Sunday, December 30, 2012

Welcome 2013

We have really enjoyed the Christmas holiday.  The Christmas movies, Christmas food, and holiday gift giving.  I made the best turkey I've ever had if I may say so myself.

 It is really hard to start thinking about the long Winter/Spring school year 2013.  I've planned several outside activities for the upcoming semester just to keep us all motivated.  I'm signing Princess up for art saturdays at the Museum of National Art and NuNu will be doing Science Saturdays at the local community college.  We also won 3 Landry Academy 2 day intensive workshops of our choice (more on that later).  I'll be scheduling those for March/April.  We really need to get out more.  I contemplated allowing Princess to go to public school for 2nd semester (gasp!) just so she could make some much needed social connections.  However, I've gotten advice from moms who've been there done that.  They advise to wait and start in the beginning of the school year especially if you want honors and/or AP classes.  I most definitely would want that so I'll have to wait until Princess can dual enroll at the community college to make these social connections.

2012 will all be over in about 30 hours or so and we will be welcoming 2013.  I'll be ready thanking God for seeing a new year and looking forward to all the new year will bring.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bonjour...visiting France

In our studies this week we visited France...Monday morning we had a french breakfast of croissants, yogurt, and other pastries compliments of Panera.  We also had hot chocolate with whipped cream, peppermint mocha for me ;)  Of course school got off to an enthusiastic start.  NuNu asked if we will have a french breakfast every morning while in France.  :0  Ahh

I'm taking this opportunity to study the Impressionist artists while studying France - Monet, Renoir, Degas.  I've been trying to figure out how to include artists studies with all the many things we must do each week and this just seems to work perfectly.  I'm using the following resources and notebooking to accomplish the study:

The usual mapwork was included this week- identifying the physical features of the country, famous landmarks and other interesting facts.  I purchased french bread and brie for tasting this week as well.  We made sandwiches out of the bread but didn't get to the Brie, maybe next week.

We received the second essay graded by the community college professor this week.  Princess received a similar grade as the first paper with helpful comments included on improving.

I've decided to take a different route with Literature & Composition with Pumpkin starting next week.  We've been working diligently through Excellence in Literature (Intro to Composition) but it takes her longer to read the works assigned.  She just finished Jane Eyre with the help of an audio book.  I've been helping her with outlining for the essay assigned when I realized she could use additional help with writing instruction.  My normal routine has been read (which takes about 4 weeks) then write which takes 1-2 weeks.  Too much time goes by before we get to another writing assignment so she doesn't get as much practice as I think she needs.  I purchased 3 public school texts about a year ago at a library sale and as I read through the 9th grade text I knew it was the perfect solution. 
Holt Elements of Literature: Student Edition, Third Course, Grade 9, 2000

I have already scheduled out 2-3 months of assigned reading and writing.  I am excited about this new direction and I am so glad I go to the library sales religiously.  I purchased 9-11th grades for $1 each!

The book gives her directions to jot down ideas after reading short stories that become notes for writing a paper a few weeks down the road.  Her first writing assignment will be writing a narrative.

15 weeks of working through this text will give her good experience in knowing what it takes to write a good paper.  It teaches her to annotate and keep notes in her writing journal as she reads the assigned stories. 

I've told her to do this as she reads as it will help her locate the information she needs for writing but she never does it.  Now she has a text that specifically tells her what to look for while reading and to ask herself specific questions and jot down the answers in her reading journal.  Excellent!

I'm hoping this text will start some good habits that she will then take into her lit/comp studies for next year.

Head over to weirdunsocializedhomeschoolers and Daisyhead to see what other moms were up to this week.

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Father's World...ECC

homeschool curriculum program developed by My Fathers World

I've been thinking alot about curriculum lately - thinking about my choices for next year.  I like MFW but I find it lacking in some areas.  In my research I find that people say this about every curriculum.  I know curriculum is a tool that you have to tweak to meet your needs and MFW is no different.

Exploring Countries and Cultures Deluxe Package MFW's packages are geared toward 2-8th graders.  They have extension packages for the middle school grades.  They ideally want you to start with the ECC package and work you way through a 5 year history cycle with their other packages.  Well I do nothing according to the way its suppose to be done so last year I started with MFW Explorers to 1850 as it took off where we left off in the Middle Ages using SOTW two years ago.   To keep my 6th & 8th grader together I decided to take this year to do a geography study with ECC before my 8th grader begins high school using MFW AHL for 9th grade then MFW WHL for 10th grade.

Here is what I've learned using ECC with older students:

1.  I don't use many of the student sheets.  My kids don't want to color so these are out.
2.  I use blank maps from Ultimate Guide to Geography.  I already owned this so I just printed out two of each map I needed for the girls.
3.  The mapwork pages from World Geography are more than enough for my olders.  We don't even get to all the pages so I usually pick the physical geography pages, the country summary sheet, and the rivers/mountains sheet for them to complete.
4.  If classic literature is important to you, you have to schedule it in.
5.  I use the Progeny Press guides loosely - picking and choosing a writing topic for essays but skipping the comprehension questions. 
6.  Reading the MFW forum or other online forums are priceless!  This book came highly recommended on the forum.  I would have missed out if I hadn't found it on the forums.  It should be a part of the book basket with an asterisk beside it.
7.  We don't play the geography game as written.  I just put the numbered color coded maps up on the wall and have my kids race each other in guessing which countries are which.  I also grade this work as a quiz when we officially "leave" that country.
8.  Stamping the passports are not for my olders.  I do it anyway and they say "mom this is so elementary."  But they laugh so that's good.
9. We don't use Global Art or Wee Sing. 

My 8th grader is using the Apologia science recommended by MFW but my 6th grader uses the texts for MFW science which includes AIG Properties of Ecosystems and Living WorldIt isn't enough.  We primarily read the assigned texts and discuss the concepts.  On occasion I have her write a paragraph about the concept we read or have her do an illustration (i.e. Acid Rain, the Water Cycle) and once we cut and pasted pictures to represent each layer of the forest.  There is little hands-on and what is included (i.e. growing a potato, observing a section of the lawn, creating an ecosystem for an earthworm)  just isn't very exciting.  I've supplemented with outside courses at Engineering For Kids, and Science Saturdays at the the local community college.  This student loves Science so I depend on these outside courses to nurture her love of science.  Perhaps science at coop is in order for next year. 

We love, love, the Bible portionWe They memorize the weekly verse, I read the scripture passage, and the adventure from Kingdom Tales is not to be missed.  Even the high schooler gets in on this before setting off to do her work.  I love that MFW makes bible an important part of their plans.  Even the reading which is scheduled in the extension package is steered in the direction of biblical themes.  I eliminate some of these readings in favor of classical literature.  Personally, I enjoy them but my kids are weary of the repetitive missionary themes...sigh....

The strong bible focus is especially important in the high school years.  However,  the last two years of the high school curriculum seems to be heavy on Apologetics across all the subjects of Bible, Composition and Literature. 

Extras.  This is the part that makes any curriculum come alive.  The Wild family videos which I reviewed here was a winner and flowed so nicely with ECC.  It should be a part of the curriculum package or at the very least in the suggested movies list.  We watched Anne of Green Gables when we studied Canada and the animated movie, Rio while studying Brazil.  My kids will never forget the phenomenon of Carneval and its origins in Brazil.  I really should take advantage of preparing meals from each country we "visit" but I don't seem to get around to that.  Does Taco Bell count when vising Mexico?

I included a literary analysis program for my 8th grader so I have to balance the reading assigned in that program with what MFW ECC has scheduled.  She can choose to read the MFW selections as extra reading but it isn't required.  MFW recommends Writing Strands for writing but the literary program I use has writing included with it.

My goal with the program is to learn where places are in the world especially those places that are often referred to in the news and have significant relevance in world history and to constantly be aware of God's heart in evangelizing people around the world.  I think this program helps me to accomplish these goals nicely.

A lot of folks waffle between MFW, History Odyssey, SonLight, Tapestry of Grace, Beautiful Feet, Heart of Dakota, and many others.  I know I do a lot of research looking into how people use various programs.  Perhaps my review of MFW ECC will help another homeschooler trying to decide which curriculum to use.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living!

There are some days that I wish a camera would follow me around so I can see the footage of just how crazy a homeschooling SAHM's life really is.  It kind of went like this:

5:45 am - alarm goes off.  I usually get up by 6 am but didn't get up until 6:07 at which time I had a headache and just knew I couldn't get kid #5 on the bus by 6:30 am so I stay in bed until 7:24.

7:24 am - I get kid #4 up and lay his clothes out for school and head downstairs to put his breakfast in the toaster, pack his snack, and sign his homework folder.  I pour kid #5 a bowl of cereal.

7:57 am - Leave for bus which I had to drive to the end of the street to get. 

8:10 am - return home to prepare grits and bacon for myself and sit at table to think about what needs to be done for the day.  Begin to wash kid #5's hair in preparation for parent visit later that day and put beans into crockpot to cook for dinner.   I decide to make a doctor's appt for kid #5 (for some issues she is having) and check email. 

9:00 am -12 pm -  call doctor who says the office is booked.  I put on my desperation voice to which she replied that if I could come right away they would see her (kid #5).  I woke kid #1 to watch kid #6 (still sleeping) and headed out to doctor's office.  Waited in receptionist area until close to 10 am but got the prescription I needed and headed to Kohl's (kid #'5's school shoes were on their last leg). First I had to stop at Wawa to get a Caramel Latte.  I  picked up a few items at Kohls and headed to pharmacy to pick up prescription.  There were complications with the insurance so I headed back home to make phone calls and send emails to the social worker regarding the issue.


12:30 - 1 pm - Kid #1 is working diligently in her room.  Kid #2 is listening to an audio book of Jane Eyre and Kid #3 is doing only God knows what.  But they come down for lunch and receive lecture from me on what they should be accomplishing.  Kid #6 had a bomb in his diaper so I took him upstairs for bathing and dressing while Kid #5 watched Dora the Explorer.  First I had to clean the tub that 6 kids share.  After bath time, I return and Kid #5 & 6 want lunch.  I heat up leftovers and fruit.  They want a hotdog but I don't have buns or bread.  Kid #3 wants PB&J so now I have to run to the store to pick up bread and olive oil that Kid #2 needs for a science experiment. 

2 pm - Upon returning from store, I attempt to get Kid #5 & 6 ready for parent visit when social worker calls to say visit has been canceled.  I ask him about the insurance issue which he promises to get back to me on that.  I go downstairs where the dry erase board is located to go over two math problems Kid #2 didn't quite get on her work assignments.  But we couldn't start until she found her math notebook which took about 10  minutes.  I eat some of the soup I made the night before as I wait. 

3 pm - I straighten and pick up in family room and wash my dishes from the morning.  I go upstairs to do some grooming of my own and to make up my bed.  I wash out the conditioner that has been sitting in Kid #5's hair for a few hours.  I sat and groomed her hair with bows and hair band that we picked up from Kohls this morning.  

3:30 pm - We all greet Dad who just got home.  He is hungry so I fix him the rice that I put on a little earlier with smoked sausage and red beans that has been simmering in the crockpot all day with a cornbread muffin from last night's dinner.  

4 pm - Kid #2 and I walk the long way around the community to the bus stop to pick up Kid #4.  We had planned to go to the Y to work out while Kids #3-6 were visiting with their mom but since that didn't happen today we decided to walk instead.  The dog tags along.  When I return the social worker calls with details about prescription coverage and asks for the pharmacy # to get it all straightened out.

5 pm - Kid #4 & 5 are hungry so I prepare #4 the crockpot meal but #5 wants PBJ and an apple.
Then the pharmacy calls and says the prescription is ready.  I head out to get it along with a gallon of milk and some other items at the store. 

6 pm - give a Geometry test that Kid #1 says she is ready to take.  

At least at a traditional 9 to 5 there is a lunch break where you can actually leave everyone else behind and have a little time to yourself.  

Friday, November 16, 2012


One motto I learned from a college auxillary group I belonged to many years ago was "Friendship is essential to the soul"  Oh, how true this is.  I have had the privilege to share in many great friendships throughout my lifetime.  As seasons of life change some of those relationships become distant.  I have a friend who says as we get older it gets harder to find deep friendships like the ones you share when you are younger.

I've been thinking and praying a lot about relationships in the life of my kids.  Princess shared with me this need and the difficulty she faces in connecting with teens her own age.  She says they are shallow and only seem interested in things that are of no substance.  I'm sure this is true.  It is easy to feel guilty and think homeschooling is to blame but I remember her K-7 years when she was in traditional schools.  There weren't many relationships that moved beyond the playground or classroom chatter.

Princess is similar to me in the way she thinks - deeply and introspectively.  She doesn't want to talk about TV shows or stars she wants to talk about life and the future.  I understand that.  I often tell her that college will present a wider pool from which to choose like minded individuals to befriend.  With that in mind, we have to be selective in our college choices.  I pray she can hold on that long (2 years) to find those meaningful connections.

We had house guests over the last two weeks.  The children with us were formerly homeschooled but now attend public school.  Although it got very loud around here with so many kids I know my kids were having a ball.  They had built in social time and they took advantage of every moment.  I asked those kids what they liked better, homeschool or PS.  They all said homeschool.  I said what about all the new friendships you've gained and they all shrugged as if those relationships were really unimportant.  Hmmm....that was surprising to my kids but enlightening.

Our guests left last night and my kids were kind of bummed.  They really looked forward to those talks and social time each evening when they all arrived here from school.  I kind of enjoyed it too.

   friendship scraps, images, quotes graphics for orkut, myspace

Head over to weirdunsocializedhomeschoolers to see what other moms were up to this week.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Grace & Truth Books Knights and FairMaidens from Grace & Truth Books is a book that chronicles the courtship of its authors, Jeff & Danielle Myers.  The Myers’ propose a solution to the Christian dilemma of opposite sex relationships – courtship.  Courtship has been a popular topic among Christian groups more recently as the answer to a successful marriage in today’s dating culture.   I believe there is a lot more to making a successful marriage than deciding to abandon dating in favor of courtship.  However, there are some good guidelines outlined in Of Knights and Fair Maidens one can follow in order to steer clear of the pitfalls of modern day dating.  The book can be purchased at the Grace & Truth website for $9.75.  It is written to teens aged 14-19.  I read this book as a parent of a teen girl as I prepare to discuss these issues fairly soon.

According to Myers, Courtship is defined as a guy/girl relationship that leads to marriage.  It focuses on three primary things: accountability, character building, and waiting to develop serious relationships until you are in a position to get married.  I think that is great advice. 

The Myers essentially spent a summer together sharing activities primarily in a group setting before deciding to court.  Initially, there were a few mountain bike rides that they shared alone but they decided to court based on the godly character of the other person, their goals, and the green lights they received from accountability partners. 

Here is some of the advice they give that should govern the courtship relationship:
  1. Accountability to parents.  Here is one quote from the book that rings true, “when you get married, you don’t just marry another person.  You marry a whole family.”  This has implications for both positive and negative outcomes.  I think getting family involved to some degree is important to the well being of the relationship.
  2. Activities.  I love the suggestions for activities that help to avoid the “masks” couples wear early in a relationship to impress one another. 
    1. Working together on a missions project helps the couple to observe each other in unusual or stressful situations. 
    2. Refinish a piece of old furniture together.
    3. Plant a garden
    4. Make a fancy dinner together
  3. Stuff to think about/Stuff to talk about.  The Myers suggest that people when people “fall in love” they stop thinking.  They give a list of items to discuss as a couple, a list for the girls and a list for the guys. Following is a just a small sample:
For the girls:
    1. How would you handle child discipline?
    2. Do you know how to plan menus, cook, and serve food?
    3. List ways you can support your husband in his goals?
    4. Interview women for ideas on how they demonstrate love for their husbands. 
For the guys:
a.       What are your expectations for marriage?
b.      Have you visited with any fathers about the responsibilities of raising children?
c.       Do you know how to budget? Save?
d.      Do you know how to fix things that break?

My thoughts:

Here is my favorite quote from the book that sums up the whole matter of courtship versus dating, “the important thing is to be tuned in to what God says in his Word.  Before you decide to get into a relationship, take time to get into the Scriptures and write down the guidelines that ought to surround the relationship.”  Good advice!  I would add to that, Pray, then pray some more. 

Of Knights and FairMaidens in my opinion offers a very idealistic view of courting within a healthy Christian environment.  However, there are many Christian couples whose families don’t have Christian backgrounds. In such cases spending time with family in the courtship process may not be an option.  Family may not offer support if relations are strained or unhealthy (i.e. drug dependence, step family tensions, etc.).  The Myers do offer advice for developing mentor relationships.  Although they say mentors should not take the place of the parental relationship, in real life this may be the only alternative. 

The Myers committed to their courtship without love being a part of the picture.  They feel as though emotions are less reliable than a character assessment.  I agree that our emotions should not rule our intentions to marry but they should be part of the equation in light of the character, goals, etc. 

They end the book by saying “Ultimately, courtship is a change of attitude toward relationships.  The courtship attitude not only alters the way you look for a spouse; it changes the way you treat members of the opposite sex.”  I agree.  This is true whether courting or dating.  Dating doesn’t have to be self-seeking, pleasure-seeking, or characterized by an attitude of emotional and physical gratification as suggested by the Myers.  I don’t agree that dating has to be that at all. 

I believe the big picture is how we govern ourselves in relationships with others.  We should have boundaries that are scripturally based and Holy Spirit led.  There isn’t a one size fits all approach in this area of relationships.  This book offers a lot of great advice that one can incorporate in their approach to relationships no matter what you call it.

See what my other "crew mates" thought of Grace & Truth Books here.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Growing Up Wild

When I received the Growing Up Wild DVDs in the mail, I immediately opened the package and the whole family watched both videos in one sitting.  My girls often make fun of my turning every moment into a learning moment.  One pretended that she would rather do dishes than sit and watch a “school” video but when I looked toward the kitchen sink she was all eyes on the TV.  By the end of the video, she said “I like these.” 

It is very fitting that our history focus this year is on Countries and Cultures.   There is a huge slant toward missionaries in our studies.  We are actually reading one missionary biography now.  Reviewing these videos was such a wonderful addition to our studies. are 5 volumes in the Growing Up Wild series featuring the Wild missionary family who minister to the Wanu people in Indonesia.   We received Volumes 1 and 4 to review.  Each video includes 3 – 15 minute segments for a total viewing time of 45 minutes for each Volume.  Volume 1  includes segments on the Wild family home, their water and power supply, and how they receive provisions in the remote area in which they live. 4 includes segments on the animal species that live in the jungle, the Wano Culture, and the missionary work done there.  I really wish something like this existed for more areas where missionary families serve.  It really gives you a first hand look at the day to day lives of missionary families.  Each segment ends with a scripture focus and a challenge for every Christian to consider how they live their lives and to make sure what we do counts for Christ.  Love that!You can purchase all 5 videos for $80.95 or each volume for $18.95.  Activity Guides are included with the DVDs.  They include activities to “go deeper” and really learn the ways of the missionary lifestyle.  There are also simple activities to help remind us to appreciate all of God’s blessings including nature and science.  One such activity included keeping track of all the food your family eats including the price of that food.  Then plan how much you will need to buy for a 3 month supply much like the Wild family does. 

A few thoughts:
I would advise parents with young children to view the videos first before showing them to their kids.  In many third world countries wearing little to no clothing is common.  There were a few shots that caught me off guard but nothing close to vulgar.  It is definitely within the context of living in the jungle.  One should just know that it is there – brief bare bottoms in adults and bare fronts in young male children. 

Also one scene left all of our mouths hung open as I was caught off guard watching a common house cat eat a nice sized mouse.  I have all girls so it may go over differently in a home with all boys.  My husband definitely got a kick out of that footage.

I really like the packaging of these videos.  It is very professionally packaged.  That may not be very important to many but I like it.  I would suggest to the Wild family to have their videos included with a packaged curriculum provider that has a cultural study especially one that focuses on missions. 

See what my other "crew mates" thought of Growing Up Wild here.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Home School High

I am so proud of my 10th grader Princess.  She has an incredible work ethic and she is so responsible.  I am also excited about her future.  While she works diligently on her studies, I am constantly researching ways to make sure she is prepared for every future opportunity.  

We visited our first college fair this week at the local community college.  She was really impressed with one admissions representative we spoke to.  The rep spoke very enthusiastically about her school and made us like it.  But it is a small school with a population of 745.  Too small for my tastes but it made me realize how influential a rep can be for a school.  We also got a chance to speak with an academic advisor for the community college since Princess will take a few classes next year through dual enrollment.  We peaked into a few classes that were in session and it left us feeling pretty excited about next year. 

Another exciting thing this week was getting Princess' first Literature paper graded by a community college ENG 101 professor.  I'd been looking into resources for having outside grading done for papers this year when I stumbled across a college professor who frequents TWTM forums.  She was willing to grade Princess' papers at the agreed upon rate we discussed.  She sent me her resume and a copy of her college faculty ID as verification of her qualifications.  I sent her a copy of the first paper by email and by snail mail along with a check for the fee.  Her written evaluation of Princess' paper was worth her fee (which is inexpensive to begin with) 10X over.  It was chocked full of detail on ways to improve the paper and kudos for the things she did well.  She used her classroom rubric and scored the paper a 89%.   Princess was very excited with the feedback.  So was I.  I am so pleased with this arrangement and with having "outside" evaluation of her writing skills.

What else is working well?

Weekly lesson sheets - my diligence in giving the girls these sheets every Monday morning is working wonders for keeping us all on track. - I did a review of this product a few weeks back.  Princess looks at a video segment each week.  She does the online quiz, and crossword puzzle and I encourage her to use the new words in literature papers in conversation.  I am also learning new words.  Quite often I comment on how assiduous Princess has been with her studies. :)

I pray that all of this diligence will pay off at PSAT and SAT time!

This is the first time I am linking up with theDaisyHead and Home School High.  



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Science in the community

One thing I can really appreciate about living in the area I live in is the many opportunities available to homeschoolers.  A friend sent me an announcement by email for Science Saturdays which were being held at our local community college.


The program allows 6th - 7th graders to explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related topics.  The class my younger girls participated in explored forensic biology.  They learned how to test for body fluids, extracted DNA from a strawberry, practiced hair analysis, did fingerprinting, and delved into the topic of chromatography.

Pumpkin went kicking and screaming.  She just couldn't understand why we had to "do school" on a Saturday.  By the end of the 3 hour class she was all smiles and enjoyed what she learned and for $20 mom was all smiles too. 

In the Spring, there will be a mini med school which is a series of 4 anatomy classes with hands-on experiments and dissections.   I never do science justice so I am glad these classes came along for us to participate.

I also got a chance to look around the community college as I had never been to this campus.  They recently opened the science building we were in so having the biology class in a real college science lab was icing on the cake.  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Kennedy Center

I always get inspired to do a weekly wrap up after I read other bloggers' wrap up.   I'm inspired by their week and maybe just maybe someone will be inspired or encouraged by my week.  I decided to try a different format this week to switch it up a bit. 

My Favorite Thing this Week...  seeing Sphinx Virtuosi with friends at the Kennedy Center.  I was surprised at my reaction to this performance - simply exhilarating.  One solo performer was 15 years' old and I was just in awe of her performance.  There is a Q & A session after each performance.  An audience member asked how long she practiced and she answered 5 hours per day!  She then said she was homeschooled so she had time to do that.  Of course there were homeschoolers in the house who cheered loudly after that.

From their website:
 The Sphinx Virtuosi Tour offers a diverse program featuring well-known repertoire in addition to works by African-American and Latino composers, including works by Mozart, Piazzolla, Michael Abels, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, and others. The Sphinx Virtuosi (formerly Sphinx Chamber Orchestra) is a conductorless ensemble comprised of alumni from the Sphinx Competition for young Black and Latino string players. This unique group has earned rave reviews from The New York Times. Allan Kozinn of the Times described their performances as "first-rate in every way" and the ensemble to have "produced a more beautiful, precise and carefully shaped sound than some fully professional orchestras that come through Carnegie Hall in the course of the year."


 We're Reading...well we just finished Around the World in 80 days.  It's part of the Excellence in Literature curriculum that Pumpkin is doing this year.  We often like to look at the movie of a book after we read it so we got this copy from the library.  This version was not very well done.  There is an updated version with Jackie Chann but it isn't at my library yet.

 Places We're Going...  the usual weekly routine of co-op, the YMCA for Zumba, Art & Piano.

 Things I'm Working On... staying ahead of the kids with the weekly lesson plan sheets.  If I'm organized it makes for a smoother week.

Random Things I'm Thinking about ...  preparing Princess for 11th grade that looms right around the corner - ordering drivers' education materials, talking to the local PS to make sure I get a spot for her to take PSATs,  application to VCU's Art intensive for high schoolers, and talking to the local CC for dual enrollment. 

Head over to weirdunsocializedhomeschoolers to see what other moms were up to this week.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Beyoutiful Products

Well it's not everyday you get to review skincare products on a homeschool blog but that is just what I am about to do.  At The OldSchoolhouse review crew, we got an opportunity to review products from  I don't wear make-up everyday and most people tell me I don't need it but everyone wants a finished look every now and again so I chose to review the make-up products.  I usually wear make-up on Sundays when I go to church.  Even the clerk at the grocery store yesterday  commented on  how nice I looked.  I know one should just say thank you but I couldn't help but to say "I know, all the other times I come in here I look a mess."

I had to choose 3 sample colors from the website to try before selecting the one product I would receive in the mail to review.  To say that this was a daunting task is an understatement.  Looking at colors on the computer or even on paper is so very different from actually trying the colors on the skin.  Nonetheless, I choose three foundational colors that I received in the mail.  I followed the instructions for testing each color on my skin tone.  I choose the one I felt closely matched along with two eye colors to try and received the full product in the mail a week or so later.    Coincidentally, on the week of my birthday, I received:

1 Foundation color
1 Foundation brush
1 Eye/lip color
1 Multi-purpose brush
Minimalistic Dream Makeup PackageRetail value: $53

Since I reached a milestone birthday I felt like celebrating.  I wore the make-up everyday of that week!  I got that finished look I like along with complementary eye color that I adore.  Beyoutiful skin mineral make up is all pure, natural with no chemicals, preservatives or fillers.   They have over 20 foundation colors from the lighest skin tones to the darkest skin tones and over 45 eye colors, blushes and bronzers.  There is a how-to video at their website that gives instruction on how to apply their make-up.   Make-up packages start at $52.00.
In addition to the beeyoutifulskin care line of products there are a host of other health products at their website.  These products include essential oils, vitamins, supplements, and so many other products. These products are worth a look especially for the conscious consumer who is interested in all natural products.

See what my other "crew mates" thought of Beeyoutifulskin here.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine


Friday, September 28, 2012

Box of Ideas
There is something about getting a package in the mail that makes one giddy.  You want to rip open your package and enjoy whatever surprise awaits you inside.  Such was the case when we received the Box of Ideas package in the mail to review.    I sat the box unopened on the desk in the kitchen and each member of my family asked, “what’s that?”  However, the lucky kid who would actually get to use the box asked, “is that for me?”  With my “yes” she was off to discover and explore the contents of that mysterious box.

BoxofIdeas_SaltBox.jpg I didn’t examine the box with my 11 year old initially but I let her discover it on her own.  The next two days I heard “mom, this is soooo cool!”  I saw charts and documents on my fridge that she added to on a daily basis.  I saw her examining nutrition labels before eating and working undeterred at her desk with that big white box.  Now, I had to discover for myself what all the excitement was about.

We reviewed the Salt Box.  The rectangular shaped black and white box includes 10 self contained modules that delves into the history, geography, language, science, and other topics related to salt.  Who knew there was so much to learn about salt?  Each module is neatly packaged with everything you need for that particular module.  There is a background sheet with information to read including links to further investigate the topic.  After the reading, there is a hands-on activity to reinforce the concept the student just read about.  You don’t have to do the modules in order but my dear daughter started with Module 1 – Need For Salt. 

In this module, she was able to read about the human body’s need for salt and was sent on a trip to investigate the sodium content of the foods we most commonly eat.  This led to a trip through my pantry which she listed, on a chart provided with the module, all the foods we had that were high in sodium and low in sodium.  There were also two colorful food sheets which are now on my fridge, that lists the sodium content of common foods including foods from McDonald’s, Pizza hut, Subway, and Taco Bell. 

She worked independently on the first 3 modules of the Box.  She placed all of her findings from these modules in a 3 ring binder.  It is an impressive presentation of colorful bar charts that show where so much of the Earth’s salt is produced, an article of salt mines in the news, and pictures of salt habitats.  Great stuff!  One module included a game board and a map for the student to match salt facts presented on card stock with the country the fact referred to.  The game activity left room for the student to include facts of their own but my daughter was inspired to take the concept to create her own “matching” game.  This module sparked a lot of her own creativity and reinforced our own geography lessons as we are focusing on countries and cultures this year.  I love when this happens – cross curriculum reinforcement.  

At this point, I jumped into the box (well, not literally) to discover it for myself.  My daughter wanted to do the last module which included an experiment which examined the question of which salt has the greatest affect on the freezing point of ice.  This exercise was a gentle introduction to the world of science labs which she will do next year in 7th grade.  She had to predict what she thought would happen and record her results and her experiment form.

We have thoroughly enjoyed this curriculum.  I believe it falls into the category of being a unit study.  I know there are more themed boxes in development.  Ideally, each box focuses on the age range of 9-16. Currently you can purchase Salt, World Word II, Eleven, Quilting, Pigs and Laundry – such a random list of topics.  The Box of Ideas curriculum box can be purchased at for $79 or you can purchase the PDF download for $49.  In my opinion, opening the box and discovering all of the units is part of the fun.  It is great to further delve into a topic that may be briefly covered in one’s main curriculum or to completely go down a rabbit trail and discover something new.  This is how we used this curriculum – a rabbit trail adventure. 

My 6th grader often finishes her work before everyone else.  She likes to stay on task and checks off the boxes on her weekly lesson grid.  It is motivating for her to know that she has completed everything on time or ahead of time.  Most kids would read but she isn’t an avid reader.  Having something like Box of Ideas is just what she needs when she is finished all of her school work.   It is engaging, educational, and fun.

The only one suggestion I would make to improve the curriculum is to label each module 1-10.  Sometimes it was hard to know which module we had completed and which one we wanted to discover next.  We had to open the plastic holder and look inside to see if we had in fact completed that module.  A number system would help to keep it all straight.  Otherwise each module was nicely packaged with labels listing what was inside and what was needed to complete it.  

See what my other "crew mates" thoughts of Box of Ideas here.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Week 3 of School & Landry Academy

To say its been busy around here is an understatement.  I've heard it said that the busy people get things done.  I think psychologically you know you have to stay on top of more things so you just get it done.  Not an idle moment here.  Using grid sheets for each student keeps everyone on track has been working really well.  Everything is planned out down to how many pages to read each day to when to ask mom for the quiz or test.  No one has to wait on mom to go to the next thing and they know to ask for help immediately if they get stumped. Of course this requires me to stay on track of grading work but that's a topic for another day. We are starting out our day together around reading the bible and this book:

Kingdom Tales By David and Karen Mains Teacher's EditionIt is part of the MFW ECC curriculum which the younger girls are doing this year.  The stories are fascinating and we can't wait to find out each day what will happen next in this adventure.  There are some great discussion questions at the end of each story which makes for great conversation among us.  The reviews at all same the same thing - enjoyable book that captures so many truths of the Christian faith.

I've been so busy with The Old School house curriculum reviews that I've hardly had a chance to write a weekly wrap up.  What prompted me to write one this week is Princess' experience at Landry Academy's 2 day lab intensive.  It was great!  I dropped her off Monday morning at 8:30 am.  My mom who lives in the city where the intensive was held picked her up and took her back the next morning.  The intensive was held about 1 hour from our home.  What an experience.  She dissected a pregnant lamb, a frog, a sheep's heart, and a cow's eye.  I know gross and so much more than what is required in a high school biology course.  I was concerned that it was too much in a short period of time and would she remember all the details as she studies the text throughout the year.  Let me tell you my concerns weren't warranted.  She took lots of pics and Landry provided a nice book of notes with lab reports for her to fill out.  I was able to look through and see her diagrams and write-ups.  She also worked within a group to perform the labs.  I could've never replicated this experience at home or at the local coop.  I can't believe I was so broken up about not getting in the coop biology class back in June.  This was so much better and all for the cost of the microscope I would've purchased to do labs at home. This was worth the money. 

If Landry comes to your city do not hesitate to sign up.  I know this sounds like a review but it is not.  I am looking at other classes they offer to see if there is anything we should sign up for.  I'm thinking we just might tackle Chemistry at home next year and do the 2 day intensive for Chemistry with Landry.  

This was such a great experience I'm hoping other Landry classes are this good.   Dissection pics to follow, look at your own risk:

Head over to weirdunsocializedhomeschoolers to see what other moms were up to this week.


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