“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.

The Fabulous New Kwik Stix Thin Stix ~ My Review

The Pencil Grip, Inc. produces some of my most favorite art supplies, which we have adored using in our home.  Recently, they sent me their newest version to review: the Kwik Stix Thin Stix 12 pk.  I’m so excited to share our thoughts and art results with you!


What are Kwik Stix, anyway?

If these amazing art media are new to you, you really will want to know all about them!  Kwik Stix are solid tempera paint sticks which can be used in any situation that the artist would normally use regular paint.  The paint sticks roll up and down (sort of like a glue stick, but with paint instead of glue!) and have a cap which helps keep the paint moist when not in use.  They are safe to use for children from ages 3 and up.

Best of all, you get all the benefits of paint without the mess!  You don’t need paintbrushes, water, painting smocks, or all the other equipment you’d normally need for a paint adventure.  All you need are the Thin Stix and something to paint on!  In our home, we’ve used everything from art journals, to canvas, to stock card, to regular paper, and more.  (Read on to learn about our newest discovery!)

The 12-pk we received contains the following colors:  white, yellow, orange, red, pink, lime green, green, light blue, blue, purple, brown, and black.  Unlike the regular-sized Kwik Stix, which are shorter and chubbier (which enables little hands to hold them well plus provides a nice thick line when painting), the Thin Stix are longer and thinner, measuring at 5 1/2″ long with a 1/2 wide paint tip.  They apply paint that’s both rich and vivid, which a variety of surfaces take well.  The Thin Stix glide smoothly across the page and are just a pleasure to use.

You can read about our experience with the regular-sized Kwik Stix in Metalix and Neon, which we tried and loved last fall.  We used them as we did an art study of Pop Art and two of Vincent Van Gogh’s master works, and they were just incredible!



 Kwik Stix’ Thin Stix are wonderful for:

  • Art Journals

Since we’d used our Kwik Stix beautifully for artist study when we reviewed the Neon and Metalix versions in the fall, I wanted to try the Thin Stix for different types of projects.  This time, my son and I used them in our art journals, which have a thick, creamy, textured feel to the pages:



You can see some of that texture in the tulips picture above, which took the Thin Stix paint quite well.  The paint dried quickly (Kwik Stix’ paint sticks are designed to dry in about 90 seconds), so there was no ending up with paint on my hand from working in a small surface.  I was also able to layer additional color over the tulips to add a bit of shadow and shading; you can see the orange I applied on the left side of both the red tulips and the yellow ones.  This was a free-hand project; we just decided what we wanted to draw and went to town.  Fun!

  • Coloring books

I’m sure you’re familiar with the whole coloring-books-for-grownups movement that’s been so popular lately.  I have a couple of those, and my newest one seemed that it would be perfect for my new Thin Stix!  Because coloring books have more lines that you’ve got to work within, I imagined that these Kwik Stix, which have a narrower tip, could work well within those margins.  I was pleased with the outcome!


  • Art lettering

Recently, I’ve been venturing into the world of creative lettering.  I started with some calligraphy in the fall and, last week, tried a new font that starts with a big penciled letter with space inside.  After you have your outlined letters, you take a fine felt-tip marker and doodle inside the spaces.  Then, the doodles become the letters.


I thought I’d add some paint and color to my recent word doodle BRAVE.  I used the Thin Stix to make the colors pop.  Actually, this is a photocopy on card stock of my original doodle.  The Thin Stix didn’t smear the copy at all, just slid right over it!


  • and even Bible journaling!


It occurred to me when we received the Thin Stix that they might work well for Bible journaling.  One challenge with Bible journaling is finding art media that doesn’t bleed through the thin Bible pages to make the other side unreadable.  I’ve wanted to use paint for awhile in this journaling but have limited myself to colored pencils and felt-tipped markers, just because of the thin pages.  I not only loved the way the Kwik Stix brightened up my drawing, I was astonished at how little they showed up on the preceding page!  (You can see the back side in the photo below on the right.)


Really, your own imagination and the sky are the limit!


ks-thin-stix-pic-3A few more thoughts…

My son, who’s a 9th grader, really liked the new Thin Stix a lot.  He says that they are more accurate, and he likes them even more than our original ones.  (No doubt due to the thinner tips!)

So…who would enjoy these fabulous new Kwik Stix Thin Stix 12 pk?

  • Parents with little ones
  • Homeschoolers
  • Art teachers
  • Bible journal aficionados
  • Any kids, from toddlers all the way up to high schoolers!
  • Basically, anyone who loves working with quality art tools

We love them.  Honestly, every time we have gotten a new set of Kwik Stix paint sticks, we have fallen more in love with the company.  I regularly make art on my own, and I teach art at our local homeschool coop.  But I also like sitting down with my son to create, whether we’re working on an artist study project or just sitting down to play with creating.  It’s a high value for me, because it gives the two of us time for great side conversations.  I also find that creating art is healing, encouraging, uplifting.  Just the process of it builds something in your soul, I believe.  So having our amazing Kwik Stix products, especially our newest Kwik Stix Thin Stix 12 pk, makes creating art so easy and so mess-free.  Plus, in addition to all these great reasons to create, you also end up with beautiful artwork that it’s a pleasure to display!

We happily recommend all the Kwik Stix art media, and especially their newest Kwik Stix Thin Stix 12 pk!



Where can you purchase Kwik Stix Thin Stix?

Kwik Stix Thin Stix at Amazon
Other Kwik Stix products by The Pencil Grip, Inc. at Amazon
The Pencil Grip, Inc.
Kwik Stix on Pinterest
The Pencil Grip, Inc. on Facebook

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.

Kwik Stix’ amazing new Neon and Metalix Solid Tempera Paint Review–& Giveaway!

Earlier this year, we had the pleasure of reviewing the Kwik Stix 12pk for the Homeschool Review Crew.  Now, Kwik Stix has some fabulous new tempera paint sticks, and The Pencil Grip, Inc. sent me and Jackson two packs of their new colors to review:  Kwik Stix Neons 6PK and Kwik Stix Metalix 6PK.  They really are amazing…and YOU can enter to win your very own set of each one!



kwik-stix-metalix-bannerWhat are Kwik Stix?

Kwik Stix are solid tempera paint sticks.  They look a little like glue sticks, and they roll up and down in the exact same manner.  They give you all of the beauty and fun of tempera paint without the stinky and mess!  They’re appropriate for use by children from ages 3 and up.  The special Neon and Metalix sets we received each had 6 Kwik Stix in the packages.

The tip is fairly wide (almost 3/4″) and rolls up and down easily.  You hold the Kwik Stix in your hands like you would a crayon or like a stick of chalk.  Then, you simply draw on your paper, wood, poster board.  We even found a new medium they could be used on…keep reading to learn more!

Kwik Stix’ tempera paint dries in about 90 seconds.  And it’s really mess-free; no paint ending up in unexpected places.  You don’t need water or palettes; the tempera paint is self-contained in the tubes.  And the colors are beautiful and vivid!

kwik-stix-metalix-7Tell me more about the Neon and Metalix Kwik Stix.

With pleasure!  The Neon and Metalix Kwik Stix sets each have 6 paint sticks in their boxes, with beautiful colors in each.  The Metalix set comes in gold, silver, fuchsia, deep green, deep blue, and deep purple.  Each of these has metallic or sparkly glints of color in them, which really enhance the depth of the color when it’s applied to paper or other media.

The Neon paint sticks colors include (all of which are, of course, neon) bright orange, vivid purple, lime green, light blue, yellow, and bright pink.


kwik-stix-metalix-3How we used these Kwik Stix

We’re huge art-o-philes in our home.  We love creating art (whether virtually or in real life) with many different media.  I’m blessed both to teach my own son, plus a coop class of elementary-aged students, in art.  We have used Kwik Stix before (in the larger 12-color pack) and loved the ease and beauty of the tempera sticks!  This time, I thought we’d try something completely different in the art projects we completed for this review.

First, a little Van Gogh!  When I received these tempera paint sticks and saw the Metalix set in particular, I thought immediately of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, with its sparkly stars and moon and accents.  So we began our new Kwik Stix journey with an art project copying Starry Night with the Kwik Stix.  We used both the Metalix and the Neon colors (and I also pulled out our 12-pack of Kwik Stix for extra colors).  First, we drew the outlines of the major landscape items of Van Gogh’s masterwork on stock card paper.  Then, we took our Kwik Stix and began to color.  It was so fun; and I’m very pleased with our results!



Next, I thought we’d try a little Pop Art.  I found some canvas boards for an incredible price last week on Amazon, and while I wasn’t sure that Kwik Stix would play well with canvas, I really thought they would.



kwik-stix-metalix-4I found a fun cat art image on Pinterest, so I drew that lightly on my canvas board, then outlined with a Sharpie.  My son decided to draw free-hand.  We discovered that the Kwik Stix were as fabulous on canvas as they are on paper!  The color is still very vivid and bright; we used mostly the Neons on our canvases but you can also see the Metalix gold and blue in the lower left quadrant of the pop art cat.  It might have taken just a minute longer than the usual 90 seconds to dry, but not much.  And I really liked the finished results.



kwik-stix-metalix-2One interesting thing that happened while I was coloring in the cat was that I colored outside the lines in a couple of places.  I wanted to fix that, so I took a paper towel and scrubbed the spots with my fingernail.  Most of the color came right off and I was able to color over the spots.  I really like the look of the Kwik Stix on the canvas, so we tried another artwork on canvas.

Last, we did another Van GoghStarry Night turned out so well that I wanted to try the artist’s Sunflowers (from the Arles Series).  The colors were just begging to be reproduced with our Kwik Stix!  I have to say that, if you’re doing lessons on Seurat and the Pointellists, or Impressionist art, or (clearly) Van Gogh, Kwik Stix are the way to go!  Your child can mimic the broad or tiny brushstrokes beautifully with these amazing tools.


kwik-stix-metalix-6Our conclusions

You can probably tell that I LOVE these KWIK STIX!  They are so easy to use.  They don’t have a strong smell (or even a smell at all) like many temperas do.  They dry quickly, they glide over the paper (or the canvas), and they are just FUN.  I recommend them to you highly–whether they’re for your homeschool or for a class you’re teaching!

Best of all, The Pencil Grip, Inc. has provided a set of Kwik Stix Neons 6PK and Kwik Stix Metalix 6PK  for one of our readers to win!  Simply enter in the Giveaway Tools form below.  Giveaway ends on Sunday, November 27.  Enter today!


kwik-stix-metalix-5Enter to win Kwik Stix Neon and Metalix tempera paints below!

Be sure to visit The Pencil Grip, Inc. at their social media sites below!

You can purchase both Kwik Stix Neons 6PK and Kwik Stix Metalix 6PK for $5.99 at The Pencil Grip, Inc., and for slightly more than that at Amazon.  Kwik Stix Basic 6PKs and Metalix 6PKs are both available in the stationery aisle at Target.  You can simply click through these links to find out more!

Fat Brain Toys Kwik Stix Page
The Pencil Grip, Inc. at Amazon
The Pencil Grip, Inc.
Kwik Stix on Pinterest
The Pencil Grip, Inc. on Facebook

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.

Our Review of Chara Games’ Cool Board Game: Commissioned

We have had a chance to review something that we normally don’t get to check out: an awesome board game from Chara Games!  It’s called Commissioned and it really is like nothing our family has ever played before.  Let me tell you about our experiences!


commissioned-banner-1What is Chara Games?

Well, first of all, you’re going to want to know what “chara” means.  If you’re a Greek scholar, you already know…but for all of the rest of us, here’s the definition:  “unshakeable joy.”  Now who wouldn’t want to purchase things from a gaming company with a name like that?  Patrick and Katherine Lysaght created Chara Games to produce Christian-themed board games which will bring the whole family together for fun, fellowship, and (of course) joy.  Currently, Chara Games has produced two games;  Commissioned and 3 Seeds, which we’ll be reviewing a little later this month for you.  (Stay tuned for that….after experiencing Commissioned, I have high hopes for more gaming fun with 3 Seeds!)


commissioned-pic-1Commissioned is….

a tabletop board game based on actual history, in which players build the early Christian church, starting in Jerusalem (where, you might know, the Christian church began) and moving out into Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the known world at that time.  The game is designed for 2-6 players, and those aged 14 (or even, perhaps, 13) and up will play and enjoy the game most effectively, although younger players can definitely play with the help of a parent or an older sibling.

Players choose to play as one of the first apostles (Peter, John, James, Andrew, Paul, or Barnabas).  Each of these has a small playing board which describes the apostle and provides instructions for the game and for what happens during each turn.  To begin the game, players are given 6 Faith Cards.  Then, the first player takes the shepherd’s staff and draws a Trial Card, which determines what happens to that player and the board during that turn.  The Trial Card describes a struggle that the apostle or early church faced.  In Commissioned, those trials can include losing a missionary, blocking church growth, losing church members, or imprisonment, to name a few.  There are also increasing levels of difficulty, so once you’ve mastered the basics of the game you can continue to play other interesting challenges.  The goal is to build the Church and start new groups in different regions and cities, along with collecting the books of the New Testament, building your faith deck, and persevering through the trials.  Generally, game play takes about one hour from start to finish.  Watch out, as you don’t want your churches to be extinguished!


commissioned-pic-2How we played it

I am someone who would always rather read directions than watch a video on how to do something.  (I realize in this day and age, I’m in the minority!)  However, this is one time when you absolutely want to watch Patrick Lysaght’s 24-minute “How To Play” video.  (This is found at the Commissioned link.)  This game is so enjoyable, but just reading the directions (which are very clearly written and beautifully illustrated) wasn’t quite enough for us.  So, the first two times my husband, son and I played Commissioned, we watched Mr. Lysaght’s video AS we were playing.  He describes how to set up the board, what each game piece or card does, and then he takes you through playing an actual game.  The first time, we sort of understood it.  But the second time, our reaction was, “OH!  That’s how you do it.  How cool!”

We’re a 3-person family, so we had a perfect number of players (although clearly, we could have had more people over to play and things would also have worked well).


commissioned-pic-3What our family thought

We loved it!  We enjoyed playing a board game together; honestly, we’ve played more cards or video games in the last couple of months than board games.  So it was wonderful to have a fascinating game we could enjoy together.  Our son is 14, so I think it was also good timing for him, as there are some tough things that happened to the early Christian church that do come up in this game; like lions, imprisonment, persecution.  Yet the cool thing is that players can see, in a gaming fashion that I know they can then apply to real life, that tribulations CAN be overcome.  Plus, it’s just fun!

I found it interesting to see how the three of us reacted as we played through the game.  In many ways, Commissioned is a collaborative game, so players work together using their Faith cards to overcome struggles.  My son did a great job in seeing what cards would most benefit us as we worked to overcome the struggle.  My husband is apparently the strategy king; he reminded us here and there how we could move in ways that would benefit the church overall.  Me?  I just loved playing the game with my guys, and being reminded of some of the amazing things God did in the early church.  We all liked the way it gives a very visual image of what life was like in the early church, from a macro perspective.

We say:  big thumbs up!


commissioned-pic-5Who would enjoy Commissioned?

If you, or someone you know:

  • loves tabletop or board games
  • enjoys world-building games
  • has played that Catan game and liked it
  • is looking for ways to enjoy family game time
  • is interested in learning how the Christian church might have spread
  • or is just looking for a fascinating new game…

then you might just love Commissioned!  You don’t have to be a Christian to thoroughly enjoy this game…although enjoying history would probably be a plus.  The game is interesting historically, extremely fun and fascinating to play, and something that we truly enjoyed.  The more you play it, the more you’ll understand it; but those who’ve played world-building, collaborative games before will probably get it immediately.

Honestly, anyone who likes board games should check this out!


commissioned-pic-4You can find Commissioned at:

Visit Chara Games to purchase Commissioned.  And read more about this neat company while you’re there!  Other Crew members of the Homeschool Review Crew also played and reviewed Commissioned.  If you click on the banner below, you can read about their experiences!

3-seeds-reap-where-you-sow-3_zpswpje7juhAlso–we’re really excited about reviewing another game from Chara Games called 3 Seeds.  Keep an eye out for that review, which is coming soon!

Visit Chara Games at their social media sites:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CharaGames/
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/CharaGames/  @Charagames

Enjoy! –Wren

Commissioned {Chara Games}Crew Disclaimer

FlipStir Puzzles Review ~ Crazy Puzzle Fun

Recently, our family was able to review a quite unusual product!  Enlivenze LLC has created a puzzle line called FlipStir Puzzles.  They are most unique and amazing–I’ve never worked a puzzle quite like this!  We received the Statue of Liberty FlipStir Puzzle to review for the Schoolhouse Review Crew.


FlipStir Banner graphic

What are FlipStir Puzzles?

FlipStir Puzzles from Enlivenze LLC are puzzle games enclosed in a see-through plastic canister.  The canister has a plastic base (so that it can stand up) and a top, with all the puzzle pieces and a metal “wand” inside.  The puzzle pieces are all jumbled up when you get them, and you use the wand to put all the puzzle pieces in order without taking off the top.  In fact, you can’t take off the top!  You have to solve the puzzle with and only with the wand.

The FlipStir Puzzles come in Level 1 and Level 2, increasing in difficulty, and are recommended for ages 7 and up. FlipStir Puzzles are available in various types:  Rainbow Pencils, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Solar System, and Statue of Liberty.  (And one more that I’ll mention at the end of this review!)


FlipStir bannerA Statue of Liberty FlipStir?

Yes, we received the FlipStir Statue of Liberty puzzle!  This puzzle is categorized as Level 2 in difficulty.  It has 10 puzzle pieces inside the enclosed canister, and the box it comes in has a photo of the completed puzzle so you know what it should look like when you’re finished.  (Just in case anyone doesn’t remember what the Statue of Liberty looks like!)  There are two puzzle pieces with one flat side and one curved; all the other 8 pieces are curved on both sides.  Our job was to fit the puzzle pieces together so that we could see the finished Statue.


FlipStir pic 2Our experiences

Our FlipStir Puzzle box has the following motto:  Shake.  Stir.  Solve.  That’s exactly how  you work this puzzle!  You can see in the picture above, my son Jackson is holding the FlipStir canister with the puzzle pieces all jumbled up; they’ve been shaken and stirred so that there is no order.  You can’t really tell yet that it’s going to become the Statue of  Liberty when solved.

The metal wand running down the center of the canister has a small hook on its end.  With that hook, players capture different puzzle pieces and rearrange them until they’re in order.

So how did that work for us?  All three of my family members worked on our FlipStir Puzzle on and off.  It is not that simple or easy….yet really, it is doable by both children and adults.  Jackson worked on it first.  I worked on it next.  Each of us was able to put different pieces in order.  But it was my IT expert husband, Jackson’s dad, who solved the whole puzzle.  Ta-da!

FlipStir pic 3Hubs thought it was “fun and relatively easy; (he) didn’t think it was relatively complex once (he) figured out what needed to be done.”  I thought it was more difficult than he did though!  I have to admit that I solve puzzles more easily in 2D apparently than 3D; I can see what needs to happen in a flat puzzle better than I can in a three-dimensional puzzle.  Jackson is more like his dad in his abilities though.  He has loved interlocking building toys for years and builds them all the time, so I think he found it more similar to puzzles he’s used to solving.

Some great things about FlipStir Puzzles:

  • They’re a great mental challenge
  • They are really family-friendly—anyone from children to grandparents can successfully play
  • You never lose a puzzle piece
  • The pictures are interesting and colorful
  • Because they’re self-contained, the puzzles are easy to take on car trips or anywhere else, really
  • They are easy to store and don’t take up a lot of room



Flip Stir logoWhere to find FlipStir Puzzles

You may purchase the Statue of Liberty FlipStir Puzzle at Enlivenze LLC.  The 4 different puzzle styles I mentioned above are all available there.  Plus (squee!!) Enlivenze LLC also sells a limited edition Periodic Table of the Elements FlipStir puzzle!  (I think that’s going to have to be a future purchase for us!  We LOVE the periodic table!)

If you love educational games or puzzles, you must check out FlipStir.  Unique, fun, challenging puzzle-solving fun!

You can visit the company’s social media sites for more information!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/flipstirpuzzle
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/flipstir
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/enlivenze
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/enlivenze

FlipStir Puzzles ReviewsCrew DisclaimerEnjoy! –Wren

Hey Mama! The Newest Lesson Planner from THE OLD SCHOOLHOUSE

The Old Schoolhouse has so generously provided members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew with a copy of their brand new planner for the coming school year!  I received a copy of the Hey Mama! Print Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 to use and review.  Just in time, because my current planner closes at the end of June!

Hey Mama! bannerI personally LOVE office supplies.  And school supplies.  So getting my hands on the newest planning tool from The Old Schoolhouse—exciting!


Hey Mama 1

What is the Hey Mama! Print Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017?

This wonderful new publication is a homeschool print planner for this upcoming school year, starting in July 2016 and running through June 2017.  (It’s also available from SchoolhouseTeachers.com in a digital version.)  The print version is spiral-bound, with smooth, shiny card stock front and back covers.  And through July 15, The Old Schoolhouse is providing a code so that you can get it at a nice discount!  (Just keep reading for more information on that.)


Hey Mama! 2What will you find in the Hey Mama! planner?

In the Hey Mama! planner, you’ll find the following sections:

  • 2016-2018 yearly calendars, one page each
  • Monthly calendars
  • Fun & encouraging Hey Mama! letters from Gena Suarez, “just another mama” and publisher @TheOldSchoolhouse.com
  • Weekly planners for your daily and weekly homeschool lesson plans
  • Goal pages for the year, the semesters, and the months
  • Photos and descriptions of the vintage items on the front cover
  • Information on how to create an academic transcript
  • Key information on the U.S., and America’s history and political system
  • and more!



Hey Mama! 3How I used it:

We were blessed to receive this neat planner in late May.  Since it starts in July, I’m not using it yet for recording the homeschool lessons we’re doing this summer.  What I have done, though, is to begin to calendar our upcoming schedules for the summer and fall (coop registration, volunteer days, piano lessons, and so on).  I’ve also used the “Notes” pages (there’s one for each month) to start to list the to-do items I’d like to accomplish during those months.

Hey Mama! 4

I’ve also looked over some of the fun facts pages.  There is a really neat writing prompts section (SO creative!) as well as some story starter pages.  I always love utilizing these for our creative writing times.  And, since the summer reading program in our city started yesterday, I’m looking forward to filling up those “Books Read This Year” pages!

Hey Mama 5

My thoughts:

As I’ve mentioned earlier, I LOVE homeschool and office supplies.  I also love paper lesson and calendar planners.  I have dipped my toes into the world of online planners, but I keep coming back to the paper ones.  I love having something in my hands, first of all.  I find it so much easier to change or alter lesson plans when I write them down on paper (with pencil) to begin with.  And I love how easy they are for me to access, whether I’m near a computer or not; all I have to do is pick up the planner and write!

I love the smooth covers of the Hey Mama! Print Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017.  They’re very comfortable to hold. (Nice if you’re a person who notices tactile things!)  And while the planner contains a year’s worth of pages, it’s still not heavy and is very easy to carry around. The spiral binding is very high-quality, and allowed me to either lay the planner out on the table open, or to flip the front around so that only one page is in view (like you would a spiral notebook).

I love Gena Suarez’ wise and thoughtful letters that are scattered throughout the planner.  I have received The Old Schoolhouse emails for years, even before I began reviewing for TOS‘ Schoolhouse Review Crew, and I have enjoyed her kind and thoughtful words of encouragement and blessing for as long as I’ve been getting them.  Here, it’s really nice to have those thoughts at hand, and I know that they will encourage me throughout the year.

I like the way the Attendance Chart is laid out.  So clear, and easy for me to use (and for my mind to process or calculate).  I like the Weekly Planner layouts, the goals pages, the contact lists page and all the little historical extras that are included.  This year, I’ll be replacing the current brand I’ve been using with the Hey Mama! planner.  I love it!


Hey Mama 6How you can get your own Hey Mama! planner!

The Old Schoolhouse has generously provided a code which will enable you to purchase your own Hey Mama! planner for only $19, including shipping!  You can purchase the Hey Mama! Print Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017   from The Old Schoolhouse.  Use CREWCODE for the discount (this code expires on July 15, so don’t wait!).  I really think you’ll enjoy this wonderful planner!


Coupon Code Hey Mama Planner 2016 2017

You can visit The Old Schoolhouse at the following social media sites:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/theoldschoolhouse/?fref=ts
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tosmagazine/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/TOSMag  @TOSMag
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Theoldschoolhouse1

Enjoy! –Wren


Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner 2016-2017 ReviewCrew Disclaimer

Homeschool Art with ARTistic Pursuits’ SCULPTURE TECHNIQUE MODEL

This semester, we’ve had another opportunity to use an ARTistic Pursuits Inc. curriculum for our art lessons!

ARTistic Pursuits Model bannerVia the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we received Sculpture Technique Model from ARTistic Pursuits Inc.  to use and review.  With the different ARTistic Pursuits books we’ve used over the years, Jackson and I have been constantly exposed to new art media and projects, many of which were completely unfamiliar to us when we started the various curricula.  This time was no exception!

What is ARTistic Pursuits Inc.?

ARTistic Pursuits Inc. produces art lessons which any homeschooler (whether she thinks she’s artistically inclined or not) can use to teach art to her children.  Their books cover a variety of artists, art techniques, and projects for students from preschool age through high school.  We’ve actually used their books before, and reviewed their Middle School 6-8, Volume 2: Color and Composition and Sculpture Technique: Construct for the Crew.  This time, Jackson was most interested in trying out the Sculpture Technique Model, and we were quite thrilled to be selected to review it!


Sculpture Technique Model 2What is Sculpture Technique Model ?

Sculpture Technique Model is designed to be taught over the course of a year to homeschool students of varying ages, working with a parent.  Students learn and experience the techniques of modeling in art, in the following three units:

  • “Creating Mass with Putty”
  • “Creating Scale with Clay”
  • “Creating Surface with Fiber”

Units first define the subject matter covered in them, and show some real-life examples of that type of art.  Then, author Brenda Ellis describes the materials (the art medium and tools) used as well as necessary safety instructions.  Directions on how to work with the medium are then covered.  Then, the fun begins!  In each unit, numerous project ideas and plans are offered, with materials lists, step-by-step instructions, and photos of various steps and finished projects.  (You do have to purchase materials separately for each of the manuals.)



AP Model 1How we used it

Jackson selected “Unit 3: Creating Surface with Fiber” to work on.  It was completely unlike any art projects we’ve ever done.  And we loved it!

In “Creating Surface with Fiber,” students create a number of different sculptures (both 2D and 3D) with wool roving by “felting.”  Wool roving is wool from a sheep (or alpaca, etc.) that has been “cleaned, carded, dyed, and gathered into long strips (p. 50, Sculpture Technique Model).”  The strips are then either sold in a roll or in a small package (you can see examples of those rolls in the banner at the top  of this post).  The wool roving is ideal for felting, because you’re able to use it to make sheets of felt, or sculptures, with it.


AP Model 2

And what is “felting”?  Felting is simply when you take wool roving (while the wool is still in the long strips) and turn it into felt or felt shapes.  You can do this with sharp barbed needles especially made for felting, which is called “needle felting.”  Or, you can do what’s called “wet felting,” where you use hot soapy water, bubble wrap, and friction to create design and shape with the felt.  We have a needle set for felting, but we stuck with wet felting for now just because neither of us had any experience whatsoever with felting, and I wanted us to gain some good practice and skills with wet felting before we progressed to using tiny sharp objects!  🙂


AP Model 3a

And gain experience we did!  Jackson selected the projects we worked on.  I did the shopping for the materials.  Then, we did the work together to create the various projects.  Each one took about an hour to complete.  We’d leave them out overnight to dry, then the next morning they would be completely dry and ready to display.

We both found the process completely enjoyable!  The wool texture was pleasant to work with.  Because each piece took about an hour of rolling, pressing, and squeezing, Jackson and I took turns (for example, we’d each work on the wool for about 5 minutes at a time, then we’d trade off).  That was great because neither of us got tired of doing it.  It provided time for pleasant conversation, and we really enjoyed working together.  Jackson particularly enjoyed it; he said it was “awesome!”

Each project had very clear step-by-step instructions and photos or drawings, which was so helpful since we’d never done any felting.  The stocking was a bit easier to complete, simply because it was a flat creation and the vase was 3D.  We’ll probably make another vase in the future, just because now we’ve done it once and know a little more experientially about how to make it.

I also appreciated that Brenda Ellis included several color wheels in this unit.  It’s so helpful to know which colors might work well together in a sculpture, and why.


AP Model 5Our conclusions

We definitely recommend Sculpture Technique Model to you!  In fact, I think that of all the ARTistic Pursuits books we’ve used, this one is my favorite.  It introduced us beautifully to the world of fabric sculpture.  And, it has much more in the book (like the units on putty and clay creations) that we still can do!  (Not to mention the extra projects when I’m brave enough to try the needle felting!)

You may purchase Sculpture Technique Model from ARTistic Pursuits Inc..  Definitely take a moment to look at all the other ARTistic Pursuits books available at the company website.  And, you can also learn more of those books which were reviewed by other Schoolhouse Review Crew members by clicking on the banner below!

Enjoy! –Wren

ARTistic Pursuits Inc. ReviewCrew Disclaimer

GREEMU ~ A Review of a New Plant-Based “Emu” Oil

Once again, we’ve had the opportunity to try an interesting natural product from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  Devonian, a company associated with Koru Naturals (whose products we have seriously adored), has created and produced a brand new oil called GREEMU.  We received a 4-ounce bottle to use and review.

Greemu Devonian Review 

What is GREEMU Oil?

GREEMU Oil is a plant-based beauty oil.  It’s especially designed for those who’d love the benefits of emu oil but would prefer not to use an animal-derived product.  Scientists from Devonian have developed this oil, whose lipids (fats) mimic the ones found in emu oil (myristic, palmitic, palmitoleic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, and linolenic acids) in type and composition.

The major difference between emu oil and GREEMU Oil is that all the oils that comprise GREEMU are from plants.  It’s actually a quite fascinating list!  In GREEMU,  you’ll find Macadamia Seed Oil, Palm Oil (from organic and sustainable sources), Shea Butter, Sunflower Seed Oil, and Rice Bran Oil.

According to Devonian, GREEMU Oil can be used to condition dry hair and split ends.  It can also be used to “protect and nourish” skin.

How we used GREEMU

I have used and appreciated emu oil.  It has so many wonderful properties and is both a great hair conditioner and skin nourisher.  Because of GREEMU’s ingredients, I was particularly interested in using it.  I’d heard great things about macadamia oil and rice bran oil, especially.

But….I  should have paid a bit more attention to the following Safety Warning located at the Devonian website: “GREEMUTM  is for external use only and is not for people allergic to plant oils.”

Well, of course I did NOT take the oil internally.  But apparently I am one of the people who has an allergy to an ingredient!  I’ve never displayed an allergy to any of the listed ingredients.  But here is what happened.

I thought I’d apply the GREEMU to the back of my left hand to begin with, just to ensure things would go well.  It has a texture and consistency quite like the emu oil; a thick whitish oil.  Just as with emu, you don’t have to apply a lot; a few drops go a long way.  I rubbed it into the skin on my hand, where it felt cool and pleasant.  It actually looked and felt very nourishing on my skin, and the dry, tight feeling I’d had before I applied it disappeared.

But then, I started to notice that I had something on my hand (not like lotion or other oils, which seem to sink in and just leave your skin feeling smoother).  Then my eyes began to water.  Then I became congested.  Then I felt uncomfortable.

And THEN I washed my hands repeatedly and took Benadryl!

My symptoms subsided over the next hour, and I did wash my hands several more times.  But clearly, this safety warning applied to me.

Greemu Devonian Review 

In conclusion:

I’d imagine that my experience is not a common one.  I won’t be using the GREEMU Oil again (and actually am passing my bottle on to a friend, whose family’s experiences with GREEMU were marvelous).  However, I do recommend to you that you click on the banner below which will allow you to see others’ reviews and experiences.  That will give you a full picture of GREEMU Oil and its uses and benefits!

You may purchase GREEMU from Devonian.

And be sure to visit Devonian at their social media links!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/korunaturals
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/korunaturals/

Enjoy!  –Wren

Greemu Devonian ReviewCrew Disclaimer

Throwback Thursday….New Beauty Product….for great Brows!!

It’s 2016 and this post originally appeared in October 2013! It’s become even more of a daily staple..love it!!

Winner of the Allure Best of Beauty Awards 2013!!

Let’s face it, brows are back in a big way; whether you have blond brows, were the victim of over tweezing, or just notice that like everything, age happens, it’s time to do something about it!

Benefit brow

I’m a product junkie and love to try new things, especially when it makes life easier and shortens a morning routine!

I love Gimme Brow..a new product from Benefit cosmetics.

This brush-on fiber gel adheres to skin & hair…creating thicker, fuller looking brows.

It’s easy to apply, similar to a clear brow gel.

Start at the inner corner of the brow and trace along the desired shape.

It’s available in two complementary shades: light/medium and medium/deep.

• Water resistant
• Long-wearing
If you ditch all your eyebrow pencils and inks and just use this, the $22.00 price tag is worth it!

Best Kid Bible Ever ~ Zonderkidz’ FAITH BUILDERS BIBLE

What if you could combine Bible reading with your child’s favorite building toy?

Faith Builders Bible banner

Then you would have Zonderkidz‘ awesome new Bible for brick-building kiddos, the Faith Builders Bible!  We were ever so fortunate to receive and review a copy of this outstanding Bible for Jackson to use.  And we have just loved it!


Zondervan Logo_zpsaxmkrrcjWhat is the Faith Builders Bible?

The Faith Builders Bible was created especially for children (or really, Lego lovers of ANY age) by  Zonderkidz, the children’s publishing section of Zondervan.  It is a complete Bible in the New International Reader’s Version, which lends itself very well to children who read on their own, or for parents reading the Bible to their children.  The language is very accessible to younger readers, or those in elementary or middle school.  But this Bible also has some very special features that will delight brick fans of all ages!

The Bible itself is an 8 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ hardback book with a laminated cover.  It’s just over an inch in thickness and is very sturdy.  The pages (except for the color photos interspersed throughout the Bible) are tissue-thin, as you’ll often find in Bibles.


Faith Builders 1What will you find in this Bible?

The Faith Builders Bible contains the following:

  • Table of Contents
  • an Alphabetical Order of the Books of the Bible list, complete with page numbers
  • A Word About the New International Reader’s Version
  • All 66 books of the Bible
  • DictionaryFaith Builders Bible 01_samptxt_zpse6j85o3u
  • a listing of “Great Bible Stories” and their page numbers in this Bible
  • Bright, glossy pictures of astounding creative brick builds of crucial Bible scenes
  • “Building Block” verses and building ideas
  • The ABCs of Salvation, The Lord’s Prayer, the Fruit of the Spirit and more


Faith Builders pic 3How we used the Faith Builders Bible

We like to include Bible reading as part of our homeschool day, and as part of our lives overall in general.  Jackson used the Faith Builders Bible for his daily Bible reading.  I assign him a chapter or two for his devotional reading, which we like to do at the beginning of our homeschool day.  We’ve also used it for Bible read-alouds for a Bible study we’re currently doing on parts of the New Testament.

I like to vary Bible versions for my own Bible reading, because for me sometimes a different wording of a familiar verse can bring fresh meaning or vision. The NIrV has blessed us with that as well.  It’s very understandable to a child’s ear, and it works well whether it’s read aloud or just to oneself.  We’ve particularly enjoyed it as we have studied the beginning of the book of Luke.  Words we’re familiar with about Zechariah, Elizabeth, Gabriel and John have read beautifully aloud and have sounded fresh and vibrant.

Faith Builders Bible 03_samptxt_zps6uee1la1And…Jackson and I have sat together and looked at the pictures of Bible scenes built via Lego bricks.  They are truly spectacular; you can tell that whoever composed and created these builds must be thoroughly familiar with, and a lover of, both Lego bricks and the Word of God.  The pictures are just incredible, and each one includes a short description of the Bible scenes being depicted.

We also built the Lego display of the stacked books of the Bible, arranged by categories (i.e., history, prophecy, gospels, epistles, etc.).  It really gave us a vivid illustration of all that our Bible is comprised of, and can offer!  This inspiration to see brick-built Bible scenes will not only bless and encourage your children, and maybe even teach them.  It’s also very likely to inspire them to build their own faith-related brick creations!

And, our favorite parts of this Bible?  Jackson’s favorite brick page was probably the building of the tabernacle.  It’s pretty spectacular, and enables the viewer to finally SEE what that ancient prescribed place of worship could have looked like.  My favorite was Samson at the temple.  It is just majestic, and the moment is just before Samson’s strength returns and it all comes crashing down.  Like these, all the Lego builds are beautifully done and communicate much more than just the coolness of Lego.  They remind us as well of the great truths of the Christian faith and of Jesus and all those who have gone before us.



Faith Builders Bible 01_samptxt_zpse6j85o3uWhat we thought about it

I have to admit that when we received this Bible, Jackson and I were both seriously overjoyed!  (There even might have been some jumping up and down.)  It is REALLY a delight.  And joy and delight truly are the right words to describe how we felt about it!

Picking up the Bible in our family is something we regularly do.  And Jackson does have a Bible of his own, that he used before we received Faith Builders Bible.  But the combination of two of his favorite things–brick-built creations and the Word of God–added up to a book he was eager to use every day.  There weren’t many days when we didn’t pick it up and say words to the effect of, “This is SO cool!” or “I can’t believe this build of (fill in the blank).”  The pictures of the Lego builds of Bible scenes are incredible.  We like that familiar Bible stories are listed at the back along with page numbers, so if my son wants to read about the feeding of the 5000, for example, he can check that list, find the correct page(s), and go right to the account.  This is something that I believe will help all children!

I do want to share that the pages themselves are very thin, yet not quite as delicate as one might expect.  The font size is small yet is almost bolded, so that the words are pretty easy to read (even for adults!).



Faith Builders pic 4Our recommendations

We definitely, definitely recommend  for your children!  The pictures and Lego builds are spectacular.  Any child who loves building with bricks is going to adore this.  And best yet—maybe the photos and building tips they’ll find in Faith Builders Bible will encourage them to read more of the Bible!

You can find Zonderkidz‘ wonderful kids’ Bible at Faith Builders Bible.  Be sure to check it out!  I’m sure that your own favorite Lego-loving child must have a birthday or other celebration coming up!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Zonderkidz/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/zonderkidz

Enjoy!!  –Wren


Faith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}Crew Disclaimer