More Amigurumi!

Okay, so you’ll remember when I mentioned last week that I was obsessed with making stuffed animals, right? I meant it! Here are more of the creatures I’ve made this month. (Amigurumi, by the way, is the Japanese word for “knitted or crocheted toys.”)


This is Victor the Viper, made for Grasshopper. I don’t know what it is about this kid, but he loves all things wicked and creepy! He always roots for the villains in the movies, and when I was making stuffed animals, he asked for a snake. 🙂 The pattern is from Crochet Cute Critters by Sarah Zimmerman, which Will bought for me from Amazon.


This is Oswald the Raccoon. I was initially going to give it to Dragonfly because he always has such huge circles under his eyes (I know he doesn’t sleep enough, but it’s hard to make him sleep in, and he lays awake for a long time every night before falling asleep). But then he asked for a giraffe instead. So Oswald here will go into my “stash of future gifts.” In fact, that will be the fate of most of the animals I’m making right now. Pattern is from Jess Huff.


This is Giselle the Nightingale. She’s from the same book as Victor (though in the book she’s called Nina). Another animal for my stash.




And finally, Bella the Bunny. I combined patterns from both Jess Huff and Crochet Cute Critters to make her. The main parts are all from Jess Huff, but I wanted floppier ears so I pulled those from CCC. Additionally, I loved the idea of a pompom tail that was in CCC, so I did that instead of crocheting a ball like Jess Huff suggested. She’s also going into my stash.

Fun fact about that rocking chair: it’s quite old. My father-in-law had it when he was a small child, then my husband used it, and now my kids have it. My father-in-law gave it to us when Ballet Boy was tiny, and now Bumblebee is using it. So he’s the 7th boy to love on it!


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Learning About America’s Seal (book review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.

Scorpion, my 13-year-old son, has gotten to read a lot of great books lately! Today, he and I will be talking a bit about Michael Kanis’s book from The Hidden Message, LLC. The book, The Hidden Message of the Great Seal: How Foundational Truth from the Dawn of Liberty May Rescue a Republic in Peril, is a softcover textbook.

From Scorpion:

The first several chapters are an introduction to the author’s investigative pursuits. He travels around historic sites around America to find out as much as he can about the seal. There is a brief history of the Seal of America, namely that congress in 1776 decided that America should have a seal and they tasked Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams with designing it.

BFBA7270-6759-42F9-9526-AED01C506F58This is a fun, historical book that is different from other books. It’s more interesting than other books of similar topics because it’s so well written. The topic is fascinating. The layout is pretty fancy (it opens landscape instead of portrait), and I like that the pages are full-gloss. It’s a very visual book.

Of what I’ve read so far (which is not the entire book, just the first 9 chapters due its denseness of information), chapters 6 and 7 have been my favorites. Chapter 6 talks about the author studying the seal and its symbols and what each one means. For example, the pyramid with the eye… a lot of people think it’s the eye of Horus (Egyptian god of the sky), but it’s not. We learn from the author’s studies that it’s actually meant to be God looking over the American people.

Chapter 7 details the Seal further and how and why the author became interested in it. He has four children, and felt like he wasn’t getting enough time with any one of them, so he decided to take individually on trips based on their own interests. With his third child, they went to Philadelphia because they had a friend there, and that’s where he discovered the seal and started studying it seriously.

DDCF5B33-0C1A-4222-84B4-ADE1A521391DI have really enjoyed reading this book and learning the details about America’s seal. I am excited to read more of this book, and I definitely recommend it. In fact, I’ve already recommended it to Ballet Boy (my older brother) because he would love it. He’s even more of a history buff than I am, so I know he would really enjoy reading this book. My dad, too. I’m really glad we have this book in our home library. It’s been a fantastic way for me to get some fascinating history learning in this month.

Back to Mom:

I love when we get books that my kids love, and we have been very blessed in that regard this school year. This book, as you can tell from my son’s review, is no exception. I didn’t read it myself, but he did, and I’m so glad to have been able to provide it for him. Based on what he’s told me, he is absolutely right: this would be a book both his dad and older brother would find fascinating. I hope they can find the time to read it themselves.

If you want to look at this book for yourself and/or your family, now is a great time to do so because Mr. Kanis is offering a 50% discount off the cover price of the book ($29.95 USD; paperback and ebook are the same price) from now through May 30, 2020 when you purchase through his website. Use coupon code HOMESCHOOL to get the discount.

As with all reviews through the Homeschool Review Crew, there are more thoughts on this book than mine (and Scorpion’s!). Click through to the blog to read them.


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30 Prophecies: One Story (book review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.


In the weeks leading up to Passover (and Easter), I had the absolute pleasure of being able to read and review the book 30 Prophecies: One Story from Christian Focus. It was especially good timing, because in addition to leading up to Holy Week, we received the book about the time all the churches (ours included) started shutting down due to quarantine. I loved having this resource to read to my younger children (7 and 4) during this time.

The book has the subtitle “How God’s Word Points to Jesus,” and that is really the guts of the book. Author Paul Reynolds has looked at 30 different prophecies throughout the Old and New Testaments, and written out in an easy-to-read format what they all mean and how each one leads us right to Jesus.

There are three sections: “From the Fall to King David,” “Major and Minor Prophets,” and “Prophecies Made by Jesus About Himself.” Each one has a series of prophecies from its respective section of the Bible, and each prophecy is given a 2-page spread. The text follows the same formula for each prophecy. Let’s take a minute to go over each aspect of the entries.

Like most books with sections (or chapters), each one has a title. In the case of 30 Prophecies: One Story, these titles are the different prophecies (for example: Jesus: The Son of David). Each entry is broken down into seven sections, and the sections are the same from entry to entry.

IMG-4180Prophet Name/Dates tells us who made the prophecy and when. Prophecy Made is the scripture (written out exactly, so you aren’t required to look it up separately in your Bible) of the prophecy being discussed. Then and There gives background information, and is one of the longest sections. It gives basic information not only about the time and place of the prophecy, but also about both the prophet and the person to whom the prophecy was made, as well as any commentary from the author regarding the section. Prophecy Fulfilled is direct scripture quotations, usually from the New Testament, that describe exactly how the prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus. Scarlet Thread is how the whole story of the Bible ties itself together. Mr. Reynolds uses this section to talk about how all the different parts of the Bible, despite their various authors and decades of difference (as far as when they were written). Application is just what it sounds like: how we can apply the scripture to our daily lives. Prayer is an actual prayer you can read to your children as written or read and paraphrase as you pray together. Each prayer is custom written to match the prophecy of the section.

As I mentioned before, I read these pages to my younger kids leading up to Passover. We read one prophecy per day and talked over what each thing meant. Even though this book has a suggested reading age of 5-11 (with a parent) or 6-12 (to read alone), I found that my kids did better when I stopped to explain things rather than just reading the entries straight through. I loved reading this to them, though, and to see their faces light up as things were all becoming interconnected the more we read. What a joy!


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Members of the Homeschool Review Crew are reviewing a total of three different books from Christian Focus this week (Psalms for My Day, 30 Prophecies: One Story, and Not If, But When). Click through to find out more!

2 Unicorns and a Giraffe

I’ve been all about making crocheted toys this month. They’re so fun, and always loved by kids. I started with this guy, who I’ve named Edward. (There’s a brief explanation of the name in the April 10 “5 Random Things” post). He now belongs to my toddler, Bumblebee (19 months old).


And this is Jewel. After I made Edward, Grasshopper asked me to make another unicorn for his friend, whom he hasn’t gotten to see in a few weeks since dance classes are canceled due to quarantine. 





And this is George the giraffe. I mentioned him briefly before, too, but here’s a few bigger pictures of him.

30969B20-09FB-462E-BF7D-FEEAED1454E6 BA87BF6A-23A8-466B-8493-9D86EB787F84 FDAC7E19-8257-4743-8DC4-BACE7EFCA755
I just got a new book full of 26 more amigurumi patterns delivered late last week, as well as two huge bags of stuffing, so I’ll be busy making toys for the foreseeable future! I know what all the kids in my life are getting for birthdays and/or Christmas this year 😉

  1. How have you been keeping busy during quarantine?


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Ground Beef Sausage (method/recipe)

We don’t eat pork, which means no traditional sausage. Usually I just buy turkey sausage, but with the quarantine and grocery stores being slow to restock, I can’t always find it these days. After looking around online a bit, I hobbled together a few different recipes for making your own sausage out of ground beef. It was based partially on what I had on hand, as well as what I know to be the flavors my family likes. 

Ground Beef Sausage

3 pounds ground beef

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons fennel seeds

2 tablespoons dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano 

1 teaspoon garlic powder 

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon (or more to taste) crushed red pepper

Place all ingredients into a large bowl. Use your hands to mix all the spices through the ground beef as thoroughly and evenly as you can.

Divide the mixture into food storage bags in whatever portions make sense for your family (I do 2 meals out of this recipe, but we have a large family). Put the bags in the fridge to cure for at least 24 hours. After this time, you can either use or freeze your sausage as you would any other bulk sausage (spaghetti, biscuits and gravy, etc).

4B197F7C-A7D6-4598-A6CE-0B58C7917306While this tastes pretty much just like a traditional sausage, it still behaves like and has the texture of ground beef. For that reason, it might take a time or two before your mouth understands what it’s experiencing!


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Reading at 4 years old! (Reading Unlocked review)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.

Sometimes as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew, you get assigned products that you’re unsure will be a good fit for your family. Part of being on the team means you do your best to give those products a fair trial, and in that process you are sometimes right about it not having been a good fit. But sometimes you are very, very wrong, and a product ends up being an amazing asset for one or more of your children. Reading Unlocked has been such a product for us.

Because I didn’t want to mix things up for Grasshopper now that he’s finally getting the hang of reading, I decided to use Reading Unlocked with Dragonfly, who is just 4 years old. I was really hesitant to start him out because he’s so young (in fact, I asked specifically to not be on this review because of that). And there were moments in the early days when I was sure I was right. It was really frustrating at first. But, as we kept on it (admittedly too slow and irregularly for a while), things started to click for him. I was stunned, and ridiculously pleased. But let’s back up a bit and talk about the program itself.

39E87083-CA5E-4168-8334-6EAFD4B7719BWhen you first go to the website, you have to log in (of course). When you do, you’re taken immediately to to the lessons. There are 3 levels of the program, and by going to the settings (which are available straight from the lesson page; there is no “parent portal” as near as I can tell) you choose which one is best for your child. The choices are given in examples rather than descriptions. Because Dragonfly has never had any sort of reading instruction before, we started at  “a b c d sun red pot mud.” Also in the settings, you can choose which lesson within the level (each stage has 25 lessons) and whether you want a British or American accent. 

6037B4A8-715A-4D8E-96FB-61EBA0CE755FLessons at level one teach letters and simple CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words. Each instruction and teaching moment is spoken by the program itself, and children are instructed to do things like “say it with me” followed by a letter sound, touch the correct picture associated with a specific beginning sound, write letters on paper, read words and match the right picture, and more. 4C8395B8-E16E-435C-9827-F4EAB2EF6739Periodically, parents are asked which of the recently taught sounds the child knows. You “give” the answer by toggling the switch red or green. Any letters that are left red are reviewed one more time before moving on to reading words.
It’s a very simple program, but it works! A month ago, my 4-year-old could recognize an A (because it’s the first letter of his name), but that was as far as his “reading skills” went. Now, he can easily tell me the sounds of 5 letters and read words like “can,” “pan,” “nap,” “cat,” and “cap.” My skepticism about this program, even for young children, is gone, and I can’t recommend it enough.

3658CF68-3B41-4583-8F7E-17875FA2FCF0Now, all that gushing said, there are a couple of issues I need to address. Earlier, when I mentioned there was a choice between a British and American accent, that is technically true, but I must have changed the setting to American and clicked save a dozen times or more. But every time a lesson started (immediately after clicking save), it had reverted to the British accent. That didn’t cause too much trouble, but that could be because I was super involved and basically repeated everything for my son (much slower than the program). Because it wouldn’t allow the American accent setting to stick, it used British phrases too, like “draw” instead of “write” in reference to letters and words. Also, the recording of the voice wasn’t the same from slide to slide, which I found a little distracting, but it didn’t seem to bother Dragonfly. And finally, you could hear the white noise on the recording a little before and after each instruction. Again, not a deal breaker, but potentially an issue for some kids.


So, in conclusion, Reading Unlocked is a fantastic program, but it has a few minor bugs that would be nice to see adjusted. That said, will we continue to use it? Absolutely! 


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As always with my reviews, other members of the Homeschool Review Crew are also discussing this product this week. Make sure to click through for more information!

5 Random Things: April 10, 2020

5 random things

80ABF8C8-5B61-4799-ABF8-026D51899C4C1. I’ve been crocheting stuffed animals. I found a site with super cute, free patterns. I’ve made a unicorn for Bumblebee. I named him Edward, which seemed appropriate since baby’s middle name is the same as my dad’s first, and Edward was my dad’s middle name. Then I made a giraffe for Dragonfly since that’s his favorite animal. With a little help from his brothers, he decided to name him George. A second unicorn is on my hook now; it will be a gift for Grasshopper’s “girlfriend” (a girl in one of his dance classes who has a huge crush on him; with everything being canceled, they miss each other terribly, so we’re making her a gift.)

035A79A8-7179-4B04-AB0F-A535D3011A432. Bumblebee (19 months) got his first major haircut this week. As I posted on Instagram, I turned my baby into a little boy. Always a bit of a bittersweet moment, but he wears short hair well.

3. We’re doing pretty well, despite the statewide quarantine. Will saw a decrease in business the first two weeks, but now things are practically back to normal. We miss going out to our favorite restaurants, but this new normal is at least not destroying his business.

D6587F1E-2128-4D7A-9E72-CA201841C7214. He’s doing so well, in fact, that he was able to buy me a Louis Vuitton handbag. Two years ago I couldn’t imagine having anything other than a Walmart-type purse; today I have many luxury handbags. 

5. Dragonfly (4 years old) is learning to read! I was assigned a review that I didn’t think would work for him, but (without giving too much away before the official review goes up later this month), I have been surprised by him. 

Bonus random thing: I recently perfected a recipe for ground beef sausage, so I hope to get that posted soon.


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Music for Babies, Before and After Birth ~ Preborn Prodigy Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.


Have you ever wondered just how much certain types of sounds and music influence a person? This day and age, we all accept that babies in the womb can hear us, but how much influence does what we say have on them?

Sara Bumgarner, the owner of Preborn Prodigyhas done some research for you, and the answer to both questions is, A LOT! So she created three albums using her research, and I’m going to tell you a bit about them today.

In Prayers and Blessings for the Unborn Child, we hear gentle music, which is overlaid with promises, many of which come directly from Scripture. The narrator reads promises and assurances in many categories: 

  • Health and Delivery talks about the unborn baby’s health and development, as well as prayers for an easy and safe delivery
  • Protection and Provision includes prayers and promises from scripture about God’s sovereignty and role as provider in our lives
  • Spiritual Growth and Dedication reads scriptures to teach how to live a godly life
  • Identity and Destiny is from the point of view of God, assuring babies of who they are and their purpose
  • Spirit, Soul, and Body has blessings parents want for their children but don’t always think of 
  • Salvation tells about Jesus and what salvation means and how to get it
  • Blessing and Lullaby is a sweet song directly from the Old Testament, and is sung rather than spoken

The idea behind this record is to play it while Mom is still pregnant, and the blessings and promises contained will offer assurances to the baby that he is loved, wanted, and not a mistake, before he is even born. A pregnant mom can play the record while she goes about her day, or she can play it over headphones on her belly during a few moments of quiet time.

Prayers and Blessings for Newborn to 99 is basically the sale album, but words are adjusted to be appropriate for anyone who has already been born. The tracks counteract the “bad stuff” we sometimes tell ourselves: “I’m a failure, I’m a mistake, I don’t matter.” 

Math Prodigy is very different from the other two albums. Instead of reading prayers and blessings, it reads math concepts and equations over the top of gentle, pleasing music. It sounds strange, and it was at first, but it is based on the experience of a math professor (who Ms. Bumgarner saw on a TV news show) who had read about math to his pregnant wife’s belly. Fast forward 5 years, and their child was a math genius. Whether a coincidence (Dad was a math professor, after all) or because of the readings, it’s an interesting idea, and one that Preborn Prodigy ran with in creating this album. Tracks include

  • Introduction to Math
  • Addition and Subtraction   
  • Multiplication and Division    
  • Fractions    
  • Decimals and the Order of Operations

I played these albums for my kids at bedtime (they usually listen to audiobooks anyway). They thought they were weird at first, but they warmed up fairly quickly. They probably won’t ever ask to listen to them, but they won’t say “no” if I put it on.

I received digital downloads of these albums, but they are primarily available as CDs. (We don’t have a CD player.) Math Prodigy is available only in English, but the two Prayers and Blessings albums are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, German, Hebrew, and Afrikaans. Each CD (one album in one language) is available for $14.99. You can also purchase an instrumental version for $9.99 or a PDF of the written blessings (to read aloud to your child) for $6.99.

Many members of the Homeschool Review Crew are reviewing these albums this week, from all walks of life. I encourage you to click through and learn more.


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