Friday, April 18, 2014

Random 5 ~ April 18th

 The Pebble Pond

1 - I have gotten so far behind on housework and grocery shopping these past few weeks that we were about 4 hours away from eating popcorn for lunch. So the kids and I braved Wally World and Sams and stocked up today. yay.

2 - I love having boys. T is out mowing now. Loaded him up with lavender, lemon, and peppermint and will hit him with it again when he comes in. He really wanted to mow, even though he is highly allergic to grass. I'm excited for our first spring/summer with Young Living. YeeHaw!

3 - Parenting is hard sometimes, y'all! Just hard!

4 - Monday is our last day of Classical Conversations this year. WAHOOOOO! It has been a wonderful year, but I'm ready for the break! C has two more weeks though so we are quietly wahoooooing so he isn't annoyed with us.

5 - He is not here; He is RISEN!!! Happiest of Easter seasons to you and your family. We are heading out to our Good Friday service soon, which is such a good, visual reminder of all Jesus did for us. Also, T was saved on Good Friday a few years ago so this day is always extra special for us.



Come link up with others posting Random 5's today at The Pebble Pond.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Random 5 on Friday

1 - I'm slightly obsessed with ice, thanks to my sister, and found the best place to buy soft, yummy ice. I buy a 20lb bag at least one a week. Yum!



2 - I haven't paid taxes yet. I'm waiting until the last minute because of stupid self employment taxes. Now that we are down to the last minute, I better get it done so I don't add penalties to the already stupid taxes we have to pay.

3 - I'm sooooo ready for summer. I'm sick of school. The kids are sick of school. We do school throughout the summer, but it's different. I like it then because it's not the full load.

4 - I think about and pray for little man all the time and am so, so, so thankful that we still get to see and talk to him. He's doing well and we even got to play at the park with him this week. So great to see him and hug his neck!


5 - I haven't cleaned my office in  months...and it shows. I promise to clean it soon but don't promise before and after pics...just after maybe. ;o)

I'm linking up with the Pebble and the Pond. Come join us and post your random 5 too.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Throwback Thursday - 5 years later

Where has the time gone....We did class pictures this week and it hit me again how grown up the kids are getting.





Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review: Victus Study Skills System

Victus Study Skills Review

When I first signed up to review Victus Study Skill System, I wasn't quite sure what I was getting into but knew that we could use some help in the organization area around here. We were graciously sent the Student Workbook and Teacher Edition to review.

When the spiral bound books arrived, the first thing that caught my eye was a quote from Dorothy Sayers on the cover. I knew this had to be good if they quoted her. I have read her essay The Lost Tools of Learning several times and it goes right along with our Classical Conversations beliefs.

I started out reading the Teacher Edition on my own to get an overview of the course. It begins by talking about how we tell our kids to just "go study" but really, this is a skill that they must be taught. It doesn't just come naturally for everyone. After reading this intro, I decided to use this program with Terrific T. Study skills do come more naturally for Captain C so I thought it would be good for me to spend some time teaching T how to study.


The entire course can be taught to older students in 5 days, spending about an hour a day. I chose to do it a bit differently, and T and I used the hour a week that I had to sit and wait for little man at speech/OT to do this. So we broke it up over 5 weeks and did an hour at a time. It would be great to do on a week when you are low on core schooling - like an off week of CC. You could easily do an hour a day and knock it out in that week.

There are 10 lessons in the book. It is suggested that you teach lessons 1-2,  3,  4-6, 7-8, and 9-10 on separate days. We just went for an hour and stopped - some lessons took longer and some were were able to get through quickly.

The first day we worked on this, there was a "test" to discover what your learning strength is. T was highly kinesthetic.  It then gave ideas on how to play to those strengths. This was eye opening for ME and for him. I get so annoyed with his pacing and doodling and such, but if this is the way he learns, I needed to "loosen up" and let him learn how he does best. He LOVED this (haha) and enjoyed reminding me that this was just the way he learns when I would try to get him to just sit still! He has talked about these aids often since doing that lesson.

The lessons continue and teach about making a schedule, how to be an active listener and taking good notes. This was a fun lesson because we were able to integrate some of our IEW skills here and show him how they can relate to taking notes on anything. He is good at making key word outlines - same idea here! I love when "subjects" overlap!

We learned about goal making and test taking. This really was a great course to make him aware that these are skills that need to be learned and applied. Even though C is a good student, this program would have been so smart to do before he started Challenge. Hindsight, right? I still am planning to go through it with him when he has some free time next month. I think the skills learned are very relevant to all of the kids. We talked about how T can use these skills in church as well as school.

We also learned that we waste a lot of time! There was a section where you put what is important to you in order, then you put what you spend time on in order too. Oops! Our priorities and our time spent don't match. We are working on that more now that it was brought to our attention. All of us. Not just T!

You definitely need to spend some time reading the introduction in the Teacher's Edition. I would love to have watched the Classroom Video along with this. I think it would be cool to see how they intended it to be taught. For us, I just read along with T as we went. The Teacher Edition has all the student pages in them (with the answers filled in) and then some other teaching. I ended up just telling him a lot of the answers that went in the blanks, then we talked about them after he filled it in. Older kids would be able to do better with that part, I'm sure. He laughed each time it talked about homework and said all his work is home work. :) The lesson on test taking will hopefully help him when we do standardized tests next month. We don't do a lot of tests during the year, because I am there and know how he is doing, but I'm glad this was included too.





I appreciated that the workbook had pictures through out and wasn't "boring" for T to use. That kept him wanting to do this and not complaining about it!


This course is not just a homeschool course. I can see great benefits in all kids, public, private, or home educated using this. We can all benefit if we "exchange nervousness for self-confidence," right?

The material is appropriate for all ages (even adults!), but I would definitely have to spend more time helping P do this than C. The books are most appropriate for 5th to 12th graders.


Victus Study Skills Review


The Student Workbook sells for $20 and the Teacher Edition is $40. If you click on those links, there are videos on their site that explain this even more.

Check them out at Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/VictusStudySkillsSystem
Twitter: @VictusStudy 

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Oily Update...

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Another month has passed and we just keep adding to our Young Living Essential Oils collection. It's so fun and addicting! Captain C was going on a youth mission trip over spring break. I told him to pack some Aleeve, since he randomly gets migraines and didn't want one there. He asked if he could take Peppermint too. He knows that helps him and I was so excited that he asked! He told me last night that he used some yesterday - he still had the little jar from the trip in his room. He also continues to use Lemon when he starts to break out and it really helps. I can tell when he forgets for a few days. Don't forget to only use Lemon at night as it is photosensitive!

One random thing that I noticed this month was with my eyes. I have had floaters in my eyes since I was pregnant with Captain C. They said they were just going to be there forever. I noticed a few weeks ago that I haven't seen them in a looong time - like months! I'm thinking it's from using Frankincense on my face everyday! What made me think this is Big Daddy had a stye in one of his eyes and I put frank around the outside of his eye (like on the bones that go around your eye - not IN the eye) and it was gone the next day. I had heard Frank was good for eye problems but never thought of the floaters! Cool.

I had been hearing about these things called Zyto scans through the YL grapevine. Sounded a little quirky to me, but I bit the bullet this month and asked someone if they would scan me and the kids. It was super cool. It's a little handheld mouse-like thing that connects to the computer. You place your hand on it for a few minutes and it tells you what things are out of whack and how you can fix them. Seems so bizarre, right? I know! But it was cool and the things it said made sense. Weird. I had signed up for the Essential Rewards program the second month after signing up and was able to get some of the things we scanned for and didn't have, and some extras that I just wanted for FREE this month (over $225 free!). I so love freebies! If you are ordering oils, you might as well be on the rewards program so you can be earning 10-20% back in credit each month.

 So....here is most of my ever growing stash of Young Living.


I'm a teeny-tiny bit obsessed. I picked up a Essential Oils Desk Reference this month too and love flipping through it and learning more. I also got a book called Releasing Emotional Patterns with Essential Oils. I find this one fascinating. Some things are a little out there for me, so I am taking it all with a grain of sand and filtering it through the Word. This book is shows which oils are related to which emotions and where to use them for the best benefit. Interesting.

A few new oils we are trying this month are:
  • Elemi - this is known as poor man's Frankincense so I wanted to try it out. If Frank wasn't so expensive, I'd use it on absolutely everything. I love it so much. Elemi and Frank are from the same family and are both great for skin. Egyptians used to use Elemi for embalming - kinda cool. The smells are very similar - Frank seems a little "warmer" smelling to me. I almost wished I had another spot on my face to try this on, but I did have a skin tag (yay?). It took about a week but it is gone. I put a drop of oregano on it the first day, and it burned like crazy so switched to using Elemi on it each morning and night. I'm trying to use it anytime I would grab Frank, just to see (and save the Frank for when I "really" need it) and it is working great.
  • Eucalyptus Globulus - YL has several different Eucalyptus products and I decided to try this one. I got it to use as an expectorant but like all the anti things it offers too - antibacterial, antifungal, antiaging, antiviral. YAY. I love the smell of this. I hate actual eucalyptus - hate it - but LOVE this. It smells a little like Vicks to me - haha. I have been diffusing it at night and put it on little guy when he was starting to get congested. This was a cheap one to have on hand for any respiratory things.
  • Deep Relief - I threw this into my freebie order because I have heard great things about it and am glad I did. I like that it's a roller ball (I need to order more of those this month!) and can roll on your neck or where ever is hurting so easily. This one happens to be their freebie with a 190pv purchase this month so I'm hoping to get another one to send with Big Daddy when he travels. It's working great for muscle soreness, which he gets from sleeping in hotels. T had a headache last night and had already used peppermint earlier so I tried this on him. He was asleep in about 4 minutes - haha. I assume it took the pain away so he could sleep easier.
  • Ortho Sport Massage Oil - I also got this for Big Daddy's aches and pains. He's getting old, y'all! I love it! I have been rubbing it on my neck every night before bed and wake up without feeling sore. Sitting at the computer makes my shoulders so sore when I go to bed - I love this stuff. And I love the minty smell. It's not too strong, but smells really good. In theory you are supposed to use this after you work out, but I haven't tried it on that yet - soon! Princess P has been coming home with really sore legs after play practice this week and has been using it too.
  • Essential Beauty Serum - I've had this rash on my face for about 3 years. The dermo said basically sorry - it will be there forever and gave me an rx to use. That didn't clear it up though. I read about this and decided to try it. I notice a big difference...when I remember to use it. I am bad about going to bed with makeup on. I think if I could be consistent with using this every night, I would see a better change. I'll do that this month. I have been using this at night, and still my lav and frank or elemi in the morning.
  • Another new thing we tried this month was their Lavender Mint Shampoo - Princess P has some big time build up going on from not rinsing good enough. I can definitely tell on the days she uses this. I love the smell of this and how it fills the whole shower with lovely smells. It doesn't lather very well, which bugged me at first, but now it just feels clean. I really want to get some conditioner to match, but it's been out of stock for a while. I'll keep looking!
I've also gotten a little but obsessed with Thieves products. P had several spots the dentist was watching on her teeth and after her last cavity, I ordered this Thieves toothpaste. She and I use it every day. She went in for her check up last month and they didn't mention any spots this time - wahoo! T, on the other hand, had several issues. I'm trying to get him switched over to this too. I love the smell of Thieves and the Thieves cleaner - I feel like I can use it anywhere around the kids or food or anything and not have to worry I'm contaminating them with chemicals. I use it to clean just about everything now. Little guy drew with pen on our brand new table. It was deep. We used Thieves cleaner and it got part of it but not all of it. Used a drop of Lemon and it was gone. Phew! I think between those two, you really can clean about anything!


One more thing I tried this month and will never be without again is the chapstick. My lips have been peeling pretty much all the time since I had Princess P. If I put any chapstick or lipstick on them, they peel just horribly. I ordered a couple of these to try them out - Grapefruit because T is obsessed with the grapefruit oil and Lavender. And no peeling - yay!!


This month, I'm ordering a few more of the oils needed for a raindrop. I already have over 1/2 of them, so don't want to get the kit. Instead I'll just buy a few more and by next month, I'll have enough for our first raindrops. :) I also want to get some roller balls. I read a post about someone using their "empty" oils and adding a carrier oil and putting a roller ball on them and then they are "kid friendly" ones. Really, almost all the oils are kid friendly, but this way they could use them anytime without asking. They will be so diluted, but still work.

As always, I'll be ordering on the 8th if you are local and want me to pick up anything for you for my discounted price. Or if you want to become a wholesale member yourself so you can always have the 24% off and get those Essential Rewards freebies I was talking about, you can click here to sign up. You don't have to get the ER kits, you can pick and choose what you want to order each month, with ER, you are just committing to order at least 50pv each month. To stay a wholesale member, you just have to order 50pv a year! Let me know if you have any questions. We are enjoying taking control of our health more and more each month!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Review: Spelling You See

Spelling You See Review
When I got word that the Math-U-See geniuses were involved with a new spelling program, I knew we had to review it. Spelling You See uses the same idea as Math-U-See with no grade levels listed so you can start your child where they need to be. After reviewing the general guidelines and placement guide, we chose to begin Terrific T in Spelling You See: Level D (Americana).  They encourage you to not skip the basics and assume good readers are good spellers. Choose the level that they need in spelling, not in reading.


The first thing I noticed is that this is a completely different approach to spelling that we had been doing. Knowing that what we have been doing isn't working, I was very excited to try this different approach. There are no weekly spelling lists and random activities to do each week to prepare for a test on Friday.

Instead, there are three activities you use:
  • Chunking - during this segment each day, we look for specific patterns in words - vowel chunks, consonant chunks, bossy r chunks, tricky y guy chunks, endings, and silent letters. Each different chunk is coded in a different color, which stays consistent throughout the course. This helps them get a visual of these patterns. Everyday, they color code certain chunks in a passage that you read aloud with them.

  • Copywork - The first three days of the lesson (there are 5 "days" in each lesson), you follow your chunking activity with copy work. They take the same passage they just read and coded, and copy part of it each day. It says to take no more than 10 minutes on this. If they aren't finished at 10 minutes, you stop until the next day. T was pumped about this...but it only took him 4-5 minutes to do the copywork so he didn't get to skip out on anything after all. haha. I am a big fan of copywork in general - the kids do it everyday normally, so this wasn't new or a shock to them. I had Princess P do some of the lessons with us. She could do the chunking and copywork just fine but struggled on the dictation. Next month I'll blog about the spelling I am using for her now. If I had a lower level of this, I'm sure it would have worked great, but she isn't ready for Americana just yet. They then go back and do the chunking again on the copywork section. The kicker is the answers are on the previous page, with faces the copywork. I had them cover the original and then us it to check their work after.

  • Dictation - The last two days of the week are used for dictation. They begin as usually, reading and chunking the passage. This is nice and familiar to them by now so they are relaxed and not anxious about dictation. For dictation time, I would read aloud the story again to them, stopping at the end of each sentence. Again, they go for 10 minutes and stop, whether they are finished or not. The first day you do this, you are allowed to answer their questions on spelling and punctuation. At the end, they count how many words they spelled correctly. The last day of the week, you shouldn't help them with spelling but still can with punctuation. Again, at 10 minutes, they stop and count their correct words. 
Spelling You See ReviewEvery day of the week, they work with the same passage. The repetition is helpful as they picked up quickly on the punctuation and phrasing. By the second dictation day, T was going ahead of me and writing a lot of it from memory! He was self-correcting errors from the previous day's dictation and it really seemed to help his spelling improve.

He really enjoyed this program. He never complained about doing it, which is huge since he complains about most schoolwork. ;o) He liked the stories - all about American history and things that were familiar to him. He liked that he knew it wouldn't take more than 30 minutes, even if he piddled around...which he didn't do. I was impressed with how well he did on the dictation parts and I know the chunking all week really helped that. He was able to visualize the words and quirky patterns that our language is so full of, and have success.

Overall, this is a huge win in our home! There are five levels available so far with two more in the works. For the program, you  need the student books (it's divided into two books), the teacher's book, and colored pencils or highlighters. If you buy the set off the Spelling You See site, all this is included. There are 36 weekly lessons with 5 days in each lesson. On the weeks we have CC on Monday, we did the 5th lesson on Saturday or Sunday. They really do only take about 30 minutes so you can squeeze it in easily.

Like I mentioned before, this isn't divided into grades. Americana says it is "basically" for kids who are over 8 and strong readers, or over 10 and strong readers but struggling spellers. T probably could have done the next level, American Spirit, but I wanted him to have success and to master these "easier" paragraphs before we move on. I'm glad we started here. Him enjoying it really does make a huge difference. We will definitely not go back to our old spelling for a while and continue with this. It is clicking with him so I'm not going to stop!

The price for this fantastic spelling program is $14 for the Instructor’s Handbook  and $30 for the Student Pack.
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Almost Wordless Wednesday: While C is away...

This week, Captain C is in Houston with the church youth group "doing love" and working hard. We decided to surprise him and do some love for him. I hope he loves his room makeover!