Monday, December 30, 2013

Back to School With a Twist

Today found us going back to school a week earlier than planned. We started back with some of the regular schoolish things but I added in some fun stuff too. Highschoolers need fun just like the younger kids. 

Our normal stuff was half a lesson of algebra, Marie's Words for vocabulary, Bible (Grace is reading through the book of Acts), Gods World News magazine, and King Alfred's English. The not so normal stuff was brain storming ideas for her anime "zine" she will be creating. For those that don't know what a "zine" is.... it is basically a handmade magazine that can be about anything. Grace's choice of course is all things anime. The picture above will be a photo tutorial she is working on for the "Zine" about using make up in cosplay. I know the makeup is a little creepy - it is a character from a book series she reads. We also started exploring and she chose to work on the minecrafter skills. Today's challenge was creating art with Minecraft. We also did some read alouds with House of Hades and The Captives (part of the early church series from Salem Ridge Press). 

After dinner we will both be exercising and of course that counts as physical education. Yesterday we joined the local gym and got in our first workout there. It was the first time I had worked out with weight machines and free weights in a long time. Today my sides and arms are sore. Looking forward to me and Grace going about three times a week. Many folks chose a word for the year and I guess if I had to do that my word would be "Healthy". God health in all aspects of our lives - mentally, physically, and spiritually.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Minecraft Lovers

For all those kids and parents out there that love Minecraft follow this link to include some educational fun for your kids starting in January. Visit Skrafty Minecraft Homeschool Store and check out the affordable history and science classes available.

Friday, December 27, 2013

New School Stuff to Pull Us Out of the Dulldrums

The month of December has just been crazy for us for many reasons. Grace has been sick off and on, performances and Cooperative business, the holidays in general, etc. Due to all of our missed days we are starting back to school this Monday. I know, I can hear all the gasping taking place out there about going back to school before New Years Day. Isn't that the greatness of homeschooling though? We can school whenever we want. Time to play some catch up. I feel pretty sure that math and science this year will continue through the summer to finish out enough hours to count as credits for her freshman year. Enough with the normal stuff, this is a post about some things we are adding in to the new year to give us a little burst of creativity in the learning department.

  1. Exercise - We have really fallen off the wagon in this category over the past couple of months. I still get in my workouts about 4-5 days a week but Grace has all but left it by the wayside mainly due to recent health issues. She is feeling better this week and we are going to capitalize on it. Grace really doesn't enjoy Zumba like I do so I knew we needed to come up with something different for her to do and me as well to give my body something different as well. The top choice seems to be joining the local gym. Grace would much prefer to do the machines than dance. I will continue to do a mixture of the two. We plan on going to the gym tomorrow to join and go ahead with the first workout.
  2. Speech Class - Speech Class will be taught by our beloved teacher, Ms. Christy at Creative Canvas. This will count as a half credit for Grace's high school transcript. Ms. Christy always knows how to make a class fun and Grace really missed being at her studio once a week for studies and fellowship. 
  3. Mixed Media Art Class - As many of my readers know Grace is all about the art. We took a breather from this class last semester but because it is taught on the same day as her speech class we decided to go back to it. Again she loves doing the art, taking more classes from Ms. Christy, and seeing her friends.
  4. Cooperative Classes - Many different classes this go around from what Grace usually takes. This will be the first semester in four years that she did not take drama and wont be performing. A part of me is kind of sad about that. Her classes will be: stage makeup, a youth service organization, improv and theatre games, and hand built pottery. She is over the moon about the stage makeup class. We gifted her with a lot of makeup for Christmas to use at home and in the class.
  5. DIY.ORG - The website is still very new to use and was recommended by a fellow blogger over at Homeschool Girls. I am still trying to figure out how to work this in to our weekly schedule and what might appeal most to Grace.
  6. Graphic Novel - Grace recently started a story that she wants to turn into a graphic novel. I researched a little online and found some materials to help her sort through how to put one together. I will probably count this towards her english credit.
  7. Etsy Store - We are still in talks with Scott, Grace, and myself about opening up an Etsy storefront for their art work. This may not really get finished until summertime. 
  8. CREW Reviews - I was picked to join the TOS Review Crew again this year and in January will start receiving products to review. I am sure some of them will get a spark going in Grace as well.
So in my head I have to pick and choose some things that we are currently doing that are not working as well for us and replace them with some more fun things Grace might enjoy. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas at the Knecht House

On Christmas Eve mom came over to hang out. Of course puppy is always a part of every holiday. We all had coffee with special flavors. I gave Scott two Dunkin Doughnuts coffees - Chocolate Glazed Doughnut and Vanilla Nut. Grace of course loves the Pumpkin Spice and I love making a mocha with eggnog.

We played Nertz a card game very similar to Dutch Blitz. First we played with my mom and after she left we played for another three hours. Travis moved out on his own two days after Christmas last year. My favorite present this year was that he came and spent the night with us to wake up Christmas morning with us. 

Now that the kids are older a couple of years ago we started opening up all the presents on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day. Being teenagers and young adults require more sleeping in, so this works out perfectly for us.

We taught Grace how to play Nertz this year and she has turned into a formidable player.

I asked the kids what they wanted to do this Christmas Eve and their response was play games, watch Home Alone 2, and drink hot chocolate.

Grace's presents this year revolved around her fandoms - Loki, Dr. Who, and Attack on Titan. For those who didn't know this about her, she collects hats. So this year the Dr. Who hat was added to the collection.

Her favorite present was the Loki poster.

Christmas morning we went to my sister's house for food, fun, and festivities. In the picture above is my newly married niece.

Grace was thrilled with her presents from her brother. He recently purchased a huge flat screen TV for his apartment. He decided for Christmas to regift to Grace his other TV and Xbox. She could have cared less that they were regifted. She has wanted a good TV for her room for years.

The highlight of my Christmas was the present I had picked out for my mother. Talk about fandoms, she is a huge fan of Adam Levine and The Voice. So I got her an Adam Levine gift bag with the People magazine with Adam on the cover, a Voice T-shirt that says Team Adam, a glossy photo of him, and the newest Maroon 5 cd (clean and edited version). She was so excited, it was like seeing a young child on Christmas morning getting the one gift they have always wanted.

My niece Danielle picked out the perfect gift for Grace.

We played a gift game. Lori prepared a wonderful meal of all of our favorites - spinach dip, nacho beef cheese dip, b-cue, pasta salad, slaw, and her famous chocolate pie.

And of course another game of Nertz. Only this time there were four couples playing. It was truly insane. This Christmas was probably one of the most fun in a long time and we didn't do a lot of presents.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

This Touched My Heart Today

This really touched my heart today. Go take a look at this video about love in its purest form.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up - The One With Very Little School Work

This week found us doing very little school work. I had the best of intentions and wanted to play a lot of catch up with days we had missed dealing with the Cooperative and performances. Alas, that was not to be. We got a little bit of school work finished on Monday afternoon because Grace woke up with nausea and got sick a couple of times. This has become a routine as of late due to what we do not know. Surprisingly after a call last week to her doctor and this week they were not willing to work her in as they were over booked and too busy. So Tuesday came round and again she got sick 5 times that morning. I quite frankly had had enough and we headed to the hospital. Usually once these episodes are over she is fine and that is exactly how I presented her to the doctor at the hospital. He still ran blood work which all came back fine and sent her home on a few meds. Wednesday night she was sick and Thursday morning as well. At that point I was furious and called her doctor and in no uncertain terms made it clear that they would need to fit her in and they did. As of right now we still have no solid answers but they did schedule us for an ultrasound on Monday morning. Yesterday and so far today we haven't had any episodes.

Yesterday I hosted a Teacher's Appreciation Lunch for the Cooperative and Grace went over to hang out with some friends. After lunch we headed to Wally World to pick up groceries and a few Christmas presents.

Today me, hubby, and our two kids went and had lunch at Longhorns. Hubby's mother sent us a gift card for everyone to use for Christmas. The meal was good but of course the whole time I am wondering if Grace is going to keep it down. So far she has. After lunch we purchased the remaining Christmas presents and then I went on my own to purchase stocking stuffers. Hopefully Christmas is done.

So very little school was done this week. One lesson of Algebra, Grace started a story for Creative Writing, Henry the Fowler in history, geography, CNN Student News, and a few little things. We are only taking next week off and hope to be up and running right after Christmas.

We are learning a lot from the grammar book and did a couple of lessons this week. Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I Feel Like the Christmas Season is Passing Me By

I can't believe it is only a few days until Christmas. This December I feel that we have let Christmas slowly pass us by without much music and fanfare. Many traditions we have upheld through the years are just not happening this year. Something I always look forward to each year is the Christmas Eve Candlelight service out our church. Well this year our church has been going through some major changes and there will not be a Candlelight service. Our oldest moved out on his own last year and is doing well. He will be spending the night here at home on Christmas Eve and waking up with us on Christmas morning, for that I am very thankful. But it has been a little odd not having him here as much during the month of Christmas and doing things together as a family.

Our Christmas shopping is nowhere near done. I have never been this late in purchasing Christmas presents. Financially, as it is for many other families, Christmas has been downsized. Personally the presents don't mean anything to me and my kids are really great about it.

The Cooperative's performances in the beginning of the month took up a lot of our time and it seemed like the first two weeks of December flew by in a heartbeat. We haven't gone out to look at any Christmas lights. Our house is decorated but very minimally in light of past years.

Also dealing with Grace's illness has been exhausting to say the least. Yesterday found us at the hospital because there were no doctors in town that could see her until after Christmas. Hardly any school work is getting done. Almost daily she is dealing with nausea and possibly vomiting. All blood work came back good, but still no real answers as to what is causing it. We are starting with weaning her off her anxiety medication to see if it is a side effect then the next will be food sensitivities. Who has time for Christmas planning with all this. I am ready for the New Year and I feel bad about saying that.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Poem to Share

I saw this poem on a friend's blog today and it really touched me. I wanted to share with you as well, especially at this time of year.

"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail,
The right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 


Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Few Favorite Language Arts Resources

I love all the Language Lessons books from Queen Homeschool. I started using them a few years ago when we were mainly studying with Charlotte Mason Methods. Even though we are no longer strictly CM followers, I do still like what is in the books. What I love most about this book is the poetry copywork, picture study, creative writing, and gentle grammar review. I actually purchased this book a couple of years ago and use it off and on throughout the year. I would recommend any of the Language Lessons books for all the ages they have available.

Bridgeway English is a new one for us. This product was part of the TOS Review Crew that we continued to use after the review time period. You can read my review here. This workbook is a very thorough grammar review. I am even learning a few things that I don't remember. We will continue to use this one the remainder of the school year.

Of course Easy Grammar is my absolute favorite of the bunch. I purchased the above book when I homeschooled my oldest for one year. Now I am saving it for Grace's 11th and 12th grade years for review before either graduating and going to college or to work. What I love about this product is the system they teach to help students diagram sentences. Simply learn your prepositions and prepositional phrases and the rest will be a snap.

Last but certainly not least is Story Starters. We have recently come back to this book. I bought it a couple of years ago and we have used it off and on over the years. Last year Grace concentrated on essay writing and this year we are working more on creative writing. This book is perfect for creative writing. You will find 67 different story starters that your student can creatively finish. Another section is devoted to helpful hints to help students with polishing a piece of work. There is also a small section of simply pictures that the student would look at and come up with a complete story on their own. I really like this book and find it to be one of those treasures you luck up upon.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up - The Week of Performances and Parties

The Christmas season is always so busy. My life can certainly attest to that because the past five days we have had two performances and two Christmas parties along with some schoolwork thrown in. Grace has been sick yesterday and today so nothing really going on there.

Sunday found us hosting a Christmas party for many of the teenagers that attend our Cooperative. Most of the teens that attended are involved in the drama program. You can imagine - drama kids = lots of fun and silliness. 

Monday night we had our first night of The Aristocats. These kids are super talented and did a wonderful job. Grace helped with the stage makeup. She loved it. Grace was responsible for all the dog faces. This is why she will be taking a stage makeup class this next semester. It has become one of her new passions.

Tuesday was the second performance of the Aristocats and Grace helped again with makeup. 

On Wednesday we attended a Christmas party for Grace's traveling drama ministry group, Acts of Faith. This was a special time because one of the members had just returned from mission work in Africa for the past three months. She shared all her stories about her work and experiences with the people of Tanzania. It was great to see her home safe and sound and so happy.

On Wednesday I also worked with my friend on the resource room for our Cooperative. It was in dire need of some organization. It looks wonderful and is very ready for the new semester.

Monday - Wednesday we were also able to get a good bit of school work accomplished. In history Grace has been reading about knights, feudal life, and Alfred the Great. We are almost finished with her geography workbook and King Alfred's English. She finished one lesson and chapter test in algebra. For literature she is working her way through Divergent and I have started reading aloud the second book in the early church history series, The  Captives. We also started House of Hades this week as well. She spent a fair amount of time finishing up direct and indirect objects in her grammar book.

Thursday morning stopped us dead in our tracks. Grace has been having trouble with nausea and vomiting for months because of two different daily medications she is on. She started vomiting and I thought it was more of the same, but now we are into Friday and she continued to vomit off and on throughout the night. Guess we are actually dealing with a virus this time. Although it is not laying her out in the bed like most viruses do. But I do know that everyone is sick right now in town. Hoping today she starts feeling better. Last night I went to Zumba without her but tonight I will probably exercise at home.

Hoping she gets better by tomorrow for us to attend an event at a friend's church. I would have to say Grace's favorite thing this week was contributing to the Aristocats performance by helping with makeup. My favorite was the fellowship with all the teens and their parents.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Elementary Drama Performs The Aristocats

Last night was the Cooperative's first performance of the Aristocats. This time it is the elementary class, but don't let their young ages fool you. These guys did such an awesome job and they had fun doing it. The above picture is right before going on stage to perform and their energy level was sky high.

This is the finale of the performance. Last night was a sold out show and I was unable to sneak in and see it. Tonight I hope to grab a seat and watch. There were only 5 seats left for tonight so we will see if I can get in. This is our final performance and everyone will get a well deserved break until the first of the year when Cooperative starts back again. I say break but really we still have a cast party, teacher's appreciation lunch, and new teacher's meeting to hold as well as get all the supplies and lessons ready for the next semester. I love my job!!!

Monday, December 9, 2013

How To Host a Teen Christmas Party

1.  Great Fun Food - We served cookies, cake, donut snowmen, cocktail weeines, sausage balls, chips, and a cheese platter. I also created a hot cocoa bar with toppings. I was worried that I had to much food but with teenagers I shouldn't have been worried, it was all gone at the end.

2. Gift Games - Every year we play the Chinese Gift Exchange but this year I added the Right Left Twas the Night Before Christmas Game. If you are not familiar with it, Google it. 

3. Fellowship - Lots of joking around and talking. All of these kids are drama kids so that should explain them.

4. More Games - Most of the crew played Apples to Apples but a few were in the TV room playing Just Dance. 

For me it is always great to have this group over. They are fun and they keep me young. All good kids and a joy to work with. Now that I will be heading up High School Drama for our Cooperative I hope to have more of these type of parties throughout the year because the kids just love spending time together.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Big Boned - Not Fat

This is Silver. We always kid that she is big boned and not fat. A couple of days ago Grace was holding Silver on a break in school work and it looked like the perfect time to elaborate on her body type. lol.

Snowman Treats

This is one of those treats you can find pictures of all over Pinterest. I decided to try it for a Christmas party. All you need is white powdered donuts, mini chocolate chips, and twizzlers. I added pre-made white icing to keep the chocolate chips in place. I think they turned out quite cute.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Favorite Homeschooling Resources Part 4 - CNN Student News

The first thing we do every morning Monday - Friday is watch CNN Student News. Mostly it is watched while eating breakfast. Grace can't get her morning started without her dose of CNN Student News with Carl Azuz.

This short 10 minute segment each morning gives Grace some insight as to some of the big news stories and issues going on in the world with a little history, current events, and funnies thrown in. CNN Student News broadcasts Monday - Friday, August through May. They take a break over the summer since most public school kids are out as well. This program is recommended for Middle and High School kids.

We simply watch the segments and discuss. What is interesting is many times when Grace's Gods World Magazine comes in she will recognize articles that have also been covered on Student News. I hope in the next several months to amp up how we use the program. Probably having Grace write paragraphs and maybe doing more research about segments from the show.

CNN Student News is truly one of the best little gems we have come across and I would recommend it to anyone with students in that age group. One more thing I really like about the show is I haven't really seen any biases which is great with kids watching. Let them form their own opinions without trying to direct them one way or the other on any particular subject matter. If you wish the website has other materials available to further what the student is watching.

Here is a sample program from August 20, 2013

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Little School Work and Thoughts on Cooperatives

I am really hoping we can buckle down and get some schoolwork done today. The past few days have been crazy. Three practices for the elementary drama production and finalizing all the pages for the yearbook. Not to mention a cast party thrown in and two more Christmas parties to go to this week.

I love my Cooperative families. This semester we had 34 families with 65 children participating and it looks to be about the same in our upcoming semester. They are truly like a second family. We all enjoy spending time together and when Cooperative is not in session we don't know what to do with ourselves. 

I rely on a lot of people to help the Cooperative run smoothly and I couldn't do it without them. Of course it helps that we all have the same vision and want to expose our children to fine arts whenever possible. 

I would encourage anyone out there to find a really good Cooperative to attend. Not only for the classes but for the fellowship. Fellowship for your children and the parents. Our parents love each other as much as the students do.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A New Fascination In the House

Grace's new passion is makeup. Not just any type of makeup but makeup to be used on stage and for cosplaying. Today she was playing around with creating herself as a deer. Come January she will be taking a semester long stage makeup class that she is very excited about. She is so excited to take this class that she choose it over performing in drama. This will be the first time in five years that she will not be getting ready for a performance. Normally she is in two per year.