Friday, October 31, 2014

Goodbye, October!

It seems like just yesterday we were ringing in the New Year, and now, we are just around the corner from Thanksgiving. Already?

I love the fall. The cooler weather makes me want to hunker down and stay home until spring...and I like being home. Football wraps up next week for C, which will certainly slow us down although secretly, I'm going to really miss watching him play and I know he is going to REALLY miss playing. We opted out of acting in the play this year with our CC friends. That was a hard decision.We have loved the last two plays and the kids do so well in them. Possibly if auditions weren't while we were still in the thick of football, I would have been more inclined to jump in....but as I said, I like being home!

Big Daddy has been home for the past 3 months and it has been awesome. We are getting super spoiled and loving it! We just started the final stretch of CC for the semester too - wahoo.

I have not even begun to think about Christmas gifts - there's still time, right?

We have a cruise booked for November that we can't wait to get to...but I know once it hits, it's a mad rush to Christmas. I want to plan NOW for December. I want to have a good plan laid out for how we will point our eyes on Christ during this stupidly busy time of year and not lose focus on what is the most important. We have done the Jesse Tree before, and might do that again. But I'm looking for ideas that go a little deeper since the kids are getting older. Any ideas? away!

And lastly, as we close out October, I have to give all glory to God that my Grandma is doing better. We truly thought it was the end less than two weeks ago. Her body was done and mentally, she was done too. She has made HUGE strides in her recovery and is blowing me away with how well she is doing. Not quite back to where she was a month ago, but definitely heading in the right direction. I have been taking one kiddo each time I go to visit her (first in the hospital and now in the rehab facility she is in). Today, T and P dressed up for the visit and Gram joked with them a little. It was awesome!! I love her so much and am thankful for this time together!

Now to finish up a few things and get ready for our old foster son to come over. We are so excited to have him come trick-or-treat with the kids tonight. It's cold and they are young so I'm sure we won't last very long. But looking forward to visiting for a while.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Review: Aprendamos Espanol

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

My family and I used to live in Middlebury, VT, so seeing Middlebury Interactive Languages come up for review really caught my eye! Princess P has been wanting to learn Spanish for a while now, so we chose their Elementary Spanish I course for this review period.  It is recommended for grades 3-5 and P is in 4th so we were right in the recommended range. There are no prerequisites for taking this class, so we got her set up with an account and logged in to begin.

I was a little nervous to begin because despite two years of Spanish in high school and in college, I pretty much know nothing in Spanish. Nada. (heehee...I said pretty much) But this was totally fun and easy! There are 7 units and a review in this set. For P's grade, Middlebury recommends doing 2-3 days a week. Doing that, you could easily get through this in the semester. There is a calendar on the site with lessons listed for each day. We ignored that and just went through the Table of Contents and selected the next lesson on Tues and Thurs when we did Spanish.  I like that it checks off the ones you have done so you know where you left off.  I also liked that the topics were practical things to learn and the pictures are fun and bright. There are all cartoon drawings and the speech is clear on the sound parts.

Unit 1 starts by giving you the intro and objectives and then jumps right into reading you a story in Spanish. P was a little put off by this because she "didn't understand a word they just said." After two roughly a week and a half, they told the same story again and this time she could understand enough to make sense of it! This was super cool and encouraging to her.

The lessons are simple and required nothing from me. Once we figured out the system (ie click the check mark in the top right corner when finished so it scores it for you!), she was off and running. She would normally do an entire lesson in one sitting. There is enough repetition that she was able to do it all on her own. She would sometimes ask me "do girls end in a or o?" when she started a lesson because that kept confusing her, but if she knew it, she could do them all. There are some lessons that ask you to restate the words into a mic. When our computer died, the mic went with I just sat with her on those and listened instead of recording and playing back. Since we didn't have the teacher grading us, it was no biggie to do it like this. Once we get a new computer, we can start recording again.

They mix up the teaching methods throughout the lessons so it isn't boring to the kids. They speak, quiz, practice, explore, color, sing, etc. They keep the kids moving. We spent about 30 minutes at a time on this. Most of the time, that completed an entire lesson. Sometimes, we would stop and then pick up the next day and call it review before starting the next lesson. P enjoyed it so much she would want to do several lessons at a time, but after letting her do that a few times, I realized she wasn't retaining as well when she rushed through several so started limiting it to 30 minutes. It's a tough problem to have to limit their school, right? ;o)

Like my last review, this one is online, which is awesome since our computer crashed on us! We were able to pick up the next lesson on the laptop and not miss a beat.  This site also has a gradebook for teachers to check. The only issue here is some things it gave P 100% on when I watched her miss a few. It instantly corrects, or doesn't accept incorrect answers, so the 100% is might have taken 5 tries to get the 100%, which it doesn't show. Since she's in 4th grade, I'm not keep track of her grades anyway, just thought I'd throw that out there.

Middlebury Interactive Languages has several languages to choose from, and they have classes for K-12! I'm excited to have found this site and glad P is enjoying broadening her language horizon.

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

The pricing is $119/semester (+ an additional $175/semester with a teacher, so $294 total - we didn't have the teacher).

Find out more info at these links or by clicking on the banner below.

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Click to read Crew Reviews

Review: Standard Deviants Accelerate - Nutrition

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
Standard Deviants Accelerate is fun, video based online learning resource for middle schoolers and high schoolers. We chose to review their Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses Nutrition curriculum for Terrific T, who is in 6th grade. It is recommended for grades 6+.
We have never done a specific nutrition class, so I was excited to have this opportunity for him (us) to learn more. I set up his account and he started the same day. There is really no prep work (score!) for this program. Since it's an online program, we were able to use it on our laptop when our computer decided to kick the bucket last month. We didn't lose anything! We just logged in from the different computer and were ready to start again. 
There are 8 chapters in the Nutrition curriculum. Each lesson contains a short (7-10 minute) video. There is a full transcript of the video posted too that you can print off or follow along with. I chose to not print these. T liked the videos (although he said they were "a little cheesy" LOL!) and I think trying to follow along would have been too distracting for him. I used them to skim what he was learning when I didn't watch with him. There is a place to take notes right on the screen and save them to your "locker." He didn't take notes as we went because typing is a little slow for him still, but I had him write a few sentences about what he learned before moving on to the next step. 
After watching the video, he moved on to the vocab section. Here they have important words and definitions from the lesson listed and a link to hear them spoken along with it. I just had him go over them several times and tell me about them. Then there is a diagram section also with drag/drop activities to use the new terms learned. 
Finally, there is a multiple choice quiz. T would select his answers and submit them (it says, "Throw it against the wall and see if it sticks!" lol!!). If you are wrong on any of them, it brings up a short (like 20 seconds!) video with the correct answer right then. I liked the immediate feedback on it and the diagram both. T learned quite a bit in these lessons. It was fun to see familiar words that he has learned about in CC (we are doing the body this year) and be able to enhance that information with more details. I think this was a perfect nutrition curriculum for him. 
Standard Deviants Accelerate ReviewAt the end of each chapter, there is a review section. This has activities that use all the learning styles. Some are better suited for larger groups of students but some we could adjust to do individually. Then there is a post test and some critical thinking questions that we did together.
This was an easy program to use with really nothing for the teacher to do once you get it started. Princess P is reviewing another online program so I had Terrific T do this alone, but I think even P (4th grade) would have enjoyed this and learned good info from it.  There is a dashboard where I can get on and see how he is doing. He didn't always submit his work as we did a lot of orally so I kept track of his progress on my own, but if you had more than one student, or a good typist, you could use their grading program also. It was simple but good to have.
The lessons took him about 20 minutes a day and we did it three days a week. It was a quick way to supplement our current science curriculum and get a comprehensive nutrition education with little effort. If you are like me, you don't have time to research and plan one.more.thing. SDA takes the planning and researching out and hands it to you with "cheesy' videos that the kids enjoyed!! That's a win in my book!
SDA offers the following online courses:
Arithmetic - Grades 3+
Fundamental Math - Grades 4+
Earth Science - Grades 6+
Nutrition - Grades 6+
Algebra - Grades 7+
Biology - Grades 7+
Chemistry - Grades 9+
English Comp. - Grades 9+
U.S. History - Grades 9+
AP Biolody - Grades 11+
AP Chemistry - Grades 11+
AP U.S. Government & Politics - Grades 11+
AP U.S. History - Grades 11+
AP Eng. Composition - Grades 11+
The price of the annual subscription for one student and one subject is is $24.95/month or $99/year. I'm sure we can finish the Nutrition one in two months.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Busy, busy, busy!

I haven't gone this long between posts in two years. Oops! I hate being this busy. By the time I can sit down to this dinosaur computer, I'm too tired to fire it up and type. Here's a quick "catch up" post...

This week is fall break for CC (and public school) so we are using this time to get caught up on everything around here.

Big Daddy has done an amazing job remodeling our master bath. Once I decorate it, I'll have to show pics. He put in new flooring and painted the walls, doors, and trim. Put in all new light fixtures, faucets, and everything so it is updated from the brass looking ones that came with the house to pretty brushed silver ones. It looks so good! He's been home for the past few months and we are being spoiled rotten with him here and not working. It's awesome!

Captain C is LOVING football. He loves being on a team, hitting people and being hit, and winning is awesome too. They are 6-0. Undefeated! He comes home bruised and sweaty and happy as can be!

Terrific T has stepped up his school work this year and is doing so well. Almost every single morning, I get up and he and Princess P have already done a couple of their subjects and are working hard. They like to knock the school work out early and play. They are so creative in their playtime and get along really well except when they don't. LOL!

We are so blessed to have a sweet little one with us again. She's a doll! Busy and determined and fits right in around here. P is loving having a roommate that she doesn't have to sleep with one eye open with. ;) We are all enjoying our time with her and getting to know her future parents as well.

My grandma also moved up to the area a couple of months ago. Her healthy is struggling and it's so heartbreaking to watch, but I'm so thankful she is close. I'm getting over there as much as I can to sit with her and visit.

Add in homeschooling, CC director duties, church activities, YL classes, a few pictures here and there, and it's no wonder we have no groceries in the house! Believe it or not, I've said no to a ton of things lately...for my own sanity. It's hard, but has to be done.

So to pick P up from a birthday party and then finish up some TOS blogs. I have sadly decided to take a year off from reviews (see above for reasons why). I love doing it and love the variety it has brought to our homeschooling but something had to go. I have 4 more reviews to finish up before the year's over.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Let's Talk Oils ~ So much fun!

I started using Young Living Essential Oils, as I have mentioned, to help our family with many issues. I am continually amazed at how well they work on so many things. I signed up one year ago today - Oct 4, 2013 - and never dreamed how much fun I would have thanks to YL. I have met so many great people. I'm educating myself on the chemistry and uses of the oils which is fun to be learning more things. I came into this only planning to use the oils for us and never having been in a MLM type business before so had no idea how they worked. As I shared my stories of success (how can you NOT talk about something that works so well), people have wanted to try them for their families. I'm loving seeing my friends and family using oils too. Now, I think more of my friends USE oils than don't. That wasn't the case a year ago. Anyway, I didn't even realize that by sharing my stories and others signing up, YL gives me a commission. I am now getting all my oils "free" basically. Just for telling people what works for me. I've had people as me if I sell oils. I don't. I really have NO interest (or time) to sell anyone anything. I am, however, happy to talk to anyone who will listen about taking charge of your own health and not putting tons of crap into your body blindly. How often do we question what is in the pills the doctor prescribes us or our kids? We don't. We take them and go on our way with no thought to the fact that we are destroying the good along with the bad most of the time. With oils, we can treat the issues that are presenting in our family, without worry of side effects. When T has sniffles from pollen, we don't have to plan to skip the day of school because the meds will make him sleep like a log, or bounce off the walls, or (yikes) so angry we all fear for our lives. Ugh. We, instead, rub some oils on or simply inhale them and go on with our day. I looooove it!

I also never would have guessed I would have dropped $400 on a machine that scans my electrical energy. Kookoo...kookoo!! But I'm SO glad I did! I swear this thing is right on the money! Big Daddy even asks for me to scan him or the kids anytime something comes up because he has seen how accurate it is in diagnosing. I need to do it today, actually. I have a cough that is hanging on with both hands and he told me last night to scan today...and I forgot. I will. He scanned last month as soon as he started feeling poorly and then took or used all the oils it recommended and was completely better the next day. It's pretty nuts how well it works.

I love that my whole family is seeing the benefits of YL oils now and reaching for them daily. If you have any questions, I'm happy to help. If you want to start getting your oils free too - I'd love to help you do that also. Between ER and just telling people how the oils are helping you, you can let YL foot the bill for your health. C started seeing a chiropractor about a month ago and goes after each football game to get put back together properly (LOL - it's been his hands most weeks. He keeps jamming things on the line.). They will charge our insurance but when we looked at the deductible and saw that we had only spent about $75 total for our family this year at the dr, it was going to be a long way to the deductible. I think that letting God use the oils to help us is keeping us all more healthy and out of the doctors office. Win-Win!