Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Homeschool Mother's Journal: Fall Edition

October 17 Collage 

A busy two weeks have passed since my last journal entry. This school year has just been odd. We are having a hard time finding a routine, but that hasn't deterred us from keep moving ahead. We have been blessed with a warm fall (at least I think so), and this week has been our first week of cooler temps and some rain. Just when it looks like fall looks like it is here to stay we have another beautiful day. I will take all I can get.

Here is a look at the last two weeks around our house.

1.& 2.  Last week found Delani and I meeting up with some friends at a local farm market that has a play area and a pumpkin patch. Delani had a great time playing with friends and we had beautiful weather to enjoy to boot--over 80 degrees!

3. While there we picked up some apple cider donuts and apple cider. Delani thought it made a very fine breakfast.

4. Chantry learning a new life skill.

5. Last Thursday I headed over to Seaside for a woman's conference. I stayed with my friend's, Sarah and Lisa, and we had a great time. As is typical when I go the ocean it was foggy and our fall weather arrived. Thankfully, it wasn't windy. I had to laugh when I left on Saturday--I never did see the ocean. (This is okay since the ocean and I don't get along.)

6. We have a new voter in the house. Caleb's ballot arrived in the mail yesterday. I have to admit that I just can't get used to voting at home. I prefer going to vote. It feels patriotic and it isn't as easy to forget.

7. The kid's have been on a new audio kick--Jonathan Park audio dramas.

8. Yummy pumpkin bars. Now that our some-what fall weather has arrived baking just seems to be in order.

In our homeschool:
As I mentioned before we seem to be having a hard time finding our groove this year. I am not sure if this is due to our day being interrupted with Caleb's college class, or fitting in Delani's work, or if Chantry and Destini's work is a little more time consuming, but it has been a little frustrating. That being said I did do something a little different this week.

It always seems like we only get in 2 to 3 days in of Bible reading, which bothers me since this is something that I desire to be done everyday. Normally, I wake the kids up and wait for them to take a shower and get dressed and then eat breakfast before we get going with our day. This week I woke the kids up and sent them downstairs to eat breakfast right away and then we immediately did our together/personal Bible time, before they took their showers and got dressed.

I will admit that we still had some days that we were doing one or two subjects in the evening, but I felt it was a successful and peaceful week overall. I think the kids enjoyed it since they could get all cuddled up in blankets while reading the Bible.

Homegrown LearnersWeekly Wrap-Up

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Apologia iWitness Books (TOS Review)

Apologia Review
I enjoy coming across books that take information that can be boring and presenting it in a way that makes the topic interesting and exciting. Apologia Educational Ministries has done that with their new iWitness series, which we were able to review. They include iWitness Biblical Archaeology, Old Testament iWitness, and New Testament iWitness, written and designed by Doug Powell.
Apologia Review
iWitness Biblical Archaeology shows how different archaeological discoveries reveal the accuracy of the Bible. It starts at the Flood from there covers such topics as the Noah's Ark, Egypt, House of David and YHWH inscriptions, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Jesus' world, New Testament locations, and much more.
Apologia Review
Old Testament iWitness explores such questions as Who wrote the ancient books?, Is the Old Testament mythology or history?, and How is the Old Testament Different from the Hebrew Bible? The book starts with examining Old Testament manuscripts, how they were copied, the criteria for being in the canon, the Torah, the prophets, and so many more topics pertaining to the Old Testament.
Apologia Review
Similar to the Old Testament iWitness book, the New Testament iWitness books explores similar questions such as Who wrote the New Testament?, How was it handed down?, What was the criteria for being included? The reader will follow the history and formation of the New Testament by letting you read through the evidence presented. Topics included are Church Fathers, Apostolic Age and Fathers, rejected books, copying methods, textual criticism, and much more.

The iWitness books are presented from a Christian worldview and recommended for ages 11 and up, though they can be read together as a family or to children. The three books all have the same format and set-up. A colorful background with pictures pertaining to the subjects covered, a title in the top corner, and the text is written in a font that looks like handwriting. They are sturdy books and the pages are printed on a nice heavy paper. Though you can read these books in one sitting, they seemed to be set up to just slowly read through the information while looking at the pictures in the background.

I read these with my older kids and found that they went very well together, though iWitness Biblical Archaeology was a favorite. Because of how the author writes these books like an investigation, my kids found several parts confusing and not too sure how to interpret the information that was presented to them. This opened the door for many discussions. If I had any complaints it would be that a couple of the handwritten fonts were hard to read, though I loved the look of the fonts and felt they added to the whole appeal of the books.

We are currently reading about the Ancients in our history readings and I found that these books dovetailed nicely with what we were learning. Again the iWitness Biblical Archaeology book added a lot to our current study. It also caused us to get out the map and find where the places were listed.

Though we made reading it together work, it was hard to share the book so they could see the pictures. To get the full benefit of these books placing them on a coffee table, side table books, reading one-on-one, or placing them in the bathroom, since they can be easily read in short snippets and look at the pictures to their hearts content. Overall, we found the iWitness books interesting and fun reading.

iWitness Biblical Archaeology, Old Testament iWitness, and New Testament iWitness are available from Apologia Educational Ministries for $14.00 per book.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wednesdays with Words (Ben-Hur)

I am currently reading Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace aloud to my 14 & 12 year old as their current literature selection. As I read this portion the other day I found his description of Herod the Great and mesmerizing, yet quite chilling.

After a time two officers entered and stopped, one on each side of the door; after them slowly followed a most striking personage--and old man clad in purple bordered with scarlet, and girt to his waist by a band of gold linked so fine that it was pliable as leather; the latchets of his shoes sparkled with precious stones; a narrow crown wrought in filigree shone outside a tarbooshe of softest crimson plush, which, encasing his head, fell down the neck and shoulders, leaving the throat and neck exposed. Instead of a seal, a dagger dangled from his belt. He walked with a halting step, leaning heavily upon a staff. Not until he reached the opening of the divan did he pause or look up from the floor; then, as for the first time conscious of the company, and roused by their presence, he raised himself, and looked haughtily round, like one startled and searching for an enemy--so dark, suspicious, and threatening was the glance. Such was Herod the Great--a body broken by diseases, a conscience seared with crimes, a mind magnificently capable, a soul fit for brotherhood with the Caesars; now seven-and-sixty years old, but guarding his throne with a jealousy never so vigilant, a power never so despotic, and a cruelty never so inexorable. pp. 72-73

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Homeschool Mother's Journal: Making Adjustments

Sept 27 - Oct 4 Collage 
Whew! I have a two crazy weeks. I had planned on doing a post last week, but I was just too tired to write up anything. So here is a look at what we have been up to:

1. & 2. Remember the apples from my last post? Something had to be done with them so we spent two different evening making applesauce and canning it and also just freezing apples for apple bars and apple pie. I only put up 100 lbs and am still trying to decide if I want to purchase another 50 lbs. Yes, I need my head examined.

3. Last Tuesday the boys had dentist appointments. Chantry was getting a filling and sealants and Caleb had a tooth refilled along with getting two wisdom teeth pulled. We brought school work and worked on it. Destini was behind in English so this gave us a good chance to do an extra lesson. It was kind of touch and go for a few minutes with Caleb's wisdom teeth and the dentist wasn't sure if he could get them out. Thankfully after a little bit more local anesthetics they came out. I almost fell over laughing when the dentist said it was a non-traumatic pulling (meaning not cutting). I know Caleb didn't feel that way.

Unfortunately for Caleb his week didn't get much better. He had to go to the dermatologist due to something on his head. She proceeded to pull out a shot and gave him three shots in.his.head! Let me tell you if he wasn't traumatized, I was!!

4. After all that trauma, I decided to not work on Saturday and Destini and I headed off to the NW Quilt Expo. Last year there was a booth that we really liked and we had bought a pattern from them that she is going to make for Student Convention this year. Unfortunately, they weren't there and we didn't see anything else, so we are still on the lookout for fabric. Anyways, we also did other shopping in Portland and just had a fun day together.

5. Not only did Caleb have to get his wisdom teeth pulled and see the dermatologist, we also had to get him registered for a class at the local community college. I am going to admit here that I am the poster child for how NOT to enroll your child in college. He had to take the entrance test and he chose to take a paper test, which required a three day period before getting the test scores.

So on Friday I am trying to figure out how to find out about his test scores. It took me awhile but I finally found them, called the college and found out they were doing walk-ins to see the advisors. We jumped in the van and drove down there and got him on a wait list to take a math class. (I want to input here that this homeschool mama was probably more nervous about his test than he was. I fought all those feelings of maybe I hadn't done a good job, etc. Well, it was needless after all. He tested in right where he should. Yes, I heard God loudly and had to repent!)

By Sunday night he was able to sign up for the class and on Monday he started his math class. His book is bought, class is paid for, and one of those expensive graphing calculators is now in our possession, the only thing missing is a chunk our of our savings account.

This week has been a big adjustment to our school schedule. Since he has class four days a week, I am having to leave in the middle of the day to drop him off and pick him up. Of course, this takes time our of my schedule with the other kids. We have spent quite a bit of time this week doing school work in the evening. I am hoping that we will find a rhythm that works with his schedule.

6. Ahh, the joys of English grammar! So this year we are doing Rod and Staff. Chantry did First Language Lessons last year so he is used to diagramming. I am also doing the writing portion (for now). I am doing this for myself. If it is in the book we'll do it--if it is in a separate book at the first sign of resistance I like to avoid it.

Rod and Staff is a big step for Destini. Now I know she can do this, but my word, all the complaining I have had to listen to. I finally handed her over to Dad, who taught middle and high school in a Christian school. He reminded me that some kids just like to question why that have to learn all about parts of speech etc. and it just comes with the territory. I do want to say that by the end of the week it did get better. :)

7 & 9. Delani working on building words. We have already taken a break from her reading curriculum and are just working on the first two Bob Books by building the words and writing them out. Have I ever mentioned I really dislike teaching reading?

8. When I was teenager I loved reading Grace Livingstone Hill books. (I had to--I had a mean loving mom who guarded very carefully what I read. Thanks, Mom!) I had collected over 70 of her books which I have carried around for years now. Destini was wanting something to read and I thought she would enjoy these and so she has. She ALWAYS has her nose in a book.

10. Today my family were sweet enough to give up their Saturday and come up to the library and help me. My pile of donations that I had to go through were atrocious. The books were laid 12 feet across and three feet off the floor. We spent six hours culling books, pricing, and shelving. I didn't get through them all, but I am hoping that it gave me a good start.

By the way, did you know that you can support your local library by donating your books? I highly recommend it!

When we got home I took the kids to 5 Guys for dinner for all their help and then we came home and finished off the remaining apple pie I had made Friday. 

Homegrown LearnersWeekly Wrap-Up

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Preschooler and Peace: Homeschooling older kids with success while loving the little ones at your feet by Kendra Fletcher (TOS Review)

Preschoolers and Peace Review

Homeschooling older kids while having preschoolers can create a lot of hectic moments in a mom's life. I know--I've been there and done that! So has Kendra Fletcher from Preschoolers and Peace who has written an ebook for mom's in this situation called Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling older kids with success while loving the little ones at your feet.

Preschoolers and Peace Review

Kendra Fletcher writes from experience--over 16 years of having preschoolers in her home. In Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling older kids with success while loving the little ones at your feet is a short e-book compiled from her site, Preschoolers and Peace.  It includes 14 chapters that cover an array of topics. The chapters are easy to read and are filled with encouraging words and easy to implement ideas. Chapters include such topics as:

  • What a Homeschooling Mom Needs
  • Preparing Yourself to Homeschool Older Kids With Little Ones Underfoot
  • Planning Around Preschoolers
  • How Do I Keep Them Busy?
  • What Does a 2-Year-Old's Day Look Like?
  • How Do I Get Any Preschooling Done?
  • How Not to Just Kill Time
  • Circle Time, or How We Pull the Little Ones In
  • Preschool Boys
  • When All of Your Kiddos Are Preschoolers
  • Preschool Chores
  • Planning for Preschool
  • When Mama is Worn Out (or Pregnant)

Before sharing ideas on how to balance preschoolers and older kids, the author first talks to moms about the importance of keeping the Gospel as her center and to find her identity in Christ rather than in homeschooling her children.

She then talks about how preparation is the key to successful homeschooling before heading into the nitty-gritty of planning with preschoolers. She shows the benefits of making a schedule and how to use it to keep the littles busy. Her ideas on scheduling also come with great advice on how a schedule is a tool and the importance of making necessary adjustments when life calls for it. She includes sample schedules along what her schedule looked like after she adjusted it.

She lists over a dozen activities to do along with items that can be used with the activities. She shows how to implement circle time with your preschoolers and older kids along with a list of chores that preschoolers (and bigger kids) can do. There are a lot of tips and suggestions for dealing with preschool boys, dealing with all preschoolers, and filling in little moments of time with teaching moments.

She sums it up by encouraging worn out, tired, or pregnant moms to reassess her situation and make sure what she is pleasing to God rather than others. She includes a handy section on different ideas for Meal Planning and how a meal plan makes daily living a whole lot smoother and ends the book with a list of resources and links for each chapter.

I was able to review Kendra Fletcher's books Circle Time: Plan the Best Part of Your Homeschool Day last year which I really enjoyed and have been able to implement in our homeschool so I knew that I would probably enjoy and glean from Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling older kids with success while loving the little ones at your feet even though I technically don't have a preschooler.

This is not a long book, I read it in the car on our trip home from vacation, yet it was an encouraging read and a few times I was convicted! Though my daughter is past preschool and doing school work she still has a lot of time on her hands and many of the ideas listed are ones that she would be interested in doing. This book giving me some inspiration to put a few more fun activities in her schedule.

If you are homeschooling and trying to find the fine balance of working with older kids and keeping you preschoolers happy I highly recommend checking out Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling older kids with success while loving the little ones at your feet by Kendra Fletcher.

Head on over to Preschoolers and Peace to get a copy for $2.99.

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Wednesdays with Words (Invading the Privacy of God)

In the chapter titled "The Pioneer of Our Faith", the author, Cecil Murphy, tells the relates a story that happened to him while living in Kenya, Africa. He agreed to take to take two friends to visit the Masai tribe. They took their car to the farthest point on the road and then their guide, Sangra, who had guided the author many times. Sangra pointed to a top of a hill and said, "Just over there."

Soon one hour turned into two hours as they walked through untrod ground. The American guests began to question the author about the reliability of Sangra, but he just continued to follow Sangra because he knew he could rely on him. The author likens it to:
"...what it mean to follow Jesus, the "pioneer and perfector of our faith." Scholars have translated it several ways, including author and finisher, but I like the concept of pioneer. When I call Jesus by that term. I think of him as the ground breaker, the one who goes ahead of us into the unknown. He blazes the trail for us." 
As they were making their journey one of the guest had pointed out a more gradual slope, but Sangra just shook his head and kept going. On their way back they discovered that on the other side of the gradual slope was a deep, rocky ravine. He says: 
"The guide who has been there before knows the way. As I meditate on that concept, it makes me realize the futility of my worries and concerns."
 Last week just seemed filled with worries and concerns, and though I know not to worry, it is hard not to.  When I read this I felt God's nudge reminding me yet again to just follow instead of trying to forge my own path. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wednesday with Words - Uneasy Money by P.G. Wodehouse

Nutty fetched the water. Life is like that. There is nothing clean-cut about it, no sense of form. Instead of being permitted to concentrate his attention on his tragedy Nutty had to trudge three-quarters of a mile, conciliate a bull-terrier, and trudge back again carrying a heavy pail. It was as if one of the heroes of Greek drama, in the middle of his big scene, had been asked to run round the corner to a provision store.
I love Wodehouse! Since my kids and I are bearing through our last year of Bulfinch's mythology,this really tickled my funny bone.


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