chance to purchase something, may I suggest that you see what cute thing you could get someone on your gift list for Christmas….wouldn’t it be awesome to get some Christmas shopping done early?

Math Mammoth: A TOS Review

Math Mammoth: A TOS Review

Math Mammoth: A TOS Review


Sacha’s<25: Math Mammoth offers math worktexts and workbooks for grades 1-8, available as both downloads and printed books. The worktexts are written to be self-teaching requiring little prep from the teacher.

Home in the Trenches Product Rating (out of 10 stars)

Is it worth our time?  7 stars
Did it help us learn? 7 stars
Is it worth the money? 9 stars
Is it useful to me? 7 stars
Practicality- 8 stars
Quality- 8 stars
Kid Rating- 7 stars

We were given the choice from the author, Maria Miller, to choose what would be the best fit for our children to review.  I decided that we would like to use Math Mammoth as a review (on specific topics) for Andrew (8 years old and in 2nd grade, yet doing 3rd grade math).  She has so much to offer that it can seem overwhelming just looking through all she has to offer.  Maria was kind enough to offer any help we needed in making sure that we were getting something that was going to fit for our family.  She offers this service to any of her customers. Here is a quick overview of what she has:

We asked to review 2 topics from the Blue Series.  We received Introduction to Fractions and Multiplication 1.  (You can click directly on those to see them directly on her website!)


Here is a sample page of what Introduction to Fractions looks like:

Our experience:  Once we were able to download the worktexts we were on our way.  The great thing about it is that I could just print off the pages we needed for that day. We enjoyed working our way through the Introduction to Fractions.  While Andrew wasn’t able to always understand what a section wanted him to, with a little bit of mom’s explanation he was good to go. He has a much better grasp of fractions from the pages that we completed.  

I found Multiplication 1 much more confusing.  I really just wanted to use it to brush up and reinforce what he already knew and to help get those facts cemented in his brain.  Because it was taught so differently from our usual curriculum, I found it hard to start part way through the worktext with the material we needed to work on.  I didn’t want to have to go over everything about multiplication again! He understands the concepts, just doesn’t know his facts as well as I would like him to.

What I liked:

  • Andrew didn’t complain about doing the Fraction pages (on top of his regular math for the day)—And he learned!
  • The price! Multiplcation 1 is just $5.00 for the download and Intro to Fractions is a mere $4.00!
  • It’s downloadable and can print just the pages I needed!  If they make a mistake or don’t understand a topic, just print it off again!
  • Can be used for multiple children!!!!!  Major bonus for those with Large Families!!!!!!

What I didn’t like:

  • Typos!  (I only found 1, but it made for some Mom confusion!)
  • I couldn’t use Multiplication 1 as a review– it taught things so differently that it was confusing to us!

To sum it up: In my opinion there are more pros than cons to this math curriculum.  Whether you want to supplement your current math curriculum or need a new math curriculum you should at least check out what Maria Miller of Math Mammoth has to offer!  The price is right and great for large families!


The important information:


Order from: Head here on the Math Mammoth site to check out the different places to order!

Price: various, depending on what you purchase!

Introduction to Fractions: $4.00 for downloadable version *she also offers hard copies and CD’s

Multiplication 1:$5.00 for the downloadable version

To read other TOS Crew reviews of this product click here.


Disclosure/Disclaimer:  I received the above product free of charge for review purposes.  I am only expected to give an honest review.

Vocab Cafe: A TOS Review

Vocab Cafe: A TOS Review

Vocab Cafe: A TOS Review

Sacha’s<25: A book series which contains original, narrative stories that include 300 SAT-level vocabulary words interspersed throughout the plot.

Home in the Trenches Product Rating (out of 10 stars) Please read my whole review…your family may rate these very differently that I did.

Is it worth our time?  0 stars—These would all have higher ratings if content was different!
Did it help us learn?  2 stars
Is it worth the money?  0 stars
Is it useful to me?  2 stars
Practicality- 8 stars (if the content was different)
Quality-  5 stars
Kid Rating-  N/A stars—I couldn’t let my children read these.

I received a set of VocabCafé Book Series (4 books in total). Each book contains an original, narrative story that includes 300 SAT-level vocabulary words interspersed throughout the plot. The vocabulary selections are bold-italicized with a corresponding definition and pronunciation guide at the bottom of every page. The goal is to help students learn words in context, and thus make the process of vocabulary building more effective and fun.  I love the idea of this…So much more fun to learn words in context and while enjoying a story than doing worksheets!  We were very excited when they arrived in the mail.

The 4 finished books in the series are:

  • The Summer of Saint Nick
  • I.M. for Murder
  • Operation HighSchool
  • Planet Exile
I read I.M. for Murder and Operation HighSchool.  These are the only two books I read out of the four, so my review pertains to these. You might find out more about the other books from other TOS Crew reviews here.


This was in the letter I received before I got the books:
***A WORD ABOUT CONTENT – These books were written with an intended audience of high school teenagers, although many parents find them appropriate for their middle school or younger students. As a family-based company, our goal is to make a quality product that can be enjoyed by everyone. Thus, these stories contain no magic, sorcery, swear words, illicit situations, nor do they encourage negative behaviors. However, we recommend that parents should read every book that they give their children (not just ours) to make sure the messages coincide with their beliefs and standards. The VocabCafé Book Series does contain boy-girl relationships (non-sexual), mild violence, and mature thematic elements.

A Word from Sacha before I go on with the review:

I really am struggling with these books…At least the 2 that I read … and for a number of reasons:
—The Bible says in Phil 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” —so should we be reading books about murder, stalking, deceiving our parents, and so on?


NOTE: Yes, I know murder is in the Bible, and it’s certainly something my kids know about. However, it’s a different thing to choose to read something that details about stalking, animal beheading, murder, etc — for entertainment purposes. There was no greater message from these details. It’s trying to appeal to kids by freaking them out with what they call “mild violence.”


As a Christian and lover of good quality literature, I don’t want my kids reading stuff like that. Even though the author says the books don’t contain certain things (like “magic” or “sorcery”) they still contain things I am not wanting my children or myself to “think about”.  It seems to me that the author decided what standard he thought was ok to write about and make it seem “Christian” and not “worldly”, but I think the 2 books that I read still dealt with a lot of things that I don’t think are things that measure up to Phil 4:8.


Believe me, we are not a perfect family, but we are  cautious with what we see, hear and read. It’s a constant struggle to attempt to line up our lives with Scripture. We are not of the world, but we still live in it!  There’s just so much great literature to read that I see no need to fill young minds with stories of stalking, murder, etc. — especially when there’s no greater purpose. (other than learning SAT words?!)

You need to decide for your family what is ok for your kids to read and see, and if you don’t mind them reading about the things I mentioned earlier than these books might just be for you.

I can not in good conscience recommend these books to my readers without a warning and a request that you read them before you hand them over to your children.

What I liked:

  • The concept of adding SAT level vocabulary words to a book is a great idea to help learn them.
  • They were very up to date in the language of today…”Schooled”, “texting”.
  • The story lines are interesting to read.

What I didn’t like:

  • There were a number of typos in the 2 books that I read.  At one place in IM for Murder the sentence just leaves off mid sentence, there are a few blank lines and then a new paragraph starts…it was really weird.
  • Due to changing words to SAT level vocabulary words they changed the flow of reading.  It is totally unrealistic to have some of the vocabulary that they did in text messages.  U NO how texting looks 2day?
  • Obviously, I didn’t like the whole murder themed book.  I don’t want to read descriptions about the character’s cat’s head being cut off and put in a bag to threaten him.
  • I didn’t like the characters deceiving their parents-sneaking out at night, hiding secrets, etc.

To sum it up: While I love the idea of the books, I didn’t appreciate the themes and actions of some of the characters within the books.  I did not allow my children to read them, nor would I in the future.  If you think you are more lenient, then at least read the books first to see if you approve.


The important information:

Published by:  Maven of Memory Publishing

Vocab Cafe

Written By: Josh Burk

Order from: College Prep Genius

Price: $51.80  you can purchase all four for $38.85 or $12.95 for each

To read other TOS Crew reviews of this product click here.


Disclosure/Disclaimer:  I received the above product free of charge for review purposes.  I am only expected to give an honest review.

A quick reminder

A quick reminder

I wouldn’t be a good friend if I didn’t kick you  in the behind remind you that the Chickadeedee giveaway is ending in just a few days! I wouldn’t want you to be mad at yourself because you forgot to enter.  It only takes a couple minutes to do so.  Head over here to get all the info and enter.  Who doesn’t want a FREE $20 GIFT CERTIFICATE for handmade bows, appliqued shirts, and little bags?  I know I do, but I can’t enter!  So do me a favor and enter for me, I will even let you keep the prize.  Isn’t that nice of me?  So hurry up and do it NOW, before you forget!  Do it now, so you aren’t wanting to kick yourself in the behind later because you forgot!