5 Random Thankful Thoughts ~ November 21st Edition

Last week I decided to make my Random 5 on Fridays in November to be random thankful thoughts because November is the month for gratitude posts and status updates.

Five Random Thankful Thoughts ~ November 21st  Edition

1.  Earlier this week we had beautiful sunshine. I am grateful for the sunshine! Today as I type this it is cold, gray, and rainy which is much more typical November weather for us.  Living here in the rainy part of the PNW, I’ve come to appreciate the sunshine and not take it for granted like I did in other places I’ve lived.

2.  This week on November 19th, Honeybear and I had our 20th Wedding Anniversary. I am grateful that we have made it this far. We’ve had more than our fair share of stress, problems, and disagreements. We’ve weathered military deployments, a child with serious health issues, and his heart attack in June of 2013. Somehow we’ve managed to stay together.

3.  I am thankful for flowers! Our wedding flowers were Fire And Ice Roses which are bi-color red and white roses. When Honeybear buys me flowers he always tries to get bi-color or two-tone roses in remembrance of our wedding flowers. This picture doesn’t show it well but these roses are two-toned.

Anniversary Roses ~ 20 Years

4.  I am thankful for my daughters who took it upon themselves to decorate for our anniversary. They wanted to make it special. Turtlegirl drew a Happy Anniversary Message on our white board using fall colors. The colors didn’t turn out so well in the photo but I am sharing anyway because I love the bride and groom on top of the wedding cake.  Tailorbear put up cranberry streamers and set up our little dinner table for two.  Burgundy, Wine or Cranberry were the colors we aimed for with the wedding.

Happy Anniversary Message

Romantic Dinner for Two

5.  This week marked the 12th anniversary of my dad’s passing. I am grateful that he and I had a much better relationship the last few years of his life than we did when I was growing up. It’s like he was two different men. I miss him very much especially around the holidays. 

The Pebble Pond

Come join us over at the Pebble Pond for this week’s Edition of Random 5 on Friday!


The Official 2014 Schoolhouse Review Crew Favorites

It’s official. The 2014 Schoolhouse Review Crew Year has ended. I’m sad to see the year end but I’m going to enjoy a little break. I’m excited though because I’ve been invited back to the Crew for 2015!

Announcing a Few of the 2014 Crew Favorites:  Blue Ribbon Awards

End of the crew year means Blue Ribbon Awards. Last week I shared my family’s favorite products and vendors from the 2014 Crew Year. Today I’m highlighting some of the Schoolhouse Review Crew Favorites. The votes were tallied and these are some of the official winners! You’ll want to visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog to see the full list of winners because I am just going to highlight a few of them here.

Our wonderful Assistant Director, Debra, put the voting form together for the crew to fill out. She organized all the vendors into 27 different categories! Did you know that the crew reviewed more than 115 products from over 50 vendors!  I think there were something like 58 different review slots. That’s a lot of awesome products. I counted up my reviews  the girls and I used and reviewed: 31.  Some were just for mom like the Motivated Moms e-planner and the Trident case that I am still using with Kindle. Some were just for Supergirl like Digital Heroes and Heroines of the past: American History.  Tailorbear discovered that she loved learning science with Fascinating Biology and Turtlegirl finally got to study French with Middlebury Interactive Languages. We had a little something for everyone!

So now to a sampling of the Schoolhouse Review Crew Favorites! Note: links to products are either to my review or to the page where you can find schoolhouse crew reviews if my family did not review that vendor.

Favorite Language Arts Curriculum: Moving Beyond the Page

Favorite History Program: Veritas Press 

Favorite Science Curriculum: Supercharged Science

Favorite Math Program: CTC Math

Favorite Elementary Resource: Logic of English

Favorite High School Resource: Roman Roads  Media

Favorite College or College-Prep Resource: Fortuigence

Favorite Mom/Teen Resource: Apologia: Flourish

Best Resource I Didn’t Know I Needed: My Student Logbook

 All Around Crew Favorite: Veritas Press

To see all of the categories and their winners click on the banner below!  

2014 Blue Ribbon Awards


5 Random Thankful Thoughts ~ November 14th Edition

I did not think of this last week but today it occurred to me that I could combine Random 5 on Friday and Thanksgiving type thoughts. I see many friends on Facebook listing something they are grateful for everyday for the month of November. I like that idea but I can’t keep up so I’m going to write up things that I am grateful for for the remaining Fridays in November.

Five Random Thankful Thoughts

1. I am thankful for sunshine even if it is so cold outside. ~ The artic air seems to have arrived here and temps are in the low to mid- 40’s during the day and in the 20’s in the evenings. Yes, I know not so cold as many other areas of the country but that is cold for us. I do love the sunshine though which is very rare for November.

2. I am thankful for warm cozy throw blankets because it is so cold outside. ~ I like keeping a stack of these blankets on the couch in the family room and a couple on my rocking chair in the living room. Give me my sweater, a blanket, a cup of tea and my book and I will be happy oh and the fireplace (see number 3.)

3. I am thankful that we got the gas fireplace fixed. ~ I am so thankful that we have a fireplace. It didn’t really work last winter but it has been wonderful to turn the fireplace on, starting on some colder days in October. The girls have been doing some of their history work and playing games on the floor in the living room in front of the fire.

4. I am thankful for home canned tomatoes! ~ My friends, along with two of my daughters, and I canned boxes and boxes of tomatoes.  I love having quarts and pints of tomatoes. This week I used tomatoes in the crockpot to make a yummy sausage pasta sauce and today I used a quart of tomatoes for the soup we’ll eat tonight.

5. I am thankful for the Schoolhouse Review Crew. ~ I am thankful for the crew, for the great products I get to review, for the awesome Crew Leadership, and especially for the friends I have made. Friends who have made me laugh, prayed for me, encouraged me and who might even read my blog sometimes!

What are you thankful for this week? In addition to my regular Random 5 link up, I’m also linking up to This Day Has Great Potential, a blog from another wonderful Crew friend!

The Pebble Pond

Come join us over at the Pebble Pond for this week’s Edition of Random 5 on Friday!


Looking Back at the 2014 Schoolhouse Review Crew Year!

Yesterday I posted and linked up my final review for the 2014 Crew Year. How awesome that we got to end the year with a game! So, today I’m looking back over the year and remembering what amazing products my family got to use.

Schoolhouse Review Crew has a Blue Ribbon Awards tradition where the crew gets to vote for their favorite products. The girls and I powwowed and came up our favorites and submitted our votes.  (The Official Winners will be announced on the Schoolhouse Review Blog on Monday!)

A Few Favorite Review Crew Products from 2014 ~ Circling Through This Life

So here’s a few of our favorites from 2014:

Favorite Literature Program:  Oh my this was so hard to choose just one to vote for the official Blue Ribbon Awards but since this is just a list of my family favorites and it’s my blog, I’m going to go ahead have two favorites! Hewitt Homeschooling Lightning Lit Shakespeare Comedies Review by Tess

It’s Shakespeare and it’s Lightning Literature so of course we loved it! Boobear is a much bigger fan of Shakespeare than either Turtlegirl or Tailorbear but I was surprised by how much they enjoyed using and reviewing Lightning Literature Shakespeare Comedies & Sonnets.




Progeny Press Review Collage

I love love love love Progeny Press study guides. We have reviewed them multiple times over the several years I have been on the crew. It should not be a surprise that we could not decide between two wonderful and very different literature curricula. This was the first time that Supergirl used a Progeny Press guide and she loved meeting with mom to have mom read the book, The Courage of Sarah Noble, aloud. I think she loved the extra mommy daughter time and I know she loved building a log cabin out of pretzels and frosting! I loved that my high schoolers could use the Hunger Games Study Guide.

Favorite Math and Language Arts Supplements: This actually covers 4 or 5 of the official categories but I’m combining them because my two favorite products can both be used as Math and LA supplements!IXL Math and Language Arts ~ It's fun to practice math with IXL. Read Tess's Review at Circling Through This Life

In 2014 I got to review IXL for the third time! This year they have a new math app for grades k-6 that works for the newer Kindle Fires. You’ll have to read the review to see all the other neat stuff but Supergirl adores being able to practice math on Mama’s Kindle. The LA portion of the website can be used on the Kindle using the browser!




Learning Wrap Ups Review at Circling Through This Life

The Learning Palette makes my list of favorites! I love the wrap-ups but I adore and Supergirl loves and adores the Learning Palette. It is fun. It can be done independently and it covers so many topics in both Math and Language Arts. When she has finally mastered all of the first grade material, I am going to have search for sales on the second grade packages!




A Few More Favorites: Rather than try to group them by category I just present a few more of our favorite review crew products from 2014!

Spelling You See Curriculum Review ~ Of Tess's Favorites for 2014

I love Math-U-See so I was sure I would love Spelling You See. I was not wrong. I was afraid that it would be too much for Supergirl. We’ve had to take many long breaks from using it but she’s making far more progress than I thought she could and that means this has to be one of my favorite crew products for 2014!




Old Western Culture An integrated humanities curriclum.

I will confess that I was not interested in Roman Roads or the Old Western Culture program they offer when I saw it on the upcoming vendor list. I really didn’t not want to have to write a review. I showed the website to Turtlegirl and let her check out the sample lessons and she begged for it. What could I say? This was her favorite crew product. And you know what? It ranks up there as one of my favorites too and I am so grateful that we had the opportunity to review it!


Turtlegirl and her Logbook

The Last favorite that I share today is the My Student Logbook. In my review I stated that I would be voting for it as The Product I Didn’t Know I Needed. This simply tool has helped us so much. She keeps track of chores and school and little things like “put on glasses” since she often forgets to wear her glasses which seems to contribute to her headaches. I will have to purchase one of these for her next year!



So that’s it for now! I reviewed so many wonderful and amazing products but these stand out as some of our favorites. Next week I’ll share about the official winners!


Family Game Night? Try Snake Oil {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

What do “Closet Urge,” “Snow Napkin,” “Cheese Man,”  “Danger Photo.”  “Rainbow Future,” and “Fish Socks” have in common?  These were all items that my family, posing as snake oil salesmen, attempted to sell to customers: Pregnant Lady, Prom Date, or Runaway among others while playing the game Snake Oil.

This hilarious game does not take long to learn, has no small parts to keep track of or lose, and encourages creativity. Snake Oil is produced by Out of the Box Games and is intended for 3-10 players ages 10+.

Snake Oil from Out of the Box Games ~ Review at Circling Through This Life

Setting Up the Game

Setting up the game is easy! There are two types of cards: Customer Cards and Word Cards. Customer Cards are blue on one side and green on the other. Each side lists a character such as Rock Star, Priest, or Dictator. These cards go in the center.  The Word Cards are divided into 4 decks in the plastic tray. These are placed around the Customer Cards,in easy reach of the players. These Word Cards have nouns: goggles, belt, closet, toilet, knife, cup, socks, pony, pillow, freedom and many many more. There are 28 Customer Cards which give you 56 different Customers.  There are 336 Word Cards. Each player draws a hand of 6 Words Cards. Select a player to be the Customer for the first round and you are ready to play!

Snake Oil from Out of the Box Games ~ A Review! "There is a lot of freedom with the game as to how you want to play."

Playing the Game

The Customer draws a Customer Card, makes a selection from either the blue or green side and becomes the persona on the card. In other words, I set aside my own personality and try to think like a Grave Robber, Spy, or Couch Potato. What products would make life easier if I was a Cheerleader or an Alien?

The other players select two cards from their hand to combine to create a product. Now the fun begins. Players become Snake Oil Salesmen, think of used car salesmen or door-to-do solicitors, and try to pitch their product. If the Customer chooses your product, you get to collect the customer card! The game ends when each player has been the Customer once. The player with the most Customer Cards wins! A full game takes 20-30 minutes to complete. 

Our Experience 

My husband remarked, “the more you play the game, the better your ability to pitch things.”  He really seemed to love the game. He has a twisted sense of humor and this came through with his sales pitches. He pitched the now infamous “Cloud Belt” perfect for a Prom Date who wants to be light on her feet while she dances with her partner. He also said “using that used car salesman type of pitch is what makes the game so much fun!” It was a bit scary to see how much fun he had with that!

Turtlegirl is an introvert and though she found the game funny, she preferred to watch rather than play. She was uncomfortable giving pitches and even more uncomfortable receiving pitches but she laughed along with the rest of us when a parent or sibling gave a sales pitch. Her older sister though loved the game and said “Snake oil is fun and forces you to think creatively. I enjoy that there is a lot of freedom with the game as to how you want to play.”

I do want to add a note about ages.  The game says ages 10+ but some of the Word Cards and Customer Cards may be either too mature or too complex for the under 12 crowd. I would list the ages as 12+ but in a family setting it may work with 10+.  We only played with ages 15 to adult.

Sisters Playing Snake Oil ~ Review ~ “Snake oil is fun and forces you to think creatively. I enjoy that there is a lot of freedom with the game as to how you want to play.”

Game Variations

The game includes suggestions for variations and we came up with our own. Instead of taking one customer card, you take two. We made it a rule that you had to use one blue and one green to combine. Some of our crazy combos included Soldier Santa, Fashion Model Prison Guard, and Alien Teenager. This gave us more variety and allowed us to get even more creative with our product pitches.

We have all decided this game will be played on Thanksgiving. We plan to play the suggested variation “The More the Merrier” which allows each player to have more than six cards. The directions suggest “eight or even ten cards per hand instead of the standard six.”  More Word Cards mean more choices and that means more laughter and fun!

Snake Oil Game from Out of the Box Games ~ Review at Circling Through This Life

The Summary of Details:

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about Out of the Box Games.  

This Graphic contains the FTC Regulations statement for Reviews.

All information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.
You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews to find more great products.