Win Sparkly Essie Polish & Sephora Gloss from FINCHNWREN (Part of the Christmas in July Hop; ends 7/15/19)

Hey friends, and happy July!


I’m thrilled to be joining Review Wire Media and Chatty Patty’s Place (along with tons of other bloggers) for another cool giveaway hop! This time we’re celebrating Christmas in July with lots of neat giveaways, all of which end July 15, 2019.



The FINCHNWREN blog is giving away some sparkly beauty items for the summer! One winner will receive:

  • A full-sized Essie nail polish in For the Twill of It (#843)
  • Sephora Brilliant à Lèvres Lip Gloss Mini in Eskimo Kisses (#10)




I love both of these beauty items so much! The Sephora lip gloss is white sparkles that creates a pale lip; great for a summer look or even to tone down a darker lipstick.

The picture doesn’t truly do the Essie nail polish justice. IRL, it’s a glossy, sparkly pale purple with pink, green, and teal highlights. So fun!


How to enter:

Simply click on the pink “Enter here” link below. That will take you to a Giveaway Tools page where you can enter in a variety of ways. Giveaway closes July 15, 2019. One winner will be selected to win. Best wishes!

Enter here



Now, check out all the other giveaways!


Just click on the inLinkz button below to head to the giveaway page, where you can find all the giveaways. Tons of neat bloggers with fabulous summer prizes!



Best wishes! –Wren

Our Experiences with Bridgeway Academy’s Chemistry with Lab 2018-2019

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Hello friends!


As I write this, we have just completed my son Jackson’s junior year. This year, we were privileged to partner with Bridgeway Academy, and Jackson was able to take his high school chemistry class online with them. This class was part of Bridgeway Academy’s Live Online Classes. It was effective and interesting, and I’d like to share more with you about our year and experiences!




About Chemistry with Lab

Bridgeway Academy‘s high school chemistry course is a full-year, Live Online Class. Chemistry with Lab (LLAY90799CH; follow link and scroll down the page for more info on the class) meets weekly from September through May. The course uses Paradigm’s Chemistry with Lab textbooks along with Bridgeway Academy‘s Chemistry Lab Kit. Students will need a computer to log into the online classroom, where the teacher and students meet and interact together. The class meets once each week, for an hour and a half. Upon completion of the course, students earn 1.5 high school science credits.

The Paradigm textbook set includes softcover text and activity books (IPC Chapters 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, and 11). This chemistry program focuses on the history and discoveries of chemistry, the people who made them, and the places they were made. The texts teach and introduce material about the elements and scientists. The activity books contain quizzes and questions on each text chapter’s material.

Bridgeway Academy‘s Chemistry Lab Kit includes a lab manual and a materials kit for all the experiments students will complete in the course. The kit has everything except a few household items (like distilled water, paper towels, etc.) that will be used. For example, in the lab kit you’ll see: beakers of various sizes; an electrolysis device; pipettes; reaction plates (the clear plastic rectangles with wells in the photos); safety goggles; wire gauze; various metals (copper, iron, nickel, zinc); and other materials you won’t find at home. It also includes solutions, like glycerin, HCl, sodium oxalate, zinc nitrate, and many others. The lab manual has directions for many experiments, fill-in-the-blanks for answers, and mathematical chemical equations and problems to work.




What did each week’s class look like?

Each week, Melissa Lindahl, Jackson’s chemistry teacher, Jackson, and his fellow classmates would log in together for class time. Ms. Lindahl would teach the week’s lesson and interact with students. She taught students the chemical (math) equations for the elements and their combinations. She also reviewed the experiments, the materials, safety guidelines, and their purpose. Bridgeway Academy utilizes a site called Moodle which hosts classes. Its technology works extremely well, and provides video of the teacher while enabling students to connect in class via text and/or voice. At the end of class, Ms. Lindahl would assign the week’s reading and activity book work. Each week following class, students would work in the books (activity and text/reading), complete experiments, and then upload their work via Moodle to Ms. Lindahl. The Moodle site and student dashboard also provided exams for each chapter. Students would take the exam online, and results were recorded there.



All students in the class completed a class project on a class of elements in December. The Moodle classroom enabled them to present their projects to the teacher and their classmates (with Powerpoint visuals or recorded video) at that time.

The Moodle classroom is set up so that the teacher can use the webcam for teaching, to show students the experiments they’ll be doing, or to display video or Powerpoint slides. It can also provide a whiteboard, which Ms. Lindahl used to teach students how to solve the chemistry math equations.



Here are some examples of the year’s work

Here’s just a sampling of some of the subjects that were covered in Jackson’s chemistry this year:

  • Barium, radium, strontium, and hard water
  • Mendeleev, the periodic table, and his predictions of missing elements
  • Valences, covalent compounds, and chemical bonding
  • Medieval metals, created diamonds, nitrogen’s many uses
  • Chemical bonds
  • Acids, bases, pH
  • Electrical current
  • Elements and the scientists who discovered them
  • and more!

In addition, students put what they learned into practice by completing experiments at home using the materials from the chemistry lab kit and noting their results in their lab manuals. There were 17 experiments in all; they were safe to do at home (although some materials required special care and handling, and always required the use of safety goggles).

During the experiments, Jackson learned about:

  • Paper chromatography
  • The electrical conductivity of various solutions
  • Mole ratios
  • Decomposition
  • Titration
  • Reaction rates

Following each experiment, he filled out its lab manual pages, then scanned them and sent the pages to the Moodle classroom for Ms. Lindahl to grade and record.




Our impressions of Chemistry with Lab

We’re really happy that Jackson was able to take his chemistry class via Bridgeway Academy. Personally, my only experience with chemistry was an introductory course my son took years ago in elementary school. (Awesome, but the key word there is “elementary”!) So I had serious doubts about being able to teach chemistry to Jackson, and to teach it well; basically, I’d have to learn a complete new scientific language and study hard myself for a long while before I’d really be able to teach him. (And to be honest, even if I had done those things I don’t think I would have been a good instructor for this course.)

Instead, we had Melissa Lindahl, an experienced and certified science teacher, for whom the language of chemistry seemed to be second nature. She effectively taught difficult new concepts each week, and prepared students for the math concepts that they’d be using in the experiments as well as instructing them about the materials (especially the solutions and solids they’d be using) and the proper way to handle each one.

Here’s what Jackson says about the class: “Ms. Lindahl was a good teacher and the class had interesting subject matter. I appreciated having a dedicated class time each week and a teacher who covered the material in a good amount of time. Those were definite high points. I did feel as though sometimes the Paradigm curriculum lacked some chemistry information that is often taught in high school chemistry classes. It focuses more on the history of chemistry, I think, than the whats and hows of the science taught in other courses.”

Jackson would probably have benefited from more time practicing the math equations required for the course. Ms. Lindahl explained them well during the online classes (and was also available via email outside of class) but the text itself didn’t spend extensive time on them. However, the history and the information on the elements made the course very interesting.




In closing

Are your homeschooled students at the point that they need their high school science credits, such as biology, chemistry, or physics? Are those subjects that you personally need more help in teaching?

If so, I’d definitely recommend Bridgeway Academy to you. Their certified teachers, online classrooms, and curricula can make all the difference in the world for your homeschool! Plus, your students will earn credits toward their high school transcripts.

Here’s how you can find out more about Bridgeway Academy

Just follow the links to the Bridgeway Academy home page, or to the Live Online Classes page. Bridgeway Academy has so many amazing classes for all of your students, from elementary age, to middle schoolers, to high school teens. Check them out. We’ve had wonderful experiences with them throughout the years!


Enjoy! –Wren


DISCLAIMER: From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

“Hey Mama!” Schoolhouse Planner for 2019/20 ~ A Review

#sponsored #partner


As a homeschooler, one thing that is vital for me each day (and each year) is lesson planning. Each year I purchase a paper planner to use. This year, The Old Schoolhouse® kindly sent me the Hey Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 to review. I’m so excited to use it starting later this summer! Let me share more about it and how it can help you in your homeschool year!



About the author

The Hey Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 is a 1-year homeschool planner with enough space for one through five children. It’s authored by Gena Suarez of The Old Schoolhouse®,who, along with her husband, Paul, publishes The Old Schoolhouse® magazine. They are the parents of 7 children and are longtime homeschoolers themselves. Gena brings this lifelong experience to bear in the wonderful new Hey Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20. The result is everything you’ll need for the 2019-2020 school year!


What you’ll find in this planner

First, I have to say, it is absolutely GORGEOUS. The front and back covers are a white background with lovely flowers superimposed across them. The flowers have sort of a native cherry blossom look, but the colors are blue, purple, and a little red/brown/yellow. It’s pretty and quite appealing to look at; even before you open it! It opens and closes without a hitch. It’s spiral-bound and the covers are laminated, so it is durable and lays flat for desk work or closes like a spiral notebook would if you’re only planning to work on the first (or second) part of the week.

The Hey Mama! planner is chock-full of practical helps, weekly/daily/monthly calendars, lesson plan pages, attendance records, and other important record-keeping pages for the homeschool year. There are also encouraging notes and devotionals from Gena to the homeschool mamas on such timely topics as; anxiety, God’s provision, trials, adventure, perseverance, dread, failure, and joy. I love Gena’s words to us homeschool moms. Homeschooling is a wonderful vocation, an adventure, and a delight; but it’s also, on some days, a task we may not feel equipped for. These devotionals will bless the user on those days!



Here are some of the practical helps you’ll find in the Hey Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20:

  • Tips on creating a transcript, and a form to you for your high schoolers
  • A checklist for skills learned and courses studied
  • 2019-2021 mini-calendars
  • Monthly large calendars with big squares to jot notes and appointments on each day
  • 90 pages for each week’s lesson plans, with spaces for up to 5 students
  • Planning pages for each child, including curriculum planning, attendance, books read over the year, yearly and semester goals



My thoughts

I haven’t begun to use my new Hey Mama! planner yet. We have JUST (and I mean, JUST) finished my son Jackson’s junior year as of last Friday. So at the moment, we’re all breathing a huge sigh of relief.

However, our minds are beginning to turn to the 2019-2020 school year, which will be Jackson’s senior year. We’re considering curricula, coop classes, volunteering, driving lessons and practice; all the things that will comprise his last year of high school. As this planner starts in July 2020 and runs through May 2020, I’ll begin filling it in soon, I’m sure!

I love everything about the Hey Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20. I love the feel of the beautiful color; the nice white pages inside just waiting for my pencil to begin writing; all the practical helps that will lead and support us on our way in this coming year. I can’t wait to get started!


How you can get your own Hey Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20


It’s easy! Simply follow this link Hey Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20  to purchase your own Hey Mama! planner from The Old Schoolhouse® .  Prices start at $22, with planners also available for shipping to Canada and to international addresses.

And, don’t delay. The Old Schoolhouse® has sold through 98% of their print planners. If you’d like to get one of these planners for your 2019-2020 homeschool year, this is your moment to do so!


Thanks for letting me share this with you! Have a lovely first week of June!


Enjoy! –Wren

DISCLOSURE: From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

FLASH GIVEAWAY! “More for Mom” Review (CLOSED)

#sponsored #partner


If you’re one of my readers who is a mom, are you breathing a sigh of relief that the school year is *almost* over? You can have the best kiddos in the world and still be exhausted at the end of a full year. Does this sound like you? If so, I have the perfect summer read for you. The Blog About Blogger Network gifted me with Kristin Funston’s new book, More for Mom: Living Your Whole and Holy Life this spring. And, they have provided an extra copy so that I can give it to a FINCHNWREN reader! (This is a FLASH giveaway closing 5/27/19, so enter today!)



Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your to-do list? Or just tired when you look at the laundry pile/weeds to be pulled/calendar of events for your family? Do you feel as though you could be living a successful life and ministry if you *only* could remove one thing from the stack, something that seems to interfere with the life you want to live?

Kristin Funston has life and relief to speak to you then. She, too, struggled with this “overwhelm” feeling that causes us to feel that we have to keep producing and keep striving; as the marked-out word on the book cover suggests, that life and people just want “more” from Mom. Do you ever feel like that; that people just keep asking you to do more, more, more, and that you are trying to serve out of a cup that is already emptied out; or even, a cup that is cracked already?

Maybe this is just what our culture has shaped us to believe. I’ve certainly lived life that way and had those moments. (Especially if you’re a type A person like I am.) At a recent physical, my doctor and I were talking about stamina and energy levels, and the cost of doing more than we can. He said, “Well, if you can just carve out a “reasonable” schedule…”

Yes. I actually laughed when he said that. 🙂

Sometimes in the midst of mom life a reasonable schedule isn’t always possible. We can have the orthodontist appointments, the coop classes, the driving lessons calendared. But we aren’t always able to calendar sudden colds or the flu; unexpected emergencies; or the meals you’d like to provide to a dear friend in need. And over time, that constant demand of schedule can not only wear us down physically but emotionally and spiritually as well. How can we recover from, and learn to operate from, a place where we can understand that MORE is not demanded from us, but is provided FOR us by the God who loves us?

Kristin Funston offers a different mindset for us to operate from:

“Each of us is a whole person with one whole life,
and we were designed to experience the holy of this life now, on earth.”
(p. 7)

Okay, that sounds great. But what does it mean exactly? To Kristin, it means that we don’t have to live “compartmentalized” life, where changing diapers is one thing, teaching Sunday school is another section of my life, meal planning is another, work life is another. Really, our lives aren’t composed of the “important” and “non-important” parts. It’s all one life, and it’s all significant. All of the seemingly disparate parts of our lives are really all just one, whole life; one that has Him to steer us through, fill us up for, and stitch all those different parts together into one beautiful whole. One where we actually experience rest.

That’s just the first chapter. Throughout the rest of the book, Kristin unpacks these from this original “whole life” thesis statement:

  • Experiencing joy, contentment, and (yes, even) a holy life
  • Learning to develop a mental mindset that keeps our thoughts in a beautiful and useful path
  • Showing love by engaging with others both inside and outside our families
  • Dealing in a healthy manner with personal expectations and avoiding comparisons
  • Really, really seeing others
  • Understanding the real purpose of our lives
  • And tons more!

And while all of this is so, so awesome (and trust me; this is a remarkable book that has been incredibly meaningful to me), there are two things that really made it truly life-giving for me.

  1. There is no expectation in this book anywhere to make me think that I need to be a perfect mom.
  2. It. Is. Hilarious!

While Kristin is offering readers this beautiful way of looking at our lives and engaging with God for more joy, more peace, and more contentment…she is just so real. And makes you laugh while you read it! I am definitely an anti-spoiler girl (i.e., I avoided every single news article or blog post about Marvel in the weeks heading up to “Avengers: Endgame” because I did NOT want to know what happened before I sat in that theater seat!) but I just have to share with you some of these funny moments from More for Mom:

  • “If I can barely manage my life, how can I be godly?” (p. 91)
  • “Yow. Not going to lie. This verse hurt my feelings.” (p. 69)
  • “After a long day of (poorly) parenting my two-year-old, I find peace and even laughter when I sit and write words down in a journal or prayer book.” (p. 126)
  • “I have a terrible memory and am very easily distracted. I believe this is partly because of the changes that child rearing caused in my body and mind, but I also know it’s because there are roughly twelve bazillion things running through my mind at any given time.” (p. 150)

And all of this is important to me for several reasons. First, I REALLY believe that we need to laugh more. Life is just hard sometimes, and it hurts. And we can get worn down and forget how much laughter not only lifts our spirits but also puts smiles on the faces of those we love. SO important.

Second, I love that Kristin gets down on the floor with her readers. She’s not sitting high up in the air on some podium of righteousness that we can barely see. She is right down there in the trenches with us. She has struggled with our own struggles; she has had the snarky thoughts that we have had; and she’s made some mom mistakes that are so familiar to us. She makes it funny even as she’s making it real…and that gives us hope that we can do this too.


In closing…

Has this been a rough year for you as a mom? Are you just so, so glad that we are on the cusp of summer? Do you feel as though you just can’t accomplish one more thing? Or, if none of these things is true for you (yay for you if so!), would you just like to read a book that will blow a fresh air of encouragement across your mom life? Then More for Mom: Living Your Whole and Holy Life is THE book you must read this summer. You will learn so much, focus your gaze differently on your life, and learn how to live this mom life in joy and peace.

I loved it. And so will you.


And the giveaway!

One FINCHNWREN reader will win a copy of More for Mom: Living Your Whole and Holy Life! Simply click on the pink “Enter here” link below. That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form where you’ll be able to enter in a variety of ways. This is a flash giveaway, so it will close on Monday, May 27. Enter now and watch your email to find out if you won on Tuesday, May 28!

Enter here

And the winner is: Leela. Congratulations, Leela!

Best wishes! And enjoy! –Wren


DISCLOSURE:  From time to time, FINCHNWREN may receive a free product or service in exchange for our honest opinions expressed in our blog. We are not required to write a positive or glowing review, nor are we additionally compensated for these reviews. We share our own opinions, and our family’s opinion, of these products. We’re disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.




Artsy Coloring Book Giveaway~May Flowers Hop Linkup (CLOSED)


I hope your May is starting out beautifully! We had a couple of days last week that were gorgeous but today it’s in the 30’s and snowing. Not enough to accumulate…but it is cold!


I am so happy to be joining in the May Flowers Hop (hosted by Dena at The Review Wire and Chatty Patty’s Place). Tons of other bloggers will be hosting giveaways on their own blogs so you’ll have lots of chances to enter to win something amazing.




I’m giving away something that I’m hoping will provide a little tranquility, enjoyment, and fun in our busy, full lives. One winner will be selected to win:

  • Cattitudes Inspirational Coloring Book (probably best for teens and adults)
  • Crayola Super Tips Washable Markers in Bold Colors

The Cattitudes book is full of line drawings (black on white, so you can color them in with crayons, colored pencils, markers) of kitties against artsy backgrounds. Each page also has a Bible verse to encourage and bless the artist.



The Crayola markers have both a fine tip and a conical tip so that you can draw fine lines or shade in with the wide edges.


How to enter

Simply click on the pink “Enter here!” link below. That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form, where you’ll be able to enter in a variety of ways. Giveaway closes on May 24, 2019. One winner will be selected and will win both the coloring book and the markers.

Enter here!






And now, for the other May Flowers Hop giveaways!

You can access all the other cool giveaways in this blog hop by clicking on the blue inLinkz button below. That will take you to a page with all the other giveaways!



Congratulations to the winner: Cassandra. Thanks for entering, Cassandra!

Best wishes, and enjoy!  –Wren

Tarte Giveaway from FINCHNWREN~ part of the Mother’s Day Hop Giveaway! (CLOSED)

Hey everyone!

I am joining The Review Wire and lots of other amazing bloggers for the Mother’s Day Hop Giveaway!



I just love this time of year. Really, I love every season, but I am so enjoying the warm weather, the budding trees and bushes, the birds singing. I even saw a fat bumblebee hovering around the tiny buds on my currant bush in the backyard today!

But back to today’s fun. I’m joining in with a fantastic group of bloggers over at The Review Wire, who’s hosting a Mother’s Day Hop giveaway!

I am giving away 3 items from one of my favorite makeup brands: Tarte! If you’re not familiar with Tarte, they make gorgeous makeup without those ingredients we want to avoid. Their makeup has no parabens, no mineral oil, no phthalates, no triclosan, and no sodium lauryl sulfate. And (interestingly enough) no gluten!


FINCHNWREN’s Mother’s Day Tarte Giveaway

So, I have the following lovely Tarte items for one person to win!

  • A bright fuchsia 10 1/4″ x 7 1/4″ Tarte makeup bag (with tassels! and a tarte monogram bar!)
  • Tarteist Lip Paint in Salty
  • Tarteist Lip Paint in Rosé

Have you ever used the Tarteist Lip Paint? I adore it! It goes on pretty matte on your lips. But it stays on for HOURS. I have put it on in the morning before I left the house, then I’ve eaten lunch…and it’s still on! I generally put a little lip gloss on over it just to add a little shine. But I so love the staying power.


And how to enter!

Simply click on the pink link below that says “Enter here.” That will take you to a Giveaway Tools form, where you’ll be able to enter in a variety of ways. Giveaway closes 5/8/19. At end of giveaway, one winner will be selected to win all three Tarte items (the makeup bag and the two lip paints).

Enter here


Mother’s Day Hop Link

Just click on the blue button below and you’ll see tons of other neat Mother’s Day giveaways to enter at The Review Wire!


And the winner is…Victoria!

Best wishes!


Enjoy! –Wren

Knitting over the Last Few Months

Hey everyone!

I have been wanting to update you on my favorite new craft! I have FINALLY learned how to knit, thanks to a knitting class at our homeschool coop (for students and adults) last fall. I am still very much a beginner knitter, but I love it. It is the most restful, enjoyable activity…plus you have something soft and lovely to show for it when you’re finished!


I’ve gotten to knit several projects over the last few months. Here’s what I’ve been doing!


Circular Needles

One of my friends just had a baby! So I bought a set of bamboo circular knitting needles on Amazon, and picked up some Bernat Baby Blanket yarn. It’s sort of fleecy (and is actually the same yarn that we used in the library knitting loom project) and feels wonderfully soft to the touch. Warm too!

This was my first project with circular needles. You knit the same way; the difference is that the needles are connected by a plastic line to one another instead of two needles that you hold in each hand. That line (I think mine are 36″ or so) allows you to make a wider line of stitches than you could on regular knitting needles. So these are great for larger projects.



I just did a plain knit stitch (K) for this. It has taken 4 skeins of yarn; the yarn is bulky so probably there’s not as much on a skein of this as there would be with a finer, thinner yarn. I have finished the blanket itself and just need to add the finishing touches: weaving in the yarn from the spots I added new skeins, and sewing a blanket stitch border around the edges.



The Knitting Loom

Back in November, Mom and I went to a fun library program on loom knitting. I had never used knitting looms before. In this program, we were all loaned some of the library’s looms to make stocking caps for children who were undergoing chemotherapy. I loved that idea; I’ve wanted to make caps for patients undergoing chemotherapy ever since I received some that had been made for patients during my own journey a couple of years ago.



Loom knitting is a bit different than regular knitting in that you use a loom instead of needles. You wrap the yarn in loops around the pegs on the loom, then pull the bottom loop over the top loop. Once you’ve done that, you have a stitch. As you make more, you create a knitted yarn funnel that you close by threading yarn through the last loops and pulling. Ta-da…a cap!


And…still working on the lap blanket from the fall!

So the lap blanket I was working on in the fall is still….in progress! I got the squares just over halfway done in the fall but then, with the holidays, my work tapered off. This semester, I’m thrilled to be TAing for the same teacher that taught me in the fall. So, I’ve picked it back up. I  learned a stripes stitch that was throwing me earlier so that’s what I’m working on now.

Here’s another new square that I completed this spring for the blanket: it’s a plain garter square with a small knitted pocket on top of it, with a heart. Fun!



And one other thing…

I can’t close this post without showing you the neatest gift my friend J. gave me for Christmas! We have a mutual friend who’s an incredibly gifted potter. She made this lovely knitting bowl…which then became my Christmas gift! It keeps your ball of yarn from rolling across the room while you’re knitting. There’s a line you thread your yarn through plus two holes to place your knitting needles in when you’re finished. Plus a cute mousie perched on the side! It makes me smile.



I’m just enjoying this so much. Knitting can be a great thing to do in the evening while watching movies together or chatting. (If I don’t have to do a lot of switching back and forth between different stitches, anyway! Then I have to count!)


Are you working on any fun hobbies or crafts?


Enjoy!  –Wren