TOS Crew Review: America the Beautiful from the Notgrass Company…


I just want to share one of our favorite history programs. We have several years of this curriculum and it is still on our “school shelf” for us to use when needed or just for looking something up.

Keep Notgrass History in mind while your looking for an easy to follow program. We have used the High School curriculum as well as the middle school curriculum. We love both.

I will be sharing some of my old reviews as I gear up to write more up to date posts.


Originally posted on Welcome to our Cottage Life...:


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Notgrass Company
A family business since 1999
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Ages 10-14
Grades 7-8

America The Beautiful Student Workbook
Grades 5-6

About America the Beautiful:

Notgrass’  America the Beautiful offers history and geography curriculum from a biblical perspective, complete with easy to follow lesson plans. The main lesson books for America the Beautiful come in hardback making it lay open flat for ease of reading and keeping track of your assignments with out closing and going back to find the page you were on.  The curriculum is so full of information and photographs that you get 2 books for the curriculum, plus the supplement books in the pack.
In book 1 you have 15 units with each unit having 5 lessons. In book 2 you have units 16-30.

At the beginning of each unit…

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Coming back to the heart of homeschooling…

I have been on a journey, some of it good, some of it frustrating. My journey has brought me through many of life happenings along with some heart and emotional issues that had to deal with homeschooling. To be honest I was hating homeschooling. I was so burnt out that I literally was counting down the years until I could stop. How long was it until I could get my house back. How long until I could get rid of all the curriculum and books I have collected, and I collected a lot because I am, or was, a curriculum and book junky.

I graduated my eldest a year early. Then I took a year off, basically. We ran a home daycare (we needed the income) and my youngest unschooled, again. I really could not stand to “do school” another day. I was physically and mentally drained. I could not keep up. We purchased a house that needed work (see quad crashers series for some posts). I was trying to homeschool, renovate, and then start a daycare on top of all the other homekeeping I was doing. I finally gave up. I just couldn’t do it any more.

Since then we have sold that house and purchased another fixer upper. This time is different. I am not doing a daycare. My youngest is focusing on being a chef as we plan the upcoming school year. She has been thriving in the areas she is most interested as well as learning new instruments on her own or with the help from her older sister. My oldest is working and preparing to study to history through online college.  Things are moving right along.

So how did I come to a heart change back to homeschooling? I am not sure. Some how God has spoken to me and showed me that my priorities have been wrong. I tend to worry, about everything that is little. But not the big stuff. When my husband was laid off several times, I didn’t worry. I knew God would take care of us. But little things, how my house looks, earning money to pay for house decor or candles or tires for my Jeep, or just having my Jeep. It was my dream car, but it kept us in debt. God has shown me I have let my self get materialistic, when I use to care less about things. Pressure from others to “keep up” can be detrimental to your spiritual life. Some people are always in a competition with you whether you realize it or not. Eventually you do realize it and you also realize that is has been effecting you and gets you off track. That happens in life and in homeschooling, which is why I don’t join co-op groups. I would always feel bad because I wasn’t doing this or that, or I wasn’t using this expensive curriculum that is supposedly the best.

But now I am refocused, or getting refocused. I am getting excited about homeschooling again. I don’t feel the pressure. I do want to mention that I feel like I have been on a roller coaster ride with homeschooling. When I started out I felt frustrated, then I didn’t care what others thought and was blissful, then I developed burn out that became a raging fire. Now I am headed towards bliss again, I hope lol.

Our new home is another fixer upper. But I am not going to let it get in my way. Most of the big stuff is done. We are in the middle of the kitchen remodel and when that is done we should be ready to start school. I have that part planned out. This home is going to be different. The last one was for us to fix up and flip. This home is going to be just that, a home. A place where my grandchildren will come to visit, when I have them, and a place where we will have large family gatherings.

I know this was kinda long for me but I really wanted to share what was going on.

This is why I am coming back to this blog. It was my outlet as I walked through my homeschool journey. I miss it. So I am back….

PS: I will be doing some remodeling on the blog so please be patient if you see it looking weird or disorganized.

Posted in Home/Family, Homeschooling | Tagged | 1 Comment

Homeschool: Summer Teaching and Activity Ideas…

Now we homeschool all year round and take our “summer” breaks through out the year, especially from Thanksgiving to the New Year because we really cherish those family times together.

Usually in the summer we focus a lot on homesteading. We have been working on a list of things we could, or might,  do this summer and I thought I would list some ideas.  Feel free to shout out some of your own ideas in the comments. I would love to have some more ideas.

  • Bird Watching: This one my 15yo came up with. Our new home has an abbanner-joinundance of different types of birds and we would like to figure out what each of them are.  Join The Ohio Ornithological Society.
  • Gardening: We always do this one. Grow our own veggies. Plant some flowers. This is an easy science focus. About 2 years ago we planted a ton of clover in a “clover bed” we made and we enjoyed watching the bunnies come every morning for breakfast.
  • Learn how to have an indoor herb garden. (click HERE for a variety of Google pics) We want to attach mason jars to a piece of wood and hang it on the kitchen wall. It could be fun to watch how it grows and when we cut some off see if it grows back there or if shoots off in multiple locations.  We can also use this try new combinations of herbs for recipes.
  • Find a new hobby like painting nature.
  • Do more photography. Make a list of things we want to photograph and make an album and add to it as we find those things. Maybe do this in a scavenger hunt kind of way.
  • Throw a Tea Party. Make finger foods. Make some scones topped with Lemon Curd. I love lemon things.
  • Build a Picnic Table from scratch using power tools. Learn to read blue prints / plans. This is a good one for the wood working Papa Bear! Mama Bear just wants to sit at it.
  • Build benches that go around trees. Can you tell I am focusing on what I need Papa Bear to do around here but its good for the kids to learn building skills and this also helps with learning to read a tape measure.
  • Start up a book club where the books are all Beach or Summer Themed. Get friends involved and meet once a month.  Discuss the books at the Tea Party!
  • Learn a new instrument (I want to learn to play the Banjo, we really like Bluegrass). My Kiwi is learning to play the Bagpipes on a Practice Chanter, and Dede has been learning to play the Ukelele.  They have also taught them selves piano but only Dede is learning to read music.
  • Volunteer. Find something we are passionate about and volunteer.
  • Practice our manners and respecting others. Learn how we can help others and not be selfish. There is too much selfishness in this world today so lets be selfless. Practice doing good deeds. I can’t stand to see people treat others in a way that doesn’t respect the person. People tend to be so self absorbed these days, walking right by someone in a store or other place that needs help and they rush away. About two weeks ago I was at Aldi’s Grocery Store and gave my cart to an elderly man and his wife. You would have thought I gave him a hundred dollars. For those of you who don’t know, you have to put a quarter in the cart to get it and I refused to take that mans quarter. That meant so much to him and I thought it was a tiny act of kindness. What we think is tiny could mean the world to someone else. Ok, off my soap box…
  • For those who do bible study with your family or children, pick a new study. Women of the bible, How Jesus showed love to others while judging their sin at the same time, dig in to the archeology of Jesus’ time like how they lived at that time. What did they eat out of? Did they have eating utensils or did they use their hands? What kind ofindex furniture would they have made? What woods (trees) were available at that time? What were other plants around the area? Look at an Historical Atlas and see if the boundaries have changed. Get creative. Think of things around you and see how or what was different back in bible times.
  • Do a study on politics that you wouldn’t normally study from a text book. Compare thoughts about ideas and issues and how each political party looks at the issues. Watch different news stations (local probably won’t work, go for the bigger Fox, CNN, MSNBC, ect) on the same issue and compare how each station slants the story one way or another, or if they all feel the same about a story or how their views are different.
  • Make your own music video and or movie or TV show. Act out an episode of a TV show or movie you like
  • Learn a new sport or outdoor activity like Archery.
  • Get creative and invent your own game.
  • Write a book or short story.

Ok, that is all I have for now.  Don’t forget to shout out your ideas, or a link to your similar post. If you post a link to your homeschool site Summer Activity list I will stop by.

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DIY: Simple Chair Redo…

I inherited these 2 country chairs from the previous homeowner of our new home that we are remodeling.  I am not going to go into details on how I spray pained them, if your not sure how to spray paint, visit for a tutorial. IMG_20150417_112845

I love this yellow paint, Rust-Oleum Sun Yellow, and have used it on several items around the house including a high chair, post HERE.  (I don’t use the chair pad. The little girl I was babysitting didn’t like it) I use this chair as a plant stand now. My daughter plans on using it when she has children one day (she is only 15 lol).

So here are the chairs.  I think they turned out nice. They are really not as bright in the house I don’t think, but I love bright so it didn’t matter to me.
I will update lateIMG_20150417_151630r when I get to use them at the ends of my trestle table when my husband gets that built for our hearth room which is still under remodel. We tore out an old brick half wall, reclaimed the brick for another project, and I will be posting that fun adventure later. The new hardwood floor has to be put down in the kitchen and hearth area. We hope to have that finished in the next month or two. We do get new windows this week so YAY!
Its been hard for my husband to get work done around the house since he is working a lot of hours. This past week he managed to get ceiling fans up in all the bedrooms. He keeps mumbling “how can anyone live in a house and never put ceiling fans in”. Our house was built in 1979 and has never had ceiling fans. We don’t like a lot of lamps. It is unnecessary clutter to me though I do have some when the right decor calls for them.

Well, I am off to make some new country valances for my family, hearth, and kitchen. I will post those later when the room is all done (paneling gone I hope, painted, hardwood down, decorated, but the kitchen remodel will be a while so I won’t wait for that)

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6 Treasures of the Lord’s Prayer

Originally posted on Chronicles of a Kid Next Door:

6 Treasures of the Lord's Prayer I am greatly inspired by the life and works of Augustine of Hippo. St. Augustine in His Study by Vittore Carpaccio, 1502

Please Note: God willing, I would like this post to reach as many people as possible. If you could spare a moment and share on Facebook, Twitter or re-blog I will be very grateful.

Christianity is littered with numerousprayer cliché, prayer works, prayer changes things, PUSH – pray until something happens. We have the bumper stickers, have worn the T-shirt or bought the DVD, but did that transform your prayer? I will be lying if I say I have found the secret, I don’t.

After noticing my prayer life hitting a dry patch, I began questioning if I knew what prayer was. I believe God led me to Luke 11 and Matthew 6 there I discovered how knowing God revolutionize prayer. Our prayer life…

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The Family Meal Table a study I am doing…

For my DIY, Knit, Crochet, ect. readers, I really do have some projects I have been working on. I will be posting later in the week about one of those. Thanks for being patient.

I have always been a fan of a family sitting down and eating together. I have been a long time reader of Above Rubies and decided to pick up their book The Family Meal Table and the DVD that goes along with the teaching. I also picked up the audio about Atmosphere of Your Home. I also some other products of theirs and may write about them later. I also have a subscription to their magazine that I highly recommend if you want inspiration for a Godly home. I really wished I had found this ministry when I was young and before I had children. I was not from a Godly home so I didn’t know how true Godly families acted and what they did, and we would have been considered lukewarm Christians who acted like the world, and now we know better but are still not perfect and are works in progress.
Now I am learning at a time I feel is almost too late for us as parents, but not as Grandparents, when that happens.

Here are some links to these products (click titles). I am not an affiliate and they do not know I am writing this:IMG_20150420_143245

The Family Meal Table and Hospitality

The Family Meal Table in Action

The Atmosphere of Your Home


I have been studying this book and DVD, and implementing it in our lives. I am a little slow on reading the book but I have watched the DVD twice, and my husband has once.
I have had a few, or a lot, of light bulb moments while watching the DVD. I kept asking my self “why didn’t I notice that?” There are so many references in the bible to eating at Gods meal table. The last supper is an example that is obvious but there are so many other examples. Jesus talking about eating at his Father’s table in heaven. There were lots of examples of people getting together and “breaking bread” in the bible. Family and friends came together and would celebrate for days all while feasting. It seems so many holidays are centered around food, but it all comes down to families being together and rejoicing in what God has blessed them with.

A few years ago I had a friend, who also homeschools, who told me when I figured out how to not be busy and I write about it, to let her know. I immediately thought, “stop signing your kids up for every little thing” and “learn to say NO when people ask you to head things up or volunteer to do things”. I know its hard for those who tend to naturally be busy bees who have lots of energy and feel they have to do something. I luckily am happy to stay at home and be a “home maker”, not a “car maker”. I didn’t say anything to this friend because I did not want to offend her by just blurting out my thoughts. I tend to be blunt so I really have to try and think before I say things so I don’t come out sounding mean or disrespectful. So I never said what I really thought. And to this day, she is probably still busy running all over God’s green earth, taking her kids to and from activities that really won’t matter latter in life. Its just to socialize more than anything.

I was watching Reba, the TV show is one of my youngest daughters favorites, and the episode was about sitting down and eating dinner together. Jake, the young son, was going to his dad’s house for dinners every night so he could have a sit down meal with his dad, step mom, and siblings.  As the drama ensued, Reba felt guilty that they were not sitting down at her house together. Most nights, it was insinuated, they spent dinners in front of the TV. By the end of the episode, Jake happily exclaimed he had it good because he had several dinners every night with different people in the family. I thought about that and it was a good point. He, along with others in America, do sit in front of the TV with other family members eating food, or while the other person is eating, and conversing about their day or other topics. Its not the ideal family meal setting but for some its the best they get and for some families, they probably do have great moments.

Even if your on the go, I bet your still talking about your day and how much fun you had doing something. Or maybe your singing that favorite worship song that came on the radio. Some families chose to be busy and they don’t get that sitting down at the table meal. But I do think as long as your being productive in your time together, either at the table or on the go, talk about meaningful things, talk about what God is doing in your life. Talk about his blessings. Even talk about the struggles in your life and give them over to God. Sing worship songs. Recite your memorized scripture together. Listen to the bible on audio. They have apps that will read the bible to you, even some are dramatized if you like to listen to your bible in an exciting “play like” setting.

I am one of those people that never wanted to be busy running every night. I limited my kids to one activity a week if they wanted but it was after dinner time or before. I never gave it a thought to make it a priority to have a family meal time until  my husband started working “retail hours” and was missing dinner with us. Then I started realizing this was not what I wanted for my family. Now it is a priority. We need that time where each other is the focus and talk about things. We are trying to work in a bible study with the family meal but we usually do this after dinner and after every one has had showers and are comfy and then we snuggle on the sofa and do our bible reading until we run out of things to talk about and are ready to watch a show on the DVR. Our kids really get into our devotions and they have lots of discussions and they also will challenge us. This can last from half an hour to an hour. It just depends on the topic from where we are reading in the bible.

We as Christians, really do need to prioritize our family time and family devotions. Times are getting crazy and we are being attacked and our beliefs are being challenged in so many ways. We need to be strengthened as families and Christians so we can stand strong for our beliefs. One way to do this is at the family meal table. We can discuss things going on around the world. We can also talk about what we believe. We can also discuss how to love others, even those who are different from us. I really could go into a big lesson on how Jesus loved sinners but how he also judged their sin. He still loved them and welcomed them, but he did not support their sin, he told them to repent of the sin and turn away from it. I don’t want to get on my soap box so I will go. Maybe I will write more on that topic later.

So try your best to get to a table with your family. Even if you only get to do it several times a week. We started with Sunday as our day we would come together as a family regardless. We still like to have extended family over on this day and they are always welcome with a life time invitation. Now my husband works a regular schedule so we can get together for our family meals every night during the week. And you can ask him, he gets death ray looks if he is late. I take it very serious and if my self and daughters are going to go through all the prep work and cooking to have a nice meal for him at the end of his day, he better respect it and be at that table when he says he will be home. 99% of the time he is. He doesn’t want to make 3 ladies mad lol.

May God bless you all and when you struggle remember he will walk with you through it!

Posted in Bible Lesson, Home, Home/Family, Home/Food/Natural, Photography, Review, Scripture | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Homemade Pin Cushion…

Since I will be busy the next few weeks preparing to move I thought I might share some old posts. So here goes:

I had blogged about this in the past but I had recently come upon Pin CushionGroup of Eggcup Pincushions similar to the one I had made. I wanted to share this link to this Pin Cushion.

I made mine a bit differently but the results are similar and just as cute. Just click on the pic to go to the site.

And this is my Pin Cushion and here is my old post about it (click on pic to go there).

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