Monday, June 30, 2014

Diana Waring - A Review of Experience History Through Music

Music has such an impact on so many lives, including my own. Most folks can hear a song and it takes them back to a certain time in their lives, both happy and sad. Music evokes many emotions from the listener, but as in the case of this review, music can also be used to educate us about history. Every song has a story or background. Every composer or lyricist of a song has their own story and background. Diana Waring has brought much of what I am trying to articulate into a new product from Diana Waring Presents titled Experience History Through Music.
First let's talk a minute about who Diana Waring is in case you don't already know her or her products. She is kind of a rock star in the homeschooling world. I have to take a moment and tell a personal story. Two years ago I visited the Great Homeschool Convention in Greenville. Me and my husband sat down to listen to Diana give a history presentation. I was excited because I had heard so many great things about her being an awesome speaker. She literally got about two sentences out, then the fire alarm sounded and everyone had to vacate the building. I was so bummed. This year I went again to the same convention and got to talk with her and her husband a couple of times at their vendor booth. Wonderful products and people. Needless to say I was very excited to participate with this launch team and review her new products. Okay back to Diana - I was surprised to learn when joining this launch team that she has a background in music. She studied music and drama in college. Diana also sings and has a beautiful voice that you will hear once you purchase Experience History Through Music. Diana and her husband have three grown children that were homeschooled. She has traveled all over the country and even out of the country speaking to other homeschooling families bringing encouragement and information about her products like History Revealed.
I was quite thrilled when asked to help launch this new product for Diana Waring. Believe me when I say that Experience History Through Music has been a long labor of love for Diana. God has moved in so many ways through bringing this project back to life. Many years ago the original recordings were thought to have been lost forever, but they were digitally re-mastered and brought to you now through much prayer and love from everyone involved with this project.
First up is Musical memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder by William Anderson. This was the one that we dived into right away. We love all things Laura Ingalls Wilder and this was a great addition to our household. It has been a few years since we read the book series, but reading through the pages of stories brought a lot of the feelings back of reliving the lives of the Ingalls family while going through it. Musical Memories is packed with beautiful illustrations and wonderful pictures from Laura's life. I so wish this product would have been available when we were reading the series originally. The recordings would have added so much to the read aloud time to stop and listen when a song was mentioned in the books. Our favorite songs on this disc/book would be Wait for the Wagon and Sweet By and By. I really wish I knew how to play some sort of musical instrument so that I could utilize the sheet music in the back of the book. We also enjoyed the introduction that gave us more of a peek into Laura's life. Out of all the books this was our favorite if anything else but for pure nostalgia. Don't get me wrong though, the other two books are just as great.
Next up is Westward Ho! The Heart of the Old West by Diana Waring. This book concentrates on all things about settling the great west and beyond. You will find stories and songs about the California Gold Rush, Chisholm Trail, Oregon Trail, homesteading, cowboys, settlers, and more. The most famous well known song in this book would have to be Home on the Range.
Last but certainly not least is America The Heart of a New Nation by Diana Waring. America would have to be our second favorite of the three because I always love songs with a patriotic feeling and the stories behind them. Kids will love singing along to Oh! Susanna, Polly Wolly Doodle, and She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain.
All three books are great for all ages. Each book with accompanying CD sells individually for $18.99 or for the month of July you can buy them as a bundle for $50.00. We listened to 1-2 songs each day and read the corresponding story behind the songs origin. This is a great product folks! It could easily round out so many different types of studies, like the Gold Rush, Little House Series, Cowboys, Old West, American Revolution, Oregon Trail, and so many more. Each book is filled with wonderful stories, illustrations and sheet music for every song included. Great product to have on your personal library shelf to utilize many times during the school year, or to just listen for fun! Be sure to check out Experience History Through Music by Diana Waring, especially with the great bundle buy taking place in the month of July for $50.00.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Encouraging your Child's Passions

Grace's real loves are acting, working with children, makeup and costuming. If you put all these together then you can sometimes come up with an outlet. In Grace's case that is exactly what we did when we review the Micro Business for Teens product. It really got her thinking about what she could do as a job now and maybe even in the future.

Today we went to help her beloved art teacher with a grand re-opening of our local art studio. Grace dressed as a fairy which tied in very well with the theme of part of the business which is called Bow Fairy. She greeted customers as they arrived and did a little face painting.

I don't normally let her face paint on me but I figured why not.

We should be able to start her little side business soon with the princess birthday parties. Still waiting on some of the other costumes and wigs to arrive, then we need to make a flyer. I am so looking forward to seeing where this all will take her.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up - The Week of Home Improvements and Art Camp

This week was all about spending money. Not a ton of money but more than I would normally spend. Paint, painting supplies, organizational supplies, and a few home d├ęcor items. Currently we are revamping the master bathroom, master bedroom, school room, and a few items in Grace's bedroom. I am ashamed to admit that most of the rooms mentioned have been neglected over the past five or so years. So not only do they need a real sprucing up but I need everything to be in tip top shape by the first of August due to tutoring three girls in my home three days a week. I promise to share pictures of everything soon. I am painting some more today and tomorrow to try and get it all accomplished. I can show you a couple of teasers for the school room though.
I created an independent reading area. I already had the above books on our shelf and I wanted independent reading time to be just for fun so no real classics here. We will be doing the classics during literature time.

I also created a time line for the kids to put images and dates of everything we study this year in history, art, and music. The curtains are new as well. Can you believe I didn't have any curtains on the above windows for like almost two years. In my defense this was Grace's bedroom and her curtains where on the windows until she moved downstairs to another bedroom and at that point this room became an exercise/storage room.
Whoever said summer is relaxing hasn't been introduced to our family. We are just as busy as every. Four mornings this week Grace went to help with a preschool art camp and really loved it. This is the local business owner that Grace wishes to do some apprenticing with. She loved it so much that she is going back next week to help with another camp. We also had one night of play practice for the King and I. A couple of days of exercise where thrown in the mix as well.
School continues to trudge along little by little. Some of the review products we are working through are Moving Beyond the Page (Huckleberry Finn literature guide and Biochemistry), Diana Waring's Experience Music Through History (review post coming next week), Flourish (a book review just for me), and Dave Raymond's American History. We watched the Disney version of Huckleberry Finn yesterday to compare to the book and Grace thought it was great. She couldn't believe that little Elijah Wood was one in the same that played Frodo in her beloved Lord of the Rings movies. Today we are spending a little time reviewing a study guide for standardized testing. Our state requires it every three years and now is the time for us. Grace always has test anxiety about not doing well, but I always tell her I don't hold much stock in these types of tests and to just do her best. Looking at taking the test in about two weeks. She is most nervous about the math portion.
Grace got in two of her costumes this week - one for Merida from Brave and the other for Rapunzel. Still waiting on the wig to arrive for Merida before we can take some pictures to show. We will have a picture tomorrow of her fairy costume because she is going to dress up and work at the re-grand opening of the art studio in their new location.

Weekly Wrap-Up

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Homeschooling For Free - The Extras and Fun Stuff

You can find lots of blog posts about how to homeschool your children academically - subject by subject for free. I am going to concentrate on some of the extras like drama, art, and other extracurricular activities. Over the past few years I have definitely had the thought process that where there is a will there is usually a way. If you have a child that is heavily involved in the fine arts and I am sure you have already figured out how expensive it can be to pay for classes in music, art, and drama. I happen to have a child that is very involved in all things fine arts excluding music. I have come across three things that has helped us fulfill my daughters desire for fine arts instruction without breaking the bank.

Local Community Theatre  - Four years ago we had our first experience with community theatre by performing with other children and adults from the community in the Wizard of Oz. This summer we are back at it again with the King and I. At least twice a year there are plays or musicals being produced that allow children to participate. There is no cost except for maybe a costume and the gas money to get back and forth to rehearsals and performances. Both times we chose to perform in performances that would happen during the summer that would not conflict with our other drama group. Your child will receive lots of instruction in drama, music and dance, especially if the performance is a musical. All basically for no cost. I'm sure some local theatres will even have you learning some costuming and stage makeup in the process.

Small Cooperatives - Many times when we discuss Cooperative we are talking about the larger cooperatives that involve dues or monthly fees. I actually co-direct a local Cooperative that is going well and has many families involved. When I refer to a small Cooperative I am mainly talking about a handful of families that get together anywhere from once a week to only once a month. Try to match up with families that maybe have parents that can teach some art or music instruction. If they teach the art and or music, you can use one of your skills to teach something else on the same day. This way everyone wins.

Apprenticing - My daughter is very artistic and loves to draw. We only pay for lessons or classes occasionally. An idea that we are currently delving into is apprenticing with a local art studio. Not only are you learning while working but sometimes the business will give you discounts or free lessons for the work you do. We are using our apprenticing experience for more of a learning how to  run a business kind of experience but offering your self up for free labor is sometimes very appealing to a small business owner or teacher. You never know until you ask what kind of arrangement can be worked out for your child to receive free art lessons or discounted classes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Photos with iphones - Turn Out Great

I am constantly amazed at the quality of photographs that come from my daughter's iphone. This past Friday while volunteering at the shelter she took some great photos of the kittens we were helping to socialize. These guys are full of energy and sometimes hard to grab a good photo of them. As far as I know they are still all available for adoption through Charles Smithgall Woods Animal Shelter in Cleveland. What astounds me is that her phone takes better pictures than my phone and our newer camera.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Interview with Diana Waring - Teaser for the Upcoming Review Post

Next week I will be posting my review of the wonderful products from Diana Waring Experience History Through Music. To get the ball rolling early I thought my readers might enjoy a short question and answer session that we were able to participate in with Diana Waring.

1. What was your life like musically as you were growing up? Did you take lessons, sing with your family, in a church choir, etc.?

I ALWAYS loved music. . . I was always singing, started playing clarinet in 4th grade, oboe in 7th grade (!!!), taught myself to play guitar in 10th grade.
I was an only child, my parents were not musical, and we did not attend church. . .
But music WAS in my grandparents' lives. My father's father played guitar and sang before he had a stroke in 1953 (there is a FASCINATING story there -- tell you later), and my mother's father played various string instruments and sang, as well. I have met folks who knew him, and they tell me he was a fabulous story-teller and a fun musician.
Once I learned to play guitar (in 1969), I started doing folk music whenever I had the chance. If you can believe this, I even tried to get permission to play in bars when I was 15. After I became a Christian, I started playing worship music for prayer meetings. . .
Which led to me becoming the worship leader at our Christian fellowship in college and at the church I attended.
Since music was one of my greatest motivators, I expected to continue in that realm. . . particularly within church settings. It was unexpected to have the door suddenly open up in 1989 to create these American folk music recordings--but I loved the songs and the genre of music!!
Now, here we are, 25 years later, and I am absolutely THRILLED to have this musical part of my life come back!! I pulled out my 12-string, donned my historic costume, and sang folk songs in Greenville, Cincinnati and Harrisburg this spring -- and it was a JOY!!

2. How did you start writing history books?

The very first book I wrote WAS a history book—an earlier version of "America."  As I have shared in the back story, when a friend suggested that it would be beneficial to attend a homeschool convention—and the only way I could afford to get in was to become a workshop presenter—the idea of marrying American folk music to American history seemed like such fun that I had to write a book!  (And help create the folk music recording!!)

One thing often leads to another.  Doing workshops on making history come alive using music exposed me to the notion that there are many other wonderful ways to make history come alive, like literature, geography, the Bible, science, art, architecture, cooking and more.

All of this melded together when I started teaching my own children world history in 1992.  There were so many things I wanted to know about how events recorded in the Bible impacted the ancient cultures of the time. . . seeing the "secular" civilizations through Scripture and better understanding Scripture in light of those civilizations. 

I was SO excited about what we were learning that I started telling others at homeschool conventions. . . which led to the History Revealed curriculum (20 years in the making).  Nine books in that series (plus nine sets of audio CDs), plus two of the three American folk music/history books (and CDs) make a grand total of 11 books on history that I have had the opportunity to research and write!

Goodness!  I had no idea when I started homeschooling that I would learn so much.  :)

3. What is your favorite period of history?

My standard answer is that my favorite period of history is the one I am currently studying!!

I think the deeper answer, though, is that I have always been fascinated by the incredible drama of WWII and its aftermath.  I was born in Germany ten years after the end of WWII, and when it dawned on me as a fifth grader that my birthplace was at the epicenter, the reality that history HAPPENED engaged my heart and mind.

Add to that the fact that my grandfather was the chairman of the National Resources Council, appointed by President Harry Truman in 1951.  He was the man responsible for putting the resources of America to work if we went into another world warwhich was not a far-fetched idea in 1951 as we engaged in the Korean War and the early Cold War.  I still remember listening to my grandfather say, "Diana, we must always know what the Russians are doing. . ."  The Cold War was not a newspaper headline to him, it was VERY real.

So, with all of the personal family history, I think it is safe to say that WWII and the Cold War are, by far, the most fascinating to me.

4. Have your kids followed in your music-loving/performing footsteps (on any level)?

Yes!  All three of my kids play instruments, all three love various types of music, and all three still enjoy singing with me whenever we get together!

My oldest, Isaac, is actually an amazing musician.  He plays numerous instruments, often more than one at a time—which wows audiences!  He has a huge baritone voice, which can fill a room faster than most.  One of the most incredible things about Isaac is that, in performance, he can ask for words or phrases from the audience, then compose a song on the spot with those words—and it is so catchy that people will walk out the door singing the song!!

Mike is more of an athlete than a musician, but he plays bass guitar, Australian didgeridoo, and he sings both melody and harmony with a fabulous tenor voice!  He wrote one of the most delightful songs I've ever heard:  "Round Trip Ticket to Samoa". . . which we always thought would be a stunning song for travel agents.  :)

Melody was my classically-trained musician.  She studied classical piano very seriously, as she prepared to go to a conservatory and then into the world of concert pianists.  Dr. Jay Wile, who attended her senior recital, told me that he was blown away with her musical talent. Tragically, when she entered the conservatory, she developed severe pain (which continues to baffle doctors) that prevented her from continuing in music.  I absolutely melt, though, when she comes to visit and plays once again on my grandmother's piano.  She loves, loves, loves music.  (The tragedy turned to beauty when she began serving refugees, those in poverty, and youth-at-risk.  She is amazing.)

5. Of all the songs in the three new books, which songs are your favorites?

I LOVE "Ho for California" in Westward Ho!  Somehow, this one became my favorite. . . I remember the day we drove across the Sacramento River as a family, on our way to a homeschooling event in California, singing at the top of our lungs, "Then, ho, brothers, ho, to California go.  There's plenty of gold in the world we're told on the banks of the Sacramento. . ."

"Gooey Duck"  was, by far, the most popular song that we performed in our concerts.  There is something so catchy about this song!  Also, as I was writing the original Westward Ho! book, I chatted with my grandfather about gooey ducks (giant clams).  He chuckled and told me that though they were plentiful in Puget Sound waters when he was a lad, they were SO ugly that people avoided eating them unless they were desperate.  That has tickled me ever since. . .

"Sweet Betsy From Pike" is another favorite, included in America. It is such a singable ballad, and full of humorous possibilities.  It was a delight to sing it on the recording!!

6. Do you play a musical instrument. If so what? and how old were you when you started playing?

In chronological order, here are the instruments I play (don't you know a historian would tell it chronologically???):

I learned to play clarinet in 4th grade.
Switched to oboe in 7th grade.
Switched to guitar (which I taught myself to play) in 10th grade, as braces made playing oboe impossible!!
Bought a mountain dulcimer and learned to play it when I was 17.
Learned to play recorder when I was 19. . . played it in the musical, "Godspell."
Took some lessons on piano when I was 20, and kept working at it on my own.
Learned to play banjo when I was 23.
But my real instrument is voice!!!  I was a vocal major for a time in college, and have sung in concert choirs, as a worship leader, doing folk song concerts with my kids, and, last year I had the opportunity to sing Beethoven's 9th symphony in Indianapolis!

7. Which of the songs in this series of books resonant the most with your life and why?

As a musician and storyteller, I love the possibilities of telling stories in music—ballads are an incredible art form.  "Old Settler" and "San Juan Pig War" are the two that I most enjoy singing for others, as they tell such memorable stories. . .

And, I love "Sweet By and By."  We used to end our "Yankee Doodle Tells A Tale" concert with this song, and it never failed to bring me to tears. . . singing of our "bountiful Father above.

8. What value do you see in students learning America's folk songs?
How many opportunities do we ever have to actually DO what our ancestors did?  As a real and normal part of our lives?  You and I live in a world that is vastly different than the time period represented in America, Westward Ho! and Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  And, yet, we can still sing and enjoy the very same songs they did, we can taste a tiny bite of history through the medium of folk songs, and we can experience America through it's music!

Plus, it's part of our American heritage.  It's part of our history.  And what could be more fun than learning history through songs you can clap to, stomp to, and sink your teeth into??  :)

9. Are these Experience History Through Music products to be used as curriculum?  Is there a schedule to follow?

Though students can experience American history through these three books and CDs (and have a lot of fun in the process), it is not an actual curriculum. They are supplementary materials that can be enjoyed by anyoneThere is no specific schedule to follow, no tests to take. You might describe it as a sort of "stealth academics," meaning that your kids will be having so much fun singing the songs, they won't even realize they are learning.  But YOU will.

10. Do you have other books/products in the works?
Next on my list of books to write is one entitled, "Daughters of God."  I am hoping to have it finished by this fall.
Then, the plan is to create an American history curriculum for elementary age students, one that allows for the same sort of creativity and freedom as my world history curriculum, the History Revealed series.
Once these are both done, I have lots of things I have always wanted to write, but never had the time. . . including fiction—historical, of course!!

A Very Productive Weekend

It was an incredibly productive weekend for all of us. Saturday found me and Grace running errands in the morning to a yard/book sale, giving my Trim Healthy Mama book to friend to borrow, eating lunch out, and picking up groceries on the way home as well as items to make a costume. Luckily we got an early start on Saturday morning which let me get started on everything else in the afternoon and early evening. I helped Grace make her fairy costume and tutu for art camp this coming week and the re-grand opening of the art studio. I also worked tirelessly in the new school room and I found time to go on a much needed walk. Grace and Scott found time to go to the river and swim for an hour or so.

On Sunday Grace was the more productive one. She cleaned all the chicken coops, exercised, cleaned her room and moved some furniture around for redecorating, and went to hang out with her dad at the tattoo shop for a couple of hours. I mainly cooked and fed everyone and even found a little time to make some muffins for breakfasts throughout the coming week.

I still have a lot to accomplish in the master bed and bath as well as the school room before everything is finished. My redecorating bug bit Grace yesterday which is why she did some rearranging in her room. I have lots of pictures of what I have been doing with the redecorating and painting and I will post them soon.

This week will prove to be very busy but hopefully I will be able to continue to plug away at the rooms and get them finished very soon. I think I finally have a paint choice for the bedroom walls. I see painting in the next couple of days in my future.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Diana and Friends Experience History Through Music Giveaway

A few weeks ago I was privileged to be chosen to review and help launch a new product from Diana Waring. In my humble opinion she is one of the rock stars of the home school world. Her history curriculum rocks and she is a great encouraging speaker to listen to at conventions or telling stories on her history CDs.

Over the past few weeks me and Grace have been reliving our memories of long ago songs tied to Laura Ingalls Wilder and historical songs from our nation's past. Not only listening to the songs but also learning about where the songs came from and where they fit into history.

In less than two weeks I will be sharing a review post about all three of the books and CDs that we were given to review and enjoy. This is one of the products that you will really want to purchase and share with your family. The launch of Experience History Through Music is coming and you won't be disappointed.

Until then you can enter to win some fabulous products through this giveaway to tide you over until the launch date.

Diana and Friends Giveaway
To celebrate the release of Experience History Through Music, I am joining members of the Diana Waring Launch Team for an amazing giveaway. Friends of Diana have joined in and as you can see, someone's homeschool is going to be greatly blessed!  Here's what you could win! 

From Diana Waring Presents

american history -- never this funExperience History Through Music - set of 3 books with CDs ($50/set) Diana Waring Presents is about to bring back into print the BEST folk music you have ever heard, combined with the fascinating stories they represent in American history!   The Experience Music Through Historyseries includes: America - Heart of a New Nation, Westward Ho! - Heart of the Old West  and Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder. The musicians are amazing, every instrument is real, lots of great vocalists, and more toe-tapping music than you can imagine! The books tell the stories behind the songs.  Together, they bring American history to life through it's music!!With fascinating history books and toe-tapping folk music CDs, American history has NEVER been this fun!
EncouragementCollage2Encouragement for Homeschool Moms Collection ($25) Every mom needs that word of encouragement from someone who has been there, who has grownup children and can speak with assurance about the journey. Homeschool moms have an extra portion of the journey to navigate, and often wish for an extra voice that will offer direction but without nagging or prodding. Diana Waring has that voice.  

From A Journey Through Learning

Logo New 300 trans$50 Gift Certificate $50 to spend in the A Journey Through Learning store, applicable toward any digital download purchase.  


From Homeschool Legacy

westward ho I 300x400Westward Ho! Part I ($19.95) Load up your wagon! Discover the extraordinary times of adventurous frontiersmen and brave pioneers as you travel cross-country along the Erie Canal,  Oregon Trail, and even “remember the Alamo” in Westward Ho Part I. Westward Ho! Part II ($19.95) Continue the exciting saga begun in Westward Ho! Part I as you journey with the forty-niners, ride the rails of the Transcontinental Railroad, experience life on the prairie, and discover the exciting era of cowboys and cattle drives in Westward Ho! Part II.  

From Knowledge Quest Maps

HardcoverCD_ecover_croppedMap Trek: Atlas and Outline Maps of World History ($55) Map Trek is a historical atlas plus outline maps that allow you to teach geography alongside history. This is a resource that any homeschool parent can use with brilliant success, even if you don't remember a thing from your history or geography classes in public school.  


From Home School Adventure Co. 

PAPS-R-96dpi shadowPhilosophy Adventure™ Digital Download ($39.95) Philosophy Adventure™ is designed to help students 6th-12th grade cultivate and defend a biblical worldview by teaching them how to write skillfully, think critically, and speak articulately as they explore the history of ideas.  


From Heidi St. John (The Busy Mom and Real Life Press)

fpf3-bundle-covers-180x180Firmly Planted Family Devotional Digital Volume 3 ($39) The Firmly Planted Family Series is divided into ten-week studies and is your key to making sense of the Bible—even if you’re learning right along with your children. Each lesson provides a core idea, a simple narrative, memory verses and discussion questions for children of all ages. And the companion student workbook is filled with age-appropriate, full-color, reproducible activities for children of any age!  

From Raising Real Men

RRM-Mom-Dad-300x295Free Registration to Boyhood Boot Camp or Boot Camp 9-12 LIVE webinar series (winner's choice) plus Mom & Dad Special Raising Real Men (Book for Mom to read in the bathroom + AudioBook for Dad to listen to on the commute) ($62-69) My-Beloved-and-My-Friend-Cover-Border-201x300Free Registration for Marriage Retreat Online plus His & Hers Special of My Beloved and My Friend: How To Be Married To Your Best Friend Without Changing Spouses (book + audiobook), ($65)  


From Institute for Excellence in Writing

logo$50 Gift Certificate $50 to spend in the IEW store, applicable toward any purchase.  

From The Old Schoolhouse Magazine ($139) A one year membership to the curriculum arm of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. Nearly 100 classes for Pre-K to High School, taught by expert teachers, and lots of extras including the Schoolhouse Planners, Schoolhouse Expos,monthly free ebook downloads and more. monthly free ebook downloads and more.
  Big-Book-14-Cover-113013-e1392516063206The Old Schoolhouse Magazine 2014 Print Book ($15) Be encouraged, enlightened, and educated with the all new 2014 Annual Print Book published by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.You’ll get a year’s worth of homeschool support in almost 300 pages in this full color one-of-a-kind print magazine for homeschoolers, by homeschoolers. This is a magazine you’ll refer to again and again.  

From Writing with Sharon Watson

the-power-in-your-hands-front-coverThe Power in Your Hands ($53.96) With The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School, they’ll learn what they need to know for high school and will be prepared for college writing.will be prepared for college writing. 69276_1454187188126914_157492202_nWriting Fiction [in High School] ($35) Are you raising the next C. S. Lewis or Jane Austen? Help your students develop their fiction-writing talents with Writing Fiction [In High School]: Bringing Your Stories to Life. To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter below. Residents of the U.S., age 18 and older only. Other Terms and Conditions can be found in the Rafflecopter. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Weekly Wrap Up - The Week of Play Practice

This week we had three practices for the King and I with most of them revolving around the 15 minute ballet. This is a huge undertaking but will be incredibly beautiful when the time arrives to perform it. We are also meeting some new people from our community and enjoying each other's company during rehearsals. Here is a version of the ballet that is almost exactly how we will perform it:

Grace finally got back to sketching this week. Sometimes she will take a break from it for a couple of weeks and not really produce much and then go back to it with a burst of energy.
This is a sketch of a vocalist Grace is currently enjoying.
We continue plugging along trying to get finished with Algebra 1. I think I will throw a huge celebration party when we are actually done. Math will be so much less stressful for 10th grade due to us making the decision to take a break from higher math and do personal finance for the year. Science is almost finished as well. We are also finishing up some reviews (Biochemistry, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Diana Warings History Through Music Series)  and blog posts will be coming up in the next couple of weeks for each product.

I don't want you guys to think that we are not doing any fun summertime stuff because we are. On Wednesday we took the day off and drove out to do some shopping as Grace had birthday money that was burning a hole in her pocket. She bought a really cute summer dress at Plato's Closet and a couple of anime books. She fell in love with a new to her series called My Little Monster. She can't wait to get her allowance this weekend to buy the next two editions.


We are still volunteering at the animal shelter every Friday morning. All the local shelters have just exploded with the amount of animals that need homes. This time of the year is very hard on the shelters and many animals are put to sleep because of space issues if it is not a no kill facility. Please spay and neuter your pets and if you are in the market for a new pet please adopt and don't buy.

I am currently working on updating three rooms in my house that are in dire need of it. I have kind of ignored the house for the past five years and it is showing. In August I will have three families bringing their daughters to me three days a week and the house needs to be ready for that. So currently I am working on the main bathroom, my bedroom, and the school room. Bright colors for all. I will be sure to share pictures of everything once I am done.

Here are some upcoming things I will be posting about:
  • A huge giveaway coming up later today
  • Grace will be working at an art camp Monday - Thursday of next week
  • Swimming Monday afternoon at a friend's house
  • We ordered more costumes for Grace's business and will be taking photos of them to share
  • Room makeovers
Hope everyone is having a great summer vacation!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Continuation of Micro Business for Teens and How It Applies to Our Lives

You may remember that a few weeks ago I posted a review of Micro Business for Teens that you can read at the clickable link if interested. This program made quite the impression on Grace and me. It got her thinking about all sorts of endeavors she could consider to make a little money and learn through experiences. Her first choice is to use her passions of acting, costuming, make up and art to make a little pocket money. Today we went to our local art studio run by Grace's favorite teacher to discuss the possibility of partnering to make some of this start happening. At the very least Grace will be apprenticing with a small business owner to gain experience through festivals, art camps, and pizza nights. It is looking more like the owner will hire Grace as an assistant for each party and festival and pay her a flat fee. This art studio also offers painting birthday parties so it was the perfect location to feel out the community and see how they might respond to princess themed birthday parties.

Tomorrow we will order more costumes to add to the possible choices for themed birthday parties. Next week Grace will be volunteering with one of the art camps with kindergarten age children Monday - Thursday. On Thursday she will dress up in one of her costumes for the kids. There is a festival coming up at the end of July to attend to face paint. She is quite excited about where this may all go.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Summer Time Television Viewing

We haven't had regular TV in years. I mostly watch stuff through Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu Plus. Grace watches very little television but when she does it is either Netflix or Youtube. Hubby also watches very little television and again his channel of choice is Netflix. Up until a few months ago we had a plan that gave us both DVDs and streaming. I like both but lately Netflix hasn't really added a lot of new shows and movies to watch through instant. I tell you all this because we had problems receiving our DVDs. It started over a year ago and would run in cycles. Every 2-3 months 2 -3 DVDs in a row would not reach us and turn up missing. Everything that I sent back always arrived back at Netflix. I contacted Netflix support each and every time and they extended me grace way beyond what they were supposed to, but a few months ago they still canceled my DVD subscription. I contacted my local post office and nothing could be done. I contacted our Post Master and again nothing could be done to really investigate who had been stealing the DVDs. Very frustrating.

When the subscription first got canceled we were still in the middle of many television shows airing new episodes and I didn't really miss it. Now a bit of a different story. We don't go to see movies at the theatre very often and I always added the ones we wanted to see to my queue. I miss seeing the new movies and also any television series that I can't get on Amazon and Hulu. Now that summer has arrived not so much of a lot of choices to watch. All reruns. This means I have to dig deep and find something on Netflix that grabs my interest and holds it. In years past that has looked like all the seasons of How I Met Your Mother, Supernatural, The Good Wife, Prison Break, 24 and so many more. I have also gone back and re-watched the Gilmore Girls and even .... what . for . it. Dawon's Creek. So this really long diatribe about television watching has led me to my new nightly treat - Bones. Best part about Bones is there are 8 seasons on Netflix and it will probably take me most of the summer to watch them all until the new seasons start on everything else. Plus Under the Dome starts in a few weeks and last year Amazon showed that one for all the Prime members for free.

Okay I know what your thinking - TV Geek, right?! Yep, and proud of it. Now I am going to get off of here and watch me some Bones and the new episode of 24.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Something New to Me

Some of my readers may remember me writing about the fact that almost two years ago an digital electrical part went out in my oven. The cost to replace what we thought was the problem was around $150.00. Well until I decided what we were going to do I purchased a Kitchen Aid toaster oven. This oven has been its weight in gold. Wonderful appliance that I have cooked everything in for the past two years. The only time cooking in it was a hassle was the times I needed to batch cook muffins, cookies , etc. It took forever simply because of the small size.
A couple of months ago my brother in law who is a plumber for a large electrical and plumbing company was working on a large job in a ritzy well to do area. They were refurbishing all the kitchen units in a very expensive assisted living home. They were replacing all the stoves and selling the used ones for $50.00 each. Here is the kicker - the assisted living home has a very nice cafeteria and hardly no one uses their stoves. So basically I got a brand new stove for $50.00. It has been great baking in a regular size oven again. The only drawback is I love slick top stoves and this one has burners. For $50.00 I think I can live with it.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Summer of Moving

This will definitely be the summer of moving. First my son decided at 24 it was time to own his first home. He put an offer on a home and is now going through the loan process and a tentative date of July 24th to close. So proud of him for accomplishing this at such a young age and believe me the house is nicer than my own. Next comes my parents. My dads health has been declining for the past two years and my mom is exhausted from taking care of him and the home, etc. Me and my sister both felt it was time to make some decisions. We went to her a few months ago and had a long conversation about them moving in with my sister and her family. She has the bigger home and the downstairs is practically the mirror image of their upstairs. The only thing we need to do is install a small kitchen in the bar area and they will have two bedrooms, a large bathroom, living and dining area as well as a small kitchen. They will also have a back patio area and a fenced in yard for their two dogs. This week they also received an offer on their house and if everything goes as planned a move out date of August 8th.

So from July 24th - August 10th I am looking at packing and moving two households, starting the Cooperative back up with the first week of classes, homeschooling three 5th graders in my home three days a week, and 8 performances of the King and I with Grace. Can you say crazy busy! I have always said that I thrive on business, but this may be taking it a tad too far. Once the moves are complete it will be so much of a better situations for our mom and dad, and Travis will be in a nearly brand new home.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up- Mermaids, Ikea and Books

Friday - I'll start off with last Friday. Me and a friend spent the day at a homeschool convention and a visit to Ikea. I did have very specific purposes for both visits. I briefly mentioned the fact that in August I will be tutoring/homeschooling three 5th grade girls in my home three days a week. Well, I am responsible for purchasing the items they will need and the used book sale was a perfect time to try and get some of the materials. I also needed a table that the girls could work at, which meant a trip to Ikea. In some form or fashion I have attended the GHEA homeschool convention since Grace was in third grade. Unfortunately now that there are bigger and better convention being put on throughout the country the smaller ones are suffering for vendors which was the case for our also. I was able to purchase lots and lots of great stuff at a very reduced price for the girls to enjoy next year. The trip to Ikea was eye opening and awesome, my first time. Definitely need to go back again. You can't beat the prices. Grace stayed with her grandparents for the day and then meet my sister to help with the Relay for Life event in our community. She got to dress up as a mermaid for the themed event.
Sunday - We celebrated both Travis and Grace's birthday at my parents house with pizza and ice cream cake. Can't believe I have a 24 year old son and now 15 year old daughter. Time just seems to fly.

Tuesday - We volunteered at the animal shelter for a couple of hours and of course Grace fell in love with one of the puppies. Hoping he got adopted before our trip back out there this morning. In the evening we had a two hour practice at one of the local dance studios for the King and I. In the King and I there is a "ballet" portion that runs almost 15 minutes long and we are part of that as well as some of the other wives songs. We are all in the intro and the end and then each of us as a particular role to play in the middle portion. Grace is lightening and I am a cloud when Eliza climbs up a mountain and then later on snow.
Wednesday - Grace went to swim at a friend's house while me and their mother worked on casting the Christmas program for next semester. Casting 35 students in 11 different short skits was exhausting, but we did get it accomplished. We rushed from their to get home for dinner and then Grace back to church for youth group.
Thursday - We went to another friend's house for another swim while me and their mother visited. This is one of my best friends and it is always relaxing going over here to visit. We try to get together every week. Home in time for dinner then I headed out for Zumba class.
Friday - This brings us back to today. This morning we are again off to the animal shelter for a couple of hours to volunteer.

All of these days school work was accomplished in some form or fashion. We are working on a few review products and trying to finish up Algebra and Science for the year.
Moving Beyond the Page - Huckleberry Finn and Biochemistry
Diana Waring's History Through Music Series
Algebra 1

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

So Many Waiting For Forever Homes

About 10 weeks ago we started our journey into volunteering at one of the local animal shelters. We chose a no kill facility because quite frankly we didn't feel that week in and week out we could handle not seeing animals from one week to the next and knowing where they ended up. In our current situation we get to build relationships with animals while that wait for their forever homes and not have to worry about the urgency that other shelters have to place the animals in a home before being euthanized. Let me start with a little back story. I worked in a variety of animals hospital from the age of 17 to about the age of 35 when we moved. It was a satisfying and at times fun career. If I had not moved and become a stay at home homeschooling mama I may still had that career. We occasionally had an animal dropped off on our door step but truly it only happened a few times a year. What I have come to learn is the fact that animals shelters, especially this time of the year is inundated with intakes of cats, dogs, puppies, and kittens. The animal population just seemed to explode and many are euthanized to make room for the new intakes. There are a few things that each of us can do to help in this current situation. Please spay and neuter your pets. That would help so much with the current situation. I am so thankful to my Facebook friends who get shared animals posts from me every single day and don't unfriend me for it. They are hard to see each day and not know what to do. Just sharing the posts helps. I would like to ask all my friends to please share the posts because eventually the post does reach someone who can help either by adopting, fostering, or through donations. I am currently prayerfully considering become a foster home. This is not something to jump into lightly. Yesterday Grace fell in love with a soulful eyed puppy. All of his siblings had been adopted out and he was the last. I don't think he will last long. Our local shelters are drowning with animals, please pray about what you might be able to do to help.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Relay for Life Year Two

This past Saturday was our community's Relay for Life event. Last year I was involved with my Zumba group and we did a cake walk to raise money as well as Zumba demonstrations. This Grace was involved through my sister's company. The theme for the entire event was Carnival of Hope. My sister's company ran with this theme and did a vintage circus sideshow. Her fellow employees were dressed as a strong man, bearded woman, tattoo lady, snake charmer (my sister) and Grace was the mermaid lady. They built her a great cave made with shells as a backdrop.

The mermaid costume and wig (she has a red wig to be Ariel) is actually part of her Disney princess costumes that she is collecting to do Disney princess birthday parties. This was a good trial run for her even though she wasn't technically dressed up as Ariel. The little girls that attended all wanted to take a picture with her.

This is my sister dressed as the snake charmer in Grace's Genie costume from Aladdin.

My sister's team won 1st place for their unique theme, everyone that attended thought it was a great idea and put together well. We all wished there had been a better community turnout, but all in all it was a good night. Each year we do this in memory of my aunt that passed away from breast cancer a few years ago and our mom who is a cancer survivor with recurrent thyroid cancer.