Monday, December 25, 2017

Elf Louise

One of our favorite traditions in SA is wrapping gifts with Elf Louise.  This organization provides gift to needy children each year.

My kiddos love getting to pick and wrap, and they pray over each family.  I pray their Christmas is as blessed as ours.

It's truly humbling to see all these gifts, wrapped and ready for families who need them...

The Honor Society kids!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Magic Stix - A Mom of Many Review

I just have to introduce you to my newest must-have!  

They are Magic Stix - washable markers that DON'T DRY OUT!  Yes, even with the cap off for 7 days, the markers are just a fresh as when you took them out of the box. 

Do you know what this means?  You won't need to keep buying markers every time your sweet-but-forgetful children use them :-)

They come in 12 and 24 packs - you can get them here.

Here's a couple of other facts - they are odorless, washable and completely non-toxic.

We love the bold colors, sharp tips, and the smooth feel. 

These are perfect for stocking stuffers - go get yours!

I was given a free sample in exchange for my honest opinion of the product.  I did not receive any compensation, and the opinion is completely my own.

Monday, December 18, 2017

SNOW in San Antonio!

For the first time since 1985 - it snowed in San Antonio, TX.  I guess we do have the knack of bringing the snow wherever we go :-)

It was big, wet flakes and we loved every minute!  It coated everything and the next morning we woke up to our own winter wonderland.

Best of all, it was gone by noon the next day - all the fun, none of the pain!  This is how I do winter...

I was excited to see this on my weather app!

Then, it started to snow!

The next morning:

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

More Music Man...

I think this is my favorite show!  Both because 4 children were in it, and because it was filled with fun music and dancing.  Thank you STAGE Theater for making awesome memories for us!

Mr. Shapoopy...  

Making her debut as a "Pick a Little Lady"

My dancer takes the stage again - this time as a Grecian Urn!

You can talk...

She really can do a southern accent!

Marcellus and Harold Hill

Even better with friends!

The trouble-maker boyfriend...

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Music Man

4 of my kids were in the SAME show!  What a fun experience for each of them.   They were part of The Music Man, Jr.  - we have not singing the songs...

More posts will follow,  I just had to share these cast pics!

Friday, December 1, 2017


One of our favorite Christmas activities is going to see The Nutcracker (or dance in it..)

This year, the girls and I decided we did NOT need any male input, and had a girls date.  How nice to just enjoy the performance with no rude comments!

It was beautiful - as usual!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

A favorite family tradition  - our Thankful Tree!   We start in early November, adding leaves with things we are thankful for.  

We are blessed - we pray you are too!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis from Writing with Sharon Watson: A TOS Crew Review

Writing with Sharon Watson
Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis from Writing with Sharon Watson
We have another favorite from Writing with Sharon Watson We are loving Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis from Writing with Sharon WatsonThis literature curriculum is designed for grades 9-12th, and is a full year of study.  Be sure to also check out the first volume - Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide {Crew Reviews} - they can be done in any order.
Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis comes in a 4 book set (3 physical softcovers, and one a reproducible PDF download):

  • Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis Paperback
  • Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis, Teacher’s Guide
  • Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis, Quiz and Answer Manual
  • Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crises Novel Notebook {PDF}
Illuminating Literature: Characters in CrisisIlluminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

This volume covers both short stories and books - 

  • “A Jury of Her Peers” by Susan Glaspell, in the textbook
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Dover Publications
  • Silas Marner by George Eliot, Dover Publications
  • Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, Dover Publications
  • An Assortment of Short Stories:
  • “A White Heron” by Sarah Orne Jewett, in the textbook
  • “The Garden of Forking Paths” by Jorge Luis Borges, link provided
  • “Haircut” by Ring Lardner, link provided
  • “The Lady, or the Tiger?” by Frank Stockton, in the textbook
  • “Of the Passing of the First-Born” by W. E. B. Du Bois, in the textbook
  • “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas, link provided
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, Dover Publications
  • Biography or autobiography of student’s choice
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, Mariner Books

The author recommends using the coordinating versions listed by ISBN number in the Teacher's Guide - the benefit is that all the exercises are keyed to specific page numbers for your student.  The short stories are included in the textbook, or with a provided link.  

I don't even know where to start with telling you how much I adore this curriculum!  Literature is one of our favorite subjects, and we love a focus on the classics with upper level thinking (and no twaddle!) Especially in high school. This curriculum exceeds all of my expectations.

First - The Teacher Guide walks you through step-by-step how to get your children involved in the Great Conversation of literature.  It includes everything you need: from a planning guide with fun ideas for a Book-of-the-Month club (coming soon to Bentz Academy - working out the details now!) to a detailed answer key and guide for each of the literary works covered and grading rubrics and online quizzes (graded for you).

This, I believe, is where most of the homeschool moms I know have the hardest time.  Making the transition from just reading literature with their students to truly studying literature in-depth.  Sharon Watson gives you everything you need - from Facebook posts with interesting facts for you to share with your students, to quality discussion questions/answers, to a full "Choice of Activities" to really bring your student's literature to life - i.e. research, create, rewriting the story, hands on activities, and more!

The Student Text is written directly to the student in a very engaging and interesting manner.  It includes pre-reading activities and a suggested reading schedule and a homework plan to help your student manage their time.  The course is designed for you to spend approx. 3-4 weeks on each novel/story. This course can be done at-home, or it makes a perfect Co-op class (our Co-op is currently offering her other course).  

Literary terms are clearly defined and discussed.  The short stories are all included in the text.  After reading, the text includes passwords for the online quizzes (which are graded for you), questions for discussion, and their choice of activities to bring the literature to life.

The Quiz & Answer Manual is included for those who prefer paper.  Each literature choice includes a "Yes, I Read It" quiz, and a "Literary Terms" quiz.  These are excellent ways to test your student's comprehension and understanding.  The books also include an "Opinion Survey" that allow your student to express themselves and apply lessons from the literature to their own worlds.

The Novel Notebook - this is a 86 page, downloadable PDF in full-color.  You can download as many as you need for your students, or just the pages you want them to complete.  It includes questions and worksheets your student can complete to go along with each piece of literature studied.  Here a just a few examples - 

Now - on to all the ways I love this course!  

  • It's written from a decidedly Christian worldview.  All of the characters in literature may not be Christians, but they can and do reflect our human condition and God's grace.  This course helps our students understand and apply these lessons through literature.
  • The discussions -  What a joy it is to discuss high-quality literature with your students!  We started with "A Jury of Her Peers" first, and we are still discussing it. Having both sons and daughters in my test group - we had some very heated discussions.   Sharing literature with your high schoolers will be one of your greatest homeschooling memories...I promise!  This course gives you all the tools you need to really get to heart issues.
  • The extras.  Sharon Watson has really gone above and beyond to craft a well-rounded literature study. There is something to engage every single learning style.  The variety will keep your students engaged and learning.  The depth of the study will give them the preparation they need for college study.
This is by far, our favorite literature study for high school.  You will want to check this one out!
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Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis {Writing with Sharon Watson Reviews}
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