Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bird Study Already Begins

Most nights when I walk I get to see something beautiful. About halfway through the walk is a flock of small yellow and black birds. It was such a beautiful and magical thing to see each time I walked. I always look forward to seeing them. My first thought was that they were golden finches, but seeing them in flight made them appear to be black from head to tail feather and bright yellow all on the underside. No matter how many times I looked through our multitude of field guides, I came up empty handed. 

It seemed that every walk I went on solo produced a sighting of the flock. Each time hubby went with me they were not to be spotted. Even when I had Grace in the car with me right before the sun started to set we would see one or two. Well, two nights ago hubby finally got to see the flock of bright yellow birds. After standing and observing and then stopping the car again yesterday with Grace to take a peek we have discovered that low and behold it is only the head and wings that are black. This means they are definitely American Goldfinches. 

Now I look so forward to those walks just to be able to spot the beauty of these birds. Grace has now gotten in on the act too and loves to observe them, which is perfect because this is what her bird study this year is all about. The enjoyment of what God created.

Photo credit to
What birds are you observing in your life these days? Get out and go on a bird walk to see the variety of birds in your neighborhood, then keep a journal or what you saw and where. This is part of what we are doing this year for Grace's 9th grade science.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

More Favorite Blog Reads

I thought I would send out some more favorite blogs reads this week that you may not be aware of and want to check out. I don't want any of my bloggy friends to feel left out because I do read a lot of blogs. I will eventually get around t everyone. These are in no particular order or preference.

Teachable Moments - I started reading Jessica's blog a couple of years ago and over the past several months we have started commenting regularly on each others blogs. I love the way she homeschools her girls and we share a love of art journaling.

Homeschool Girls - Karen lives in my old hometown and I love reading her posts that include pics and information about what the town looks like now. I haven't lived there since I was 17 but think of it often. Also her daughter is extremely talented and we share many of the same passions with theatre and performing.

Fimby - Love reading about her approach to homeschooling her kids and their upcoming backpacking trip that will take them along the Appalachian Trail.

Red Oak Road - Another blog that I love reading about her take on how her kids learn on a daily basis. Also the home of 7 Cool Homeschoolers Videos.

TOS Review Crew - Of course I can't leave out the Review Crew. It has come to be such a huge part of my life. Any bloggers out there that might be interested in being on the Crew for the next year keep an eye out on this blog for the application to fill out. I don't know for sure when it will come out but probably between September - November.

Classroom Free - A blog from another country about unschooling and living on your own plot of land.

That is all for today. I hope to share more as time goes on.

Returning to Our Regularly Scheduled Program

School that is. This summer has been slow and can I go out on a limb here and say boring as well. It is definitely time to get back to a regular schedule. Getting up in the morning at a regular time and going to bed at night at a regular time is important to a healthy mind and body. We really need to get back in the swing of things as far as that is concerned.

This morning started our new school year. So far everything has transpired without incidence. New books, new ways of thinking, more independent study, a more grueling schedule academically than what we are used to, and so on. Tomorrow and Thursday we already had a dentist appt and girls art journaling group scheduled so we will not do school on those days, but will pick it back up on Friday.

Book cover for King Alfred's EnglishA couple of "schooly" books I have really been looking forward to sharing with Grace started today. This first is King Alfred's English. I cannot gush enough about this book. I read it for a review last year and learned so much about the history of the English language. I also attended a short class with the author back in March at the Great Homeschool Convention in Greenville.

This morning we read most of the first chapter and answered some of the corresponding questions. If you haven't checked out this book, please do so, you won't regret the purchase.

Another book series from Salem Ridge Press by Emma Leslie is something I wanted t continue with Grace over the next four years of high school. We are reading the series together for an Early Church History credit on her high school transcript. This is another vendor we reviewed a few months ago. Love these books. Definitely worth a look.
Church History Set

Currently we are taking a lunch break and about to get back into science, history, Spanish, and math. Grace's new high school schedule is something we will need to get familiar with one day at a time. Years in the past has found us at the table for 2-3 hours of school. Well, high school is a different ball game even though we are still putting our own touches on it. I predict we will be looking at 4 hours a day of school. This morning we started at 10:00 and worked for 1 1/2 hours and that basically got us through Bible and English. Tonight is Zumba which calculates to 60 minutes to toward her physical education credit and I am sure she will draw later this after which will translate time on her fine arts credit.

I hope to do another post soon about how we will figure out all of Grace's high school credits to go on the transcript. Now time to drag Grace back to the table to finish up for the day. I'm kidding......sort of.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up

It has been a few weeks since I participated in Weekly Wrap Up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers. Mainly because we took a break from school work and quite frankly this summer has been pretty boring. No vacation, no special little side trips ......nada. The past few months have been tough for a number of reasons. Some issues that have required weekly doctor's appointments, the lack of funds to do a vacation or summer related activities, and lots of rain.

Last week while visiting a larger town for said doctor's appointment, I visited a larger library than we have in our small town. Checked out some interesting books to read.

We had our former pastor and his family over for dinner this week. It had been 3 or 4 months since we had seen them and it was great to sit around the kitchen table and catch up. Before we knew it three hours of chatting had transpired. Hopefully it won't be another 3 months until we all see one another again. None of use plus some other friends we know have been able to find a church we feel comfortable attending. There was a small discussion about once a month meeting in a home together on Sunday morning for Bible study and then lunch. I really hope this works out.

Over the past week I have ordered all the materials I need to teach Puppetry Arts, Elementary Art, Fun with Literature, and Yearbook Staff for the Cooperative. I watched a really great training DVD for Puppetry Arts and am very excited about starting.

Yesterday I sat down with Grace and showed her all the materials she would be using for school this year and how we will be implementing them. She was a little overwhelmed (of course this is her first year of high school) but still seemed a little excited about what she will be using and learning. We put our own twist on every subject because "doing school" at home is not really what we are striving for. More like learning and growing each year through various experiences and materials that we have around the house. Think lots of reading, especially Medieval History, Ornithology, and Literature with small amounts of writing and projects interspersed to show what she has learned from the books we are reading. Tuesday of this week is our school start date. Because of other scheduled items we will only be in school on Tuesday and Friday. Then the next week will hopefully be a full week.

Many of you might have missed my post about our bear experience. It was frightening but great at the same time.

As many of you know Grace loves to draw. She draws as much digitally as she does on paper. Well a few weeks ago her bamboo tablet finally bit the dust. This week we were able to purchase a new one and she has been beyond excited about having it back and creating all sorts of fabulous sketches. We purchased the Bamboo Splash. Other than a few problems getting it to sync to her computer, she is now off and running. I promise to share some of her art soon. So this tablet would have to be her very favorite item from this week.

Something else I was uber excited about this week is the fact that Grace finally attended a Zumba class with me and actually enjoyed it. She has agreed to attend two classes a week with me. I am so excited to share this experience with her as well as getting some exercise in the process.

I am linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Learning Along the Way - How to Cook Gluten Free

I mentioned in a few blog posts about going gluten free to help with my acid reflux. I have eaten mostly gluten free for the past 8 weeks and I have seen a tremendous difference. It took about 4-5 weeks to notice the improvement. In the beginning I purchased many of my gluten free products through the grocery store or my friend that has started a side business producing gluten free mixes. Now that I know that gluten free will be a way of life for me, I now get to go through the process of trial and error with baking and cooking on my own. The one item I really miss is flour tortillas. So this morning I turned my kitchen into a testing site and went to work. The first recipe I wanted to try the main ingredients were egg whites and coconut flour. This was actually a Paleo recipe but I thought it looked interesting. 
Well, it was a total failure. The finished product looked like pancakes but tasted nothing like a pancake or tortilla. So I moved on to the next recipe. I even purchased a tortilla press to help with the process.
The second recipe involved potato and tapicoa starch, sorghum flour, and brown rice flour. I had white rice flour and replaced that for the brown rice flour. These were not a complete failure but did not turn into a tortilla. Again it had the consistency of a pancake or possibly flat bread. Instead of throwing them all out I ate one as a sandwich for lunch and it was really bad. I froze the remainder of them and will pull them out one at a time to try them as quick pizza crusts.  One mistake that I made was reading the original recipe wrong. The beginning of the recipe was evidently giving me another recipe to create the all purpose gluten free flour out of the four ingredients above. So after I mixed this up I thought it was for the tortilla and had already mixed in the warm water. This meant refiguring some of the other ingredients like salt, baking powder, and xanthum gum. If anyone out there has a really good tortilla recipe I would surely appreciate it. 

I will continue on my adventure of trying to find the perfect gluten free tortilla. I really miss my cheese quesadillas. The brown rice tortillas I buy at the store just aren't cutting it for that. 

I should also mention that yesterday I went to the library and check out some gluten free baking books and will start testing those out as well for mainly cookies.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Fascinating and Frightening Experience

Most of you know that I Zumba three times a week. Well, on the other nights I try to do something with less impact on my knees, like walking. Georgia has been plagued with rain every single day for like 5 weeks, so getting a walk in is not easy. Last night my son came home for dinner then it decided to rain. This in turn caused me and hubby to walk later than usual. We started out at 7:45 and typically walk a couple of miles. Nothing out of the ordinary happened on the way up our road and turn around to come back other than getting to see the mother and fawn pair of deer that were in my driveway last week. Love seeing baby deer.

Okay, back to the main story. We live in the Northeast Georgia Mountains and have lived here for 11 years. In the entire 11 years we have never had a bear sighting and hubby was just mentioning the other day that he wanted one. Low and behold that is just what happened. Over halfway home and out in the field was a youngish black bear. We stopped on the road to watch as he was maybe 300 ft away and not paying us any mind. Let me set the scene a bit, we live in a rural country area. This means not many houses on the road. Cow pastures and some fencing. The closest house was a small white farmhouse with a car present in the driveway. Hubby says, "If the bear starts coming toward us we will make a beeline for the farmhouse and knock on the door to let us in until the bear passes." Needless to say we didn't know these people from Adam. Of course the bear spotted us and started slowly coming our way. We took off to the farmhouse and ran up the hill to the front porch. Knocked on the door, twice, and no one was home. As I am furiously trying to figure out what to do, while hubby is trying to get his video to work on his phone, the bear takes a turn and aims himself to the porch. Luckily the bear stops about 50 feet from the porch and just stares at us. At this point I am truly freaking out. The only thing on the porch I can find to defend myself is a smallish sawhorse. I pick the sawhorse up and keep it close if needed. After a couple of minutes he turns and slowly makes his way back down the hill and around the pond that was in the backyard of the farmhouse. Hubby goes off the porch and waits until the bear is past the pond and going up another hill toward the tree line before we make our way down the driveway and onto the road to go back home.

Needless to say I was frightened out of my mind, but hubby was so excited to finally get his bear sighting. We ran most of the way home and the owners of the farmhouse are clueless at this point to us using their porch as a safe place. I know that I will not be walking again for a while, especially that time of night. Stationary bike here I come.

Photo credit:

This is the size of the bear we saw last night. Of course hubby's phone is acting up and he hasn't had the opportunity to work with it to get the picture he took sent to my computer.

Monday, July 22, 2013

What You Can Do With Puppets

A few months ago me and co-director of Creative Christian Cooperative started planning what classes we wanted to teach for fall semester. She is the drama teacher and would have her hands full with students in an elementary class and high school class. One semester we actually had 37 students sign up for drama. We knew we needed a way to whittle down that number to about 20 in each class. But all the kids love the drama classes. There are a few that weren't interested in being on stage and performing. So in comes a Puppetry Arts class. Two semesters ago I did teach another puppetry class but that was all about making small puppets. This class would be performing. 
My next hurdle would be deciding what puppets and materials to use. Guys, puppets are EXPENSIVE!!! There was a Biblical set I was looking at for $300.00 that included 8-10 puppets plus scripts on cd. That never seemed to materialize because every time I visited the website this particular set was out of stock. Everywhere I looked there was nothing comparable to that one set. I will have 11 kids in this class and knew I needed one puppet for each child to work with. It was starting to get down to the nitty gritty - Co-op starts in less than three weeks. Our choir teacher for the cooperative goes to a small church that is will be leasing out there building because they have outgrown their current church. In the process of moving to a temporary place to worship they needed to clean everything out and low and behold they had puppets and training discs they would give me for a donation to the church. 
So now I have puppets galore at a fraction of the price. Also in the bag was two great Puppet Ministry training discs that have been invaluable to me at this point. I am truly excited about teaching this class and getting the kids excited about working with puppets. God has worked in so many amazing ways through our work with the cooperative. Meeting new families and forming strong bonds is the first and biggest advantage to this co-op. Teaching kids how to use there talents inn the community to glorify God is the obvious one. I hope to continue with puppetry classes and learn more and more to teach the kids.

Puppet Ministry is an awesome way to teach God's love to all walks of life, not just kids. This could go in so many directions, such as: retirement homes, daycare facilities, juvenile detention centers, community gatherings and festivals, and even traveling around to other churches. 

This past weekend has found me watching training dvds, planning the lessons, and picking which scripts to preform. The kids involved in this class will range in age from 8-12 years old. We will start with pre-recorded scripts to perform and as they progress in subsequent semesters we will try our hand at speaking dialogue while moving the puppets. Next semester may also find us with the high school kids taking on a puppetry class and learning to write their own scripts. Looking forward to an excellent semester at Co-op.

The Homeschool Village

I'm linking up with the The Ultimate Homeschool Link Up.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

TOS Review - Science For High School - High School Biology In Your Home

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High School Science is something I have dreaded for the past couple of years for a variety of reasons. 1.) I didn't study past Biology in high school or college. 2.) Grace is not that fond of studying science. 3.) We are not textbook people and that seemed like all that was available for high school science choices. Now Grace is about to start high school and I need to get it figured out. Well, evidently there is something out there that is different than all the rest, Science for High School. For this review we will focus on High School Biology In Your Home

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What is included: Student Manual Pages in 3 hole punch form ready for a binder, Quizzes and Final Exams, and a Teacher's Manual.
Cost:  $79.99

Recommended Age: 9th - 12th grades

Other available subjects:  Physical Science

High School Biology In Your Home is a completely different and unique way to study science. This is a research based program, not a read the chapter, answer questions, and take a test at the end of the week kind of approach. Instead each week your child is given a set of questions to research and answer. The researched answers can come from the Internet, traditional textbooks, library books, encyclopedias, and so on. Once the questions are answered you will sit down and discuss what your child has learned through their research for that week. Also at the end of the week your child will have an opportunity to conduct some type of lab work pertaining to the subject matter that was studied. If quizzes and tests are what you like, they have those too. The teacher's manual has all the basic answers that the student should have found through their research.

First semester of this product will pertain to life, cells, and the different systems of the human body. Second semester the student will learn about genetics, animal classification, and careers in biology. Below you will find some sample questions from the curriculum that can be found on the website:
  • Is body movement solely muscular?
  • What are the types of muscles, what is the importance of each type, and given an example of each.
  • State one disease or disorder of the muscular system.
To get the full benefits of the product - a microscope, slides, and dissection kits should be purchased and used. Also I believe it takes a particular type of student to use this product. The more the student puts in to the research the more they learn. If you have a student that can't get past one or two sentence type answers for their questions and is not interested in doing a lot of researching in a variety of places - then this might not be for them. But, and this is a biggy.....if you want to learn in a different way, use a unique approach to learning using research as a basis, then this would be a great choice for you.

I would at this time also like to add some information about the author of this product, Bridget Ardoin. She has a background in microbiology and has taught the sciences in both private and tutoring type environments. She is also a homeschooling mom that found a need and filled it with her science courses geared to homeschooling families.

If you are looking for a science curriculum that challenges your student, then check out High School Biology in Your Home by Science for High School

Also be sure to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what other families thought about this product.

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Five Random Facts About Me

I see people all over bloggy land sharing random facts about themselves, so I thought I would jump into the mix.

  1. One of my big dreams is to one day travel to San Diego and go to the big Comic Con Festival. I am a huge TV freak and mainly just want to go to see my favorite show panels. 
  2. I am a list maker and organizer. Love making lists in the morning and see how much I can cross off by the end of the day. Of course this type of personality always gets me voted in to positions and put in charge of things. Hubby says I get frustrated with my spiritual gift because of always getting put in charge of organizing events, etc.
  3. I'm not that big in to cleaning house. Don't get me wrong, my house isn't crazy dirty or has stuff piled in all corners. I keep everything picked up and uncluttered but the deep cleaning tasks tend to wait until company is coming over.
  4. We would love to start our own business and get out from under the finger of corporate America. Longing for a lifestyle where we are finally in charge of our own destiny. Pesky thing called DEBT keeps getting in the way, and of course the horrible economy.
  5. I love, love, love Zumba which in turn has fostered a love for Latin music. Many days you can find me downstairs working on computer stuff and listening to the Zumba Fitness channel on Pandora.
Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!!!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What is Your Chicken's Favorite Treat

We have tried many types of treats for the chickens over the past few years. Hands down their favorite is cheap, boxed mac and cheese. These guys come running from far and wide when they see me bringing out a pot. Normally we just feed them any leftovers from the previous dinner. But now that we are eating in a more healthy fashion, boxed mac and cheese is only on the menu about once a month. But was was not lost for the chickens because my husband went through a phase of prepping by storing lots of food. Well now we have lots of boxed mac and cheese that needs to get used. That is where the chickens come in. At least once a week I will bring them out a pot of mac and cheese and they love me for it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

TOS Review - Picaboo Yearbooks

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Remember when you were in school and the month of May rolled around. The anticipation of receiving the school yearbook was a big deal. Seeing pictures and candids of all your friends, getting signatures on the inside covers, and if you were like me - never liking your own class photo. Well, times they are a changing. Actually, they have changed dramatically since I was in school. The process of creating yearbooks has become so much easier over the years, and Picaboo Yearbooks has made it a snap to create affordable, easy, lasting memories. Our family was asked a couple of months ago to review Picaboo Yearbooks. I have to admit it was a blast!

Many folks may be wondering, "Hey, you're a homeschool family, what need would you have for creating a yearbook?" My answer would be that these books can be used in lots of different situations:
  • Family Memory Books
  • Presents for Grandparents and Other Family Members
  • Private Schools
  • Cooperatives
  • Churches
  • Camps
Actually your imagination could take you on so many paths of creation with this product.

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For this review we were given the opportunity to create a memory book that was a softcover 8 1/2 x 11 book and 20 pages in length. This set up will run you $8.49 plus shipping. More pages can be added for an extra cost. The extra per page charge is very reasonable ast .22 cents a page. To ship the first book you will pay $8.99 and .99 cents for every book after. Orders that are 50 or more books will receive free shipping. Every book that is ordered will also receive a free e-yearbook. Some points that really make this a great product are:

No Minimum Order - This is a great feature. Most companies do have a minimum which makes it hard for small groups or organizations to use this type of product.

3-Week Turnaround - Not waiting months from the time you place your order is awesome. We actually got ours even faster than three weeks.

No Deadlines - This is also a biggie. In past years (like eons ago when I was in school) certain events that happened at the end of the year could not be added to the yearbook because it was past the deadline. With this worries. Once ordered - no matter when - three weeks later you have your book.

Adding To Books as Needed - In our particular situation I can add a page as an event transpires, leave the book open in my library and work on it all year. Remember - no deadlines. I can start the book in January, work on it throughout the year, and order it in November to give as a gift in December. Plus no charges until you actually place an order.

Customer Support - This came in very handy during my review. First off customer service is available 24 hours a day - 7 days a week by email. Online chat is also available 7 days a week 7am -8pm and if needed you can talk by phone with a representative. From first hand experience I can say that customer service was friendly, prompt, and helpful. 

Tutorials - Picaboo's website has many video tutorials available to teach you how to use the product. 

There are minimum computer system requirements that will make your experience with Picaboo easier. Those requirements can be found here.

How We Used the Product and What We Thought

I was very excited about this review from the very beginning for a couple of reasons. Creating a memory book for our family sounded fun but on a deeper level I knew I was considering Picaboo for a Yearbook Staff class through our Cooperative. So as I was reviewing this product I was looking at it through two sets of eyes. First a mom and then as a co-director of a Cooperative.

In the beginning there were a few glitches with using the program. Mainly dealing with uploading images to the program. Initially I started on Internet Explorer, but the images uploading kept freezing up the system. Next we moved to Google Chrome. That worked for awhile but then the same problems arose. That was when customer service became involved. They did express some helpful hints that would keep the software running more smoothly, such as: connecting your Internet cable directly to your computer during the uploading process (instead of relying on wireless) and using the Fire Fox Browser. Just switching over to the Fire Fox Browser seemed to solve all of my issues, which was a huge relief.

Okay, now we get into the fun part. If you were ever a scrapbooker, this product will definitely appeal to you. To me it is kind of like an amped up version of scrapbooking.At least in the sense of using it for home/personal purposes. So, looking at this product from a mom's perspective, I loved it!. The software is very user friendly. There is very little limits to what you can creatively do with this product. Let's move on to what you have to work with to create your pages:

Backgrounds - Thousands of backgrounds to chose from. The backgrounds are sectioned into categories such as themes, colors, designer, most used, and most viewed.

Photo Layout - The software gives you the option to create your own layouts or chose preformed photo layouts.

Photo Tools - Tools are available to crop and position photos. There are gadgets to allow you to change brightness, contrast, and opacity. Or to change the color of the photo to black and white or sepia. Tools are also available to create borders, shadow, corners, and even turns your uploaded photos in to shapes, like hearts, stars, and circles.

Stickers - This section so far has been a little disappointing to me. Stickers are available to add as accents to the created pages. I never really found any stickers that would go with my pages and there didn't seem to be many available even though the website stated there was. I haven't utilized this section very much and need to do a little more research.

Font and Text - Text can be added to any page with many different colors and font choices. Again I haven't utilized this section as much for my person book that was created, but will be using it much more for the Cooperative's Yearbook.

I will definitely continue to use this product on a personal level. Gifts for grandparents and other family members has just become very affordable. I will also be using this to create a Memory Book for our family each year.

From what I have seen so far, I will also be using this product to teach a Yearbook Staff class this August for one semester. The group will create a 20-30 page book of memories over the semester. Pages will consist of group class photos, recitals, art shows, drama productions, teacher pages, and candid shots. Picaboo has the option of creating a storefront to sale the yearbooks to parents. We plan on using this option as a fundraiser for the Cooperative. I am so looking forward to seeing what my artistically talented Yearbook Class will come up with to create through Picaboo Yearbooks.

There is just no way I could cover everything that Picaboo Yearbooks has to offer. Please go check out their website and start creating.

Also visit Tos Review Crew and read what other families on the Crew thought about this product.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Some of My Favorite Blog Reads

One of my guilty pleasures is reading . a lot. of. blogs. I mean lots. My tastes run all over the place - homesteading, homeschooling, frugal, homemaking, healthy foods, and living a sustainable life. So I decided to compile a small list of blogs I read on a weekly basis. These are in no particular order.

Down To Earth - This is actually one of the first blogs I started reading. You will find much information about living a simple and frugal lifestyle. Very inspiring blog.

Homegrown Learners - This is a fellow blogger from my home state of Georgia. She has many wonderful ideas for learning with LEGOS and music. She even came out with her own music curriculum recently.

Journey To Excellence - A fellow TOS Crew Member. Always has interesting posts and at least once a year she heads up an adult book club with great book choices.

Life at Cobble Hilll Farm - Great stories about her two dogs and Jackson the cat. Also wonderful recipes and ideas about homesteading.

Our Traveling Tribe - Absolutely love reading about this traveling family. Okay, I also secretly would like to be a member of their family and travel across country.

Joyful Living - A blog about a family living simply and running their own home made business.

Smallworld - Great homeschooling advice. If you ever wanted to start an American Heritage Girls group, this would be this person to ask advice.

Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers - Lots of great homeschooling articles and home of the Weekly Wrap Up.

Jimmie's Collage - I started following this blog back when they lived in China. Great information about Charlotte Mason methods and now starting high school.

Our Journey Westward - One of the first blogs I ever started following almost five years ago.

I could go on and on but that is enough for today. I think I have so many interesting blogs to share that I might start making this a weekly post. If you have any great blogs that you read and want to share with the rest of use let me know in the comments section.

This is Puppy, the queen of the house.

Monday, July 15, 2013

TOS Review - Ed Douglas Publications - 25 Truths

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I admit that some nights my mind wanders. Most times I am wondering if I am raising my kids right. Have I taught them everything they need to know. Especially about morals, living a good life, turning to God to lead you on that path, and basically how to be a good person and treating others kindly. The world these days is a scary and sometimes uninviting place. It is important to start our kids on the right path with spiritual guidance and teach them some of the big concepts of living a life you can be proud of. Recently our family was asked to review 25 Truths: Life Principles of the Happiest and Most Successful Among Us by Ed Douglas Publications

First let's meet Ed Douglas, the author of 25 Truths. After reading a short bio about this man, I am impressed. He has led a very active and fulfilling life. Mr. Douglas has also been very successful in business as well as giving back to the community through volunteering and serving. 25 Truths is not the first book he has written. On his website you can find links to other books he has written, "Making a Million With Only $2000: Every Young Person Can Do It" and "The Money Marathon: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom." This review will be about his third book 25 Truths: Life Principles of the Happiest and Most Successful Among Us

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25 Truths is a small softcover book, 150 pages in length. Currently 25 Truths retails for $12.50 plus $3.00 for shipping and tax through the Ed Douglas website. This book would be a great fit for students 6th - 12th grades as well as college students and adults. 25 Truths started out as a list that Ed Douglas carried around and shared with his friends, students, and acquaintances. Eventually it was recommended to him to turn the list into a book.

There are multiple ways this book could be used. Each chapter is one truth that is followed up with discussion questions. This makes it quite easy to be used in a classroom setting like youth groups and Sunday school classes, small groups, and one on one with your own children. It would actually make a fantastic present to send off with students heading off to college or stocking stuffers at Christmas time. 

I decided to read the book myself first to get a handle on how I would use it with my family. Each night before bed I would read a couple of "Truths". A few of my favorites were:
  • Learn What Brings True Happiness
  • Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
  • Spend Time with Your Family
  • Make a Difference In the World
I found the book to be a simple, easy read and easy to understand. Each truth has attached quotes from literature, famous people, and scripture. I enjoyed my two truths a night and many of them did make me stop and  evaluate how I handle certain situations now and in the future.

How I Plan to Use 25 Truths

This year will be Grace's first year of high school. That puts a lot of pressure on her and me. Growing up is a big deal and these days kids need all the help and guidance they can get. In her schedule I have set up a section I call Personal Development which we will delve into one day a week. A couple of books we reviewed this year have fallen in the category of personal development. 25 Truths will be added to this time slot. Every Tuesday morning Grace will read one truth and we will discuss the corresponding questions. This means we will have almost an entire school year of learning and discussing one TRUTH a week. I think 25 Truths will be a good fit for us and that Grace will learn much from it.

Please take a look at the website for Ed Douglas Publications and see if 25 Truths is a good fit for your family too.

Also be sure to see what other TOS Crew families think about 25 Truths.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Upcoming Releases in Movies and Books

There are a few books and movies that will be releasing in the next 1-8 months that really have us excited. Below you will find them in no particular order:

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters

On the same thread - New Percy Jackson Book - The House of Hades out in October.

Just found out that The Maze Runner Trilogy will have a movie coming out in February. As far as I can tell there is not an official trailer out yet.

Love this series by Richard Paul Evans. So hard to wait an entire year for each new book. This is the third in the series. Me and Grace love to read this one as a read aloud. This will be out in September.

This is a series that I am reading. So far there hasn't been anything really bad (that I can remember) from the first two books. But I did read them a while back. I would probably allow Grace to read them in another year. Speaking of this series - they too have a movie coming out about the first book.

Living with Artists

I live in a house full of artists. Unfortunately I can't really put myself in the same category as hubby and Grace. Grace draws constantly - hours upon hours. Do you have someone in your family like that. They have a passion that just exudes from every pore of their body. Well that would be my husband and my daughter. I wish I had something that I was that passionate about. I have hobbies, things that I like spending my time doing, but it is no way the same as a true passion. Grace loves creating characters - especially bending the line between animals and humans. Also fan art is a biggy for her.

Today we sat at the table for almost three hours while she created and completed the above drawing. She has aspirations of continuing this theme into two more. They are characters from an online anime game.
Moving on to Scott, my husband . He is a man of many talents but his preference is using found objects, wood, etc. and turning them into art. Sculpture and pen and ink are his favorites to work with. Painting is not a favorite, but every once in awhile I can talk him into creating something for the house. This chicken painting was a Christmas gift from him to me a few years ago. The inspiration actually came from a painting I saw, fell in love with and asked him to reproduce it for me.
Scott currently has his art in four different art galleries. The above photo represents some a sculpture and pieces he is toying with to create a new piece.

Scott is known for his rocks. He collects river rocks and uses pen and ink to create wonderful little pieces of art. Somethings he creates jewelry this way and sometimes just something decorative to sit on a desk ,etc. To create these rocks it takes a steady hand and be able to draw very intricate designs. This of course as led into his new passion which is apprenticing to becoming a tattoo artist. Many people over the years have told him because of his intricate work he could easily work at becoming a tattoo artist. He will tell you there is nothing easy about it. Lots of time, practice, etc. goes into the apprenticing. 

This was another Christmas present from Scott to me this past year. It is hard to see the intricate designs in a photo. It is all 3-D. I love Owls and he used that theme to create a small piece that currently hangs in my dining room.

This is my contribution to the art in the house. I art journal. Today for the girls art journaling group we were to create or journal about fantasy worlds. I decided to do a page about Wonderland. Grace woke up sick so the group was canceled for today. Maybe next week.

I linked up with Virtual Refrigerator

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Chicks are Growing Up

The last set of chicks have reached 5 weeks old. It was now time for them and mom to get out and stretch their legs a bit.  Hubby rigged up a section of fence to keep the bigger birds out for the moment.

To me there is nothing more fun than seeing the chicks hatch and watch them grow up.

Monday, July 8, 2013

TOS Review - Dig-It Games - Mayan Mysteries

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Does your child enjoy solving mysteries and puzzles? How about archaeology or computer games? If so, Mayan Mysteries from Dig-It Games might be the right fit for your child or student. Learning history, archaeology, problem solving, critical thinking, and decoding are all aspects of Mayan Mysteries

Dig-It Games is a company that creates games for online playing as well as mobile devices. Suzi Wilczynski is the founder who just happens to also be a professional archaeologist. The website states:

"Dig-It Games is dedicated to encouraging kids to explore the world around them through historically accurate content that conforms to curriculum standards and seamlessly blends entertainment and learning."

The author of this program has years of professional experience in the world of archaeology and she brings this knowledge and experience to the forefront through her products. Robert Sharer also contributed to this product. He as well has years of experience from the field and spent time in Central America where he discovered the tomb of an ancient Mayan King.

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Mayan Mysteries for a single user retails for $21.99. Once purchased you will have a license valid for one year to play. The author of Mayan Mysteries has an age recommendation of 11 years and older. This game can be played on MACs and PCs. An iPad version is also available through the App Store.

Mayan Mysteries introduces us to the ancient Mayan world through puzzles, games, reading, and problem solving. Students/players are introduced to historically accurate information from the ancient Mayan world. There are artifacts to discover, reading to answer comprehension type questions, puzzles to decode, maps to study, and even math skills are needed to help the Mayan people with trading. The beginning draws the player in with a story presented in a comic book format. As the student works their way through each level of play they learn many interesting facts about the Mayan civilization.

Both myself and Grace played this game off and on during each week we were reviewing it. We have never actually studied the Mayan Civilization so this game did teach about a time in history that was new to us. Some aspects of the game are extremely challenging. It humbled me to have to ask my husband to help me and Grace figure out the calendar and money activities. I felt like both activities could have had more explanations on how to solve the puzzles. Of course that may have been the whole purpose of a "challenging" activity - to challenge the mind with problem solving. Anyway, it was too much for me to wrap my brain around and figure out. This in turn slowed our play time down. Grace is not fond of reading, and there is a lot of reading involved with this game. On that same note there is lots of information to learn about the Mayan Civilization and reading is a good avenue to learn it. When I pulled husband in to help me solve the puzzles he was drawn into the Mayan art and graphics. He is an artist and found the graphics that were included in the game fascinating and has spurned on many ideas for future art projects. My favorite sections were the reading and answering questions plus the "digging" up artifacts. Grace's favorite portions of the game pertained to the mapping sections. Although this was not a great fit for our family, it is a well thought out and executed game. I am sure there are many families that would love this game. Educational and entertaining at the same time.

Go visit Dig-It Games to see the games they currently have available to purchase.

Be sure to also visit the TOS Review Crew to see what the other Crew families thought about Mayan Mysteries.

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