Friday, November 30, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up - The Week of Drama

D'Aulaires' Book of Greek MythsWell not the bad kind of drama. This week consisted of three drama practices for next week's performance of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. All the kid's costumes were great. We still have some tricky moments that with God's help will go okay. This year's drama group is 3/4ths of newbies. Looking forward to some down time after next week. But of course there won't be that much, with Christmas lots still to happen.

Anyway, school was not too bad this week. As I mentioned in a previous post we finished up the Shakespeare study of Twelfth Night and really enjoyed it even though we don't really enjoy Shakespeare. So, explain that. We are still working hard at Weight Watchers and exercise. As of today I have lost 12 pounds and Grace has lost 8. Of course she has done her 8 pounds in 14 days while my 12 took 5 weeks. Grace finished up the book Fever 1793 and loved it. She chose to create a board game for her alternative book report of Fever. Still working on that and will share more when it is finished. Two days ago she started reading Holes and is really like it too. Our favorite items we used this week is The Mark of Athena and D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths. Art journaling the information has bee great for Grace. It gives her something creative to do instead of just writing information, and we all know how much she dislikes writing. I created an advent garland this past week with all kinds of fun stuff for us to do during December. Really looking forward to putting this in to place starting tomorrow. We are ending the week today with a field trip to see The Nutcracker Ballet with some friends. Great way to start off the Christmas season.

Make sure to visit other families blogs and see what they did this week through The Weekly Wrap Up.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A New Rabbit Trail

Last week we finished our three week study of Shakespeare and his play the Twelfth Night. It was a good experience and we know a lot about this particular play now. I told Grace that if we study one of Shakespeare's play a year by the time she graduates she will have a good working knowledge of his works.

We needed a new interest and found it actually in an old interest. Grace and myself have read the entire Percy Jackson Series and The Heroes of Olympus Series as read alouds. I enjoy them as much as she does which is why we read them together. We start off each school day with a chapter. When The Mark of Athena came out we knew we would be reading this one also. We are 200 pages in to it and that is where our rabbit trail started. D'Aularies' Book Of Greek Myths has also been in my possession for a couple of years. Grace looked through it originally but never really paid it much mind. Well, now that we are back into a new Heroes book it seemed like perfect timing to do an in depth study of Greek Mythology.

I have always loved this book. The illustrations are wonderful. I have a very hard time remembering all the names and what they are the god or goddess of, but Grace does a good job of remembering them. What is great about the Rick Riordan books is that most of the gods and goddesses are brought back again and again which helps with recall. So anyway, each day Grace is reading some from the book then creating some journal pages to help remember information.

Day one Grace learned about the Titans and mother earth Gaea. This is a great way to start off the study because Gaea plays a major role in The Heroes of Olympus Series.

Day two she learned about Zeus, Hera and the other gods of Olympus. She decided to print pictures of each god or goddess to help her remember. Most of these we knew pretty well from all the previous books.

Today which was Day three Grace read about Hera. Grace immediately let me know that she didn't care for Hera. She was a very jealous goddess and not too nice. Today Grace chose to draw an illustration of Hera and write a bit of info.

Homeschooling is so great. We get to study items that really interest us. By the time we finish the D'Aulaires; book, Grace should be very proficient in Greek Mythology.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Random Monday

  • The month of December is literally going to kill me. I think we have things scheduled nearly every day until the 18th of the month. 
  • Getting ready (going crazy) preparing for two performances next week of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I am the lighting and sound person. Three days of three hour practices and dress rehearsal this week.
  • My baby chickens (4-5 months) keep squeezing out of the fencing and we have to go chase them down and herd them like sheep back into the backyard. Driving me nuts!
  • Weight Watchers is still going great. I have lost 11 pounds and Grace has lost 8. Going to Zumba tonight to hopefully work off another pound. 
  • Went out this weekend with the hubby on a five hour date. Shopping, dinner and a movie. We say Red Dawn at the theater. Typically we see about two movies a year at the theater. Going next month to see The Hobbit. One item about Red Dawn that I wasn't expecting....the kid that played Josh in the Nick show Drake and Josh was one of the lead characters. I just could not get past this, every time I looked at him I could not take him seriously. All I saw was Josh.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Advent Garland - Something New

This year Grace is in 8th grade and a lot of Christmas traditions have fallen by the wayside as being too "young" for a teenager to participate. I was doing some research over the past few days and came across a blog that had this idea for an advent garland. Each day has something fun or meaningful to do. I think she might really get in to this one. I included all her favorite things as well as some service for the community. I wish I could remember which blog I got it from and give them credit, sorry. Here is the list of 24 days of activities/service:

  • Decorate Christmas cookies and give to a neighbor
  • Build a gingerbread house
  • Go ice skating
  • Ride around and look at Christmas lights
  • Get an eggnog milkshake from McDonalds (this is a biggie for us being on Weight Watchers)
  • Make a Christmas craft
  • Drink Hot Cocoa
  • Make a Christmas ornament
  • List ten things you are grateful for
  • Watch a Christmas movie
  • Deliver candy canes with attached scripture to people in town
  • Send a card to an elderly friend
  • Make a treat with a card to give to the trash man
  • Leave a note and a treat for the mail carrier
  • Wrap presents for the children's home
  • String popcorn for decorating
  • Watch The Christmas Story
  • Have a special lunch out
  • Take a picture in Santa hats
  • Paint toenails in Christmas colors
  • Make handmade gift tags
  • Read the Legend of the Candy Cane
  • Make granola bars and give to the pastor's family
  • Drink more hot cocoa

Christmas Decorating

Ten years ago when we lived in a large suburb of Atlanta their was no limit to what we decorated. Our home was on a busy corner lot and many cars passed by during the holiday season. Every square inch on the outside of the house and yard was covered in lights and displays. We definitely could have been on the tacky light tour. In another sense though it was great because many a neighbor, etc. would stop if they saw us outside and strike up a conversation with us. Well, fast forward ten years and we are on a gravel road rural road with only 5 homes on the street. No traffic coming we dropped off from the outside decorating business. Also back then we had a larger home and no kidding had 4 Christmas trees that we decorated each year. They were themed trees (Santa, Snowman, Blue and Silver, and Homemade ornaments). It was lots of fun and lots of work. Now we are in a small cabin that will not support 4 trees, we have given away most of the trees to needy families over the years. This year we decided to decorate even more simple with small themed areas and no tree. Can you believe tree. There is a reason for this - one cat and one ferret. It just wasn't worth the risk. So below I am sharing a few pics of what we accomplished yesterday. We do have an alternative tree that will be going up soon and I will share when it is finished. Completely different than anything we have ever down.

Snowman Lane

A Christmas Village

Santa Central
Advent Garland

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Vision Forum Review - Into the Amazon: One Lost World, Thirty Men, Seven Mysteries

As I mentioned in a previous review, Vision Forum is a wonderful company with excellent products. With each product I come in contact, I end up loving the company more and more. The website states, "The mission of Vision Forum is to communicate a vision of victory to Christian families through edifying books, films, toys, curriculum, and other resources". I really identify with this statement. The world is throwing so much trash at families through all different medias, it is nice to find a company you can trust for purchasing edifying products. My second review for Vision Forum is Into the Amazon, a dvd collection.
Product image
Into the Amazon is four dvds that include 300 minutes of discipleship, theology, and adventure. Doug Phillips and his team go into the Amazon jungle, the Andes Mountains, the Great Peruvian Desert, and invite your family to come along. Doug explains throughout the series how the Amazon is such a controversial place because of the battle between radical environmentalism and biblical Christianity. The four dvds include seven mysteries:

Episode 1:  The Meaning of the Mystery of the Amazon
Episode 2:  The Mystery of the Lost Legacy of Adventure and Dominion
Episode 3:  The Mystery of the Strange Creatures of the Amazon
Episode 4:  The Mystery of the Plants of the Amazon
Episode 5:  The Mystery of the Lost Tribes
Episode 6:  The Mystery of the Ica Stones and the Great Peruvian Desert
Episode 7:  The Mystery of Machu Picchu and the Mighty Inca Empire

What We Liked About This Series:

First off Doug is very easy to listen to, and seems very knowledgeable about the material being presented through this series. Grace and myself watched one episode each day during her school time. The material had us start many a conversation about the differences between worshiping a Creator instead of worshiping the creation itself. Grace's favorite episode was strange creatures of the Amazon. No real surprise there. I really enjoyed the episodes about the Ica Stones and the plants of the Amazon. I also learned that Teddy Roosevelt went on an expedition to the Amazon with his son after losing his reelection bid to be President. He almost died on this expedition and brought back thousands of specimens from his trek. All the information was fascinating and the video was stunning. We really enjoyed reviewing this product. We got to take a trip to the Amazon without every leaving home and not coming in contact with all those bugs. 

Please visit Vision Forum to view all their wonderful products. Into the Amazon retails for $45.00.

Disclaimer:  I received Into the Amazon at no cost to me from Vision Forum for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Catching Up

Black Friday - Well ....... it was interesting. Black Friday has always been a tradition for us. Mom, sister and me have always gone out. Sometimes early, sometimes late, sometimes just two of us. This year my mom asked me to go with her. Our Black Friday shopping was actually Gray Thursday evening and ended at midnight. We ventured in to Wally World and witnessed a whole lot of craziness with people grabbing electronics. Literally the police had to pull people out of a pile off the ground because the cardboard display case crushed under everyone's weight. What is the world coming too. Can you imagine what that would have been like if it was a pallet of food and your family hadn't eaten in a week. Sorry shouldn't have switched subjects so quickly on you there. But really, if people act this crazy over stuff how much crazier would they act over food when facing starvation. Okay, its the holidays and I will get off of my soapbox now.

Weight Loss - Weight Watchers is going really good for both me and Grace. Grace lost 7 pounds in her first week and I cannot tell you how great she is being about it. I just finished my first month and have lost 10 pounds. My new to me choice of exercise "Zumba" is great. I love going. I only go twice a week because it is very intense and I have bad knees and feet. Currently I exercise 6 days a week with walking, Zumba, and dvds. We allowed ourselves to eat what we wanted within reason on Thanksgiving and neither of use gained an ounce. Our Christmas treat will be an eggnog milkshake on Christmas Eve from McDonalds and whatever we want to eat on Christmas day.

Spend $24 on the 24th - Our small town advertised that today they were encouraging the community to come out and support the local businesses by spending $24 dollars. Me and Grace went out this summer and spent some money at the local yarn shop and then to the local art shop(both independently owned).
Christmas yarn to make wash clothes to go in Christmas BAskets. An owl bracelet and key chain.

Grace created this last night. It is titled "Time Melting". She is holding a time piece that is melting. In the photo it is very hard to see the detail in the dress, but it is really great.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lots to Accomplish Over the Next Couple of Days

Of course tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we are getting together with the family for food, fellowship, fun, and family time. Hope to also get in some exercise time and maybe even a little Just Dance with Grace using my sister's play system. I am also putting together a list of items to purchase on Black Friday. I do not have a lot of purchase. Last year we instituted the three gift rule for the kids. Grace wants some new boots and probably some new clothes. Travis wants items for his new apartment. He plans to move out with some friends in January. This year I am making baskets for the families instead of individual gifts except for my nephew. So I am also making a list of all the items I need from the grocery store to put together the home made items to go in the baskets. I hope for me and Grace to work on these together as it gets closer to Christmas. Scott and Grace need to create her unicorn horn for The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe. Dress rehearsal will be next week. Scott has to build my shadow puppetry frame for recitals in two weeks.

I don't know if I mentioned this yet , but my 14 year old cat is going crazy. About 6 weeks ago she started crying/meowing very loudly at night, all night. I don't think their is anything medical going on just maybe dementia. I have done a lot of research and have ordered Feliway from amazon. A product that diffuses feline pheromones in the air to help relax the cats nerves and keep them calm. If this doesn't work it may be the end for this cat. I love her but no one is getting any sleep. She is declawed so cannot send her outside either. We live in a small cabin so there is also no where to put her away from us where you can't still hear her. The product should be here Friday and hoping for the best.

So excited to notice that one of our recent chicks (now about 4 months old) is looking like our Easter Egg layer in the face with little tufts of hair sticking out from the cheeks.. Our Easter Egg layer is hands down the best at everything. Best personality, best layer, best sitter. Hoping this one will follow in her suit.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Not So Restful Week

Four hour practice this morning for The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe. Three more practices next week with a dress rehearsal thrown in then we perform. We have so much work to accomplish before this performance. I say this every time but it always works out in the end and comes together. Tonight we are off to do a dinner at a women's home. Tomorrow and Wednesday we do so school and then Thursday - Sunday will be Thanksgiving holidays for us. Looking forward to some down town because the next two weeks are going to be crazy.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

4:12 Ministries - Youth Service Group

Today was our first service project. Our local soup kitchen holds a yearly Thanksgiving dinner and we helped serve. Of course there were two other youth organizations there also. Lots of volunteers, but it was a good way for them to get their feet wet. Love spending time with these kids. Looking forward to two more service opportunities in December.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up - The Week of Exercise and Health

Lots of schooling (in our own way) has taken place this week but I will have to say that hands down the weight loss journey has been in the fore fronts of both my mind and now Graces. Grace decided a couple of days ago to join me on this journey. I am so glad. I really want her to be healthy and I wish the same for me. Weight Watchers online program is our favorite tool this week. Counting points couldn't be more simple. I have been on the program for almost a month and have lost 8 pounds. Monday is our weighing day so won't know until this Monday where Grace falls. Also I am loving Zumba . The intensity of the workout twice a week is a great addition to what we are already doing at home. Each week we have been sampling different dvds from Netflix to see what we like and possibly want to buy. This week's dvd is Biggest Loser Power Walk and I think this is a winner. Both me and Grace like it. Currently she is doing 30 minutes while I do 45 - 60 minutes.

Well enough about all of that, let's get down to the other things we are doing with school during the week:

History - We are reviewing some history books that are a set of British, American, and World History. Learned about Mesopotamia in the World History book this week. Also did some reading from America the Beautiful and learned about The Vanderbilts, Teddy Roosevelt and Taft. In our magazine God's World News Grace read a two page spread about the three branches of government.

Math - We started our new Math Essentials geometry book. Learning about rays, lines, line segments, and different types of angles. Some of this kind of kicked our tails.

Science - The list of science topics I posted a week or so ago finally got started this week. So far we have learned about El Nino, Layers of the Ocean and the Ocean floor. Grace did notebooking pages for each of the topics.

Shakespeare - This has probably been our most fun. This week we read Act II and III and did journal pages for each act. Talk and learned about the four elements mentioned in Act II of Twelfth Night, studied vocabulary words from the play, and did a journal page about the language of Shakespeare and how a lot of quotes are still used today. The movie Twelfth Night came in the mail yesterday from Netflix and we hope to watch it sometime this weekend.

Extras - Art History Class, Drama practice, Acts of Faith practice, Tone Chimes Class and Choir Class, and Essay Writing Class. Lots of performances and recitals coming up in the next couple of weeks.

Reading - Mark of Athena is our read aloud and we are loving it. Grace is still reading Fever 1793 for literature and working her way through the Naruto Series.

Talk a click over to Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers to check out what everybody else did this week.

Prepping This Week

One of my new passions is herbal teas and herbs for remedies. Each month I plan on purchasing items from Herbs By Merlin. I have found their teas and herbs to be very economical and all natural. They always send us information with the purchases on how to use all the products. The 2 oz. bags of herbs retail for $2.00 and the mixed bags of tea retail for $6.50. I started using their Slim Tea a few weeks ago and now view it as a daily treat. If anyone is interested I have now lost 8 pounds through weight watchers, lots of exercise, and tea. Here is what I purchased for our stores and what it can be used for:

Sugar Ginger Root - Chew on for nausea and digestive issues.

Elder Berry - Colds

Echinacea - Colds and flus

Papaya - Acid Reflux

Wild Lettuce - Severe pain, morphine

Alfalfa - Has just about every vitamin and mineral you need.

Skullcap - Insomnia.

Merlin's Tea Mix

Triple Berry Tea Mix

Slim Tea II - One of my favorites for appetite supp., water weight, and toning, Also contains green teas.

Female Balance Tea - To help balance my hormones.

Calm Relax Tea - To help with my insomnia in case it comes back. I have weaned myself off my medication and doing well, so this is just a back up.

Please don't take my word for this as medical advice. Do you own research and make your own choices. But me at this point in time it works.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Vision Forum - Baker Family Adventures - Book 1, Summer of Suspense

Every Night I Have a Zoo on My Bed

Sorry for the grainy photo. I took this with my blackberry last night. Every animal we own except the ferret was on my bed last night curled up asleep. This is not uncommon. Once I come upstairs each night to watch a little TV they show up to take over the bed. This is probably the only time you will see all three cats calm and peaceful alongside each other.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What To Do??

I realize with this post I might be opening myself up to some negative thoughts and remarks, but here goes. What do you do if you are on fire for serving others and love God with all your heart but have no real desire to attend church at this moment? Thoughts? Here is some background:

I grew up in the church and have attended just about my whole life. Denominations have never really meant much to us, more doctrine and relationships with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Our current church has been our home for the past 6-7 years. We love the members, but the church is struggling in all aspects of the word. They recently had a mass exodus of members not hip to the current vision of the church, etc. Financially struggling also as are many churches in the current economy. I don't mind attending once or twice a month but at this point just don't feel the need to attend every single Sunday or all the other functions that go along with being a member of a church. The Sundays that we stay at home either Scott prepares a devotion time for us or we watch an online sermon from Andy Stanley at Northpoint Church in Atlanta. He is really awesome, even Grace thinks so. Me and Grace also do daily devotions with our school day.

At this point in life I am concentrating more on serving and spreading God's love to others. I don't feel like I need to be inside the walls of the church to do this or sitting in a pew listening to sermons we have all heard before. It is time to go out and do, not sit and listen. Still some people will come back with the "what about being around other Christians with fellowship and accountability". Well I am around Christians every day of my life in all kinds of situations. Here are just a few examples:

  1. Prison Ministry Team Small Group that I attend most Monday nights. Going to a residential home to fellowship with woman with substance abuse problems.
  2. Acts of Faith Ministry - Traveling drama youth ministry group. 
  3. Angel Tree Ministry
  4. 4:12 Ministries - Youth Service Group. Going to a children's home to fellowship with young girls and share God's love.
  5. Soup Kitchen Thanksgiving Dinner - Serving meals with the youth in our group.
  6. Creative Christian Cooperative - Teaching children what their God given talents are and how to spread God's love in the community with those talents.
I don't mention these things to pat myself on the back or to make us look important. I just want others to know that we are going out and trying our best to make a difference in this world on God's behalf. So does this mean that I am wrong about not feeling the need to attend church? I don't know. This is something I struggle with all the time. What would God think about this path I am forging? Would he be happy with it, or disappointed because I am missing the point about attending church. What are your thoughts? Please be nice in your comments.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Art Gallery Showing

Tonight we went to a gallery showing for my cousin, Stephanie. Most of that side of the family showed up. Grace also brought a binder of her drawings to show Stephanie and get her opinion. Not only is Stephanie an accomplished artist but she has a masters degree and teaches at a college in Atlanta. She has offered to Grace to come in January and attend a couple of her classes to learn and experience. Grace is over the top excited. It was also so great to see my family. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Weekly Wrap

What a Week!!! Well I won't get in to the one big disappointment, just everything else.

Monday - Mostly regular school stuff. We started my most favorite thing from this week which is a Shakespeare Unit Study that I picked up at a used book sale for .99. We are using art journaling to record all of our information and reading the play as we go along. Really loving this unit.

Tuesday - We only have three more practices until we perform The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe and we are no where near ready. In art history at co-op Grace is learning about stained glass and making some of her own. I went to Zumba after co-op and absolutely love it. Very intense and a lot of booty shaking but a great workout.

Wednesday - School in the morning and youth service group in the afternoon. I am so excited about this youth service group. Currently we have scheduled to work the local soup kitchen Thanksgiving dinner on November 17. In December we will go to a teen girl's home to have a Christmas fellowship and also a time set aside for the local animal shelter to volunteer. All the services were picked and voted on by the youth in the group. What is so great is how excited they are also.

Thursday - Grace had a lot of writing homework this week for her writing class. She was so good about getting it down and did a really good job. I picked her up two new copic markers to show my appreciation for a job well done. After writing class we zoomed off to choir and tone chimes for Grace and me teaching puppetry arts at the cooperative. Zumba again after cooperative.

Friday - School this morning then out to lunch with hubby and my mom. Forgot to mention that hubby was on vacation the past three days. Visited Hobby Lobby for supplies for my art journaling class and the journaling we are doing her for our school work, also needed materials to make a unicorn horn for Grace's costume. Hobby Lobby was have a great sale so we spent a lot of time looking around and spending money. Grace has recently started a fascination with sock monkeys and found a great one at the store as well as paper and stickers. Also stopped at a really great antique store which we will have to visit again. I will leave you with a picture of Grace and the monkey.

Be sure to visit Weird Unsocialized HomeSchoolers to see what other families did this week.

Math Essentials Giveaway Winner

The winner of the two Math Essentials Books is -

Karen from Homeschool Girls

TOS Review - Vocal Coach

PhotobucketVocal Coach is a vocalist training company created by Chris and Carole Beatty. Chris and Carole have dedicated the last 40 years to training, coaching, and encouraging singers of all ages. They have taught privately, in workshops, and now can be found online. Chris and Carol have trained beginners all the way up to touring artists. We were offered the opportunity to review Vocal Coach Singer through the TOS Review Crew. Let's talk a bit about what Vocal Coach Singer is and what you will get. Included with your purchase would be:  7 training cds, 4 workout cds, instructional guidebook, and printable lead sheets for all the vocal exercises. It doesn't matter if the student is a beginner or experienced vocalist, the program will benefit them all. Vocal Coach Singer is worth over $2000.00 of one one one personal training time. Here are the topics that are covered in the cds:

7 Training CDs

  • Getting Started
  • Complete Breathing
  • Complete Warm Up
  • Complete Tone
  • Complete Expanding Your Range
  • Complete Diction
  • Complete Performance
4 Workout Cds
  • Daily Workout High Voice 1 and 2
  • Daily Workout Medium/Low Voice 1 and 2
Educational Tools
  • Instructional Guidebook
  • Printable Lead Sheets
  • Singer's Journal
  • Song Evaluation Forms

The program is set up to teach you all the basics from posture to performance. Vocal Coach Singer will not only teach a vocalist how to sing their best but also how to maintain their voice over the years. Here is a quote from the website,"Good voice technique based on the knowledge that the voice is a physical, mechanical and accoustial instrument and that good foundations will equip you to sing any style you can honestly relate to."

Why We Wanted to Review This Product and What We Thought:

I have sang in choirs my whole life. Starting in high school all the way up to church cantatas. Grace has followed in my footsteps doing the same, even singing in our adult choir's Christmas cantata last year. She also performs in at least one musical a year with our drama cooperative. When I saw the vendor interest form go up for Vocal Coach Singer I thought to myself, this is the perfect product for us. We received this product as mp3 downloads. First off I need to say that this is an abundance of downloads. Lots of material for your money. We have worked our way through most of the training cds. Some of this information is very familiar to us through our own choral director. Makes me wonder if she took a workshop from Chris and Carole at some point because she uses some of the same voice exercises. I do need to admit that Grace found the first training sessions a bit tedious. Some of the information she already knew and just wanted to get to the singing. Of course I am sure a lot of singers feel the same way in the beginning. Once they learn how much their voice will benefit from learning the basics, it will become clearer how much it is needed. Grace did not really enjoy the voice exercises and being a teenager felt some of them made her look and sound silly. With that said, she still understands that the points Chris and Carole were trying to get across with the exercises was important and needed to be learned to be a better vocalist. This is going to sound a bit vague, but we are still not sure if this product is a good fit for our family. Quite a bit of the information we already knew, but for a true beginner starting out this would be great. The program will teach them everything they need to know to produce a better sound with their voice. I do plan on us continuing the product in the future, especially to brush up on vocal exercises before musical performances.

The mp3 downloads of Vocal Coach Singer retail for $99.99.
The cds retail for $119.99.

Vocal Coach Singer is recommended for all ages, youth up through adults. Take a moment to go to Vocal Coach and look at all the products they have available.

To view what other reviewers thing about Vocal Coach products visit TOS Review Crew.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Review Crew, I received this product at no cost to me for my honest review. All opinions are mine.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Happy Chickens

We have owned chickens for almost three years. They have always been in coops and runs due to predators in the area. We finally decided to fence in more of the backyard and let them be somewhat free range during the day. Our backyard has lots of tree coverage so we are not as worried as we once were about hawks, owls, and such. Today was their first afternoon out and about.

I was very curious to see where all the birds would end up tonight for roosting. Would they go back to their own coop or elsewhere, because we do have three coops. Well once nightfall came everybody went back to their original coop for roosting except for the rooster in the top picture. He found himself a new girlfriend in Betty the black easter egg layer and roosted with her instead. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Few of my Favorite New Things

Something that is very new to me is drinking hot tea. A couple of weeks ago when we went to some flea markets in North Carolina I came the Herb Lady. She wholesales herbs and tea mixtures from Herbs by Merlin. I picked up the Slim II tea and love. I have a cup every afternoon. I will soon be purchasing more teas (hormone mixture and merlin's best) in a couple of days. The best part is no calories.

Next favorite on my list is Weight Watchers meals. I eat these a few times a week. Sometimes I prepare something for the family for dinner that will just have too many points for me. I eat one of these little burgers with some baked chips and an apple for lunch a couple of times a week. 

We started our Shakespeare Unit and it is going swimmingly. Art journaling our information about Shakespeare and the Twelfth Night play is a real breakthrough for us. The page above is a bio page about Shakespeare.

Here we have a cast page with all the characters from Twelfth Night.
This page so what Grace is really good at in art. Twelfth Night is about a lot of confusion and a girl disguised as a guy. People falling in love and all the comedy that goes along with it. Today we did the page above which summarizes Act One and a couple of the scenes. The character she drew is Viola/Cesairo.

Last but not least is Zumba. I attended my first class last night and love it. High paced, crazy music, and lots of people. Didn't get bored once. Me and my sister hope to attend two classes a week to add to what we already do at home for exercise. This morning when I woke up my knees and heels were really complaining. I will have to see how they hold up through two classes a week. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Shakespeare Unit Study

A couple of days ago while perusing through a used book store I came upon this little gem. Shakespeare Plays in the Classroom Twelfth Night for grades 6-9. I am going to admit that neither myself or Grace care that much for Shakespeare but we do try to address one of his plays each year. Finding this little book for .99 has narrowed us down to Twelfth Night for this year. This book really got my creative juices flowing and decided to make a unit study to go along with it. Over the next couple of weeks we will put everything else on the back burner and just do our Shakespeare Study. Actually this comes at a great time because I only have to write one review and then the TOS Review Crew is on hiatus until January. This gives us lots of time to concentrate on some other avenues of learning. I also want to mention that all the information will be recorded by art journaling and notebooking. Here is what I have come up with so far for the unit study:

Where was Shakespeare born?
What do we know about his life?
His family?
What was English like during this time?
Were his plays popular then?
What was the life of an actor and playwright like in Elizabethan England?

Read pages 5 - 6 about The Life and Times of William Shakespeare. Create an art journal page for every couple of paragraphs of information.

Read pages 7-8 about The Elizabethan Stage. Create either journal pages of the stage or create a diorama.

Read pages 9 - 14 These pages deal with explaining each act of the Twelfth Night. Create art journal pages to depict each act of the play.

Create an art journal page with the cast list.

Read the play which is included in the book with easier to understand language. Between each act are activities we will do such as: Discussion questions, writing assignments, alternate endings, dialogue, etc.

Create Vocabulary Flash Cards from words in the play.

Watch a a dvd or on youtube the play Twelfth Night.

Talk about the language of Shakespeare. Pick lines from his play that are still used today, such as: Apple of her eye, One Fell Swoop, etc.

Build a replica of the globe theatre or create a board game about Shakespeare.

Create a How - Two Pamphlet - From Viola's perspective - How to convince others you are a man or From Duke Orsino's perspective - How to woo the woman of your dreams.

Create Scene Titles for each Act of the play.

Research the holiday, Twelfth Night, and answer the following questions:
Why do you think Shakespeare named his play "Twelfth Night"?
Does the play have anything to do with the holiday?
Why do you think Shakespeare wrote this type of play for the celebration?

Create a quarto Cover.

Create a depiction of The Four Elements that Sir Toby talks about in Act Two.

Create a poster for the play.

Research the Renaissance Feast and conduct a traditional one for the family.

As you can see all of this should keep us pretty busy until the Thanksgiving holidays. We will still cover math, a little science and her writing assignments for her essay class. Otherwise it will be all things Shakespeare. I will keep you posted on how it is going.

Don't forget about the upcoming giveaway of two math books. Visit here to enter.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

New Thoughts For Teaching Science

We never get excited about Science. Nothing really interests Grace so normally I am just dragging her along for the ride. Recently I came across a list of Science topics that should be discussed and known by the age of 14. For the life of me I don't remember where I go the list otherwise I would give them the credit. Also sintce I am leaning more towards unschooling these days I don't hold  much stock in all the the topics needing to be covered, but it is a good place to start. I hope for us to cover a couple of topics a week. Still haven't decided if I will pick the topics or let her do it. I will ask Grace to do a little research about the topic then do an art journal page about the topic. Once she is finished with all the topics she will have a handy notebook/art journal to flip through and look up information for future reference. Without further ado, here is the list:

Endangered Species
Animal Taxonomy
Food Webs, decomposors, consumers, producers
Earth Science
Tides, Waves and Currents
Properties of ocean water
Ocean Floor
Layers of the ocean
Types of Clouds
Wind and wind speeds
Water Cycle
Types of Percipitation
Air Pressure
Atmosphere Layers
Moon and its phases
Rock Cycle
Earth's Layers
Scientific Method
Types of Sciences
Basic General Biology
Cell Structures
Human Body
Five senses and how they work
Basic Anatomy and Physiology
Germs and Wellness
Basic Hygiene
Basic Human Development
Human Reproduction
Seeds - types, characteristics and development
Trees - types and where found
Flowers - parts of a flower, plant reproduction
Leaves - types and characterization
Basics needs - food, water, soil, air, sunlight
Plant taxonomy
Simple machines
Friction and gravity
Forces and motion
Work and transfer of energy
Forms of Energy
Renewable and nonrenewable energy
Matter and its stages
Volume and mass
Density and buoyancy
Sound waves and how they travel
Decibels and Hertz
Spectrum and colors
Mixtures vs. Solutions
Compounds and elements
Atoms and molecules
Periodic Table
Acids and Bases
Chemical reactions
Chemical changes
Scientists - Edison, Pasteur, DaVinci, Galileo, Newton, Goodall, Nightingale, Curie, Archmides, and Galen

So I think this will keep us pretty busy for a good long time.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up

Wow, did another week just go by. Each week just gets faster and faster. This week was a pretty normal one for us.

Math - Grace continued to work on percentage word problem. She is really understanding it and able to do everything independently. We are loving using Math Essentials. Almost finished with the book and moved on to Math Essentials Geometry.

Science - Working our way through a middle school Biology workbook. Finished up the chapter on digestion and started plant inventors. I found a list of items of all science topics that should be covered before 14. I think for the remainder of the year we may just work through this list and do a journal page in her science journal for each topic. This way she can easily go back and look something up when she doesn't remember.

Language Arts - Grace attended her essay writing class. She received an A on one of her papers and a check mark with a plus, plus on her in class paragraph writing. This is a very big deal for her. Writing is not a favorite in the household. But she is really enjoying this class. She started reading Fever 1793 for her literature book. We finished our read aloud Michael Vey and have started the new one, The Mark of Athena. We love reading just fun books for read alouds.

History - We finished up Pilgrim Story last week and have moved back to America The Beautiful by the Notgrass Company. Currently I have her read the chapter and given me a short oral narration so I know she understood what she read. Then there is a timeline activity that I have her post in her Book of Centuries.

Reviews - We finished three of the four final reviews of the year for TOS Review Crew. One left to post at the end of next week. I contacted Vision Forum and they graciously sent us two items to review. A two book series to read and a dvd collection about the Amazon. So this week our favorite item we are using is Into The Amazon, One Lost World, Thirty Men, Seven Mysteries. I hope to have a post and review up about this one in about a month.

Extras - Cooperative went on as planned on Tuesday and Thursday with Choir, Tone Chimes, Drama, and Art History. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is fast approaching. I definitely see extra practices in our future. Trying to get almost 40 kids to focus and quiet down is a real job. In Art History Grace learned and created ancient Kells. Grace had a friend go to Trunk or Treat with her on Sunday and spend the night, so no school on Monday. Acts of Faith practiced was canceled due to a couple of kids being sick. We were actually glad to spend an extra night around the homestead. Hubby has started working with Grace with marital arts and strength training. This also includes some boxing. It has been really hard to find an exercise routine for her to stick with. She doesn't like anything. So far this one is working pretty well.

Weightloss - This is moving along. In my first week on Weight Watchers I have lost 5 pounds. The point system is very easy to use. With that being said it is still a struggle to find items I can eat and still stay in my point range. Exercising daily helps because you earn more point to add to your daily total. I have started ordering exercise dvds from Netflix to see what I like before buying. I do have three Jazzercize dvds I am using as well as walking. It would be great if I could lose another 5 pounds this coming week but I know realistically it will be more like 1-3 pounds. Mostly I just want to fit into some of my clothes from last year which will be size 14. Currently I am in a size 16.

Shameless Plug - Also wanted to remind everyone that I have a giveaway going on this week for two Math Essential workbooks. Visit here to enter the giveaway.

Checkout what everybody else did this week at the Weekly Wrap-Up.

What We did for Prepping This Week

As I mentioned in a previous post, we purchased a bushel of apples this past weekend for $18.00. Our mission was to dry all of them for the winter.

Yesterday I cut up only 8-10 big Rome apples and they filled all the trays. I still have half of the bag left to dry.

Here is the finished product. Turned out just perfect. 

We also had to turn the small raised bed in to a green house this past weekend. Hurricane Sandy brought us much colder temperatures. Down in the low 30's at night. Hubby moved all the herbs including our Stevia to the raised bed for the winter.

TOS Review - Grace & Truth Books - Of Knights and Fair Maidens


PhotobucketGrace and Truth Books is an online christian bookstore. Only this is not your typical type of christian bookstore. The website states,"We know that the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ has nothing to do with fancy packaging or attempting to resemble secular literature or media. This online bookstore is built on a different approach: what will glorify God, strengthen His people in their walk, and call all peoples to find joy in knowing His gospel and following him". What a great statement and mission. Grace and Truth Books offers books and music for all ages in theology, history, education, biography and so much more!

We were given the opportunity to read and review of Knights and Fair Maidens. The name of the book alone is very intriguing. It brings to the mind life in medieval times and everything that encompasses. This book asks the simple question, "Is true romance possible in the 21st century"? Jeff and Danielle Myers originally wrote this book back in 1996. According to Grace and Truth Books, of Knights and Fair Maidens was one of their most requested out of print books. It is now back in a hard cover edition. of Knights and Fair Maidens lays out a plan for a radical new approach to developing relationships. Courting to be exact. Courting in place of dating. This concept is not that new or old for a lot of families in the homeschooling community. I am sure there are many teenagers out in society that would look at us like we had grown an extra head if we asked them to contemplate courting. I am not worried about the rest of the world, just my daughter. There are many aspects to courting I find appealing. At this point Grace does not care anything about courting, dating, or marriage. We read through the book together and she does understand the reasoning behind courting instead of dating. I plan to have her read the book again around 16 or 17. Jeff and Danielle did a good job with explaining their reason for courting and how they handled their relationship. There is also good advice throughout the book on how to handle a courting relationship. I really appreciated the fact that they both talked in depth about a person's character and how today's society really doesn't look at those type of qualities when deciding on a potential husband or wife. This book should be required reading for all teenagers - once when they turn 14 and again at 17 or 18 when contemplating getting serious about marriage.

of Knights and Fair Maidens retails for $9.75 coming to you as a hard back edition. This book is recommended for ages 14-19.

Please go take a visit to Grace and Truth Books. Take a look at of Knights and Fair Maidens and all the other wonderful products they have to offer.

To view the opinions of all the books and of Knights and Fair Maids visit TOS Review Crew.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Review Crew, I received this product at no cost to me for my honest review. All opinions are mine.