Thursday, July 31, 2014

So Much Turmoil in the World - Don't be Anxious

All the average person needs to do is watch the news, read a newspaper article, or simply look at the front page of an Internet source and you can see all the turmoil currently going on in the world. It seems one awful event after another continues to happen. For any individual that leans toward anxiety all this information can be crippling. Planes being shot down, countries going to war, possible pandemics spreading globally, economic collapses - this is scary stuff! Is anybody else out there anxious about it all? As much as I try not to my first inclination is to always worry or fret of the current issues going on in our world today. Once my initial reaction passes though I  try to bring my mind back to two verses in the Bible that have always helped me when anxiety and stress try to take over.

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life.
Matthew 6:27
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:34
Let us not worry because truly God has got this!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Squeal!! It's Showtime!

Last night waiting backstage to go on
After 2 1/2 months of long hours and grueling practices the time has finally arrived. Tonight we perform for our first real audience. We are ready. This will be my first time since childhood performing anything. Of course by this point Grace is an old pro. Also today our local newspaper will have a big article about the production with pictures. From what I understand lots of the seats are already sold for the 8 show run. If you would like to purchase tickets please do so ASAP on their website through the theatre ticket office.

One of our many dress rehearsals

Monday, July 28, 2014

Exercise or the Lack There Of

For two years I have taken my exercise time very seriously. Up until a year and a half ago that meant various activities 5-6 times a week. Over the past six months other factors in life have taken over and exercise went down to 4 times a week, then three times a week, and now has virtually become non-existent. The biggest factor is contributed to the King and I play me and Grace are participating in. It has literally taken over our lives. Most nights find us at the theatre for 3-5 hours each night. The next morning we are spent and sleeping in to catch up on rest. Then it is too hot outside to walk, etc. and not enough time in the afternoon to drive to the gym - work out - then drive back home before heading to the theatre yet again.

Well, that is all about to change. In two weeks all the performances and dress rehearsals will be over. We can get back on track with visits to the gym and Zumba classes as well as walking at night after dinner once the temps cool off. Of course I had one other calamity that befall me a couple of weeks ago. I sat a chair on my toe and I think it was cracked or broken. I was unable to wear shoes other than flip flops the entire time and it is still sore in sneakers.

So my promise to myself and everyone else is that in two weeks exercise will once again take a very prominent role in my life. I have to get back in shape. I always feel better and not so exhausted all the time.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Advantages to Reviewing Products

In my case this post will revolve around reviewing educational products. I have been blessed for the past two and a half years to be involved with the TOS Review Crew. This partnership has in turn blessed our family with a multitude of educational products. I was given the products for free for my honest opinion after using the product for a certain amount of time in our home. Many of these products I would never have purchased either because we were already using a product that made us happy, maybe the product was out of our price range, or I had not ever heard of the vendor/product.

Working with the Crew is just like having a job. Each product we are picked to review has to be used appropriately, a review written, posted to my blog, and shared in different social medias. Once you are chosen to work with the Crew it is a year long commitment. As with any endeavor there are advantages and disadvantages that go along with the territory. I would like to concentrate on the advantages because quite frankly it is hard to think of hardly any disadvantages other than time out of your life to accomplish the reviews.

  • Free products. Each year is a little different, but so far this year our family has been blessed with over 10 free products and the year isn't even over yet. Last year we reviewed close to 30 products. This year I was a little more cautious in the amount of reviews I took on. So this means over the past two years 40 products have traveled through our home - some only during the review period and others we continue to use to this day. None cost us anything but time. This is a great way to supplement your homeschool curriculum throughout the year. Sometimes you even luck upon products that can be put on the shelf and used again the next year.
  • Meeting wonderful people from all over the country even the world. I have had the chance to meet not only the people I work with through the TOS Crew but also different vendors and companies.
  • More exposure to my blog. All reviews are posted in several different areas which exposes your blog to more readers. It is a great way to grown your followers and again meet many more people.
  • Educate myself. Over the past couple of years there are things I have had to learn to make it all work. Blogger, other social media platforms, writing, marketing, solving computer issues, and so much more.
I say all this because soon you could also have the opportunity to join up with the TOS Review Crew. In a few months an application will be made available for you to fill out if interested in joining. There are a few things you can be doing now to have a better chance of being picked. If you do not have a blog that would be the first order of business. You will also need to grow your number of followers quickly as they do have a minimum numbers of followers required in more than one social media platform. This is a huge commitment so you will need to pray about it. I promise to post the link to the application when it becomes available.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Weekend Family Projects

Today working on clearing more of the backyard
My parents have a contract on their house and hopefully will close on August 8th. We are moving them into my sister's house. She has lots of space where my parents will have their own living quarters, kind of like a mother-in-law suite only bigger. The downstairs already has two large bedrooms, bathroom, and living space. We are adding a small kitchenette and laundry room. Seriously they will have at least 1200 square feet down there for themselves and two dogs and a cat to live. Many things have had to happen to make this work. Currently we are clearing out all of my sisters things that were downstairs to put in storage to make room for my parents possessions. We also have to clear out a portion of the back yard to make a fenced in area for my mother's dogs. Another big item on the checklist is laying concrete to go down and around the house to offer easy access for my father who is not very mobile. Lots of sweat, tears, time, and money to make it all happen. I will post pics of the project as we go along and once mom and dad are moved in. This was an inevitable situation that we all knew would need to happen. My dad's health has gone down hill over the past year. He doesn't drive anymore or leave the house much. My mom is exhausted from the continuous care of a yard, house, and my dad. Dad also falls sometimes and one of us goes over to help my mom get him back on his feet (currently walks with a walker or in a wheelchair for longer distances). Now at least at night someone will be home to help if the need arises and mom will have just more people in general around for company, etc.

Dining and living space

Friday, July 25, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up - Never Ending Practices, Art Camp and Exhaustion

Most of our week was wrapped into rehearsals every night. Last night was the longest clocking in at 5 hours. The musical is finally all coming together. We are less than one week from performance. Three mornings this week Grace also helped at another art camp. Exhaustion has definitely set in for both of us and we are ready for a little down time.

We were still able to squeeze in some time for a couple of review products that we are working on. Ubersmart Math Facts, Dave Raymond's American History, and now a Raising Bearded Dragons online program. Yes, Grace is very interested in purchasing and raising a baby bearded dragon. From what we can tell so far very expensive and lots of work.

Two home projects going on at the moment - the first is a door we are creating for the school room. Main purpose is to keep all the animals out of this room. Have you every tried to concentrate with two cats and two dogs hankering for as much attention as possible. Hopefully it will be finished by Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Second project is the wooden shelf I showed in a previous post. I painted it with a white primer then two coats of the green I used on the walls of my recent bedroom makeover. It is now hanging in Grace's bathroom.
Today my son is closing on his house and we will be helping him move in sometime this weekend. Tonight is another very long practice for the King and I with cast pictures. Tomorrow morning I go to my sister's house to help as we are moving all her belongings from the downstairs to a storage unit to make room for my mom and dad's things. They close on their house in early August. As you can see this is where all the exhaustion is coming in to play. Grace has literally been sleeping the past two mornings to 11 or 12. Alice in Wonderland auditions are next Sunday afternoon right after our first Sunday morning matinee of the King and I. Not sure at this point if she is going to go through with another musical to prepare for back to back after this one. The only thing that makes it a bit better is the fact that we have already performed Alice In Wonderland Jr. and remember a great deal of it. I did find time to finish the brochure for Grace's new princess party business and gave them to the painting studio we will be working with.
As you can see the week was eaten up by play practice, art camp, a little school work, and lots of afternoon lounging around to catch up on rest. Next on the agenda is to start preparing lesson plans for my students I will be tutoring, Grace, and my Cooperative classes. Looking forward to getting back to a regular school schedule.

Weekly Wrap-Up

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

So You Want to Start a Homeschool Cooperative

This time of the year everyone is getting organized and prepared for the new school year, unless like me you homeschool year round. If you homeschool year round you are still probably looking at new materials, etc. to start. With all the new planning going on I am also seeing many posts about families getting together and starting Cooperatives of all types. I thought after my vast experience (two year - so maybe not so vast) I could shed some light on what it takes to have a Cooperative run smoothly and what you are willing to give to make it work.

Most of my readers know the story but if you are new I will do a short recap. Two years ago me and a close friend started a fine arts Cooperative in our community, mostly for homeschoolers but we do also have a few public or private school kids that have attended. We meet August - December and January - May. Mostly we make available fine arts classes but occasionally throw in a light academic class to spice things up. For example this semester we have Keepers and Contenders of the Faith, Drama, Art, Choir, Current Events, Screenwriting, Mapping the World Through Art, Mock Trial, and Sign Language. Over the last two years I have made some mistakes and learned so much. I thought for those of you that are considering putting a Cooperative together I would give you a few pointers for things that might make it whole process easier.
  • Pick a co-director. Don't try to do this all alone. Even with the help of a co-director some times you will feel like your life is being taking over by said Cooperative. I have found that it does tend to creep into all aspects of your life. Share the responsibilities with someone else, preferably a close friend that you can bounce ideas off of and is willing to tell you the truth when you need it.
  • Like-minded families. Search out like-minded families that want to join a Cooperative. This might end up being two or three families or in my case 38! (Of course we didn't start with 38, but gradually reached that number for our upcoming semester)  Everyone should be interested in  working toward the same goal. Families who participate should also be willing to help out periodically when the need arises. This may be to teach a class, help with dismissals, costuming, refreshments, holiday parties, etc.
  • Location. You've decided to start a Cooperative - now where are we all going to meet. If you are starting with just a few families then maybe someone's house will be just fine. If you are looking at larger numbers of children and classes then it is time to secure a good location. This may be a community center, church, or building to rent. In our case we started with renting a huge event room at a local bowling alley, which we quickly outgrew. Now we meet at my church and we our bursting at the seams turning students away.
  • Raising Funds. Okay this one is tricky. In the beginning we didn't have any funds and worked with a very bare bones budget. Mostly we wanted our Cooperative to be a ministry but knew funds would still be needed for things like liability insurance, rent, and supplies. From the get go we decided to charge a small monthly fee that would include all classes that were available. Some Cooperatives may decide not to charge anything but rely on parent participation to pick up the slack. In our case we do have parent participation but funds are still needed for the above mentioned monthly needs.
  • Recruiting teachers. This one is really important. If you don't have teachers, you don't have classes available. Most times these classes will be taught by parents that have children attending classes, but occasionally you will need to go outside the Cooperative to find a teacher. If this occurs usually some type of fee will be charged by that teacher to teach which brings us back up to the previous section of raising funds.

This is just but a few of the items I feel are most important to discuss and consider before starting a Cooperative. It is a process and you must be willing to spend a large part of your life working on it. I do view this as a ministry and I love our kids and families that participate. Definitely you need to go into this with your eyes wide open, but it is so worth it in the end.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

TOS Review - Apologia Educational Ministries - Flourish Balance For Homeschool Moms

Flourish Book Review
Recently I was given the opportunity to read and review Flourish: Balance For Homeschool Moms by Mary Jo Tate from Apologia Educational Ministries. This review could not have come at a better time. In less than one month I will be embarking on a new adventure and without time management and the right organizational skills I could fail. The book Flourish was definitely something I needed to read for this next phase of my family's life.
Flourish Book Review
Flourish was written by Mary Jo Tate, a single mom homeschooling her children while also running a business out of their home. She wears many hats on a daily basis just like the rest of us that are in similar situations. No matter what stage of life you are in, Mary Jo has seemed to address it in her book. If you are a sing mom, stay-at-home mom, working mom, homeschooling mom, own your own business mom or all of the above - she covers it.
Flourish Book Review
First here are some of the book details you will want to know:
Retail Price $15.00
Softcover paperback book - 288 pages
Recommended for Moms from all stages of life
The first few pages of Flourish are devoted to glowing reviews from many prominent individuals from the homeschool community as well as other industries. Quotes are placed throughout the chapters from moms that have read the book or taken workshops from Mary Jo. She also shares many personal stories, some of them quite humorous. I read a chapter of Flourish each night before bed and mulled over the corresponding discussion questions.
Very early on the reader is asked to fill out various questionnaires. One was titled "Big Dream" and another "Yearly Goals". I have filled out questions like this in the past and whenever I was asked to write a goal or a mission statement for our family, I would simply freeze up. Not a single thought would be in my brain. Setting a big goal or big dream was just never in my vocabulary. Going through this book has changed that. So what does my "Big Dream" consist of: own a family business, a husband that gets to work from home, travel more, and own a small hobby farm.
Other concepts I learned from Flourish and plan on applying to my life are:
  • Create a separate area for office/business.
  • Dealing with mommy guilt.
  • Prioritizing.
  • Getting rid of time wasters.
  • Remembering to take care of my body through exercise, rest, nutrition, and strengthening my spiritual life.
  • Mental multitasking undermining my focus.
Chapter 15 - Home Business would have to be my favorite, simply because this is the next phase of our life with running a home business. Definitely something I will want to reread as we get further in the process. The back of the book has a wealth of resources and planning forms for the reader to use. Flourish would be a perfect book to read in a book club setting, to give as a gift to a new homeschooling mom, or a homeschool mom's support group. Mary Jo also offers services for one on one coaching and she speaks at  workshops/seminars you can attend.
If you are looking for encouragement or how to have balance in this whole life thing - Flourish Balance For Homeschool Moms from Apologia Educational Ministries just might be what you are looking for. Also check out TOS Review Crew to see what the other reviewers think of Flourish.
Crew Disclaimer
Review Crew

Monday, July 21, 2014

Another Day In Pictures

The life of Riley, right?! These animals have it so easy. Napping the afternoon away while I work on the computer.

Finished up a review for the book Flourish which will post tomorrow.

Grace worked on one of our review products which will post in about three weeks. This is a map reproduction project.

I received the scripts for my first directorial debut. We will start practicing these when Cooperative starts back on August 12th.

This morning Grace went to help with another art camp and tonight we are back at play practice. No time to be tired. Tired will have to wait until sometime in late August.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Cast of The King and I

This is probably the biggest cast we have performed with in a dramatic production and we didn't even have all the cast present for the picture this night. We are down to less than two weeks from show time.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Our Experience So Far - The King and I

Most of June and just about all of July (in the evenings anyway) we have been spending our time at the local community theatre. Little did I know when I volunteered to be an extra wife how much of my time would be involved with The King and I this summer. Blocking, dancing, singing, memorizing and so on. Participating in a community play is a lot of work and can be very fulfilling, especially if you are already involved with the arts in some fashion. I have made a list of the advantages or special perks for participating in this type of endeavor.

At the top of my list would have to be meeting new people from the community. Four years ago Grace participated in The Wizard of Oz and our experience with the community theatre was good although I didn't get to know the actors or other families that much during the experience. This go around it is completely different. The group of wives consists of 13 women and teenage girls. They are all wonderful in their own individual ways and it is quite fun getting to spend time talking with them during the down times.

Next on my list would be learning and experiencing new skills. As I have mentioned in previous posts I will be taking over the high school drama department at our Cooperative this year and I am gaining a world of hands on experience by being in the musical. That was actually one of the main reasons I agreed to participate. Blocking, choreography, scheduling, costuming, and so much more.

Last but certainly not least is probably one of the most important parts of the whole experience. Getting to spend quality time with my daughter doing something she lives for. Since the age of nine performing has been one of Grace's greatest passions. Now I get to experience what she experiences and share it with her on stage. In that respect it really has been great. We are both wives which means our parts are identical. We can practice together the songs and dances and bounce ideas off of each other. She is so much better than me and I rely on her to remind me blocking, order of scenes, etc. when I get a little frazzled. Performance nights will be something special we can always look back on as time spent together doing something she loves.

Small House of Uncle Thomas - the 15 minutes ballet that it our biggest part in the play
We also have another intense dancing scene with Western People Funny
I hope our friends will come out to support the community theatre and watch a really great performance of the King and I. We have only two more weeks from today until we start a 8 show run.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Algebra - Finally!

I did some rethinking about what 75 percent of the Teaching Textbooks would actually be. For some reason I kept having in my mind that we had 10 more lessons to finish to accomplish that. Today (because we are so dang tired of Algebra) I decided to look at the numbers again. Before I had taken the actual number of lessons. This time I did page numbers. Low and behold we have just made it to 75 percent of the book and we are calling this math class DONE!!!!!!! I cannot tell you how happy we are to be done with Algebra I. Looking forward to a much easier year with general math and personal finance. I'm thinking of throwing us a little party. Kidding....or maybe not kidding.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

10th Grade Class Choices

The past 3-4 months have I have bounced back and forth between many class choices for Grace's 10th grade year. After much discussion with Grace I think we have finally decided on what she needs for 10th grade and what she wants for 10th grade. There is a fine line that we as parents have to adhere to when deciding curriculum from year to year. We know what the state requires, we know what our child's strengths and weaknesses are, and we know what the overall population expects a child to know and learn. Next we have to look at and I mean really look at what our child wants for the future and what they feel like they can handle curriculum wise. I truly took all this into consideration and this is what we came up with for Grace's 10th grade year.

American History - Originally we had already made the decision to study World History with Streams of Civilization. Then Dave Raymond's American History came to us for review through the TOS Review Crew. This course is rocking our socks and Grace really likes it. I will have more information about this course soon in a review post. We were blessed with an entire year of this curriculum and plan on taking advantage of it. This course starts with Meso-America and goes through the end of the Civil War. Lucky for us they are currently in production of the next set of DVDs which will cover modern American history times and that we can use in 11th grade.

Biology - Again we had thought we would ultimately move on to Apologia Biology and in essence we will still be using it just in a different way. We discussed the choices available on our book shelves and decided to use High School Biology in Your Home. This is a research based course. Up to 10 questions are presented to the student each week and it is their responsibility through using multiple research materials to fine the answers. Grace will use the Apologia Biology book and Biology 101 DVDs to answer those research questions. The questions should be answered Monday - Thursday and then Friday is a lab day.

English 102 - Multiple educational products and one outside class will make up Grace's 10th grade English credit for the year. She will go back to her beloved teacher Ms. Christy at Creative Canvas to attend an analytical literature class. Some of the books they will read include: The Outsiders, The Pearl, Animal Farm, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Giver, The Great Gatsby, and Fahrenheit 451. Grace will work on grammar with Easy Grammar, vocabulary with Marie's Words, and writing through the literature class and some other possibilities.

Spanish 1 & 2 - The past few months Grace was studying Japanese and had all intentions with Japanese being her foreign language choice, but of course with teenagers things change. At the last minute she decided to attend Ms. Christy's Spanish classes on Thursdays for two hours each time. This class is taught in a manner that one year of Spanish is taught each semester which means both years will be finished in one year.

Current Events - We will continue to watch CNN Student News and add that time to this past year of watching the same. I will add in Student News Daily for Grace to read and pick an article each week to summarize in a journal. She will also be attending a Current Events class at the Cooperative starting in August that will end in December.

Drama - Grace wishes to continue her experience with the community theatre and try out for Alice in Wonderland after we finish with The King and I. Plus she will be performing and attending drama classes with the Cooperative throughout the year.

Personal Finance - I have discussed before our decision to not currently pursue any more higher math. Grace struggles with it and this year we decided to take a break from it. For her junior and senior year that may change but for now it is what it is. I have multiple projects and books for her to work through to complete this credit. She will also continue working through a high school basic math skills book to not lose any of the concepts she currently knows like fractions, order of operations, basic Algebra, decimals, percentages, etc.

I am so relieved to have this done and planned out. We have 10 lessons left in Algebra then we are done and can say goodbye to the 9th grade year. So what are you planning for the next school year?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Favorite Book From the Past Revisited

One of Grace's favorite books from her elementary years is Hungry Planet What the World Eats.  We checked it out from the library so many times but I never took the time to order it for our own personal library.
Fast forward quite a few years and now I have a new endeavor of helping three different families help homeschool their 5th grade daughters in my home. The geography unit study we will be studying throughout the year requires a few of the books we loved from the past. Yesterday Hungry Planet came in the mail and when I showed it to Grace she immediately sat down and again looked through the entire book while eating dinner. She is always amazed at how little some survive on weekly for food while others have so much. I am looking forward to using this book again in a homeschool setting.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Weekly Wrap Up - The Week of Collapsing Bird Cages and Neverending Play Practices

Grace is our resident chicken whisperer. In the picture is Betty and her three babies. This past week they discovered a hole in the fence and Grace had to go and catch them a couple of times to bring them back. Luckily she has spent time with these guys as they have grown which makes them not too spooked when she goes to coral them. Hole is fixed and chickens secured.
I think this was the week of bird problems. Inside the house we have two parakeets that were recently relocated to the dining/kitchen area in front of a flight of stairs. We also have two cats. Can you see where this is going? A few days back one of the cats at 4 in the morning decided to climb onto the top of the bird cage from the staircase. This particular cat weighs 14-15 pounds but thinks she is still a kitten and can get anywhere. 4 a.m. and crash. Cage completely collapsed and the birds escaped. Me and hubby catching birds and putting said cage back together. End of story - birds are fine - cage more secured than ever.
And yet another bird story. My mom has a very short tree with very little foliage on it right next to her front deck and front door. A cardinal decided to make a nest and sit on three eggs. They hatched this week. This was not the most ideal spot of raising a family. First rain and very hot sun falls directly on the birds. A couple of days ago the nest fell apart with one of the babies on the ground below and the other two hanging on for dear life. My mom had to bring out a small wicker basket and  place the babies in it. Luckily the mom returned and continued to take care of them. Okay now let's go to yesterday - torrential rain storm and wind. Blew the wicker basket and babies out of the tree and spread them out on the ground. My mom retrieved the babies again and put them back in the nest. I haven't spoke with her today but it will be a miracle if they survived and mom is still taking care of them.

Three nights this week we had play practice for the King and I and each of them lasted at least three hours. I am feeling totally out of my element her but learning a lot for when I take over our drama productions in August with the  Cooperative. Me and Grace are making many new friends through the community theatre. Grace was excited to find out that the next production will be Alice in Wonderland (which she has performed in before) and wants to try out again. The next 2-3 weeks will be intense practices every week night at the theatre followed by 8 performances of the King and I. I hope we can both hold up at this pace. Last night we were on stage from 5:30 - 9:00 and never sat down or left the stage for anything.

Grace did some work with gearing up her Princess Birthday Party business by having me take photos this week to create a flyer to hand out.
Most of the schoolwork this week revolved around a review product for history and still trying to finish up Algebra 1. We just received another review product that deals with math facts we will start tomorrow. Yes sometimes we do school work on Saturdays.  Grace attended an anime art camp today. Today I also signed her up for a Literature and Spanish class. Both will be all year. The Spanish is done in blocks which means she will finish two years of Spanish in one year.
I am furiously trying to tie up lots of last minute ideas for the three girls I will be tutoring starting in a few weeks and Cooperative business. Summer is flying by. Some posts from this week you might be interested in reading:

Weekly Wrap-Up

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Those Pesky Legal Homeschooling Requirements

I live in the great state of Georgia, and don't get me wrong I do love it here and the homeschooling laws are really not that bad. Saying that there are two hurdles we have to jump through that I always put off to the last minute. The first hurdle, for me anyway, is writing the yearly assessment. This assessment doesn't go anywhere. It just stays with me and I guess when she eventually graduates it will either go in the trash or a big old box. Of course this year there is a little something different about writing the assessment that does seem more important. Grace has just finished up 9th grade (except Algebra - 10 more lessons then I am throwing a celebratory party) which means I really need to start keeping good organized records of everything she has done throughout the year. This year's assessment I am actually treating like a trial run of writing part of her high school transcript. Here is what I did and it took me about an hour. It was short and sweet because everything was documented throughout the year and very easy for me to find. All I had to do was put it all together. Grace ended up with the credits below:

Fine Arts I - Drama 1/2 credit
Fine Arts II - Art 1/2 credit
English 101 1 credit
General Science 1 credit
Algebra I 1 credit
World History 1 credit
Physical Education 1 credit
Because Grace is currently not interested in attending college but starting her own business we are aiming at a number of credits between 20 - 24. Of course if in another year she changes her mind then we may up it by a few more depending on whatever college she has her eye own. Going along the lines of starting her own business her credits are going to look a little different than your average high school student. You know what, that is okay.
I also included on the transcript/assessment a description of each class and what Grace accomplished. Plus her grade for the class. No muss no fuss. It was very easy. So next year will find us working toward another theatre and art credit, probably art history this time, personal finance, biology, American history, analytical literature, and hopefully finishing up a year of Japanese and a 1/2 credit for Current Events.
Our second hurdle will be standardized testing which will take place on Monday. We should be able to finish this in one day because I chose the CAT 5 survey and it only takes about three hours to complete. I cannot stand standardized testing and would not do it if I wasn't legally required to do so. One great thing about testing is we required to do this only every three years. So the next time up will be 12th grade.
Ah, when she was young and we weren't even thinking about high school requirements. I miss those days.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Gearing Up For Grace's Princess Birthday Party Business

Grace finally got her Merida wig in yesterday. We have been waiting on it for about 4 weeks. Today we were able to take some photos that will go on her flyer to hand out with information about her Princess Birthday Party business.

Currently she has costumes for Merida from Brave, Rapunzel, Sophia the First, Ariel, generic princess, and generic fairy.

We are working on getting costumes for Belle, Cinderella, and Elsa from Frozen. Grace hopes to be up and running pretty quick with the characters she already has on hand and the others by the end of August.



Monday, July 7, 2014

TOS Review - Moving Beyond the Page - Biochemistry and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Moving Beyond the Page Review
Last year one of our favorite reviews was from Moving Beyond the Page.  At that point we studied Greek Mythology and Ancient Asia. You can read that review here. This year we were blessed to be chosen again to review two products from Moving Beyond the Page. Grace and myself researched each unit offered before making a choice. We are still in the process of finishing up a 9th grade science credit. So it was a no brainer that we would chose a science unit to help with that effort. After much discussion Grace settled on Science Package - Biochemistry which came to us as a spiral bound printed product with another physical book about nutrition. Second choice was also kind of a no brainer because we love literature. Grace had never read Huckleberry Finn so we picked Language Arts Package - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in the online format with a physical copy of the book.
Moving Beyond the Page is often thought of as a program for gifted children. In more than a few aspects this may be true, but all of the units can be used with any child on any learning level. Each individual unit has prerequisites that are recommended for your child to already be competent in before starting the unit. Parents should research well before the choice is made. Many different educational philosophies are interwoven into each unit, like classical, Waldorf, Montessori, unschooling, and core. The authors of the products have settled more on a term of Constructivist Theory of Learning. You can find more information about their educational philosophy on the Frequently Asked Questions Page.

The Biochemistry unit is recommended for ages 12 -14 and retails for $25.98. This includes the Biochemistry unit guide and Nutrition: From Birth to Old Age. We received both books in a printed and bound physical format. What the unit guide included:
Note to parents on how to use the curriculum
Materials list and required books
Vocabulary list
7 complete lessons
Worksheets and assignments for all lessons
Study guides for review of each lesson
Final Exam
Answer Keys
A vocabulary match up activity
We learned many different science concepts in this unit. Much of it was all new material for Grace. Some important concepts she learned were the carbon cycle, biomolecules as building blocks, osmosis, feedback, immune responses, making a diagnosis, how a virus replicates, and alcohol awareness. The main project of this unit was keeping a food journal and analyzing the data. Grace's favorite part of this study was an interactive link with an investigative game to discover what caused a family's mystery illness. There are links provided through each lesson that may lead to an article to read or video to watch that corresponds with the lesson being presented. It is recommended that the student can read on a 8th or 9th grade level, be able to write multiple paragraphs, and understands what it takes to write a five paragraph essay. We worked on this unit 3-5 times a week and it took us about 7 weeks to complete. I found this unit to be very meaty with important science information which has helped Grace to gain insight on some of the concepts which will come up again this year in Biology.
Watching one of the video links provided in the unit study

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
This literature unit is also recommended for ages 12 - 14 and retails for $22.88 which includes online access to this unit for 90 days and a physical copy of the book. Even though we received the book I made the decision to purchase it in audio book format to listen to as a read aloud. Huck Finn has so much southern dialect throughout the book I knew I could not do it justice and if Grace tried to read it to herself it might have been a struggle. The online version has much of the same contents that a printed version would have:
List of materials needed
Student activity pages to print
Comprehension questions to print
A handy guide to writing and grammar
Summary of skills
Review sheet
Answer Key
Activity to create a raft
In this unit you will find 12 lessons and a final project. Here are some highlights of what we did while reading through the book:
  • Learned who Mark Twain was and the world he lived in. Why he wrote this book and some information about his other writings.
  • Different forms of writing including; narrative, expository, and persuasive.
  • Different types of irony and examples of each.
  • Figures of speech, point of views, and dialect.
  • Slavery
  • Watched the movie version of Huckleberry Finn (Grace loved it) and compared it to the book.
  • Created a cultural biography poster.
Cultural Biography Poster about Jim from Huckleberry Finn
We worked on this unit 3-5 days a week. I think it is recommended to finish faster than the 7 week period it took us. Again I love all the links that are provided. The searching and guess work are taken out of the equation by already providing it to the parents. We listened to about 2 chapters a day but sometimes 3-5 chapters a day were recommended. That would have been too much for us. In the future we would definitely work through the units slower than the recommended pace to accommodate our more relaxed way of learning.
As you can probably tell I really like this company and their products. There are many ways to purchase. I like the supplemental approach adding individuals units as needed, but you can also purchase an entire package to fill out the year. Also - so - many - choices, and because the units are so meaty even older kids could get something out of the younger aged units if nothing else but to review.
Please go visit Moving Beyond the Page and check out all the fantastic choices. Also visit my fellow Crewmates and see what they thought of the units they reviewed.

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Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Weekend in Pictures

We planted blueberry bushes at least five years ago but because of very little sun reaching our yard due to lots and lots of trees they haven't done much over the years. This summer they decided to actually give us a little fruit. We are contemplating moving them to a slightly more sunny spot.

Today I went to help my mom do a little packing. In a small tree on the side of her front deck was a cardinal sitting on eggs. You could literally reach out and touch her if you wanted to. Mom called me about an hour ago to let me know the babies had hatched.

We have started walking again as a family. Our views are great on the walk with visits from cows and neighborhood dogs. Tonight's walk had us meet up with this baby calf.

When helping my mom pack I came across many of the albums I listened to when I was young. I cannot tell you how many times I listened to this Rick Springfield album. Still love his music. That probably dates me a bit.

Grace sketched this out in about 20 minutes while listening to a history lecture today from one of our review products.

This guy is another calf down the road from us that we encountered two nights ago on a family walk. Last summer we had a very near encounter with a bear - hoping this year the cows are our only encounters.