Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Review for Master Innovations

A few weeks ago, we were sent a product called Master Angles to review. It comes from the well-reputed math company, Master Innovations. There were three other products that were sent out for others to review, including Master Fractions, Master Clock and Master Ruler, and I can only imagine that if they delivered the way that Master Angles has, that one would be well-pleased.

We received 3 items: The Master Angle, Master Angle Workbook and the Marvels of Measurement Poster. I'll talk about the workbook first. These books are supplementary in nature to your usual math curriculum. My son, Jacob, who is actively learning about angles in his regular math book, seemed to be the best candidate for this review. He opened the book and found that it was easy to read with clear and concise explanations and instructions. There was plenty of repitition, which I am a firm believer in because I think it solidifies what you are learning. It also had plenty of real-life application for the use of angles, which I also appreciated.

An important component to the workbook, but also something that is perfect by itself, is The Master Angle tool. It is a great little tool that actually goes the full radius of a circle rather than only half way, like a regular protractor. It has a moveable arm and little holes at every degree for the student to place pencil marks to make a perfect angle of any size. There are tutorials for how to use each of their products on their page, too. Another great perk is that it's very durable. I can't say enough as a homeschooling Mom how important durability is! This is a great (and very inexpensive) product to have on hand for any level math program.

We also received the Marvels of Measurement Poster, which each of my children were happy to have. It is a quick resource that can tell you conversions for length, capacity, and weight in a fun and fast way.

We were very pleased with these products and would highly recommend them to anyone! Here are the specifics:
Price: Workbook - $15.95 The Master Angle - $5.95 Measurement Poster - $10
Age Range: This book is suggested for grades 1 - 4, but I'd go even farther and say that it could be easily used through grade 6 or as a review for any grade.
My Overall Rating:


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Review for The Write Foundation

About a month ago, we received The Write Foundation's Level 1: Sentence to Paragraph Writing in exchange for my honest review. So, on that note, I must say that we never did receive all of the parts of this curriculum. Initially, there was a problem with the company's printer and then with the shipments, so many things came to the TOS reviewers that were unable to be used.

I personally received the student worksheets (which were only slightly damaged, yet still able to be used), but no Teacher Manual or CD. I did move to another state right about the time these products shipped, so it could easily have been lost in the mail. However, I requested another shipment, but I never received it.

So, with that being said, I tried to make-do with the worksheets and the sample lesson plan on the website and I will tell you that we REALLY liked the first lesson!

My younger two children enjoyed learning about alliteration and coming up with sentences to follow. It seemed to be a fun way to learn. We also really enjoyed the Mind Benders activities that are a much-encouraged part of this curriculum.

I am sad that I can't be more thorough with this review because I really think that this would be a good product if we'd had all of the materials. The curriculum was written by a veteran homeschooler, Rebecca Celsor, for use within an individual homeschool setting or a co-op one. You can check out their website here: The Write Foundation . The price for a full curriculum package (30 lessons) is $100 plus tax and shipping for Level 1 (I believe it's the same for all levels), or $65 for 15 lessons.

Also, you can see other (more thorough) reviews for this product and for some of the other levels that they offer here.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Review for Zoe and Sozo Publishing

Hi friends! We are in the 11th hour of this review because we've just moved to Mississippi (more on that in an upcoming post) and my internet connection JUST started working.

Anyway, during the chaos of the last month or so, we have been reading aloud a book called Foundlings. It is the first in a series entitled The Peleg Chronicles written by Matthew Christian Harding. Here is an excerpt from the website:

" Historical Fiction that takes place in the time period of Peleg, soon after the tower of Babel dispersion. In its pages we meet dragons, giants, false priests, the death hunt, an under-city of the Dwarven Brotherhood, and many memorable characters.The story begins with Lord McDougal and his faithful shield-bearer, Fergus Leatherhead, departing their lands with giants at their backs, while before them lie in wait denizens of the bog-land and forest. Ever ready to protect and serve others, they gather in tow an assortment of displaced adventurers and find themselves embroiled in a mysterious search for the foundlings..."

If you like "fantasy" literature, but aren't into the magic or humanism that can be a part of the mainstream classics, then this is exactly what this series offers. The author is a homeschooling dad of 4 and I found it interesting that this literature was birthed out of his bedtime stories to his children. We, too, have enjoyed this book.

Here are the specifics:

Item: Foundlings: Book One, The Peleg Chronicles

Publisher: Zoe & Sozo Publishing

Number of pages: 239

Price: $11.95 (paperback)

Age Range: 10 and up

My Overall Rating: 3 out of 4 stars


Disclaimer (because I have to!): As with all of my reviews, I received these books free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Last spring, The Westie Crew met up with a bunch of friends way out into the wild blue yonder to camp at one of the most remote, yet absolutely beautiful, campgrounds in Alabama. It's called Payne Lake, and as you can probably guess, the whole park is built around a serene, picturesque, medium-sized body of water.

Right around daybreak, the flowers on top of the lilypads would gracefully burst open so I was determined to get a photo of these lovely things in all of their glory before the blistering sun caused them to clam up within themselves again.

This is the first shot I took:

It's blurry, but you can still see how pretty these delicate beauties are. I only have a little point and shoot, and I've learned that if I'm not standing on one foot facing north while the stars are perfectly aligned, I'm not going to get that extreme close-up without blur, so I adjusted my shot by zooming out just a little. Quite the pro, I am. ;)

If you are familiar with a standard camera, once you've honed in on your image, usually you can press the shutter release button just a little and it will auto-adjust the settings to get you the sharpest possible picture (well, at least for people like me). Once I made those modifications, this is the picture that I ended up with:

I LOVE this photo. In fact, it is my desktop background here on my beloved laptop. It's just so crisp and clear and it makes me delight in God's beautiful creation even though I can't behold that particular scene, in person, every day. I'm also reminded of a wonderful time with people that I love so that makes me happy.

Last night, Mark and I took the Crew and my mom to Mississippi to drop off our camper before the big move (which, incidentally, takes place on Thursday). After we put it where it will be stored, we drove on over to the apartment so that we could get a feel for the potential set-up, and to simply see where we'd be living for the next 6 months.

I don't know if it was that we'd just left our church for the last time, which had me pretty emotional already, or if it was pure exhaustion or what, but all of a sudden, the reality of this move hit me square in the face and I kept thinking:

We are leaving Alabama. And this apartment is utterly miniscule. Not only that, but it smells weird. We are on the third floor which is *extremely* high up, and I am terrified that someone is going to fall off of the balcony... or what if there is a fire? And did I mention all of the TINY? My kitchen is the size of a closet in our present home and I'm not even kidding...

Anyway, I sucked it up and tryed, with everything in me, not to be an ungrateful pansy. After all, it's FREE. And TEMPORARY. But then we walked out to the parking lot and I caught a glimpse of my license plate which reads "Sweet Home Alabama" and I bawled. Then my Mama bawled. Then we went to Cici's Pizza and ate about 40 cinnamon buns and bawled some more.

But, as I laid here not sleeping in the wee hours of this morning, I remembered my picture. I've realized that the first view of this new chapter in our lives was saturated in provision and protection. In other words, we were just thrilled to have employment. The move was pretty far away so I didn't have to, and actually could not, process fully all that this new chapter would entail (I'm sure I still don't). Things were sure, but still unclear.

Now, I feel like I'm in that place of auto-adjusting. A place where the view is extremely blurry and perspectives change about 50 times in rapid fire. The house that we've been so comfortable in is looking more and more like it's shell. Plans are being made that we most definitely would have been a part of, but obviously cannot, because we'll be gone. All that we've been accustomed to is about to change. Different church, different faces, different scout troop, different job, different home, different e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. And it's hard.

I know better than to rely on my emotions, though. I know things will be more than alright. I know that God has a plan that is as beautiful as the crisp and clear picture that I love. And I know that I'll get there because I definitely trust Him with this and wouldn't go anywhere else BUT to Mississippi, because He's made it so clear that this is where he wants us. But, I also know that my Father is compassionate. He knows our frame and He knows that change is tough sometimes, even when it is moving toward His will.

I think of Jesus coming up on the scene of poor Mary and Martha, in John 11, after their beloved brother had just died. He was about to perform one of the biggest miracles of His ministry to the glory of God, and He knew it! He knew that they'd be a million times more than perfectly fine in mere minutes, yet, He wept. Why? Why would Jesus cry when he knew he was about to bring Lazarus back to life? Because He loved them. He knew that they were nothing more than dust and that, in that moment, they couldn't possibly understand, so He he had compassion for them. Their pain, as temporary as He knew it was, hurt Him. What love.

Just like Mary and Martha's pictures soon became crisp and clear and unspeakably joyous, I have the foresight in Christ enough to know that ours will too very soon. Yet, for this moment, I'm so very thankful to have a Jesus who knows our frames as we go through our adjustment period. A Jesus who loves us and stores our tears in a bottle when we are hurting. I can't imagine doing "life" without Him. He is so good.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Salem Ridge Press Review

I know I'm doing a bunch of reviews lately and not posting much else, but I have got to say, THIS ONE is right up my alley!! I absolutely love this product, and if I know my friends, you will, too.

This kind of product is the very reason that I wanted to be a part of the TOS Crew this year; I was hoping to find some really great gems that I might not have seen or tried out otherwise. This is definitely considered one of those finds:


To give you a little background, Salem Ridge Press is a publishing company that was founded in 2005 by Daniel Mills. He recognized the need for wholesome, well-written, yet challenging literature for today's youth, so where better to turn than to the 19th (and early 20th) century?

His company has gone back to the likes of well known Victorian writers like Emma Leslie, purchased their books, and then republished them into modern bindings that we can utilize with our children today. They are very, very careful about making any modifications to the original text or illustrations; only doing so when something crosses Salem Ridge Press' strict standard of purity. I, as a parent, truly appreciate their dedication in maintaining this standard. You can read more about their editing process HERE.

We received 3 books. The first one was a paperback called "Out of the Mouths of Lions" by Emma Leslie. The other 2 were e-books, and they were "The Martyr's Victory" also by Emma Leslie, and "Yussuf the Guide" by George Manville Fenn. All of their books are available in either soft or hard-back copies, and many are also available as an e-book.

As far as the actual story itself, Ty enjoyed this one the most:


Here is the synopsis from the back cover:
"When Flaminius, a high Roman official, takes his wife, Flavia, to the Colosseum to see Christians thrown to the lions, he has no idea the effect it will have. Flavia cannot forget the faith of the martyrs, and finally, to protect her from complete disgrace or even danger, Flaminius requests a transfer to a more remote government post. As he and his family travel to the seven cities of Asia Minor mentioned in Revelation, he sees the various responses of the churches to persecution. His attitude toward the despised Christians begins to change, but does he dare forsake the gods of Rome and embrace the Lord Jesus Christ?"

We also enjoyed the following two stories very much, but we are hard-copy people and these were in e-book format. Just a matter of personal preference, though. I am actually planning to order both of them as a hard copy! The story synopsis for each book follows the picture.


"Knowing full well they may die in the attempt, a small band of monks sets out to convert the savage Danes who have laid waste to the surrounding countryside year after year. The monks’ faith is sorely tested as they face opposition from the angry Priest of Odin as well as doubts, sickness and starvation, but their leader, Osric, is unwavering in his attempts to share the “White Christ” with those who reject Him. Then the monks discover a young Christian woman who has escaped being sacrificed to the Danish gods—can she help reach those who had enslaved her and tried to kill her?"


"Young Lawrence, an invalid, convinces his guardians, Preston the Professor and Burne the Lawyer, to take him along on an archaeological expedition to Turkey. Before they set out, they engage Yussuf as their guide. Through the months that follow, the friends travel deeper and deeper into the remote regions of central Turkey on their trusty horses in search of ancient ruins. Yussuf proves his worth time and time again as they face dangers from a murderous ship captain, poisonous snakes, sheer precipices, bands of robbers and more. Memorable characters, humor and adventure abound in this exciting story!"

Here are the specifics:

Item: Salem Ridge Press Books

Publisher: Salem Ridge Press

Number of Pages: Varies by book, of course, but Out of the Mouth of the Lion had 261 pages

Price: $16.95 for soft-cover and $26.95 for hard-cover

Age Range: They have books for as young as age 6 all the way to adult, but most of their titles are for age 12 +.

My Overall Rating: FIVE STARS!! We really loved this product!

Disclaimer (because I have to!): As with all of my reviews, I received these books free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Review for Math Tutor DVD's

A few weeks before we started back to school, two separate Math Tutor DVD's came in the mail. One was an instruction guide for the Texas Instruments TI-83 & the TI-84 graphing calculators, and the other was The Pre-Algebra Tutor.

I have to say, I was THRILLED to receive the Pre-Algebra one because that is exactly where Ty (my oldest) is in his Math. Not only that, but I'm not really a big "math-lover" so I can't really say that I've been looking forward to teaching these upper years of Math instruction on my own. In other words, I had lofty expectations for these little DVD's. :) And I have to say, they did NOT disappoint!


In the Pre-Algebra DVD, we received 2 disks that had a total run time of 5 hours. The instructor was very personable and notably thorough with his lessons. The only thing we noticed that might be considered a *slight* drawback is that the lessons were a little bit long. But, I think that this could be easily remedied by just breaking it up according to your own preferences. Here are the things that Volume 1 covers (there are 2 volumes):

-Real Numbers, -The Number Line, -Greater Than, Less Than, Equal To, -Absolute Value and Adding Integers, -Subtracting Integers, -Multiplying Integers, -Dividing Integers, -Powers and Exponents, and finally, -Order of Operations

As far as the second DVD, The Texas Instruments TI-83/84 Calculator Tutor, we knew going in that we were in a little over our heads because we are not quite that far in our math instruction yet. Nevertheless, we borrowed this exact calculator from a friend with older students and set out to watch. Again, we were very, very pleased with how thorough the teaching was. He covered everything right down to the most basic function (how to turn the thing on!). :D It was 8 hours and 3 disks worth of very detailed instruction, and we are happy to own it now for future reference!


Although we received both of these in exchange for our honest review, The Westie Crew would definitely not hesitate to purchase any of the DVD's put out by this company. Especially because they are so reasonably priced and come with a money-back guarantee should you not be satisfied. Music to a homeschooler's ears, right? :)

Here are the specifics:

Items: The Pre-Algebra Tutor and The Texas Instruments TI-83/84 Calculator Tutor


# of pages: Not pages, but 5 hours of instruction in Pre-Algebra, and 8 hours of instruction with the Calculator DVD.

Price: Both are $26.99

Age Range: Since it's a specific subject, I would say whenever your child is ready. Typically, for Pre-Algebra, 6th grade and up, and for the Calculator, I'd say after you've completed an Algebra course.

My Overall Rating: I give these DVD's 5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Review for My Access! Home Edition Writing Program

Hello friends! Recently, Vantage Learning sent me a 12 month subscription in exchange for an honest review of their product: My Access! Home Edition. I was pretty excited because, to be truthful, writing is an area that I was planning to hit hard this year with the older boys.

Here are some of the features that the product offers:

*Each year-long subscription includes 1 parent account and up to 3 individual student accounts.

*The program is entirely web-based, so that means that you can access it from any computer with an internet connection.

*Writing topics are assigned based upon the student's age (so that the level for your 4th grader won't be the same as for your senior).

*It is self-paced and interactive.

*The lessons guide students through the writing process: planning, organizing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing.

*Essay scoring and individualized feedback is available immediately through an artificial intelligence scoring engine.

*A word processor with editing and writing tools including a thesaurus, grammar-checker, spell-checker, and word bank lists help students vary and develop their vocabulary.

My thoughts:
Once I got the student account set up for Ty, he was able to log in to his individual account and pick a topic out of many to begin writing the rough draft of his essay. Not only were there a wide array of topics, but there were several different *styles* of essay that he could choose from, as well (i.e., narrative, informative, persuasive, ect.)

I was also impressed with the step-by-step instruction that was given before each task was assigned. It was not only nicely descriptive, but taught in a fun, and engaging way.

The drawbacks, as far as we were concerned, were that, on several occasions, we found the website a little difficult to navigate. It was also tough because it seemed hard to switch between accounts with any kind of ease. There were a few days that we just gave up in frustration over this issue. However, once we were able to finally arrive at the right place, we did enjoy the curriculum.

The specifics:
Item: My Access! Home Edition

Publisher: Vantage Learning

# of pages: n/a (online course)

Price: $99.95 (however, it can be used for up to three students per subscription)

Age Range: 3rd grade up through adult

My Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On the Purge!

Well, we are on day #2 of the new school year and, so far, all is well. ;) I didn't realize how much I craved my schedule until we started back. We are busy, but *busy* is way better than "Mamaaaaaaaa, I'm booooooooored." Because, well, I was, too. Ha-ha!

Over the weekend Mark and the 2 older boys went camping with their Boy Scout Troop. That gave me, and the unsuspecting Littles, an opportunity to purge, purge, purge. We donated several garbage bags full of toys, clothes and well-used furniture to the local thrift store. Something about bagging it all up and watching it be hauled off absolutely thrills me to the core. The great (but not-so-great) thing is that I am nowhere near finished. I still have several more rooms and a shed to do. I'm happy about it because I LOVE to simplify, but it's hard to fit it all in now that school has started back.

I have to attribute my deep love of purging to this fine lady:

She is single-handedly responsible for training me about how to keep the clutter low. I did my "flywashing" way back around the turn of the century (that sounds so dramatic, doesn't it?), and I have been a changed woman ever since. If you are a clutter-bug, GO TO HER SITE, PRONTO! Her picture is a clickable link. You will not be sorry, I promise.

While we were busy purging, my sweet Mark was starting his rendezvous with a nasty chest cold. I knew he was sick when the minute I suggested he go to the doctor, he didn't hesitate. This guy avoids doctor visits like they are the plague! He ended up with a steroid shot, an antibiotic and some seriously powerful cough meds. I'm glad he went because he is feeling MUCH better today. I'm just praying fervently that the rest of us aren't going to be graced with it. It's been a good reminder, though, that we are starting headlong into "that time of year", so I plan to really ramp up the vitamins for the Crew.

I guess I'd better go. The kids are finishing up their Math, so we've got to move on to the next thing. Hope you all have a good week! Stay well!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Big Decision (and Details)

Most of you already know because of Facebook, so it will be anti-climactic (ha!), but we have decided to take the job out of state. This will take us to a grand place called ....drumroll please....

As incredibly hard as it is to leave our Sweet Home Alabama, we are getting excited about what God has in store for us in Mississippi. We already know of good homeschooling groups, churches, and Scout troops, so we are hoping to be able to dive right in. I guess this is where I should mention again that I TRIPLE DOG LOVE the internet!!

Seriously. If it weren't for the world-wide-web I would have had ZERO resource in our trek to Meridian. But as it stands, God saw fit to plop this family right in the middle of the Technology Age, for which I am extremely grateful.

First, I have some precious friends that have either grown up in, or around, Meridian, or that have lived there for a time (2 of whom I met via the internet, incidentally). They have been able to hook me up with some sweet people who live there now. I also have been able to listen to sermons on the internet from some of the churches that we are thinking we'll visit, and have looked at several websites for homeschool groups, scout troops and even piano teachers. I can't imagine what it would have been like if we'd have had to do this 20 years ago. Alot of trial and error, I suppose.

One of the things that Mark's new company is doing for us is leasing us an apartment for 6 months until we can get a feel for the area. We are so happy about this because, "hello", no house-payment! ~I think I just heard the Dave Ramsey angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus~ But, it definitely means some serious downsizing. My job right now is to determine what comes to live with us, what goes into storage, and what just flat-out flies the proverbial coop. We just moved into this house a year ago, so it shouldn't be as titanic of a task as it was the first time around, however, we were moving about 5 miles away, and into a much bigger house.. ;).

Our move-in date is tentatively, October 1, so that gives me almost exactly 6 weeks to pull it all together. We are supposed to start school on this coming Monday, August 23, so I'm pretty sure I'll be tapping into some Supernatural Strength to pull it all off.

I must say, though, God has had His hand all over this. He has made it very clear in so many ways that this is His perfect will for our family. There is great comfort and peace in that. No matter what happens, or how lonely we get for the comforts of our familiar home, we can rest remembering that this move is no mistake or error in judgement on our part. I can't tell you how good that makes us feel.

Plus, right now, we are just happy to be off of the roller coaster ride that has been the last 2 months! Direction + Mark and Gayle = BIG BUDDIES. ;)

I'm planning to blog alot more as we do this thing. I am sad that I failed at that last year because I have nothing to really look back on to remember all the blessings of that time. But, I'll put more effort into it this go round.

Happy Thursday, peeps,


Monday, August 16, 2010

My Post-Lady Made My Day!

Want to know what makes a homeschooler's Monday morning?

Something about the arrival of the coming year's curriculum ALWAYS makes me almost giddy with happiness. It's just a bunch of books, so that's kinda weird, right? Nevertheless. :)

I guess it's the anticipation of what this year will hold. It's more about what it represents, like another year of teaching and learning together, more than simply receiving new books.

I love homeschooling my children. It has been one of the biggest blessings that God has given to me as a mother. Yes, it has been very challenging at times, but as I was discussing with a friend the other day, the blessings FAR outweigh the troubles. It's kind of like parenting. It's such a hard job sometimes, but I'll take the tough things a million times over just to experience the joy of being a mom.

...Well there's all that AND the smell...

I do love me a good whiff of a brand-spanking new, freshly opened book....

Ok. Maybe I *am* weird. ;)

On a completely unrelated note, and in an effort to keep the blog updated, I'll tell you that things are a little squirrely here in Westie World. The job situation is about as intense as it can be, but I don't really have the time or energy to type it all out. The bottom line is that we have a very good offer on the table and we have to determine whether or not we will take it by Thursday morning. It's another job that is out of state, but has very good possibilities for our family. Yet, of course, we want to make sure that there is nothing comparable here, in our area, first. Prayers are appreciated if you think about us this week. I'll update here after we've made our decision. Thanks!

Hope each of you have a great Monday.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Review for Travel the World (June Module for TOS Planner)

Good Morning Friends! You may remember that I mentioned a few posts ago that I'd be reviewing some homeschooling products for The Old Schoolhouse this year? Well, we've had our first product for a few weeks now and we've really enjoyed it!! I was surprised because I really thought my kids would balk at doing schoolwork during the Summer, but once we got into it, they really did like the content.

We received the June Module for the The Schoolhouse Planner. From what I understand, the Modules, which are published monthly, come as an add-on for the Planner but they can also be purchased separately. They are basically supplemental unit studies in the form of an e-book. Honestly, I didn't think I'd like the e-book format, but I was wrong. It is fully printable because it's a PDF document (so if you are a fan of the hard-copy like I am, you've got that option), but surprisingly, I didn't feel the need to do that. It was very easy to read and there were several clickable external links available which made me happy just keeping it on the computer.

Speaking of links, this module was titled Travel the World which means that it was all about geography. Here is a picture of the children playing a game from a link provided which helped them solidify what they learned about latitude and longitude:

They really enjoyed this game!

There were several printables available as well. My children range in age from (almost)14 down to 7 and there was everything from coloring pages and easy lapbooking activities for the youngest, to challenging word searches for the older ones.

I was thoroughly impressed with the plethora of information and activities that we had access to for the price (I received mine free in exchange for my honest review), but this is something I would have purchased for my Crew, hands down.

Some of the things we covered were: the definition of geography, the features of a globe, what the earth's "axis" is, latitude and longitude, hemispheres, and all of the major bodies of water and the continents. It was chalk FULL of information... I can't say that enough! It was perfect for a Summer learning diversion.

Here is a rundown of the specifics if you want to check this out:

Item: Travel the World (June Module for TOS Planner)

Publisher: The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

# of pages: 56 (in e-book format)

Price: $7.95

Age Range: It is stated that it's meant for all school-aged children (K-12), but I would say that those from grades 4-8 would benefit most.

My Overall Rating: I give this one 4 stars out of 5. Like I mentioned earlier, you just get so much information for the price. If you were purchasing this as a book, it would easily sell for over $20.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Oh, the Madness

In my wildest imagination, I couldn't make up the things I see/hear on a daily, and sometimes even hourly, basis. Having a brood of boys (and sometimes my girl shocks me, too) is not for the faint of heart, dear innocent ones.

This is my "Exhibit A" for July 12, 2010. I walked into *MY* bedroom to merely fold a pile of laundry when I saw this odd scene on, and apparently hanging from, my north-facing window:

Upon closer inspection I discovered, what appeared to be, utter carnage. No mercy. No survivors... and a wad of chewed up gum right behind the morbidly twisted leg of the soldier on the right.

And LOOK at how FILTHY all that war made my windows!!!! It looks like they haven't been cleaned in a YEAR. It's absolute chaos around here, folks... CHAOS, I tell ya!!

I feel like I'll just.... JUST.....

....go get my bottle of Windex and a piece of t.p. for the gum and move along with the rest of my day.



Thursday, July 8, 2010


Just wanted to let my precious bloggy friends know that a decision has been made about our potential move to another state (see previous post). It is NOT happening. God has clearly closed that door and we are very grateful for a decision.

There are still changes on the horizon, of course, but we are both at great peace. God is good. Mark's office is will close in December of this year, and he will keep his job until then, thankfully, but he will start looking for another one right away.

Please keep praying that we would continue to clearly discern God's direction in the coming months. We still have many decisions to make and a few possible hurdles to jump (i.e. what to do about another vehicle, since he will obviously lose his company one), so we'd love some continued prayer support.

Thank you all so much for your kind words in the comments on the last post and on Facebook. You have blessed me immeasureably.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Ugh. Where to begin?

I must admit, when things get hard, I tend to shy away from this blog. Part of it is because I know that it's not always wise to share every single personal thing with the randomness that is the Blogosphere. Just like I wouldn't walk up to a perfect stranger and, upon introduction, blab every detail of my life, I try to be somewhat judicious about what I share on the World Wide Web.

Another part is that it's just my personality. If you don't already know it, I kind of have a penchant for the lighthearted. Yet, life is rarely completely lighthearted so rather than shy away and lock down, I'm going to share some of the more serious and personal happenings as of late:

Mark was informed 2 weeks ago that his office will be closing. We are not sure of the exact date in which this will take place, and he is employed until that time, nevertheless our employment future is uncertain. At the time that this information came in, the corporate office offered him another position in a different state. We are not opposed to a move, even though our hearts are very much here in Alabama, because, ultimately, we know that we must go where there is provision for our family. However, what they are currently offering will not be enough for us to make it in an area with a higher cost of living. Bottom line, we are still in negotiations.

On top of that, Mark cannot pursue (as aggressively as he would like) other job options locally because the "official announcement" had not been made and a definitive date has not set from Corporate that this office is shutting down. It's unnerving because, in this economy, jobs aren't exactly plentiful, so he'd like to get started, but to leak the information could get him fired thereby losing the small severance that he was promised should the other position not work out. So, to sum things up, we feel like we are in a highly charged period of "hurry-up-and-wait".

Which, can I just say, is SO NOT my strong point?

Hello, my name is Gayle, and I like to be in control of my life. I like it when all of the loose ends are neatly tied up and I have a semi-clear picture of what things are looking like on the horizon. I like feeling secure, and I like not worrying that our bills will be paid, and that our friends and family are just down the road, and that church is on Sunday at 10:45... I like those things.

But, I've also been a Christian for awhile now, and I can sense when God is working on me pretty clearly. It's very obvious that being impatient and having control issues are not befitting of a follower of Christ for starters. Plus, I can quote a ton of Scripture to counter each thing that I said in that last paragraph. Ironically, I taught a class on the very day that we got this news about trusting God in ALL things because everything is meant for our ultimate good... ~grin~ (I actually think it's wonderful and amazing how my Father had me utterly immersed in His Word over this in the weeks that preceeded this.) I know the Scripture. I know the answers. And it all boils down to one thing. Faith. But, I've gotta tell ya, sometimes exercising that faith and hard-core trust is hard!

That's where I am. I'm desperately wanting to trust and to not fret or be anxious. I want to be like a little child who knows that her Daddy is absolutely going to take care of her because His love is so unfathomably deep. I want to be content in any and every circumstance even if that means a big ole move, or a season of unemployment (one of my biggest fears). I want all this head knowledge to transfer to my anxious, sinful heart so that His goodness will be apparent to all that are in contact with me.

But I'm not quite there.

And then I feel terrible about it, because y'all, God and I have walked some seriously hard roads together before and never once... NOT ONCE... has He failed to come through in a mighty way. So, why should I even consider that this time we're all going to fall flat on our faces? I don't know.

My point in putting this on here is twofold:

1. To ask you to pray. The majority of you that come here are Christians and I have a pretty strong feeling that I'm not the only one to have experienced this, even if the circumstances are entirely different... there is nothing new under the sun. So please pray for us as we walk this thing out.

2. To have it all spelled out, so that when we get to the other side (whenever that may be), we can look back to see how He worked it out. Because He will. My head surely knows it. :)

Thanks for reading and much love,


Friday, June 18, 2010

Well, What Have We Here?

Y'all are probably going to get annoyed with me for posting The Westie Wildlife so much, but seriously, all these bugs and creatures fascinate me.

So today, when I saw this bright red spidery looking thing hanging on the net of the trampoline, I was compelled to go grab my camera.

Upon closer inspection, it is definitely NOT a spider (in fact, it appears to be dining on one... sorry!), but I have no idea what kind of insect we have here. It looks like a land-dwelling shrimp with those tenticles, but what do I know? Any guesses, or better yet, any positive ID's?



Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Somebody Give Bubo Some WD-40!

We have been out-of-control busy over the last two days! On Tuesday, I went to our summer ladies Bible study first thing in the morning, then I took the kids to the Dollar Theater. (Incidentally, local friends, on Tuesdays, not only is your movie just $1, but your popcorn and drinks are as well.)

We saw Alice in Wonderland, which was pretty good, but I really want to get back to see Clash of the Titans. I used to love the old movie with Harry Hamlin in it when I was a kid! Did you remember that? The one the squeaky metal-y looking owl named Bubo? :) I'm willing to bet that Technology gave Bubo an EXTREME Makeover in the newer one, aren't you? Hee-hee!

Yesterday, Mark, Andrew and I went to see Jacob for Family Night at Summer Camp. They are having such a great time, as evidenced in this picture:

They do some kind of "mud course" every year called Adventure Valley and they come out every time looking like this. To say they LOVE it would be a drastic understatement.

I'm really missing my kid, though. I won't keep harping on about it, but suffice it to say, I'm never so happy to see a dirty, stinky, T-I-R-E-D boy as I am on the Saturday after camp!!

But back to those cheesy 80's movies, though. :) Do your kids ever watch them? Mine do and they mostly like them, which I find hilarious, because they aren't even on the same planet as far as the cool graphics and sound and all that techie stuff goes!

They really like The Goonies and Karate Kid and... Heaven help me... Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure... <---ok, I really had a hard time admitting that last one because of how cheesy and downright annoying it is. So moving right along, they are currently on a Fat Albert kick right now... HA!!! "Hey, hey, hey!" :DBold

Anyway, what was your favorite movie/cartoon/t.v. show growing up? I'd love to find some more stuff on Netflix for our downtime that I'm forgetting about.

Have a good Thursday!


Monday, June 14, 2010


Sometimes, I admit, I get envious of my hubby who gets to go out to lunch on a regular basis at upscale restaurants with customers or suppliers or whatever, because it's part of his job description.

But then on days like today, I realize, upscale restaurants or not, my lunch companions are 1000% more entertaining. You just never-ever know who's going to join you at the table around here, folks.

And that makes the Chef Boyardee ravioli not only bearable, but more delightful than lunch anywhere else on this planet. :)

Happy, happy Monday!!


Sunday, June 13, 2010

What if a Bug Flies Up His Nose?!

I got so tickled when I looked out the back door yesterday to see this Peeping Tom: :)

Actually, there was a gallon of sun tea steeping on the deck to his left and he was trying to figure out how to get around it in order to help himself to the birdseed that Mark put out. Ha! We perplexed the little fellow, for sure. ;) Isn't he cute, though?!

Today, after church, we dropped off one of our Boy Scouts for their annual week-long camp. They ALWAYS have a blast, but my motherly blood pressure is invariably raised, too, because:

1. It's 754 degrees in the shade out there.
2. I'm afraid he won't drink enough water to replace lost fluids (wow... that is SUCH a "mom" statement, hee-hee... nevertheless, I'm undeterred).
3. Speaking of water, I worry about the lake, and the snakes that live within it.
4. I know he'll forget to apply his sunscreen.
5. What if it storms, like badly? Who will make sure he isn't scared if it's night-time?
6. What if a mouse gets in his tent? What if a tick gets on his back? What if....

You get the idea.

I know how nuts all of it sounds as soon as I see it in print! Yet, that's my boy, and I'm his Mama, so I kind of can't help it. It's part of the job description, I'm positive. However, I'm going to just trust my Father... his Father... and recite this frequently:

"Be anxious for nothing, but in all things in prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, then the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

I think I'll take some of that peace, with an extra helping of guarding the old heart and mind, thankyouverymuch!! :)

Now, I think I'll go curl up with my remaining Crew and watch a movie.
Have a wonderful Sunday!


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Swings, Heartstrings, and Curricula Things

Well, summer vacation is here!! We've already inaugurated the pool and we've been to the beach/dear friends' house, so we are well on our way into a great season!

I woke up at an outlandish time for a Saturday (6:15), so I thought I'd pop in here and catch up a little while my Crew continues to snooze soundly.

Here's something rather mundane to tell you: I FINALLY got a new swing!! I've mentioned before how much I love to sit on a swing to read, talk, or have my quiet times. Well, I've been swing-less for about a YEAR! I had a nice little nook out on our deck that was beautiful and all that, but it just wasn't my swing. So, last weekend, while I was gone, my SWEET, SWEET hubby bought, painted, and hung up a new swing for me on (what will be) our screened in porch. I LOVE IT!!! I've been sitting out there for an obscene amount of time each day this week; even with the highs being in the 90's. I wasn't kidding about loving my swing, peeps. ;D

We still have a ton of work to do, like paint the deck and hang more screening... oh, and replace the Sterilite box end tables.. HA!!, but I'm still enjoying it right now!

This is the now poor, neglected spot where I used to sit:

Even Mikey is like "Seriously, Mama, are you on that thing AGAIN?!"

He's a hard little guy to capture with the camera, by the way. I don't think he sits still for more than 1.5 seconds at a time. But we sure do love him. We lost our Oreo (our shih-tzu) almost 2 weeks ago because she had some degenerative bone disease along with severe skin issues. It was so sad for all of us, but it was especially hard on this little guy because he didn't know where his best friend went. It's so hard when something happens to our pets. ;(

On another, not so sad, note: I signed up for The Old Schoolhouse's Homeschool Crew this year. That means that chosen vendors will be sending us products over the next school year and I will be reviewing them here on ye olde blog! I'm so excited about this!! We received all of our information this week and now I'm anxious to get started. I hope you will benefit from these reviews as well. I always appreciate another Mom who can give her honest opinion about how something works for her family than any other information. Plus, I'm a curriculum junkie, so having a steady flow of stuff to try is really NOT going to kill me. :)

I guess I need to sign off. I'm really looking forward to a great weekend with my family. We don't have much planned, except getting ready to send Jake off to camp, but that's the way I like it... low-key! What are your plans? No matter what, I hope it's a good one!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Random Dozen!

One of my favorite bloggy friends is hosting a meme so I'ma gonna participate! Here goes:

1. How do you feel about "Gladiator" sandals, also called "Roman" or "Jesus" sandals? A fashion yea or nay? Weeeeelll, for this second, I have to say "not so much", HOWEVER, I'm nothing if not *swayed* when it comes to fashion trends, so I'm sure I'll be sportin' a pair if they hit the big time. I'm a sheeple like that. I think I'll go gag now...

2. What is your favorite pizza? I'm a weirdo (SHOCK!) in that I don't like meat on my pizza at all. I really prefer it loaded down with veggies and tons of cheese. There is a Tuscan pizza that our local market... oh who am I kidding, it's Walmart.... sells, and it's muy bien!

3. There are plans in the works to sell roughly 1,000 items from Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas. This means you could buy Picard's chair for your family room. If not a Star Trek item, what prop, background, set, etc. from what TV or movie would you buy if you could? [Ex: Hurley's "I Love my Shih tzu" shirt from LOST, the plantation home "Tara" from Gone With the Wind, or Tracy's tambourine from the Partridge Family.] I'd buy Mr. Rogers' trolley and then I'd let it whisk me away daily to the Land of Make Believe where I'd fix all the problems of the day and dance and twirl and sing like Lady Elaine Fairchild. ~sigh~ ;)

4. Name a local food or restaurant that your area is famous for. Ummmm, Dreamland BBQ? I think?

5. What is your current favorite snack? Smoked Almonds have my heart right at the moment. That, and Dove Dark Chocolate together is the thing making my world spin on it's axis. YUMMY!

6. Hypothetical: You are required to be a reality show contestant. Which show would you choose based on your probability of success? (You cannot choose "none.") A. Dancing with the Stars B. Biggest Loser C. Survivor I'll have to go with Survivor on this one given that I have 2 left feet and that Jillian Michaels makes me want to put my head into a bucket of bleach and inhale. I have some deep-seated bitterness over my encounter with The Shred last year. I'll probably never get over it.

7. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being uninhabitable and 10 being cleanliness that meets the standards of OCD, how clean is your vehicle's interior? Heh-heh.. can we go into the negatives on this one? I do have 4 children.

8. It doesn't feel like Spring until _________. Well, THIS year it wasn't until the temps got above Ever-Lovin-Frigid! Dern, that was a miserable winter! Usually, it's the flowers blooming, though... and Easter.

9. Something that made you laugh really hard recentBoldly is ____. We watch America's Funniest Home Videos ALOT as a family and I howl every single time over something on that show. It's quality programming if there ever was any. :)

10. Tell me about a goal you're working toward. Summer. The end.

11. Share a thought-provoking or inspiring quote this week. "The idea that motherhood, fatherhood, and family are not as honorable as high-income careers or highly visible ministry positions is biblically uninformed at best and grossly heretical at worst." Voddie Baucham from the book Family Driven Faith. I'm loving this book and I really respect it's author for his drive to recapture the biblical role of family. God's been opening my eyes alot for several months about this, but that's a whole other post.

12. Name one thing that you do as a parent that you absolutely know will make your kids happy. Going to the drive thru for a chocolate, creamy, dreamy, Chick-Fil-A milkshake. It's aaaaaaaall good then, even for Mama. ;)

Click icon at the top of this post to write your own answers! I'd love to read 'em!