Our Family

Our Family

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Favorite Blog Posts of 2013

It is the last day of the year!  2013 went by so fast, but really so did 2012, 2011, 2010, and every year before that that I have had children.  It never stops amazing me how much they grow and change in a year!

I am ending this year on my blog by linking back to some of my favorite blog posts for 2013.  Then I will start the new year tomorrow with a "First Day In Pictures" post with my new camera.

Favorite Review Product Post

I reviewed so many awesome products this year!  In fact, I do not think I can ever top this year not in number of reviews, but in the number of truly fantastic products that made a huge difference in our homeschool.  Choosing my favorite product was NOT easy, but Moving Beyond the Page made the top of my list.

Favorite Book Review

I had the opportunity to review several books this year.  This is another great blessing for me since I am not able to buy many books for myself.  My favorite book that I reviewed this year was Threads of Grace by Kelly Long.

Favorite Recipe Post

Our favorite dessert that we made this year was Zucchini Brownies.  They were delicious!!

Favorite Field Trip

We did so many fun and educational things in 2013.  Our favorite Field Trip was to the Discovery Museum and the Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center in Little Rock.  It was even better because it was free!  Our museum passes from MASM got us into the Discovery Museum and the nature center is always free.

Favorite Family Moment

This year we went tent camping for the first time and the children loved it!!!! You can read about our adventure here.

Favorite Homeschooling Post

This year I tried to give you a peek into our homeschooling life by writing a "Day in the Homeschool Life" of each of the age groups of my children and myself.  You can find that series here.

Those are just a few of my favorite posts from 2013.  We did a lot of fun things and accomplished a lot in our homeschool.  I am looking forward to whatever 2014 brings!

Happy Homeschooling!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas 2013

We had a great Christmas!

Christmas Eve we spent making and decorating cookies, putting up more Christmas decorations, wrapping presents, and we even made cookies for the birds.  We did not go to church since the girls we already super cranky and covered in frosting and flour.  Instead we read the Sparkle Box book and opened up our Sparkle Box.  We also read the Christmas story from the Bible and made our birthday cake for Jesus to eat for dessert on Christmas Day.  We watched a short movie and got all of the children tucked into bed.

One of my favorite things about Christmas morning was the children opening the presents they got each other.  They each chose things that were theirs to give to their brothers and sisters.  They put a lot of thought into the presents they gave each other choosing things that they knew their siblings would like.  Anthony did not give things that were his, instead he made something for everyone.  He even made paper mice for Sally! It was very sweet!

We usually leave our decorations up until at least January 1st, but took them all down today.  The tree that we got from Walmart was dropping needles like crazy!  We have never had that problem before with trees we have cut down ourselves.  Also, to make room for the tree I had to move some things around making the playroom and family room a bit more cluttered and crowded and I wanted our space back.  I had some very willing helpers and it didn't take long at all to get everything put away.

One of the presents I got that I was the most excited about (besides the gold cross to replace the one I lost a few months ago when my chain broke) was a new camera!  I take lots of pictures and the old camera still did ok outside, but with a broken flash it was hard to take nice pictures inside.  I am so glad I got a new one, now if only I can figure out all of the features it has!!

Some photos I took today.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A December Bride A Year of Weddings Novella by Denise Hunter

Book Description

"What started as a whim turned into an accidental---and very public---engagement. Can Layla and Seth keep up the façade in Chapel Springs this holiday season---for the sake of her career . . . and his heart?
Under normal circumstances, Seth Murphy - the best friend of Layla O’Reilly’s ex-fiancé - would be the last person she’d marry. But the news of their upcoming (and phony) nuptials convinces a big client that Layla may be high-society enough to work for his agency - a coup that would put her fledgling home-staging business on the map. Seth has secretly loved Layla for years, even when she was dating his best friend. Maybe she’ll never forgive him for the way he hurt her back then, but he has to try. And Layla is willing to keep up their engagement farce until she’s landed her client.
For Layla, it's the chance to save her career. But for Seth, it's his last chance to win her heart."
A December Bride is a novella and is only 104 pages long.  Because it is so short, there is not much time in the story for a very complicated plot.  It also has a very predictable (but happy) ending.  But, taking the story for what it was I very much enjoyed reading it.  In the course of the short story, the author does a fantastic job of weaving a story with characters that you care about (or in one case immensely dislike.)  I will admit it got a little too romancy in one part for my taste (but not anything inappropriate for Christian fiction.)  It was a very sweet, lighthearted, holiday romance.  I would be interested in reading further books in this series.

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions were my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC regulations.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Homeschool Wrap Up Week 18

18 weeks of the 2013/2014 homeschool year completed!  We got a lot accomplished in our homeschool this week!

Chelsea has finished all of SWI C ,and  Notgrass Exploring Government except for some editing.  SHe also finished the first semester of Science for High School and will be turning it in for a grade after the break.  She is still plugging through Math U See Algebra 2. Next semester she will be continuing on in Science, and working through the Art of Poetry, Economics for Everybody, and Math U See Stewardship.
Land Animals Map

Nick and Alex completed lesson 10 of SWI A and Anthony and Christian finished part 2 of PAL.  In History we have gotten through 48 lessons of America the Beautiful.  In Science we completed lesson 5 of Land Animals on Marsupials.  Anthony and Christian finished Lesson 19 of All About Spelling Level One and the second reader The Runt Pig of All About Reading.  Alex finished Lesson 24 of AAS Level 3 and finished reading aloud The Bears on Hemlock Mountain.  Everyone is on different lessons in the levels of Math U See math, but they all finished the lesson they were working on.

Lily did the letter "Q" this week, and her Emmie and I read Angus Lost for Before Five In A Row and completed a lapbook from www.homeschoolshare.com.  We enjoyed reading about Angus, and Lily was thrilled when she discovered her new shirt had a dog on it that looked just like Angus!

We had an opportunity to go to a Christmas potluck that our local homeschool group was having.  There were 50 people there!  Not bad for a small town and several of our regular families were not able to be there.  The first year of our homeschool group we had a Christmas potluck and 14 people came.

We also made our gingerbread house this week.  Every year we buy a gingerbread house kit and the children decorate it.  I didn't think I would be able to find one this year, but I finally did.  I think it turned out great!

We are off of school until January 2nd.

I hope you had a great week in your homeschool!

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Day in the Homeschool Life of This Mama of Seven

So I have spent several weeks showing you what a "Day in the Homeschool Life" looks like for each of the different age groups of my children:

A Day in the Homeschool Life of My 1st and 2nd Graders

A Day in the Homeschool Life of My 4th Grader

A Day in the Homeschool Life of My 6th Grader

A Day in the Homeschool Life of My 12th Grader

A Day in the Homeschool Life of My Preschooler

Today it's my turn and I am going to give you a peek into what my typical homeschool day looks like.

7 am-9:30- During this time period everyone is getting up and getting ready to start the day. I fix breakfast for the children (my hubby goes to work early in the morning I do not get up with him.  I make his lunch the night before and he likes to have cereal for breakfast during the work week) and spend some time on the computer reading email, taking care of bills, checking into facebook, our TOS forum, and starting blog posts if I have time.  Then I clean up breakfast, get myself and the baby ready for the day, get a load of laundry going and shop vac the downstairs.

9:30 Morning school starts.  This is our together school work.  We start with  Bible. I am using Bible Study Guide For All Ages with all of the children and we usually spend 15-20 minutes.

By the way, I was going to put on nicer clothes and do my hair and make-up, but I am trying to keep it real!

Next we do history.  We are using America the Beautiful.  Our current read aloud to go with it is Brady by Jean Fritz.  The read aloud takes around 15 minutes and the History lesson takes about 30 minutes.

Tuesdays and Thursdays we do Science as well.  We were all busy working and didn't get a photo but we are using Apologia Land Animals.  I help Prek-2 with the A Journey Through Learning Lapbook, my 4th grader uses the Junior Notebooking Journal, and my 6th grader uses the Regular Notebooking Journal. Science takes about 30 minutes.

We are usually done by 11:00.  Next I put the clothes from washer into the dryer, start another load, and make lunch.  After lunch I clean up (the children help) and hopefully head outside with the children for fresh air.

12:30 afternoon school work starts up.  This is actually the hardest part of my day.  I have a lot of different age groups to juggle and different children doing different subjects.  Children aren't always patient either (I know you are shocked by that!) and often they all think they need my help all at the same time.

We start with Math.  My 3 oldest (12th, 6th, and 4th grades) can mostly handle their Math on their own thanks to Math U See DVDs.  If it is a new concept they do at times need help, but mostly I just have to check it over when they are finished (except for my 12th grader she checks her own.)  I do have to sit with my 1st and 2nd graders and do Math with them, but the lesson only lasts 15 minutes or so.

Next up is IEW.  My 4th and 6th graders are using SWI A.  If it is a video day, we all watch it together.  If it is not Nick (6th grade) can handle his assignments on his own.  Alex needs me to work one on one with him. Time spent varies depending on the lesson but usually 30 minutes is spent on SWI A.  My 1st and 2nd graders are using a modified version of PAL and it only takes them around 10-15 minutes.  They work on that while the big boys are doing SWI A.

Next up is Spelling/Reading-Usually I leave Alex to finish the last of his SWI A and start doing Spelling/Reading with my 1st and 2nd graders using  All About Learning Press.  I have kept them at the same level to make it a little easier for me.  We go through our Level One lesson of AAS and read the corresponding stories from AAR.   The length of time it takes depends on how long the stories are (especially with beginning readers sounding it all out!) but we can usually get through a lesson in less than 30 minutes.  Then I switch to Alex who is on level 3 of AAS.  When he finishes with the spelling lesson he reads a chapter from one of his read alouds to me. He usually spends around 20 minutes or so. While we are doing that my 6th grader does his Visual Latin assignment independently thanks to Dwayne teaching via DVD.  My preschooler works on her activity page from AAR Pre-1.

A couple of times a week I also try to squeeze in a French Lesson with Alex but we didn't get to it today.

Then I have an opportunity to work with my little girls.  We are using Before Five In A Row.  I read the story to them and we do some of the corresponding activities.  If I can find a lapbook from www.homeschoolshare.com we do a few of the mini books.  This week's story was Angus Lost.  I spend around 30 minutes working with them.

Whew!  School day is over!  Time to look over the schoolwork the children did without me, fold laundry, complete a few chores, check in the computer and blog if I have time, or slip back outside to play with the children.  4 o clock it is time to start supper so it is on the table at 5.

Evenings are pretty quiet.  In the winter because it gets dark so early we usually watch a movie.  I read or use the computer.  My husband cannot relax if I am bustling around cleaning so I do not do many chores in the evening.  7 o clock is snack time and I start getting the children ready for bed. I read aloud before bed and everyone goes to bed at 8 o clock.  They do not have to go to sleep, they can read or play quietly, but they have to be in bed.  Then Art and  can talk without 7 sets of ears listening and maybe stream a show on Netflix that isn't animated.

So that's a glimpse into my homeschool day.  I hope you have enjoyed this peek into our homeschool and how it works altogether!

Happy Homeschooling!

*links to All About Learning, Visual Latin, and A Journey Through Learning are my affiliate links. I only form affiliate relationships with companies whose products I actually use and can recommend!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Review: Friends and Heroes Homeschool Unit Study One

 The Friends and Heroes video series features two young people living in the first century fighting for survival and justice against the Roman Empire.  There are 3 series of videos: one set in Alexandria, one in Jerusalem, and one in Rome each containing 13 episodes.  A Homeschool Unit study has been designed to go with the DVD's and this review will cover the first episode in Series One: Friends and Heroes Homeschool Unit Study One, The Long Journey.

I received 2 items for this review:

Friends and Heroes DVD The Long Journey

Friends and Heroes Unit Study One CD Rom

Let's talk about the DVD first.

In The Long Journey, Macky and his family are surprised when 2 refugee girls show up in Alexandria seeking refuge in their home while their father (who was a friend of Macky's father) is off fighting the Romans.  Taking them into their home would mean big trouble and danger to their family.  In the DVD, the old testament story of Daniel in the Lions Den and the New Testament Story of Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish are used as Biblical examples to help guide Macky's family into making the right choices, being courageous, and helping others.  The DVD is 25 minutes long and recommended for ages 6 and up, although younger children can view it as well (my 2 and 4 year olds did.)

Now the Unit Study.

The Unit Study was designed for ages 7-11.  On the CD Rom, you will find PDF files of the Teacher's Guide and the Student Book.  The Teacher's Guide  is in black and white contains learning goals, background details, answer keys, and internet links.  The Student Guide is in full color and contains all of the activities and assignments for the student to complete. The study is divided into 3 chapters with each chapter covering the following subjects and the study covering the following topics:

a. History/Geography- Rome, Romans, Roman Money, Trade, Imports/Exports
b. Creative Writing-Journal Writing, Copy writing, Written Expression and Narrartion
c. Bible Study- Daniel in the Lion's Den, Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish, The Early Church
d. Science- Silver, Sand and cement, Geek and Roman discoveries
e Crafts: Sculpture, Paper Weaving, Pottery
f. One on one time: Discipleship-Trusting Others, Pride, Worries

You can purchase Unit Study One for $29.99 here.

Or you can purchase all of series 1 for $299.99 here.

All of my children (2,4,6,8,10,12, and 16) watched the video Long Journey.  I think the length of the video is perfect for the age range being targeted.  The animation, sound, and music are all good quality.  It was a story that captured the children's interest.  I liked the inclusion of both Old and New Testament stories in the DVD.  One of the things that I felt was lacking in the video was that although the Bible stories encouraged the characters to be courageous and help others based on what Daniel and Jesus did, the characters never go to the Lord in prayer and seek His will for the situation.

The Unit Study was used mostly with the older boys.  It was much more than I expected!  The study gives a good amount of detailed information on the background and history of Rome.  There is a variety of different activities to go with each chapter of the study.  The study is laid out very well easy to print out and follow along.  The amount of time you will need to complete the activities varies on the activity.  Reading through the history and answering the comprehension questions will take less time than researching a topic such as the river Nile and writing a mini report on it.  We decided to complete the comprehension questions orally.I really liked the One on One sections in each of the chapters.  We did not get to do the science activities because we did not have the necessary supplies.

How much time will the parent have to invest?  That really will depend on the age of your children.  The study is geared at ages 7-11, and I believe that 10 and 11 year olds could complete it independently.  The younger children are going to need some parent help.  Also, the hands on activities do not use items that you just have lying around the house so you will need to look at those items (tarnished silver, air dry clay, different types of sand, modeling clay, art supplies etc...) and have them ready for your child.  Reading through the Teacher's Manual and viewing the video ahead of time would also be helpful.

One thing to keep in mind as well is that it is recommended that the Student pages are printed in color.  It is 50 pages long.  I chose to print in black and white because my color printer uses a lot of ink and it is expensive.  I do think that the pages would look better in color, so that is something to consider when trying to figure out the cost of this study.  I did not print the Teacher's Manual (it is in black and white), I read it on the screen.

You may be interested to know that Friends and Heroes have some Christmas freebies on their site including an advent calender and a Christmas music video.

Disclaimer:  I received this products complimentary from Friends and Heroes for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC regulations.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Homeschool Wrap Up Week 17

We did not get very much of our "regular" school work completed this week.  Monday and Tuesday were full school days for us.  Wednesday we went to Grandview and did a program on blue birds and built blue bird houses.   Since we had to drive through town, we decided to go to Walmart and get our grocery shopping done.  We didn't get home until 1:30 so the only school work I made them do was Math.  Thursday, Christian and Lily had to go back to the dentist.  Chelsea wanted to go to Hobby Lobby and I needed to exchange something I had ordered from Kohls online.  By the time we did all that and drove 1 hour and 20 minutes each way, it was after 1:30 by the time we got home.  They did Math and that was all.

I was so glad my Before Five In A Row stuff came in this week.  Lily, Emelia and I did The Little Rabbit and made a little lapbook from www.homeschoolshare.com.

We started reading The Very Best Christmas Pageant Ever in the evenings before bed.

Lily saw a felt snowman one day when she was looking over my shoulder while I was scrolling through Facebook and wanted to make one.  We picked up some felt from Hobby Lobby and Christian Emelia, and I made 3 little stuffed felt snowmen.

We also made some salt dough ornaments.  Simple recipe.  1 cup flour, 1 cup salt, 1/2-1 cup of flour.  Mix together until it forms a dough.  You do not want it to be too sticky.  Roll it out.  Cut out shapes.  Place on a cookie sheet.  Poke a hole with a straw in the top of the ornaments and bake at 100 degrees for 3 hours.

They had so much fun with that we made some playdough so they could keep playing with the Christmas cutters.  We put a little glitter and food coloring into the playdough to make it more Christmasy.

Chelsea took the ACT again on Saturday.  She took it last February but wanted to see if she could raise her score.  This time at least they didn't embarrass her by asking her if she needed any special help or accommodations because she is homeschooled.  She felt more confident when she finished the test this time.  She should get her scores in about 2 weeks.

I hope you had a great week in your homeschool!

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Day in the Homeschool Life of My Preschooler

I have been working on this series to try and show you what a homeschool day actually looks like for each of the different grade levels of children in my homeschool.

A Day in the Homeschool Life of My 1st and 2nd Graders

A Day in the Homeschool Life of My 4th Grader

A Day in the Homeschool Life of My 6th Grader

A Day in the Homeschool Life of My 12th Grader

Today I am tackling my Pre-schooler, well actually Pre-schoolers since Emelia (2) does some of the activities that Lily (4) does as she is interested.

Pre-school and Kindergarten are VERY laid back and relaxed at my house.  Children soak up everything around them and learn so much by real life experiences, reading lots of great books, and watching and listening while I do school with the others.  But, if they are interested in having their own "school work" then they absolutely should.  Lily has wanted her own work since she was 3 (my boys at 3 and 4 couldn't have cared less!)

Here is what an average day looks like for Lily, with a little bit of Emmie added in.

Our school day starts at 9:30.  We start with Bible and all the children are using Bible Study Guide For All Ages.  Bible usually takes 15-20 minutes to complete our timeline memorization, scripture memorization, and worksheet.  Even Emmie participates in our Bible lesson and has memorized some of the timeline flash cards.

After Bible, Lily and Emmie have the option to be excused.  If they choose to stay in the room, they must play quietly, or color or draw.  If they cannot remember to play quietly and interrupt, then they have to sit quietly at my feet or leave the room.  They almost always stay while I read aloud from our chapter book and history lesson.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays we do science.  We are using Apologia Land Animals and the A Journey Through Learning Land Animals Lapbook.  Lily loves to help cut and glue the lapbook pieces and the hands on activities so she participates with our science lesson.  The lesson we are working on is on marsupials.  The children love kangaroos and even got to pet one when we went on a drive through safari last year!

Next is lunch and recess.  It was raining on this day so we could not go outside.  Instead they built a tent in the family room and watched a little TV.

Lily and Emmie play while I am working with the boys or watch TV for a little while.  We  have some worksheets that Lily can work on by herself if she wants to.  Her favorite worksheets are the letter pages from All About Learning Pre-1.  She loves these and often asks to do more than one a day!  I also try to keep plenty of craft supplies on hand so that she can create her own little crafts by herself while I am working with the boys.

When I get finished with the boys' schoolwork (between 1:30 and 2) it is time to work with the girls.  We are using Before Five In A Row.  The book we are working on is The Little Rabbit.  We read the book every day and then do some of the activities to go along with it.  I was able to find a lapbook for the book from Homeschool Share.  Lily loves lapbooks and often wants to do several activities.  We work for around 30 minutes on these.

We also use the iPad in our homeschool ( I forgot to get a photo of this.) Lily and Emmie (even though she is supposed to be too little for it) both do the Handwriting Without Tears Wet Dry Try app and then any app that they choose.  They complete 1-2 letters on the HWOT app and then their iPad free time is limited to 15 minutes per day.

Last year we had an opportunity to review Adventus which is a great interactive piano and music appreciation course for children.  We have NOT been consistent lately with this program but need to get back to it.  Lily really enjoys it.  I need to get her back working on it a few days a week.

That is a "Day in the Homeschool Life of My Preschooler."  Next week I will attempt to show you "A Day In the Homeschool Life of This Mama of Seven."

Happy Homeschooling!

*links to All About Learning and A Journey Through Learning are my affiliate links.  I only form affiliate relationships with companies whose products I actually use and can recommend!!