Our Family

Our Family

Monday, August 31, 2015

Review: Autumn Brides: A Year of Weddings Novella Collection

Book Description "Happily ever after begins today. The honor of your presence is requested at three autumn weddings . . . Happily ever after begins today. The honor of your presence is requested at three autumn weddings . . . A September Bride by Kathryn Springer When Annie moves to Red Leaf, she’s ready to call the little town home. Deputy Jesse Kent can’t believe his mother has handed the keys to her bookshop over to a woman she met on the internet. Jesse has seen his mother taken advantage of before, and he decides to keep a close eye on this Annie Price. But when a close eye turns into a historical wedding reenactment with Jesse and Annie as the couple, make-believe nuptials quickly give way to real-life emotions.

 An October Bride by Katie Ganshert No one but Jake and Emma know the true reason they’re getting married—so Emma’s dying father can walk her down the aisle. While Jake and Emma plan an autumn wedding together, it becomes clear that their agreement has a few complications—the biggest being their true feelings for each other.

 A November Bride by Beth K. Vogt Having celebrated the big 3–0 by ending a relationship, Sadie is tired of romantic relationships-by-text. The only man she knows willing to put down his iPhone and have face-to-face conversations with her is Erik. It’s time to put a 21st-century twist on the Sadie Hawkins’ tradition of a woman going after her man. But when he realizes he’s fallen for her, can Erik convince Sadie his just-for-fun dates were the prelude to “’til death do us part”?

I have very much enjoyed the other books in the Year of Weddings collection that I have had an opportunity to read so I was happy to have a chance to review this one.  It arrived just in time too, right before we left on vacation.  It made a great light hearted read at the little lake front cabin we stayed at.  Each of the stories had a little twist that made them different from your traditional wedding story.  Although each of the stories was a short novella, the stories were written in a way that didn't make you feel like you were rushed through the story or left hanging wondering what happened. Great characters and sweet, interesting stories.  I loved it!  I am so glad they have published these stories into collections for those of us that like a longer read.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book 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, August 30, 2015

Our Week in Review (Aug 24-29)

This was our last week before we start easing back into our homeschool year.  I had planned on getting so much done last week-end and it didn't happen.  I woke up sick last Saturday morning (the day after we got back from vacation) and was in bed all week-end.  I still don't feel 100% but am much better than I was!

My mom and dad came for a visit this week from Florida. They arrived on Monday afternoon and left on Friday morning.  It was so nice to be able to spend some time with them!  Thursday was my dad's birthday and it was also Emmie and Lily's dentist appointment to get their cavities filled so we headed to Texarkana for the day.  The children really wanted to take Papa bowling for his birthday so after the dentist we grabbed some lunch and went over to the bowling alley and bowled two games. Then we went to the movies. Later that night we celebrated with ice cream cake and the children gave Papa new slippers (they always think he needs new slippers) and a hummingbird feeder.

This week we had two days of soccer (Monday and Thursday).  They decided that before the players were drafted (every child who signs up is drafted) the coaches should get to see the kids play first so they had a "soccer clinic" where the kids played on the field for a little while and then the coaches went and did the draft.  We (mostly Art I just organize things and coach if I he can't be there) had coached 6 and under soccer for 6 years but when Christian moved up to the next league we thought we would be done. But when we got to the soccer clinic for the 7-9 year olds they only had 2 coaches and 42 kids. They got one other volunteer and Art volunteered to coach again.  The clinic for the 10 and up league was Thursday so I dropped Nick and Alex off to their daddy when we got back from TX and he took them.  Practices start on Monday.

Emmie and I finished the kitty she has been making.  I had bought a kit from Hobby Lobby that had the loom and all the necessary materials to make 2 stuffed animals.  Lily made the puppy and Emmie made the kitty.

We will be starting school tomorrow.  We are starting with Bible, read aloud, and Math.  We are also working on a review of Middlebury Interactive Language  so we will be working on that every day.  Soccer is starting and our Wednesday after school church program is starting this week too.  Also after being on a waiting list for 6 weeks a speech therapy slot has opened up for Anthony so I will be taking him on Tuesday afternoons right in the middle of our afternoon school work time but I had to take what they had available and will work around it.  I am thankful they had an opening and hope it makes a difference.

Happy Homeschooling!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Writing With Sharon Watson

Writing with Sharon Watson Review

Writing With Sharon Watson has several writing courses that were designed to be easy to use in homeschools, co-ops, and Christian schools.  We recently had an opportunity to review her newest program Illuminating Literature When Worlds Collide.
Writing with Sharon Watson Review

As part of our review we received:
Illuminating Literature When Worlds Collide (Student Book)- ($39.49)The Student Book is a 285 page paperback book.  It contains information about the course, suggested reading and homework plans, quiz instructions, assignments, further reading suggestions, and much more.
Illuminating Literature When Worlds Collide (Teacher Guide)- ($16.49)The Teacher's Guide is 182 page paperback book.  It contains information about the course, grading suggestions, book of the month club suggestions, answer keys, and more.
Illuminating Literature When Worlds Collide: Quiz and Answer Manual($8.49)- The Quiz and Answer manual is a 101 page paperback book.  This book is optional.  Students have an opportunity to take quizzes online (passwords for each quiz in in the Teacher's Guide) but if you would rather have them taken on paper and grade them yourself you have the option of purchasing this manual. 
Illuminating Literature When Worlds Collide: Novel Notebook (Free PDF Download)-The Novel Notebook is a free 102 page PDF download.  It coordinates with the student book.  In it students will record favorite passages, answer questions, and draw conclusions about what they have read.
And Ms. Watson included the first two books for us as well (Thanks!)
Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
Illuminating Literature is a literature course for high schoolers that will help prepare them for college literature courses.  The course contains 70 lessons split into two semesters. Lessons are student directed and after completing the course students will earn one credit in language arts or English.  Chapter 0 is a Welcome Chapter and after it there are 8 books that your child will read with each one taking about a month to finish if you follow the suggested schedule. Students will read the following books:

Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West
Peter Pan by Sir James Barrie
Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Patillo Beals
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

It is recommended that you use the author's suggested versions of the books so that page numbers and assignments will line up.  You can find them at the bottom of this page.
There are numerous skills and objectives for this course.  Students learn literary terms, writer's devices, and story elements.  They will increase vocabulary, and develop their writing through writing exercises.  They will also understand conflict, become discerning and savvy readers, and understand what authors do to mold their hearts.  The author has created a course in which she believes that even those who do not love to read and have not enjoyed other literature courses will be able to be successful and thrive in this course.

I am reviewing Illuminating Literature with my 8th grade son.  He is a little bit under the suggested age range.  I was interested in reviewing this program because I have not been able to find a literature program that I thought would be well suited to him.  I really liked Sharon Watson's philosophy, that it is basically a student lead course, and  the book selections were choices that I thought Nick would enjoy reading.

So we started with the "Start Here" section which gives the student information about what literature is and then asks the student a few questions.  A few examples of the questions and my son's answers(there are different choices and they could check one or more):

Why Should I Study Literature?
Reading literature gives me less of a headache than math does.
I'll get in trouble with my parents if I don't read this stuff,

What Do I want to learn from this course?
I want to learn how to get through literature without losing my mind.

Aren't teen age boys fun?

  One of the things I really like (and Nick may even admit that he likes it too) is the author has a very conversational tone and writes on the student's level without talking down at all to them.  She isn't stuffy or formal and explain things in a way that makes sense.  She goes into a lot of detail for the student about the author, and the background of the stories and time period.  In addition to the vocabulary questions and questions about literary elements there are suggested activities for each book.  Some of the activities are things like: creating a calendar, painting or drawing a picture, watching the movie and writing a review, creating a timeline, doing an interview, writing a short story, and more.  I also really like the option of having the online quiz and that the student can go through and do most of the work on their own with the teacher being there for guidance and discussion.  The idea of turning this course into a Book of the Month club or a co-op can also be a great option and you will find plenty of help and direction in the Teacher's Guide to help with that.
Because Nick is on the youngest end of the age range for this course, we are not planning on completing it all this year.  I am planning on having him work through half of the books this year and then picking it up again next year.
To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Curriculum Choices for the 2015/2016 Homeschool Year

This year in our homeschool we will have children in Pre-K, 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 8th grade.  We will start easing into our new homeschool year next week.  This year is going to be a little different for me because rather than have the younger children listen in to the science and history reading and participate in hands on activities with the older children I have separated the two groups.  The reason I did was because Nick and Alex have been all the way through The Mystery of History I,II,and III plus had a year of American History.  My younger children have only gotten bits and pieces of I,II, and III and had no American History at all.  So I decided to let Alex and Nick finish off the MOH cycle with Vol IV this year and purchased My Father's World Adventures for my 1st,2nd, and 3rd graders.  This way we can start all the younger children over with Creation next year and split Nick off into a High School curriculum. Hopefully it will all still go smoothly when it comes to implementing it all into our school day!

For Everyone:

Bible-We are going to start out the year using Real Life Press The Book of Moses Part 1 for our morning Bible study.

P.E.- I had gotten away from doing daily PE in our homeschool because the children are quite active and many of them play different sports, but we are bringing it back every morning as part of our homeschool.  We will be using Family Time Fitness.

Read Aloud- I read aloud to my children at various times during the day and before bed.  For our school time I will choose different read alouds throughout the year.  We will be starting out with George Muller The Guardian of of Bristol's Orphans.

Art-ARTistic Pursuits


I recently had an opportunity to review Horizons Preschool.  Emelia loves it so she will be continuing on with it this year.

1st Grade

Lillian will be using:

Math- Math U See Alpha
Reading- All About Reading Level 1
Handwriting- PenTime Manuscript Grade 1
History/Science- My Father's World Adventures

3rd Grade

Christian will be using:

Math- Math U See Gamma
Reading- All About Reading Level 2 and moving on to Level 3 as soon as we finish
Handwriting- PenTime Transition
Grammar- IEW Fix It! Grammar The Nose Tree
History/Science- My Father's World Adventures

4th Grade

Anthony will be using:

Math-Math U See Delta
Reading: All About Reading Level 2 and moving on to Level 3 as soon as we finish
Handwriting-PenTime Transition
Grammar IEW Fix It! Grammar The Nose Tree
History/Science-My Father's World Adventures

6th Grade

Alex will be using:

Math: Math U See Epsilon
History/Geography- The Mystery of History Vol IV
Science- Apologia Exploring Creation with Anatomy and Physiology
Grammar- IEW Fix It! Grammar Robin Hood
Literature/Writing- Progeny Press Literature Guides mixed in with some IEW writing assignments

Spelling- I love All About Spelling and it has made such a huge impact in my homeschool!  Alex still needs spelling instruction but also would like to be able to work independently.  So I am trying IEW Phonetic Zoo Level B (upcoming review) and if it doesn't work as well we will go back to AAS.

Latin- Visual Latin

8th Grade

Nick will be using:

Math- Math U See Algebra 1
History- The Mystery of History Vol IV
Science- Apologia Exploring Creation With Anatomy and Physiology
Grammar- IEW Fix It! Robin Hood
Literature- Illuminating Literature When Worlds Collide
Latin- Visual Latin

Plus whatever review items come our way.

I am excited about our upcoming learning adventure!

Happy Homeschooling!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Our Lake Catherine Vacation

We have been to Lake Catherine in Hot Springs many times.  It is one of our favorite places to go on a little vacation that is not too far from home.  We did not get to go last year and I did not think we were going this year either because we had taken a short vacation to Dallas in the spring.  But, Art and I were discussing taking the children to a theme park for a day and after adding up the cost realized we could go to Lake Catherine for 5 days for less money.  I did not think we would be able to get into a cabin because they book up pretty quick, but the week Arkansas went back to school they had several openings :)  While all the public and private schoolers and some homeschoolers started back to school we were heading on vacation.

I kept it a surprise from the children until two days before we left.  Nick and Alex had figured out we were going somewhere they just didn't know where, but the other children were completely surprised and so excited!!

We loaded up Monday morning and headed out about 11:30 after dropping off the dog at the doggie hotel.  We drove up to Hot Springs and went out to lunch,swung by Walmart for some groceries, and arrived at Lake Catherine just in time to check in.

We like Lake Catherine so much because the cabins are very affordable and have everything you need except food and personal items. Each cabin has a picnic table, a grill and a dock.  The park roads are paved which is great for bike riding.  They have a nice little play area, a swim beach, and a nature cabin to stop in and visit.  Plus they do free educational programs, and there is plenty of wildlife to view.

We had a great time fishing on and off the boat.  Several fish we caught and Alex even cleaned two of his fish to eat, the others were too small and got thrown back or were caught on our last day.  Alex even caught a turtle!

Anthony doesn't like to fish but he was trying to catch minnows with the net

We went on a bike ride at least once every day sometimes twice a day.  Lily rode her bike with us a few times and I was really impressed that she could make it that far on her little bike with training wheels.  A couple of times she rode in the chariot with Emelia.

During our rides we visited the playground.

The children did lots of swimming.  The second day we were there I had just gotten 5 of them onto the beach (Art and Nick were on the boat) and opened my chair and it started to rain just a little.  I told them keep swimming as long as it didn't lightning they were getting wet anyway.  A few minutes later though the sky opened up and it started raining so hard you couldn't even see.  They got out and we went to the van until it lightened up a bit then they went back in and I stood under the pavilion and watched them swim in the rain.  After about an hour it quit.

swimming in the rain

Christian made an Egyptian pyramid in the sand

The next day it was raining again, even harder.  So we decided to go to Mid America Science Museum.  Our passes do not expire until December so it didn't cost us anything.  The museum is always fun.  There were some people there but not as many as when we went over the summer.

We got to go to the Nature Cabin on Thursday.  We went to a program about turtles and another one that the children got to make snakeskin bookmarks.  They loved the nature cabin and the craft that they made.

Every day the children enjoyed feeding the ducks.  We also were visited by plenty of geese and had a few raccoons get into our boat and eat the stink bait that was in the tackle boxes.

Anthony took this photo

He also took this one

Alex took the baby duck photo

I took a few group pictures of the children

I had Nick take one of Art and I so I would be in at least one photo!

Friday we loaded up and headed home.  We had a really great time but I am always glad to be back in my own bed!