Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Over the hill...that's me.

Today I turned 40. And I survived. Not sure what I thought 40 would be like but so far it's fantastic. I got to spend the whole day with the people I love most and it was very good. 

T and P started the day by hiding in T's room and cutting up apples for me for breakfast in bed. He wanted to boil them and make applesauce but didn't want to make too much noise and wake me. I'm thankful. His thumb was still bleeding a little bit tonight from the nice cut he gave himself this morning (probably should have glued it, in hindsight) so I'm glad we didn't mix flames and boiling water in the mix before I even woke up. Yikes.

Little Buzz came for a visit this morning (YAY - love that boy!) and then we loaded up and headed to OKC to do some outlet shopping (my fave!!). The kids got back to school outfits and shoes and I got two new pairs of Converse. No better way to pretend you are not old than with new Chucks!  They make me happy. 

It poured on us the whole way there and back, but barely sprinkled at the mall. It was so much fun to take a spontaneous road trip with these peeps. I love them so much!!

I came home to 150 or so birthday greetings on Facebook, which was so fun. I loved reading through them all and thinking about how many seriously awesome people I know. 

Then ended the day with cake and ice cream, then putting little miss to bed and hearing her sing Happy Birthday to me and tell me I'm pwetty.
I am blessed. And a little but old. But mostly blessed. 

review - Junior Analytical Grammar

Analytical Grammar Review
I have heard about Analytical Grammar in the past and had been curious about it for a few years. When the opportunity came up to review their Junior Analytical Grammar curriculum, I jumped at doing it this summer with Princess P (and Terrific T "helping" too because you can learn just as much, or more, from "helping"). I was fortunate enough to also receive their Junior Analytical Grammar Companion DVD.
Junior Analytical Grammar (JAG) is designed for 4th and 5th graders and is intended to be completed in 11 weeks. Now that we have done 5 weeks of it, I wish we had started it earlier in the summer. It would make a fantastic summer grammar program for us! 
You do not need any extra supplies for this, which was perfect since it's summer and I'm lucky I haven't lost the kids yet. If I had to keep up with flashcards or anything of that sort right now, we would be in trouble! LOL. We popped in the DVD and enjoyed learning our lessons from the creator of Analytical Grammar, Robin Finley and her daughter Erin Karl. This set teaches the parts of speech as well as sentence patterns and diagramming. The DVD is very simple - these ladies basically reading the teacher's guide to us, but they also work through some of the problems for you too. After that, they ask you to do a couple of sentences yourself and pause it, then go back and they go over the correct answers.
 The lessons are in both the teacher's guide and the student book so we all followed along with the DVD. I had T sitting in and helping P with the lessons so he heard them to. Sneaky, I know, but we can all use a refresher in grammar, right? I really liked how they taught one part of speech, and then the next week a new part of speech but by learning the next one, you have to review the first one. It all just keep adding on. Each unit has three exercises (front and back of a worksheet) and then a playing with words page. This page was fun and you didn't grade the kids' papers, they graded themselves with a simple point system (see pages below for a sample). 

Seeing how easy it was to get higher points, made P try harder in the next units and I didn't even have to correct her. :) Then there is a test at the end of each unit. I had P take it and T grade it so he was checking her work, which meant he was doing the work too. This book even gets into diagramming, which is awesome. We aren't to unit 8 yet, but I looked ahead at the lessons and like how they talk about "undecorating sentences" to find the pattern so you can diagram them easier. I'm looking forward to getting to that lesson with P in the next few weeks.
I highly recommend doing this during the summer before your 4th, 5th, or 6th grade years!  We spent about 30 -45 minutes, three times a week doing this and I feel like she is getting a good grasp on the parts of speech and how they work in sentences. If you did this everyday (like I would during the school year), you could get through one unit a week but it was taking us a week and a half for each unit so we didn't get as far into it yet. If you were doing this during the school year, you could complete the book easier in a semester.
The set that includes the teacher's guide and student workbook is $39.95. You can also snag an extra workbook for just $19.95. The Companion DVD is also $19.95.
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Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: Hewitt Homeschooling - learning our states

Hewitt Homeschooling Review

Hewitt Homeschooling is a fantastic company that encourages not only academic excellence for homeschooling families, but also focuses the overall child and how they can leave their homeschool years as better person. We are just beginning to learn about US history in CC this year, so I was excited to get a jump start on that this summer by reviewing My First Report: Eastern United States. These are designed for grades 1-4 and integrate all the subjects as we learn about 12 states.

Hewitt Homeschooling ReviewThere is one page of notes to the teacher in the front of the set, and then about 60 pages of activities for the kids. They suggest you do one state a week so you could get through four of the sets in a school year. Since it was summertime when we reviewed this, we approached this a little differently. I let Princess P choose what state she wanted to learn about first and we jumped around a bit. She chose Maine to start with - might as well start at the top, right?  We read the facts about Maine listed in the book, and then found and colored it on the map. We looked up pictures online about Maine compared its size to some of the other states.

This is a great starter for a unit study on the states and was very good for getting the kids researching and writing "reports" (more like a paragraph in our case...hey, it's summer!).

It isn't an "open and go" curriculum. We opened it and put it in a binder, but then it takes quite a bit of planning on the teacher's part to use this well. There is so much potential here and with some planning you could do things like "Write the department of Tourism for additional information about their state" in advance and have the information waiting when you got to that state. {This was an idea suggested in the curriculum.}

Each state has a list of facts about the state. There are several maps of the states and the US for the kids to use as they go and lined paper included (that you may copy) for the reports.  Then there is a great section with TONS of ideas for expanding on each state study. There are ideas for Bible, History/Geography/Social Studies, Reading, Language, Math, Science/Health, PE, Music, Art, and even ideas ideas for field trips! I mean there are TONS if ideas. They encourage you to pick and choose according to your child's interests and abilities and there is no way you could (or would want to) do all the ideas for all the states, but it allows for some variety as you go. We picked different things during each week/new state. For Maryland, we did the word game where you find different words using the letters in Maryland and talked about Francis Scott Key, who is from there. We are planning a trip to New England next spring so it was fun to learn a little about all these states.

Some of the ideas are very simple and require no "work" from you to prepare. Such as locating the states and capitals on a map, or writing all the words you can think of that rhyme with state. Others, however, would take planning and a trip to the library to even get started. We liked that there were options so we could pick and choose what to do and I think would really enjoy doing these on Oklahoma and other local states so we could see the sights and do the field trips suggested easier.

One thing that is awesome about homeschooling in this day and age is the internet. While we couldn't visit any of the landmarks it mentions physically, we could look them up online and watched some videos on youtube for things like a "reenactment of the Boston Tea Party" or just see pictures of places like Monticello or Williamsburg that were mentioned.

As I said earlier, they are recommended for 1-4th grade. Princess P is in 3rd and this was just right for her. There are so many ideas here that you really could tweak this and use it up to 6th or 7th, in my opinion. The younger kiddos will need more help but you could have some books available for older ones and they could write longer reports on the states with a little research. It is cheap too - just $8.95 for the 66 page set. They have many other sets to choose from listed on their site. You can get more info here or by clicking on any of these links below.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Back to reality...

We just got back from an amazing vacation in Colorado. It was such a great week filled with adventures. This week, we are doing a million and three loads of laundry, getting groceries, mowing, cleaning, etc plus Captain C started football camp to prep him for playing this fall. He's loving it but we are tired!

I will be back to posting normally again soon. I promise. In the mean time, here are some highs and lows of our vacation. I have about 200 pictures that I will try to get back to adding soon.

Some highlights of our week:
  • 70 mile ATV rides up over Haggerman Pass
  • our awesome guide, who took Terrific T with him and kept guiding us even with a flat
  • snow ball fights
  • 9 miles of white water rafting through Browns Caynon
  • fishing
  • grandparents
  • fires
  • waterfalls
  • hiking
  • collecting pyrite and convincing each other it's real gold
  • skinny dipping in a freezing creek(only one can claim to have done names)
  • rainbows
  • hummingbirds
  • All you can eat ice cream for $1.50 (bring your own bowl and spoon)
  • s'mores
  • horseback riding through the mountains
  • gorgeous weather 
  • souvenir shopping
  • date night in town for me and Big Daddy midweek with the best steak dinner I've had in a long time
  • running into friends from church in the tiny town we were staying in!
  • windmills!

Some not so highlights of our week:
  • 22 hours of driving round trip
  • getting rained and hailed on while on the ATV ride - sooooo cold - the guide told us to leave him behind since he was slowing us down so I then had T and P on with me. Snug and cold.
  • 3 nose bleeds
  • 1 puking kid (motion sickness?? it was after those 8 hours on the 4 wheelers)
  • 1 passing out kid (need to get her in for that still to see what that was all about)
  • more mosquitoes than you can imagine
  • attacks of the killer swallows who did NOT want Wondermutt pooping on the petwalk trail that was near their nest! (OK, truthfully, when it wasn't happening to me, this was a highlight to watch. These tiny birds were vicious and scary and hilarious to video!)
  • Oh and our credit card was canceled mid week for some suspicious charges from June 22! Nice timing.

As you can see, the good far outweighed the bad and we had a fantastic week full of wonderful memories of our time together.  I love my family so much and love getting to spend time away together with them.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Wisdom from a child

OK, I'm going to be a little too honest here...this little sweetie with us now is trying our patience. She is hilarious and spirited and busy and so stinking cute. But we are also spending our days getting bit and pinched and spit at and yelled at and so on. It's heartbreaking that a toddler has seen enough to know these behaviors. I mean, my kids acted up with the best of them, but it didn't take much to reel them back in to reality. It's harder with this little princess.

Tonight at dinner, Princess P prayed for our food and said, "Thank you for *** getting to be with us. Please let her stay with us longer." This meant so much to me since P is the one that gets picked on the most out of all of us. She has so much love to share and is so forgiving.

I love to see Jesus in my kids and it's a humbling reminder to me of how far I have to go in my own walk. I know I have shared this video before, but P asks for this song all the time in the car. I love it too. A reminder of why we do fostercare.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Let's Talk Oils...July Update


Some friends (online and real life), my sister, my mom, and 9,000 other oily people went to the Young Living Convention last week and it's been cool to hear their stories floating around. They got to go to a YL farm and see how they grow all their own oils and process them themselves. YL launched a new website this week that explains why they are the leader in essential oils. I say that the proof it in the puddin'. You can say that you are the best, but proving it to me daily is what has won me over...and they have won me over. Here are some highlights of YL successes in June.

Chiggers. This one still boggles my mind! Paige came home from playing outside with a friend all day and had a few bites. Her friend had them too and we figured they were chiggers since they were right on the panty line (tmi?). She said they itched horribly. While she showered, I looked up in the Essential Oil Desk Reference and it said to put Thyme or Oregano (50/50 with a carrier oil) on it and the chigger (or it said it would work for ticks too) would back out. Figuring if less is good, more is better...I put two drops of Thyme AND two drops of Oregano with some coconut oil and rubbed it on them. After putting it on the second one, we looked back at the first on her belly and there was a tiny black speck on her white undies opposite it. She picked it up and said it was lint but I took it and it was jumping from finger to finger on me! It was a tiny, stinking chigger that had come out. It was so tiny we weren't sure if it was a chigger or lint until it kept moving around. If I hadn't seen it, I wouldn't believe it! So, So crazy! A friend came over a few days later with her grandson, who had horrible chigger bites. I mixed this up again and put it on him and she said the next day that all the ones we put it on were not itching anymore. We had missed a couple on his leg that we hadn't seen and those were still itching. I love that it helped so quickly and easily!!

Spazzy dog. The 4th does a number on poor Wondermutt. Last night, she was following me around and under my feet all night. I started diffusing Peace and Calming in our room with her and she went right to sleep. yay.

Those are just a few things that stand out in my mind from the month. We all still use oils daily. T asks for them when he starts getting stuffy from being outside too much. C asks for them when his head starts bothering him. Big Daddy even admitted to using Thieves when he was starting to feel puny this past week and was out of town. I'd say we are sold. I am still loving rosemary on my face and pine or lavender on my nose when I'm starting to get stuffy.  I love helping others find out what they can use to cut out the chemicals and artificial everything in OTC things. If you have any questions, I'm happy to help if I can or point you in the right direction. Here are my other monthly posts if you want more stories of how the oils are working for us.

I order on the 8th if you are local and want anything, I can get them for 24% off the retail price and I'll pay the shipping too since I"m already ordering. :) Just let me know.