A few weeks ago I posted about Kid Puzzles and their awesome handmade wooden puzzles. Since then, we have received the personalized puzzle for my son. Now I don't usually share my kid's names on here, but since the puzzle is personalized, it will be there. I won't blur it so that you can appreciate the beauty that is in this puzzle. It is exceptional, to say the least.

Before I show you the full puzzle, I want you to see the layers put into it. The workmanship is impeccable.
In the top picture you can see the layers of the 3D portion of the puzzle. Each piece has several layers to ensure it's durability. In the bottom pic, you will see the many layers of the base (or back) of the puzzle. The time dedicated to each puzzle is evident!

Now to the puzzle :^)
The picture on the right is shown for size. On the bottom right side is my computer mouse. This is a good size puzzle.
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And this photo is of the top so that you can see (hopefully) some of the 3D dimension.

The base puzzle (without the name) is 18 pieces. Though that may sound like it makes for an easy puzzle, it isn't necessarily easy. Because it's 3D, it takes a little time to get the pieces where they are supposed to be :^)

As I wrote in my previous post, Kid Puzzles offers phenomenal creations that every child (and adult) will love! They are each handmade in the USA and are durable enough to become family heirlooms.  I encourage you to check out their site and the variety of puzzles they offer. These puzzles would be excellent for gifts for any holiday or birthday.

 
 
WOW! It's hard to believe that Christmas has come and gone already. It seems we prepare for it throughout the year and in just a matter of hours, it's over: no more presents to unwrap, no more parties to attend, no more cleanup; at least for another year :)

But is Christmas really defined by the presents, scrambling, parties, & activities? No, right?Then why do we fuss about every year? Why do we feel compelled to create those to-do lists that just seem to grow by the day? Why don't we simply throw our hands in the air at all of that and celebrate the True meaning of Christmas? Probably because many of us have grown up following the worldly paths of shopping & activities. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to stop doing the things that our parents did, and their grandparents did. I know every year I strive to keep Jesus first and foremost in our Christmas planning, but still get caught up in the last minute things needing to be done. But that said, I am so thankful that The Lord has convicted us to change our former ways.
"since you have put off the old man with his deeds,
and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge
according to the image of Him who created him."
Colossians 3: 9-10
We have put on "a new man" and I am ever thankful that we CAN change through The Lord's grace and mercy.

Christmas is a wonderful time of year. I love spending time with family and it's often only this season that we all can get together. Just sitting around the table and "catching up" is all I need. The presents are nice, but celebrating with family is so much more important!

This year, with Christmas on a Sunday, we were able to also spend time with church family. My daughter played piano for the morning service, along with one of the ladies from church on the organ. It sounded beautiful! As we sang the Christmas hymns, we could celebrate Jesus' birth with song. It was great!

As we approach the new year and Christmas day becomes a memory, remember, too, the True reason we celebrate: Jesus came to earth as a lowly babe to save us from our sins. What a tremendous gift we were given. Thank you, Lord.
 
 
My daughter has been playing piano for several years, yet every time I hear her play, I pause whatever I'm doing to listen. I love listening to her :^)

It amazes me the talent she has been blessed with. Now I know that I am a biased judge, lol, but The Lord has truly given her this blessing and I pray that she will continue to use it to glorify Him.

This week we celebrated her 16th birthday. I can't believe it's been 16 years already!! Time has just zipped by at lightening speed. I am so thankful for my beautiful daughter. Just the fact of having her at all is a blessing. I was told before I was married that I would not be able to have children. A few months after we were married, and after I was saved, we found an infertility specialist that performed a miracle with The Lord's hands. That was in December of '94, and by March '95 I was pregnant with our daughter! It was the most wonderful news I could have received! The ache that once filled my heart was washed away and replaced with pure joy. Only The Lord could do that. And I am thankful every day for His mercy and grace.

" The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him. "
Psalm 28:7

This is her recital from Dec. 4th. It's Sonata K545 by Mozart. This recording is with my phone, so the sound isn't perfect, but the music is beautiful despite the issues from the phone. I hope you enjoy it as I do. 
 
 
My kids love to create & build almost everything. From the simple to the complex, they are always in search of interesting & fun creations. And what kid (or adult) isn't fascinated with the Medieval era and the wonder of all that it encompasses? 

As a member of the TOS Crew, my family was given the opportunity to review the Medieval Machines Pack by Pitsco Education. This pack includes kits to make a catapult, a trebuchet, and the book Siege Machines.

Pittsburg Industrial Teachers Service Company (Pitsco) was started 40 years ago, in 1971, by Harvey Dean and 2 fellow teachers in Pittsburg, KS. "They sought to create a unique curriculum for students who had an easier time learning with their hands rather than through textbooks and lengthy lectures" (Management Today). Over the years, Pitsco has revolutionized the industrial education ("shop class") with the activity kits, projects, and curriculum. They now offer K-12 curriculum as well as projects and kits that utilize the STEM philosophy.
"STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math."
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"Student success is the goal that drives us to invent new kits,
develop curriculum, & create tools for the classroom that engage & inspire learners.
To us, it’s more than just a business — it’s a cause." (Pitsco)

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Each of the projects available through Pitsco offer hands-on learning that incorporates each of the STEM elements. The Medieval Machines Pack is no exception.

By building and using the medieval siege machines, your students will better understand the history and concepts behind them. The Medieval Machines Pack offers students hands-on learning that covers:
  • Science: Tension versus torsion, elasticity, gravity and levers, and force and motion
  • Math: Metric conversion, calculating averages, and prediction
  • Experiments: Mass versus distance, testing rubber bands, targeting, and more

The Medieval Machines Pack comes with a catapult kit and trebuchet kit, along with the Siege Machines book. This book provides the history behind the machines and then details the math and science required to build them. To preview this book, you can look here.
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The catapult and trebuchet kits are made from prefabbed, lasered, basswood (or balsam wood) that are easily assembled. The parts are numbered, as you can see in the above right picture. They fit together well and create a pretty sturdy machine. These kits were complete with parts, clay, and mass plates, but we did need to provide simple tools and glue. To complete the activities in the book, there are additional tools required and can be seen under the spec section of the description, but all are typical household objects/tools. 

I have to say, I was really excited to get this pack. My daughter has been making different "machines" for a while now based on her own thoughts and ideas. These kits gave her and my son the opportunity to actually learn, see, and do. Hands on is the way to go in our homeschool world. It brings concepts to life and makes learning fun.

Once the package arrived, the kids opened it right up and started working on the catapult. They were able to do this alone (they are 11 & 15 - now 16), with little help from me. Although I was trying to do it to because it was fun! The instructions are very well described with pictures for each step. One issue that we had was that a couple of the holes weren't quite big enough for the dowels. But this was easily corrected with a little bit of sanding of the dowel, and I really mean "a little bit". It didn't take any effort at all. The only other issue they had was having patience while waiting for the glue to dry :^)

Once it was all put together, both kids had fun figuring out how far various sized objects would go. It was a lot of fun!

The trebuchet kit is exactly the same way: clear instructions and easy to do. The kids, again, had so much fun trying out different objects and competing for the best idea.

The Medieval Machines Pack can be purchased for $21.95 through Pitsco. It is considered to be at an Intermediate-Middle School level and can be done by the student with little adult assistance, although it never hurts to supervise so you can participate in the fun :^) There are many more STEM products offered by Pitsco. You can view an interactive catalog or request a catalog be sent to you. 

Overall, I would highly recommend Pitsco and any of their products as a great educational gift or supplement to your curriculum.  We look forward to purchasing additional products from them
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And remember: I received this product free as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew with sole purpose to provide an honest review after using the product. For more information on this, please see my disclaimer
 
 
Diamond Candles has announced a call to all bloggers campaign in search of bloggers to review & giveaway their unique candles! It's easy to get started. Just head on over to their site and follow the instructions.

What's so "unique" about Diamond Candles. Well, according to Celebrate Woman Today these soy candles have an amazing aroma and "each candle harbors a ring valued anywhere from $10-$100-$500-$5000 each. It's anticipation that really gets you going!"
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Don't delay. If you are interested in reviewing these candles and can host a giveaway on your blog, go to Celebrate Woman Today's site and follow the instructions.