Friday, April 26, 2013

Country Living We Got Chickens!

The first thing I asked my husband if I could get, when we started our downsizing adventure, was chickens. I have been wanting to raise my own backyard flock for years now. Pastured eggs from our area run anywhere from $2 to $4 a dozen and most of the time it is hard to get my hands on some of the cheaper ones. I also just can not afford to pay for pastured chicken meat.

So here I am! About 2 1/2 weeks ago I went into the local feed store and purchased 10 straight run white leghorns and 5 Rhode Island red pullets. Oh, and two ducks. Don't ask me what happened there. I made the cardinal mistake of purchasing them because they were cute. Thankfully, they have been easy to raise and I am looking forward to some roasted duck in a few months.

Back to the chickens. We *think* that we have 7 roosters and 3 hens from the straight runs. A little disappointed since the leghorns are supposed to be my big layers but that is the risk you run when you buy straight run. I am glad I decided to get the reds as back up.

We started them off in big totes in the house with plans to move them at about 6 weeks into the large outdoor coop we made. However, after about a week and a half I was chatting with a friend who said that we could move them out now as long as they have a heat lamp. I know that probably breaks every chicken raising rule, but it is true, they have been out for about 5 nights now and even through a near freeze and survived and are thriving. They seem to be enjoying it much more than being cooped up in the boxes. The ducks especially. They have quadrupled in size over the last 3 days.


I forgot about this post so things have changed a bit since I started it. Mostly, I have contracted a horrible ailment called "crazy chicken lady" and what is commonly known as "chicken math" followed close behind. We have since the top part of this post added 2 hens which we have had for about 2 weeks now. They have been laying an egg each, regularly since we got them. I have also added in 10 more chicks, just over three weeks old. I wanted to add some variety to our mostly white leghorn flock. I now have 6 different varieties of chicks, which I will have to edit in the names later because I didn't write them down when I purchased them!

My husband has been ever so tolerant of my new obsession. The day we got the new babies he came out to watch them with me and suddenly looks at me and says "did you get more?". I said yes, and he playfully walks away and says, "I don't want to know any more". I love that man. It definitely isn't his thing, but he supports us doing it anyways.

My oldest has become known as the chicken whisperer. She would spend all day around the coop if I would let her. I can not tell you how many times she has gone "missing" and we have found her cuddling chickens in the coop. I think we might let her show one next year.

post signature

A Mosaics Review: Saving Memories Forever

Do you remember sitting at grandma's feet listening to stories? Do you wish you could have recorded those for your own children?

Now you can capture these memories with a free application called Saving Memories Forever (you can upgrade to a premium account for just $3.99 per month or $40 per year). Saving Memories Forever is a phone app that allows you to record stories on your phone and manage them on your computer. Once you have registered online you can begin recording memories straight on your phone. Simply add a story teller, choose a time frame and category and hit the record button!

If you need help getting started there are helpful hints as well as a How To Video.
This app could be a great way to start a genealogy project with your children or just a fun way to record precious memories in story form from the adults in your life. Or if you are like us and have family over seas, what a precious gift to have recorded voices to listen to during times that you are apart.

We also had fun letting the kids record their own versions of what they thought our lives were like. It was fun to listen to my daughters and son describe what they thought mommy and daddy's childhood was like. They also had fun setting up their own story teller accounts and telling us all about their lives. Starting an account for your child now that you carry on through their adult years would a fantastic and fun way to look back on those sweet childhood years!

post signature

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Homeschool Mosaics Review: Spanish For You!

Click Here for Sample!

I live in Texas. That pretty much means Spanish is a requirement. Being bilingual in Texas opens up a ton of job and promotion opportunities and it has always been my intentions to teach my children at least some basic Spanish that they could build on later if they chose.

Basic information about Spanish for You!:

What we reviewed: Spanish for You! Fiesta

What it comes with: 1 Spanish for You! soft cover text book, several audio downloads in mp3 format that include native speaker downloads, lesson guides for grades 3-4 and work sheets and flashcards for those levels.

Cost: $39.95

Extra materials: No extra materials are required but having some colors for the flash cards as well as some contact paper to laminate is nice.

So here is the hard part, I wanted to like this curriculum. It seemed spot on at first glance and was a great price compared to other programs for teaching Spanish. The biggest issue I had was the download files being all out of order. In order to get things together for each lesson, I had to search through the files and find the corresponding supplements. I am all about grab and go. Another big issue for me was that while there were lesson guides, they were so basic that as a parent with little to no Spanish speaking ability, I had no idea how to administer the lesson. I would listen to the audio, try to remember pronunciations while I went over them with the girls, listen to the audio again to get pronunciations, try to play the games and so on. There just wasn't enough teacher help for me to feel comfortable and fluid in teaching my own children. It didn't work for me as I believe it was intended.

On the other hand, my girls had a fantastic time reading the vocabulary themselves in their free time and if it did nothing else, it sparked an interest in learning Spanish that I will definitely run with. There are things that I love about this curriculum. The author uses hand drawn pictures which I found very charming and my kids related to, the price point is great if you can make the curriculum work for you, and the fact that it has native and non-native speaking audio files is a fantastic idea.

I want to love every product that is sent to me, but the truth is that sometimes something just doesn't work. I can't personally recommend Spanish for You! if what you need is a scripted, thoroughly laid out and well organized Spanish program, but please do check out the Spanish for You! site and see what you think for yourself!

REVISED: We were sent an email this morning from the publisher this morning and the files have been reorganized so that navigation is easier. I have not seen the reorganized files, but can imagine that, that alone makes a huge difference.

Disclaimer: I was given this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review. Any expressed opinion is 100% mine.

post signature

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Praise God for Those Perfect Homeschool Moms

Don't compare yourself to others. If I had a nickle for every time I heard that phrase I would be able to hire a self-esteem coach to remind me daily of perfect I am.

If you read my blog then you have probably seen a few of my posts about how I feel about how it being ok to do some comparison. Look, I get the heart behind the "do not compare" mantra. Ultimately, the only person I should be measuring myself up against is Jesus.  Here is where I have a hard time though, we homeschooling moms have made a career out of "not comparing ourselves". We have turned it into an excuse not to be better than we are. Not only that, we have made it an occasion to poke fun at moms who have managed to "do it all" or to make broad assumptions about how she must be neglecting other areas of her life.

She feeds her children healthy all the time? Well, she must spend so much time in the kitchen! I would much rather be making real memories with my children.

Her house is way too clean for her children to be enjoying any artsy craftsy time.

Her children must be afraid of her to be that well behaved.

There is no way she could possibly be that joyful all.the.time.

So why are we so jealous of those mothers who have found a way to make it all fit together? Why do we assume that they can't possibly be real? Or that what they have is so unattainable that we shouldn't even try?

When I see a mom who is doing a better job at something than I am, I often have that initial flash of jealousy and envy. Then, after a moment of repentance, I often find myself looking at her and wanting to pick her brain. How do you manage your meal schedule? Talk to me about how you discipline your children. Share your secrets with me!

Instead of tearing down these mothers, why aren't we asking for their "secrets" with an earnest interest in learning how to make our own homes run more smoothly? Why are we not praising God for placing these women in our paths so that we can learn from them? Why are we not telling them how encouraging they are to us? Why instead of looking at them as a rare exception to the rule, are we not looking at them as a rare gem?

My home may never be perfect. I am still very much a work in progress. It will never look exactly like someone else's. I have been blessed with my own unique circumstances, but God forbid that if I should become "that mom", any of my fellow sisters look at the result that God has produced through me, and tell me that it is unrealistic and then proceed to criticize me behind my back for being "too perfect".

post signature

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Advanced 3rd and 4th Grade Reading List

I am putting together our reading list for next year. Please keep in mind that I have two advanced and avid readers. I would put these books into an advanced 3rd grade to 4th grade range. I try to pick a variety of genre as well as length. I want the girls to enjoy the books and to also feel a sense of accomplishment when they finish one. Honestly, I don't know if we will get through all of these, but my goal is to give the girls a wide range of rich literature and if we get through it we get through it, if not, they can always come back to it in their free time or even next year.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Freak the Mighty
How to Eat Fried Worms
The Sign of the Beaver
My Side of the Mountain
The Wheel on the School
Little Pear
Detectives in Togas
The Whipping Boy
Mustang: Wild Spirit of the West
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Sarah, Plain and Tall
Meet George Washington
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain
The Matchlock Gun
The Door in the Wall
Island of the Blue Dolphins
Number the Stars
Good Night Mr. Tom
Captain Grey
The Castle in the Attic
The Trumpet of the Swan
The Twenty-one Balloons
The Cricket in Times Square
Pocahontas and the Strangers
There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom
The Learning Dog
The Cabin Faced West
The Indian in the Cupboard
Return of the Indian
Grandpa's Box
The Bronze Bow
Adam of the Road
The Phantom Tollbooth
Henry Huggins
Caddie Woodlawn
Understood Betsy
The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle
Where the Red Fern Grows
The Wizard of Oz
Old Yeller
Pipi Longstocking
Misty of Chincoteague
Amos Fortune, Free Man
Carry on Mr. Bowditch
Strawberry Girl
The Red Badge of Courage
Captain Courageous
Black Beauty
Treasure Island

I hope you enjoy!

post signature

Monday, April 15, 2013

Busting the homeschool myths #3: All homeschoolers are religious freaks

Every homeschool mom needs a denim jumper!
Admit it. You have had the image of a Christian homeschool family, 14 children all lined in a row, girls wearing denim skirts and boys with their khaki pants, polo shirts and comb over hair do. Let's not forget mom in all of her denim jumper glory cheerfully leading the group in hymnals and Bible verse recitation. You have no doubt at some point heard someone assert that all homeschoolers were religious, Bible thumping freaks. It is even somewhat of a joke among homeschoolers.

In the pioneering days of homeschooling the demographics for homeschooling were quite different than they are today. Most parents who were willing to break the law and homeschool were doing so for religious reasons. It is true that the 1980's version of a homeschooling family might have looked quite a lot like the one I described above. Fashions were different and homeschooling families tended to be from the fundamental groups of Christianity.

It even comes in a kids version!
Once homeschooling became legal and more and more parent's eyes were opened to not only the secular state of the schools but also the academic failures of the schools that demographic began to slowly change. Today, the majority of homeschoolers still cite moral or religious training as their number one reason to homeschool, but as homeschooling becomes more popular the demographics continue to change. In my anecdotal experience, our local group consists of every type of family from atheist to fundamental Baptist. Chances are, you pass homeschoolers every day and don't notice because they look exactly like everyone else. Our family has experienced gasps of shock and awe when we mention we homeschool because we "just look so normal!".

Do some families still fit into that sterotype, yes. But, really, who cares? None of us should be making our judgements of other people based simply on what they wear.

post signature

Sunday, April 14, 2013

From Every Side

I had a best friend.

She was closer to me than a sister. I named my youngest daughter after her.  I don't know if you have ever had that experience before but it was the kind of friendship that movies are made of and books are written about. I miss her every day. I keep waiting for the missing her to stop, but it is just always there, the missing her.  We had a falling out quite a while ago and I don't know that either one of us knows how to fix it. It seems that every attempt has ended with more hurt for one of us and I think maybe we just got to the point where we just did not want to hurt each anymore.

Most of the time I do pretty well. I am happy and content and then WHAM! I miss her so badly it takes my breath away. Tears come to my eyes and I have to walk away from what I am doing lest the people near me ask and I have to explain.

Anna commented to me that I have been "all kinds of deep lately". Maybe that is true. Or maybe I just have not been able to "get my talk out" with people. I have been kind of a hermit the past couple weeks.

Regardless, I was burning grilling some steaks on the grill this evening and it made me think of low carb dieting. Any kind of food makes me think of dieting these days!  But in thinking about low carbing, I thought of my friend and how we did that diet together and both lost quite a bit of weight. I have never been able to repeat that same success and I wonder if I will be able to do it without her.

There was a time when I would have said you were a crazy liar if you told me that we would be in this place. I remember wondering aloud with her on the phone once about the weirdness that would exist if we did not have each other as best friends. We wondered who would we talk to. We wondered how we would get advice. We wondered who we would turn to for support. I don't think either one of us really thought that was any kind of real possibility. But here we are and I don't know about her but I often find myself wondering, "What in the world happened?"

Looking back, I know that there was a lot of unhealthy things in our friendship.  If anything happened in my day, she was the first person I wanted to share it with, the first person that I wanted to ask for guidance.  In a lot of ways, my husband came in second. I did not need any other friends, even though I had them. I think we let too many things go for the sake of our relationship. We did not do a lot of boat rocking and when the storm came, we did not know how to stabilize it. We had no practice and a good strong wind just blew us over.

In the past few years, I have done a lot of changing and some serious changes have happened in my life. I have had to learn what living with a chronically ill child looks like, my relationship with my husband went through a change (for the better), my oldest daughter offered more serious challenges, my priorities have changed, and I have found a more real confidence in knowing who I am in the eyes of God. I often wonder if we met each other for the first time at this point in our lives, would we have become friends at all. Maybe she would not even like me now. I don't know.

I do know this: One - no friendship should ever be taken for granted. It should be nurtured with conversation, giving, and boundaries. You need conversation to further the relationship, giving to deepen the relationship and boundaries to conserve the relationship. And two - no problem should be "let go" unless you are really willing to let it go and never let it be a problem.  Forgiveness and grace should always abound from every side.

post signature

Saturday, April 13, 2013

God is Not Allowed in School?

It seems that every few weeks or so I pass a car on the road with a bumper sticker or someone posts a meme on facebook that looks something like this:

After tragic events such as Sandy Hook and the Virginia Tech shootings we are looking for answers and a place to lay blame. When some blame God for the violence in schools we want to defend God and we put out quirky little sayings that on the surface sound good and maybe even help us come to terms with something our finite minds cannot comprehend. Why were those children killed?

We have to come to terms with a reality, God did allow those school shootings to happen. Why? I have no idea. I only know that we live in a sinful world and we are reaping the results of our sinfulness, but God, in his infinite wisdom and sovereignty did allow the shootings. But, here is where we need to look carefully at this quote, "I am not allowed". What? Is that GOD saying that someone is not allowing him to do something? Is that God telling us that he was limited by man's legislation? Is that God telling us that he utterly and completely abandoned those children, some of which might have already been saved?

To say that God is not in the school is utter nonsense. To say that the violence in those schools is because God has abandoned them is nonsense. Where was God during those shootings? He was there, with every one of those children, with the teachers, and even with the shooters. He is there today, he will be there tomorrow. God is not limited by our rules. So Christians, think before you post this quote. It is such a gross misrepresentation of God's power and character.

Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. Psalm 139:7-8

post signature

Friday, April 12, 2013

My Brother's Sister's Cousin's Best Friend's Uncle-In-Law Fails to Teach Their Kids Anything!

We got a comment on this blog not to long ago from a grandmother fussing about how her grandchildren were not learning anything while being homeschooled, that their mother was only concerned with field trips.

It irritated me.

First of all, it was by "Anonymous". Anonymous surely has a lot to say and most of the time it is critical and condescending. People are braver when they are anonymous and tend to not tell complete truths and entire stories. They just rush to judgement and offer harsh words against others. If you are going to be nasty, at least have the decency to own it.
Anonymous is brave.

I also wonder if she had ever voiced her concerns to her grandchildren's mother, out of love and concern and without a condemning spirit. I wonder what her attitude was toward homeschooling in the first place and if she allowed that to cloud her judgement. She just sounded angry and ticked off.  So, I am thinking there is more to it than what she admitted.

But, that aside, what if we *did* find out that someone was not teaching their kids? What if we found out that the kids were bright and ready to learn and the only thing holding them back was laziness on the part of the parent.  What if there was a child whose education was being severely neglected?

My answer is going to piss a bunch of you off -

I can take it! (Maybe)

So what? Why is that your business? I believe it is the right of every parent to decide the education they want for their kids. Do I agree that a parent should not do anything? No. Do I think it is a good idea to not educate a child? No. Do I think the parent is failing if they say they homeschool and do nothing? They are absolutely failing their child in this area. Do I think the child should be removed from the home and put someplace where they will be "better off"?

Not if at the end of the day is the child loved and cared for. I have two children that I have adopted out of the foster care system. When a child is removed from their home it causes them harm. Sometimes, it is unavoidable, as it was in the case of my adopted children, to keep them safe and healthy. But even though my home is safe, my kids are loved, my kids are well cared for, and my kids are appropriately educated - my daughter hurts. Her pain has really opened my eyes to what removing kids from their home does and the damage it causes, even after being placed in a better environment where healing is promoted and offered.

Love doesn't fix everything, it just makes the pain that was inflicted more bearable. 

So, if I ever ran across a family like this, I think I would just love them. And in loving them, maybe I could offer a reading lesson or two. Maybe I could offer to have their kid(s) sit in on my own children's history lessons. Maybe the parents would learn to trust my love for them and eventually open up about why they making the choices they are, because I will bet there is a reason, and maybe I could offer assistance.

Maybe I could pray for them.

I will leave with this last thought. Kids learn an amazing amount on their own. It is astounding to me all of the things my kids know that I have never taught them. We never had formal handwriting classes. But, all of my kids know how to write and form letters, my son actually has beautiful handwriting. My four year old taught herself simple subtraction after learning how to do simple addition. Their minds are just like sponges and really do soak up the world around them.  I am reminded that we are standing before the judgement seat of Christ, we are not going to be asked how much algebra we understood or if we ever got around to reading "Little Women".

But God will care about our character, how much we loved, and how much we forgave. 

post signature

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Busting the Homeschooling Myths #2 - I Am Not Qualified to Teach My Child

In the previous post in our homeschooling myth series, we showed you that homeschool is affordable and doesn't have to be expensive. We are going to move on to homeschooling myth #2.

Homeschooling myth #2: I could never do that! I am not qualified.

There are all sorts of answers to this. I could expound on the fact that you have probably taught your children their colors, their numbers, their shapes, how to do simple counting. Not to mention teaching them how to use the potty, walk, talk, and not to play in the street or touch a hot stove.
If you question the qualifications of most homeschoolers, they may point you to all of the above as an example of their skill. And that is fine, good even!

I can only speak for me and my opinion of it all - You tell me that I am not qualified to be a teacher and I am going to tell you: You are exactly right.  I am not qualified.

The task of educating a child is monumental and an undertaking that should not be taken lightly.  I also don't want to discredit all those that have been professionally educated, trained, and certified for the task. I applaud school teachers that have to manage 20 + kids, do all the paperwork, tailor the education of a single child so they will meet the guidelines of an IEP while still having to teach to all the other students, deal with administration, and cranky parents. I am not qualified to do any of that.

This was our school one morning :)  
But, I am not called to do any of that. I am called to manage my children. I am called to train my children up in the way they should go. I am called to parent my children.  As parents, we are all teachers to some degree. I just choose to not only impart to my children our family's values, life skills, and basic safety lessons, but also choose to teach them to read, write, and to work out math problems.

I know how to read. I know how to write. I know how to do a lot of math. I can teach all that I know. As my children grow, we will do a lot of learning together. I did pretty well in school. I did well in the small amount of time I spent in college. I am willing and eager to learn. I read books, I ask questions, and I regularly investigate ways to be better at what I do - whether that is keeping the house, raising my kids, dieting (ha) or homeschooling.  This is exactly what qualifies homeschooling parents.

When (and I am sure we will) we get to a subject that I have no desire to know about or am not smart enough to understand it, and my child wants to pursue it, then we will look into co-op classes, dual enrollment classes, online resources, and other homeschooling parents that may know everything there is to know about the subject. A lot of curricula is written quite well these days, and it can be very explanatory and easy to follow.

With all that said, I don't know everything, and I won't pretend to, but I do know this, if God has called me to this task, he will equip me to do it. I will find a way, because that is what I am called to do.

post signature

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Busting the Homeschool Myths #1- Homeschooling is Expensive.

When people find out we homeschool the initial reactions we get can vary from shock and awe to flat out disgust. Most, however, immediately begin to tell me how they admire me but could never homeschool themselves. In this series we plan to put to rest some of the myths and stereotypes about what it takes to homeschool.

Myth #1 Homeschooling is Expensive

When my children were first born I was working part time. I made a decent salary for a part time employee and I even had the benefit of being able to take my girls in with me! As jobs go, this one was a dream come true. However, by the time my youngest daughter was 6 months old, taking them both in was just not working. Well, more to the point was I was not working! How could I with a toddler and an infant constantly needing my attention. So, I began checking around for child care. I toured day care centers and was pleased to find one that I really loved! They had a computer lab, an indoor playground, a low teacher to student ratio and boasted a fantastic kindergarten readiness program. The kicker was that it was going to cost me $250 per week per child to send them there! $500 per week just for child care! In order to put my children into day care I would have to take a loss on my pay check. Ok, how can I make this work? I was bringing home about $350 a week on my part time hours. I could increase my hours...of course that means the girls have to stay at the day care center longer. It was unlikely that I was going to find another job that paid as well as this one and allowed me the flexibility that I needed as a mom. Then I came to a surprising conclusion. It was too expensive for me to work! It was cheaper to keep my children at home and be a non-income parent than to have a job!

Of course, I know what you are thinking, public school is free (well, free on delivery), but have you ever taken the time to tally up what it costs you to work and send your child to the "free" school? I encourage you to sit down and do so!

Consider these expenses:
gas to and from work
car maintenance
clothing for work
dinners out due to late work hours
school clothing
school supplies
gas to and from school
money for field trips/fundraisers/class parties/projects
school lunches

These are just the expenses that came to my mind, but I bet you will find that the free school isn't as free as you thought! Even if you are managing to bring home some of your pay check, what about the time investment? How much is your job and your child's public education costing you in family time?

What about homeschooling? Is it expensive? It can be.We definitely need some of those things too, and it is true, some homeschooling curriculum can run into the thousands. The great thing is that homeschooling can cost as little or as much as you want it too! Are you willing to put in a little extra time searching the internet? Between the internet and the library homeschooling can be completely free. Yes, there is a little bit of a trade. Some homeschoolers prefer to pay for the convenience of a curriculum already set up, but even that doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg. Providers such as Rod and Staff offer a very comprehensive and inexpensive "boxed" style curriculum. A parent willing to go the extra mile can match any expensive curriculum with free or nearly free substitutes.

post signature

Homeschooling through the eyes of my children

I saw someone do this with their unschooled children and thought it would be fun to show you what my children think of homeschooling. Here are some common questions they get.

How old are you?
Brianna -8, I mean 9!
Keira- Im 8
Luke- 4

What grade are you in?
Keira-2nd...I think...
Luke-I can't a-member

What is homeschooling?
Brianna- Doing school at home
Keira- school at home, it's basically homeschooling.
Luke- get lots of breaks and you do lots of school, even if you are at home and it's homechool

How long does school take each day?
Brianna- 2 or 3 hours
Keira- 400 years
Luke- yong!

What are you learning about right now?
Brianna- Plants, fractions, God and um, um, um, one second..., commas.
Keira- I'm reading my survivalist book, life in America when it was young
Luke- reading, math, science

What is your favorite subject?

Keira- Bible
Luke- coloring

What is your least favorite subject?

Luke- doing read, doing maff,

What are some good things about homeschooling?

Brianna- You don't have to sit at a desk for about half of the day.
Keira- You don't have to raise your hand when you go to the bathroom
Luke- I like to read and you can color

What are some bad things about homeschooling?
Brianna- takes forever to get done.
Keira- reading takes forever
Luke- not doing stuff that the Bible got in

Do you have any friends? How did you make those friends if you don't go to school?
Brianna-Yes. I see them, and I say, what is your favorite color and what is your name. I see them at restaurants and parks, mostly parks.
Keira- Of course I do! I ask them if they would like to play with us. We mostly meet them at the park and sometimes on field trips and at the zoo.
Luke- Yeah. Sometimes school and public school sometimes. I have two friends in public school. Then one more I don't know.

I need to pay more attention to where my 4 year old goes. I had no idea he had been secretly attending public school.

Do you take tests?

Keira- I don't know
Luke- no

Do you like being with your mom all day every day?
Keira- mmmmm, um....ok, yeah

Would you want to go to school if you could?

Brianna- no

What do you think you would like about going to public school?

Brianna-eating lunch with friends. Packing your lunch.
Keira- nothing
Luke- eating snacks

What do you think you would dislike about going to public school?
Brianna-sitting at a desk and having to raise your hand to go to the bathroom. I am not used to that.
Keira- You don't get many breaks.
Luke-sitting at a desk all day, even all the time.

Is your mom a good teacher?
Brianna- yes!
Keira- Oh yeah!

Do you get to play any sports?
Brianna- yes, but I don't do sports. I do art.
Keira- yes, gymnastics. I am on team.
Luke-yeah, soccer and sometimes you can get scores.

Anything else?
Brianna-I have the best family!
Keira- no thank you

post signature

Friday, April 5, 2013

History's Mastermind's *or* Amazon GIft Card Giveaway!

History's Masterminds by Trisms is a one of a kind history curriculum.  It is research based curriculum that gives a broad overview of world history.  You child will learn to research different characters, inventions, scientists, and ideas from the past to the present.  It helps your child work towards learning indepently and yet, offers clear worksheets, tests, and quizzes to help you know that they are getting things done!

I will be honest.  I hate standing over my kids directing every little thing they do in school.  I despise it with a passion.  If I am going to micromanage them, I would rather it not be with their school stuff.  (I do not make the same assertions when it comes to unloading the dishwasher, however.  I have to know where they put the can opener!)

With this curriculum, you have a book that has the lesson plan, all the helps, and most importantly, the answer keys.  The student has a book that has all of the lessons he will need to do, laid out in a weekly format.  This would be a good time to mention that the curriculum can be used in one year or can go as long as 2 years, which is my plan.  They just look at the lesson plan for they day and do what it says.  If you use IEW, it also incorporates IEW in the curriculum as well!

My favorite thing about this curriculum is that doesn't tell your kid what to think or believe, but teaches them how to find out what they think and believe.  I really like that it is not "preachy" and that there has not been anything that I have had to correct because of differing religious beliefs but at the same time it doesn't come across as a "secular" curriculum either.  It strikes a very good balance.

This curriculum can be adjusted to meet the needs of a child who has learning difficulties, like my daughter.  She has ADHD and can have trouble staying on task.  Luckily, the format of History's Masterminds is very clear in what she is supposed to do each day.  The lesson pages seem kind of cluttered at first glance, mostly because it has the whole week on 2 facing pages, and that threw her for a loop in the beginning, but she quickly overcame that and is able to follow the daily guide.

So, this is what her day looks like with this curriculum.
She opens the student book.  She finds the day of the week she is on. Let's say it is a Tuesday.  Tuesday's heading says she has to Locate and read background information on Ancient Greece, locate Greece on a globe, define city-state, citizens, democracy, and barbarians.  She also has to mark map 1 and do the Explorer questionnaire on Hanno.  Follow along the day to the Language Arts section and she will see that she will be studying poetry without rhyme and doing Language lesson 1b.

Because she is still learning how to research and find information, I have taken the liberty of pulling all the books I have on Ancient Greece and put them on a shelf.  I have also looked over the lessons for the week and pulled out all the map, questionnaires and worksheets she is going to have to complete and put them in her folder.  Because of her ADHD, she tends to trend toward severe disorganization, so I even go a step further and write the day that each item pertains to across the top of the page.  That is all the prep work I do.  It takes a very few minutes and my goal is to eventually have her do all of that work and then I will just check for completion.

You can see a sample lesson here, but it makes it look a bit more complicated than it is.  :)

I am afraid my review will not do this curriculum justice.  On the Trisms website, there are names and phone numbers of some REALLY helpful women that will give you real live answers!
This is an awesome middle school history curriculum!

We are going to have a flash give away on this!  If you would like to get this curriculum, simply go like our Facebook page! We will be drawing the winners from there! Winner will be drawn tomorrow!

If you do not have a need for this curriculum, then I will offer a $50 Amazon gift card in lieu of it.

You can enter the giveaway here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

post signature

Apologia Ultimate Daily Homeschool Planner and Studet Planner: A Mosaics Review

 I admit it. I am a homeschool planner junky. Of all the shiny new homeschooling products around, planners are my weak spot. I also love to write, so I over look printable or online planners that are filled in on the computer and go straight for the pretty bound ones.

Apologia's Ultimate Homeschool Planner is just that; a beautiful printed planner! Debra Bell has put together the perfect planner. This planner is a spiral bound planner with a wipe-able front cover (a must in a house with young children). The planner features many different pages including glance-at-a- month type pages, memorable moments pages, daily planning pages, reading lists, Bible plans and more!

The monthly and daily planing pages give you plenty of space to write out multiple students work. Daily pages also have space for notes, supply lists, appointments and feature a scripture at the bottom of the page. Other pages are peppered with inspirational quotes.

The best thing about this planner though, is that it is undated! This is perfect for year around schoolers who take off every 6th week, or who school January-December instead of the traditional year. No more wasted planning pages!

Apologia doesn't just offer a parent planner though. They also have student planners for elementary and teens. This planner is a great way to offer your child some responsibility and independence. It has fun sections such as an "about me" type page that allows the student to fill in goals (books I want to read, places I want to go, etc...) . There are study tips, places to keep grades, reading lists, and pages with conversion tables, math charts and so on. Of course, there are also monthly and daily planner pages to allow the student to keep up with assignments and due dates. You can have a peek at the student planner here!

If I had to pick one con it would be that as far as planners go, this one is on the pricier side. You can order the Ultimate Homeschool Planner directly from Apologia for $28 or on Amazon for $24. The Ultimate Student Planner is $19 on Apologia's site or $17.xx on Amazon. I think it is worth the price though and would still recommend it!

post signature

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

An Open Letter to June Bugs

Dear Disgusting Insect Whose Purpose I Have Yet to Discover,

You are a JUNE bug. Not an April bug, not a May bug. A June Bug. If you are going to insist on parking yourself on my front porch where I will inevitable feel and hear the crunch of my shoe crushing you the least you could do is stick to the month to which you are designated. JUNE.

Sincerely the June-bugist owner of the porch on which you so inconveniently make your home,

post signature

What the Public Schools Need

Picture Credit
I am often accused of personally attacking the teachers when I express my dislike for the institutionalized school system. I understand how my views can be taken personally so today I am sharing what I think the schools need. Now, my firm view is that should be completely shut down. I think the system as a whole is seriously outdated, and is leading our children gleefully straight to the gates of hell, but if they are going to exist, and it seems like they are for at least a little while, then we definitely need some "salt and light" in our local public schools.

I am sure if you have been homeschooling for any length of time you have heard the "salt and light" argument. How can public schools become any better if we aren't sending our children in to be the salt and light to the lost. It sounds good on the surface but a quick peek around the Bible will quickly tell you that this was not a reference to sending our young, untrained children into the world to be missionaries. Even the grown disciples were taught and allowed to mature before being shoved into the world on their own. Anyways, I digress. The point is that yes, the public school does need Jesus, but no, our children are not the ones who need to be in there evangelizing, day in and day out.

Mothers. We need good, Godly mothers
. We need mothers willing to sacrifice the higher standard of living that two incomes brings so that they can raise the future Christian generation. We need mothers who are willing to cast aside doubt and fear and to rise up knowing that the command to raise their own children is one that God does not take lightly and will equip each mother to do, all she need do is ask and submit. Do not fall for the lie that if you aren't directly involved in the public school that you are not helping. By following Biblical mandates and raising your own Godly children you are setting up the next generation to be able to help heal the failures of the current one.

Fathers. We need good, Godly fathers. Fathers willing to work hard, willing to support mothers who are staying home with their children. We need fathers who are spiritual leaders, who lead by example. Fathers whose actions are guided by the Word of God. Who are not willing to let their sons and daughters be sacrificed on the alter of the common good. We need fathers whose goals are to raise up a generation firmly rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ so that when their children grow up, we have a Godly generation of voters, politicians and teachers.

Teachers. We need good, Godly teachers.
We need unmarried women who have the time to focus on being in there and the ability to come home and spend time on their knees, creating lesson plans, talking to parents and being completely focused on the ministry of teaching. We need older mothers whose children have already grown. We need their wisdom and experience, their maturity both in life and in spiritual matters. We need men who are models of Godliness. Who will show young boys how to not only live a Godly life, but how to treat the young women around them. We need men who are showing boys how to be men and girls how men should act.

So let's put our focus where it should be. Let parents raise up and educate their children at home where they can be firmly grounded until they are mature and then let's send them out into the world to be the salt and light.

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

post signature