Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Seven-Minute Life Daily Planner (TOS Review)

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

As much as I like planning my kids' school year, I find when it comes to my own personal life I tend to avoid it. I was intrigued when I came across the opportunity to review The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner from The 7 Minute Life.

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner is a unique planner that was designed by Allyson Lewis, the author of The Seven Minute Difference, as a personal training tool to help her take charge of her to-do lists and endless tasks that faced her. So what is the purpose of the planner and how is it used?

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

The goal of The 7 Minute Life is to provide strategies to Prioritize, Organize, and Simplify your life at work and home. The 7 Minute Life Planner is a tool to help you to identify your purpose and goals in life and then to actually implement and do them. To get started you begin by thinking about your purpose by finding out what your values and priorities are. You then write these goals down and put them into doable action tasks. Finally, you work on these tasks daily.

The beginning of the planner takes you step by step with detailed explanations through each worksheet. These include: ranking your priorities, discovering your purpose in life, articulating what you love to do, your strengths, getting rid of mental clutter, setting 90 day personal and work goals, writing down action steps, making financial goals and life goals along with action steps, and writing down unfinished work tasks along with home tasks and repairs. Also included are pages to write down a list of people you want to stay connected with along with annual projects & tasks, undated 90 day calendar worksheets and monthly calendars, and meeting planner worksheets.

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

Next comes the Daily Progress Report which is a two spread page the covers 90 days. It takes everything you have worked through--values, goals, unfinished tasks, etc. and helps your structure them into daily activities and action steps. The page is broken down into these sections:
  • 5 before 11 - to record your highest-value activities for the day
  • "7-Minute Life" Connections - list 3 people you want to be in contact
  • Make Daily Contacts - Contact to help your business
  • Appointments - Track your appointments or how you spent your day
  • Thank You Notes - Record hand written notes that you have written
  • Voice Mail - A place to record all voice mails you have received
  • Notes - a place to record daily information
  • A place to track your intake of water, food, sleep, exercise, reflection, and reading
  • A check box answer the question "Did I do what I said I would do today?"
When I first got the planner I spent a few days working through the descriptions and then filling out the worksheets. I will admit that I didn't find this very easy to do. I then began using the daily progress report. I was most successful with the "5 before 11" though I still struggled at times to get everything finished. I begin implementing the planner before we started school and I did really well getting my 5 items done before 11 and then school happened and I was challenged to finish up my "5 before 11" in the evening!

This planner focuses a lot on making contact with other people and though I am involved in a homeschool co-op, and am a pastor's wife, plus work a small job outside the home, I just didn't have that many people I need to contact everyday. Many times these portions stayed blank or I just used it to list other things. I found many of the different sections listed were either unnecessary or hard to implement for my life at this time.

 I will admit that I really struggle to use any kind of planner. I am always leaving it upstairs or downstairs or at home or--you get the picture, I'm sure. I will also admit that though I found this hard to use, I did enjoy the ideas that she shared and have been mulling on how I can make this fit my lifestyle better.

I had written down some 90 day goals I wanted to get done and yet looking through my planning I hadn't really implemented them into my day. I believe they areto be worked on through the "5 before 11" portion, but on my "5 before 11" list I was just putting tasks down the would keep life going smoothly.

I loved the idea behind The 7-Minute Daily Planner and even though I struggled overall with the planner I know that the "5 before 11" will be something I will rely on. I do think this is an excellent resource for someone who is working (whether at a workplace or home) and wanting to implement better time management into their daily life.

The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner is available through The 7 Minute Life for $24.95 (90 days). Also, check out the Getting Started video along with these videos which help in understanding and implementing this system.

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My Favorite Reads for Homeschool Encouragement

Books encourage

 Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace 
Need a total refreshing? Check out...
Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie (ebook & companion) - An encouraging book that helps the homeschool mom bring the "why" of homeschool back into focus and how to embrace a "less is more' philosophy when it comes to teaching. The heart of the message of this book is the importance of learning to depend on God for what our children need over what we thing they need. The audio's in this set are not to be missed!

Do you appreciate Charlotte Mason? Check out...
Charlotte Mason's methods hold a lot of appeal for me and we her methods in our home.  A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola is the first book I ever read about Charlotte Mason and I was immediately drawn to it and related to it so well. After learning more about Charlotte Mason I have relied a lot on When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason's Philosophy for Today by Elaine Cooper which gives a lot practical tips for applying her methods. The Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte Mason by Laurie Bestvater gives a whole new look at keeping notebooks.

Frustrated with reading aloud? Check out...
Honey for a Child's Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life by Gladys Hunt and Read for the Heart: Whole Books for WholeHearted Families by Sarah Clarkson will do a great job of encouraging you to read aloud, plus they are filled with pages of book recommendations.


Are you discouraged, facing obstacles, or frustrated with struggling student? Check out...
 Marva Collins' Way by Marva Collins - This is such an encouraging read about a teacher who was willing to give kids an education that was a cut above what was being offered in the public schools. It may not solve your problems, but it will encourage you.  A Life in Balance: Discovery of a Learning Breakthrough by Frank Belgau (review) is another encouraging story of a man who was willing to work with kids with learning disabilities and eventually founded a company that offers a brain training system to help kids with learning disabilities. Since I had two kids who benefited from different programs that retrained the brain I found it a fascinating read.

Need some humor and fun in your life? Check out...
I know, I know, you're thinking, "Beth, what does this have to do with homeschooling?"  Nothing really, but...sometimes it is good for mom to take a break from the duties of life that can weigh you down and I have found the curling up with a P.G. Wodehouse book is just the ticket. Not familiar with Wodehouse, I recommend his Jeeves and Wooter series along with his Blandings series. My personal favorite: Money in the Bank . (If Wodehouse doesn't do much for you then find an author that does. Read, relax, and enjoy!)

Looking for more recommendations? Check out...

Head on over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew and see what other mom's are reading.
Books to Encourage the Homeschool Mom

Saturday, September 13, 2014

T is for Takeoff for the New School Year (ABC Blogging)

Ben and Me
September 11 Collage

Well, I had great plans on being all prepared for our new school year this year, but God had other plans. I had plans on Labor Day to finalize everyone's schedleu and get their books ready, but ended up spending a big chunk of the day at the hospital with a family from church. So on Wednesday of last week, I told the kids to get the math books out and we would start in small bits. So between Wednesday of last week and Friday of this week we completed one full week of school and amazingly we all survived. I think. I still have a few small extras I'm finalizing, but those we will slowly add in during the next few weeks.

 Here is a look at what has been happening:

1. Chantry reading the Bible for Morning/Circle/Devotions Time (I have no clue what we call it!). I kept our MCD time pretty simple and just stuck to Bible reading, a devotional, and poetry. Next week we'll attempt a few more things.

Chantry has dove into his work. I am attempting written narrations with him again. This is my 3rd attempt and I am hoping to have success this time. I realized that he could be doing more in his science book and will be adjusting that in the next week or two. He also started Rod & Staff English and I can see this subject will still need a lot of oversight from me for awhile. History is going great, though we are still trying to finish up a book from last year. Right now it gets squeezed in when I find the chance.

 2. & 3. Delani is one happy girl to start school. She is learning to read and I forgot how much I hate teaching reading. It is probably bad of me to say so, but that is the honest truth. Her favorite subject is reading, which makes it at least bearable. We picked up where she left off in the Math-U-See Primer book and she has been flying through that. I also purchased a set of My House Books and we have been reading in the first two books of the series.

4.  Destini was glad to start up school since it does give more structure to our lives. She is very organized and always stays up on her work. She jumped back into Pre-Algebra with both feet. She has a lot to say about this subject, but she still keeps working on it. One thing I want her to improve this year is her typing skills. I ended coming across Typing Web and she really seems to like it. This wasn't in my original plans, but I think it will be a good fit for her.  She seems to be enjoying Rod & Staff Grammar, which is new for her and of course, she loves her Rod & Staff Spelling.

We also started co-op last week and now have two under our belt. I am teaching Dave Ramsey's Foundations in Personal Finance to the teen group. Since the books weren't being sent out until September, I had to use the first lesson from the Internet. (I was glad it was available!) We weren't supposed to get our material until yesterday, but I did some praying and it arrived on Wednesday. I had a busy evening, but it felt good to teach and have some sort of clue what I was doing.

This year Chantry and Delani have a new PE teacher and he came home and said that he should lose weight by the end of the year since she was going to work them so hard. Hmmm, maybe I need to join the class.

On to other things:
5. Our friend, Hannah, which I have mentioned many times before has forsaken left on an adventure of her own and is in Scotland right now attending Bible School for the next 10 months. We have been pretty sad for ourselves, but happy for her. Last Sunday we were able to talk to her on Skype while we were eating out after church.

6. Caleb is interested in doing an apprenticeship, but we have been having a hard time finding the right information. We have tentatively decided to enroll him in our local community collage to take a few classes which requires him to have a photo ID to take the placement test. Well, he doesn't have one and to get a photo ID costs almost $50. This required a crash course in the driver's manual so he could get his permit, plus he has been wanting to start driving so this isn't a bad thing.

7.  I found some apples in the freezer and since we will be getting 100 lbs of apples in a few weeks I decided that I better use them up and what better way than with apple crisp!

8. We passed this house on our way to the post office on 9/11. I don't know how well you can see the picture, but the front yard was filled with flags. I think what made it more memorable was that this part of town isn't the nicest and it was neat to drive down this street and all of sudden come upon this scene.

10. He did it! He went down and took the written test, passed it (the DMV lady couldn't believe he passed it on his first try), and now has his driving permit. I told him he has to have a couple of driving lessons with his dad (who is considered a professional driver) and then he can start escorting me around town. Actually, that is a scary thought...

Oh, the picture with the window in it that I forgot to number--that is new shades in the boys' room. They have lived all summer without anything on their windows (no worries, our house faces a wall so it is private). It amazed it how well they could sleep with sunlight in their eyes!

Managing Your Blessings

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Under Drake's Flag Dramatized Audio CD (TOS Review)

Analytical Grammar Review
My kids love dramatized audio books and recently we were able to to listen for review Under Drake's Flag from Heirloom Audio Productions.

In Under Drake's Flag we meet G.A. Henty who beings to tell a story to some boys about two young men, Ned and his friend, Gerald, who end up working on Sir Frances Drake's ship, the Pacha. During this time they experience many adventures including facing the Spanish Inquisition. Ned and Gerald go from boyhood to manhood and throughout this time their faith is tested and they have to learn to face their fears as they grow in God.

Under Drake's Flag is for ages 6 to adult and comes with two CDs (2 hours) in a case along with an abridged study guide. Even though we didn't use this, I found the study guide to be very thorough and thought provoking. This study guide is 12 pages in length and includes an intro to the CDs along with tips on using the Study Guide and some information about G.A. Henty and Sir Francis Drake. The sets of questions focus on Listening Well, Thinking Further, and Defining Words. At the end of the study guide is three short Bible studies that focus on Godly character, true manhood, and confessing.

Also available is a full complete study guide that you can have emailed to you. This study guide follows the same format as the abridged study guide, but there are a lot more questions under the Listening Well and Thinking Further sections along with a more Defining Words. The Bible Studies were very similar in both study guides. I would say the heart of the full complete study guide lies in the Listening Well, Thinking Further, and Defining Word sections. The Listening Well section asks simple questions about what was heard in the story where the Thinking Further questions brings questions that deal with character and Biblical applications.

My oldest son is the only one in the family who has read any books by G.A. Henty, so the rest of us  didn't know the storyline at all. We sat down as a family as spent several evenings listening to the CDs. (Had time permitted it would have been listened to all at once.) We were only a few minutes into it and by then my older kid's were totally engrossed. (My 6 year old daughter didn't really get into it, but listening to audios isn't really her thing right now.) 

The script is well written and included the right amount of humor (a big plus in our house) along with a lot of suspense and drama.  The dramatization of Under Drake's Flag was excellent and kept our interest the whole way through. In fact, it was so interesting that I had one kid go pull the book off the shelf so they could read the whole story for themselves. I also found myself intrigued with G.A. Henty and am planning on adding some of his stories to by TBR list.

At the end of the story the prayer of Sir Francis Drake, 1577, is read. I was very moved by this prayer and if I didn't get anything from the CD this prayer will stay with me for a long time. This prayer is also included on the CD case which will make it easy for me to copy down and put in a predominate place for reminder.

If your kids like dramatized stories or adventure stories you don't want to miss this great production of Under Drakes Flag which is available from Heirloom Audio Productions for $29.95 plus $6.95 shipping and handling and includes several bonus items.

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

S is for Seattle Trip & More (ABC Blogging)

Ben and Me

The last week of August we made what is now becoming an annual trek to Seattle for our family vacation. This year's vacation had to be very small since the IRS felt they needed a chunk of our hard earned money. Our original plan was to see the Lombardi Trophy (Superbowl Trophy), but would you believe that the Seahawks did not have it on display anywhere? I was told it was being "polished". Yea, right!

Anyhow, we still had a great time and found other things to do. We did our usual visits--American Girl, Hobby Lobby (though I now have one located 20 minutes away), and Half-Price Books. We also checked out the Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour and Woodland Park Zoo. We also had one evening that we spent with friends. A late evening, but very enjoyable.

We left Seattle on Saturday and stopped at the Centralia Outlet Mall to hit the VF Factory Store's Pro Shop Tent sale that was full of Seahawks playoff and Superbowl shirts for $5 to $10. My boys had a great time and even Destini and I got in on the fun and got shirts.

Another thing we normally do is attend the State Fair, but with our late vacation we didn't think it was possible. On Labor Day after a particularly stressful day my husband and I decided to just throw caution to the wind and just go. So we did. Here are some pictures of our Seattle trip and State Fair fun.

Boeing-Zoo Trip 
1. Driving in to the Boeing Plant.
2. Shade and the kids getting read to go on the tour.
3. Since Delani wasn't tall enough for the tour so we had to entertain ourselves for 1 1/2 while they took the tour.
4. Delani in an airplane cock-pit.
5. Taking selfies--we were getting bored!
6. On the the zoo.
7. Checking out the display.
8. Finally, we sighted an animal. (I now know why people have to buy a membership to the zoo. It takes that long to see every animal in the zoo.)
9. Yea! Delani finally found the lions!
 AG-Seahawks Sale 
10. At the American Girl Store. Delani loves the Itty-Bitty Twins Stroller.
11. I was trying to convince Chantry to baby-sit his sister's dolls for a few minutes. He wasn't going for it.
12. Four new outfits for her Itty-Bitty Twins. Both girls were excited to spend their gift cards that they received from their uncle and aunt for Christmas.
13. Destini was excited to get some new outfits for her dolls. They just had released the new Beforever product line. Though she ended up not getting any clothes for her Samantha doll, I know an outfit or two will end up on her Christmas list.
14. Seahawks sale!!
15. The Seahawk fan--including the sunglasses.
 Oregon State Fair 2014
16. The State Fair. We were joined by our friends, John and Sarah.
17. Destini received a 3rd place ribbon for her quilt and a 2nd place ribbon for her cross-stitch.
18. I won a 1st Place ribbon for a dress I made.
19-22. Ice cream for everyone (including Destini who is not shown).
23. While everyone loves ice cream I had to find something more spectacular. I AM at the fair. I settle on a Carmel Apple Deluxe funnel cake. This has become a new favorite. Imagine a funnel cake topped with Bavarian cream, apples, sprinkled with powdered sugar, a pile of whip cream, drizzled with caramel sauce, and sprinkled with cinnamon. Trust me, it was awesome! I had a lot of help in eating it, though I really felt the need to take it and hide.


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