Follow our family as we journey through life.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013

7 Quick Takes

I highly recommend Otter cases for your phone. Last night at soccer I put my phone on top of my car while I loaded up the gear. That was a mistake because I forgot it was there. Then I drove home (about 15 minutes) and parked out back on a slant. Michael then had a campus event at 9:00pm. He took the car and it wasn't until he returned that I realized I couldn't find my phone. Spent about 15 minutes looking before I found it on the roof of the car. The Otter case had gripped the car roof and the phone stayed up there the whole time. Whew!
If your mantel looks like this, then you probably have a homeschooler attending LMCA.
I really can't stress enough what a great program LMCA is turning out to be. I truly think it will be the reason I continue to homeschool these kids.
Would you look at how old this kid is looking?
How did this happen?!?!
He's getting a palate expander placed in his mouth over the next couple weeks. He'll have that for six months and then braces. Braces! What next? College? It goes too quickly!
Margaret has a cute little thing going on right now where she says the phrase "Good grief" instead of "Good thing." It is so cute. "Good grief we remembered to buy pasta for dinner." "Good grief it is not raining for the soccer game." "Good grief I found my other shoe in time for school." So cute and precious.  
Henry lost another tooth. It wasn't his top front one, and the other one is already in, so he'll never have that huge gap-tooth smile. Sigh. I love that smile.
Check out more Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Life Update

Sometimes real life takes over and I am unable to get to this blog. I always seem to be almost at my breaking point, but I always find that I am able to give that little something extra to get through. Then I realize that my life is lived on the breaking point, with no specific time more or less busy, hectic, or crazy than another. They are all just busy, hectic, and crazy in different ways.
So let's get to some pictures, shall we?
Soccer season is in full swing, with two kids on two different travel leagues. I don't think anything else has to be explained.
These pictures are from Isaac's game. I have only made it to one of James' game and I forgot the darn camera!

Both boys are really loving soccer. We were a little nervous because James got moved to a new team this season. He had played with the same boys for five seasons and so it was a bit of a shock to learn we were no longer with that soccer family. But he loves his new team and the boys and their families are so nice. It was a perfect change for him.
Isaac adores soccer as well and knows several boys from school and scouts and stuff. He is adjusting well to school and I think he has finally gotten into the swing of things. He talks about certain kids like they were friends and is doing well on all his schoolwork. Michael and I both agree that having a child in school is a THOUSAND times more work than just homeschooling. But hey, all we've ever known is homeschooling and it's all about what you know. This is an adventure for everyone!
Henry is just being Henry and loves attending LMCA. He says he enjoys the classes, but I think what he enjoys the most is recess when he can play with friend's Beyblades.

Even though we were all under the weather last week, I got some sewing done! From a costume worn at our neighborhood circus I got an idea for a cute skirt for Margaret and was able to make it in a few hours on a Wednesday.

She's gorgeous!
Malcolm is still the terror of the household. We love him most when he is like this
Sound asleep. But most of the time he's like this

Yeah, I just tore up this library book. What can I destroy now?
LMCA is going better than anyone could have thought. I don't know how I homeschooled all these years without it. Every aspect of educating my children is now better.
We are still waiting to be matched with a birth mother. It has now been seven months. I know that is not really that long, but it feels long. I hope a gal thinks us worthy to be the parents of her little girl soon. The waiting is agony!!!
That's it on my end!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Color by Number

Made by Margaret for Mama

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Product Review: Bash and the Pirate Pig (Book)

I was recently offered for free a new book called Bash and the Pirate Pig in exchange for a review on this blog. Intended for kids ages 8 to 14, this story follows the story of a young teen who is less than enthusiastic about spending his summer on a working farm. His attitude says it all until he realizes that real joys that await him.
This uplifting Christian story is sure to delight the tween in your house. Available for $12.99 from B&H Publishing Group, this book would make a wonderful gift. The uplifting message and fun illustrations really appeal to it's intended age-group. The humor is clean and inspirational within familiar scenarios and settings. This book would also make a wonderful family read-a-loud.
I thought this book was fun and kind of silly. I thought the spiritual message was good, especially since they mixed it into the events that happened. So it wasn't just 'right at you,' he kind of learns it over the course of the book.
Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review on this blog. I received no other compensation.

Friday, September 13, 2013

7 Quick Takes

A note to parents everywhere: That five minute catnap that your two-year old takes at 8:00pm will definitely give him energy to stay up past 10:00pm.
And yes, he will still wake up at seven.
But don't worry, by dinner time he'll have fallen asleep on the floor. Again.
Which of course means he'll be up past 10:00pm again that night. And up again at seven.
Another note to parents: That five minute catnap that was so cute at almost bedtime will negatively effect your life for FOUR. FULL. DAYS.
So when you notice that two-year old nodding off during bedtime story, and you know said two-year old does not sleep transfer well, STOP READING IMMEDIATELY. Get out the drum set and some popsicles and keep that baby awake until bedtime.
Your Friday self will thank your Monday self.
Check out more Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary.

Product Review: PeopleKeys

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I am always amazed at how incredibly different my children are. They are raised in the same home, experience many of the same things, but they are as different as night and day. In order to help them understand, foster, and nurture this difference I looked into ways that they could learn about the different traits that make them unique. PeopleKeys offered me a free personality test designed for children in exchange for a review on this blog.

PeopleKeys has over 25 years of experiences designing personality assessments. Their evaluations have been used by employers, teachers, parents, and even children to understand different personality traits.  
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I received the Children's Profile physical workbook to use with James. This workbook assessment is designed for children ages 9 to 13 and took James about 15 minutes to complete. How the assessment works is that it gives a situation or circumstance followed by a bunch of options. An example would be: "With something new" then the choices are: "I figure it out, I take my time," etc. The child circles the option that best fits what he thinks of himself. At the end you score the columns and find your dominant personality trait according to a graph.
I really enjoyed completing this assessment with James. PeopleKeys encourages parents to be involved while their children complete the profile, and I believe it should be mandatory. It was really interesting to me to see how James views himself. I didn't not influence his choices; in fact I let him choose the answers completely by himself. I joined him upon completion and we reviewed the choices and the scoring. We then read through the remainder of the workbook together.
There is no right or wrong personality style, and PeopleKeys does as excellent job of pointing out positive and not so positive traits in a child-friendly way. It can still be discouraging to a child like James who tends to be a more "half-empty" kind of kid. That is why I think it is so important for the parent to be involved in the discussion about the type. I could act as kind of a buffer and say things like "Knowing that you are not always attentive to details can help you when you are rushing through that writing assignment and then receive a poor score. When you are rereading your work you can think to your self, 'How can I make this better?'"
I also liked that the profile offered tips to parents and caregivers about how to reach specific types more thoroughly. Offering encouraging criticism instead of just a negative comment is helpful in almost every situation. Instead of saying, "Make this longer," I can say, "I really like the bank robber character. Can you write more about him in your story?"
No person or child is going to be solely one trait or another. In fact, James was so borderline between two traits it really could have gone either way. Each trait was discussed and we were able to see how different aspects of the four styles worked their way into his personality. Overall it was a unique learning experience that I would like to repeat with the other kids as they prepare to enter their teen years.
I thought this was fun to do. I enjoy figuring out things about myself.
The Children's Profile is available on the PeopleKeys website for $15.00. In addition to the Children's Profile, the company offers more thorough assessments for teens as well as assessments based on different learning styles. I encourage you to explore the educational products that they have to see what would be the best fit for your family.
Many other reviewers over at The Schoolhouse Review Crew received products from PeopleKeys. Click here to read those reviews, or click the banner below.
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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Playing Guitar on Sunday

Product Review: Logic of English

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Teaching phonics and reading to young children is a rewarding experience for me. In addition to children I taught in a classroom setting, I have successfully taught three of my own children to read. But what works for one child does not always work for another, as I am learning with Margaret. She is a delightful student, but I find that my "tried and true" methods don't work as effectively for her. The skills are not sticking, leaving her (and me!) frustrated. When Logic of English offered me the chance to review a phonics program for free in exchange for a review on this blog, I was more than willing to try this out with my Margie.
Logic of English is a research-backed program that teaches multi-sensory systemic phonics instruction in order to help learners of all ages become proficient readers and spellers. That may sound like a mouthful, but it actually just refers to using multiple senses (seeing, feeling, hearing, etc.) to learn phonic rules in a step-by-step manner. Their programs been used with beginning readers, dyslexic students, remedial readers, and readers in which English is not their first language, as well as students who just want to advance their own reading and writing skills.
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I received Foundations A to use with Margaret which is intended to be used with beginning or emergent readers (Pre-K to grade 1). Included in the package was the teacher manual, manuscript student workbook, whiteboard, tactile letter cards, phonogram flashcards, and phonogram game cards.

I was a tad overwhelmed at everything until I opened the teacher manual and began reading how to use the program. It is all laid so nicely I knew I wouldn't have any trouble. I love how at the start of each lesson there is a blue box that told me exactly what I would be needing, including optional items. Nothing is more frustrating than to get halfway through a lesson only to discover I needed to get something ready beforehand. I know this problem could be eliminated by reading the lessons ahead of time, but I have five kids in two different learning environments and I am trying to teach three different levels at home. Not going to happen.

It's like this program was designed for moms like me. Moms who want to be able to plan cute and fun instructional lessons, but who just can't. Moms who want to use the colorful and creative learning activities, but don't have the time or ability to plan that stuff. Foundations A did it for me. The teachers manual is attractive and easy to use. The lessons are fun and engaging. They are easy to follow and fun to teach.

Margaret is five and I felt the program was perfect for her. She already knows her letters and sounds, and can sometimes spell and read simple C-V-C words. Foundations A offered new ways to explore these skills and provided a great way to reinforce phonetic rules already learned. It also provided her with writing practice (which she desperately needs), as well as introducing words with blends and short vowels.

In my opinion, young children can not receive too much phonics instruction. Skills they learn in these younger years will represent their spelling, reading, and writing for years to come. They can, however, learn poor phonics skills. Foundations A emphasizes rules, pronunciation, and practice using multi-sensory methods.

A typical lesson would take us anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes to complete. This was mostly dependent on the skills being taught and how attentive Margaret was feeling. The lesson would typically start with some oral practice, or a game with the game cards. A new phonogram would be introduced and there would be activities associated with it. Handwriting practice would occur on the whiteboard or in the workbook. I tended to stick with the whiteboard because Margaret's writing skills are very undeveloped and she tends to need a lot of extra practice. She also stays more focused while using a whiteboard. When she has a piece of paper in front of her it quickly becomes cluttered with drawings a doodles.

I know, I know. But she is trying so hard to hold the pen correctly. She really is!
I decided on the manuscript over cursive for the program, and I know this is a hot topic of debate in many circles right now. I feel that for my family, manuscript is the way to learn letters. It is what books are printed in, computers use manuscript, and most adults write in manuscript. I am not denying the importance of cursive, and Foundations A is available in both cursive and manuscript, making it easy for you to get what is best for your family.
The tactile cards were also an invaluable tool for this program. Margaret definitely learns better when she is shown many different ways to do the same thing. These sandpaper letters offered another way to "experience" writing the letter. The roughness and the directional instructions helped to reinforce proper pen-strokes.
The lessons do move quickly, and we would on average complete three a week. Sometimes we would skip parts of a lesson and or repeat sections. This was all dependent on Margaret's interests and skill level. The program was very adaptable to our needs and was easily modified to meet the requirements that I needed for Margaret.
I plan to continue to use Foundations A a few times per week even though my review obligation has ended. I really like the progression and sequence of the skills taught. It just makes sense to teach phonic skills in this manner. Margaret really enjoyed the student workbook with it's colorful pages and cut-out activities. I had a short glimpse into the Foundations B workbook and I am hoping that she stays interested in this program long enough for me to be able to buy that program as well.
At the end of the lesson Margaret was allowed to use the whiteboard to doodle. Here she is drawing a letter house with backyard play equipment.
I liked having my own chalkboard (whiteboard) but you know what? Sometimes when the letters were together they were too hard to say and I didn't like that part. But I liked it when we matched things. That part was fun.
The Logic of English Foundations A can be purchased on the website for $34.20 for the Teacher's Manual and $16.20 for the student workbook. The other items I received can be purchased on the website starting at $9.00. I encourage you to explore their website for ordering options.
In addition to Foundations A, Logic of English offers many other products to fill your language arts needs. Foundations B is the next book in the Foundations series, Essentials is a program designed for students ages 7+, the Rhythm of Handwriting is an easy to teach handwriting program available in manuscript or cursive. Visit the Logic of English Website to further explore these options.
Other reviewers on The Schoolhouse Review Crew got to try out products from The Logic of English with their students. Click here to read those reviews, or click the banner below.  
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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Friday, September 6, 2013

7 Quick Takes

We are at the end of week two of these huge changes for our family and we are starting to gain our footing. I have been able to catch my breath several times in the last week, which was something I wasn't able to do for the entire month of August. I find that I am not able to do anything non-homeschooling / LMCA-related on Sunday night to Wednesday, but that's better than it was a few weeks ago.
Isaac seems to be adjusting more and more. He has decided school is fun, not "really" fun, but just fun.
Michael asked how he did on his math test and he shrugged and said, "I did okay." When we went to look at the test we saw he got 25.5 points out of 25 points because he had completed the bonus problems. He is shining already!
Quick adoption update: Yes we are still adopting from Texas. We are just waiting to be matched with a birth month. We have viewed about a dozen profiles, but of those 75% of the mothers were having boys. Of the ones having girls, we were not the family they chose. I know our daughter will come to us. Patience is key here. We have only been birth mother ready for six months.
LMCA is more awesome than anyone could have imagined. If you are a local homeschooler and are looking for something with a little more academics and structure for your student, I encourage you to come check us out. Here's a science project from the last week:
And here's the Romans fighting the Barbarians made out of Legos.
LMCA is a hard adjustment for Malcolm, who has to come to LMCA for the day with us. He gets so tired out.
Pretty sure he was on floor when he went to sleep, but maybe I am wrong.
Check out more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary!


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

How we are doing and Weekend Recap

I should change the name of these to Weekly Recap as I hardly ever have a weekend worth a whole blog post.
So many folks are wondering how we are doing after such an eventful change-filled week. Well, we survived and are ready for September! All August I have been saying, "I just need this month to be over!" Well, it's over and I am ready to start fresh!
LMCA was a huge success. Not only did the class days go perfectly, but my kids attending it really like it. Computer science, literature, and writing are their favorite classes. No, I am not sad my class didn't make the list. I am thrilled that a class I can not teach (computer science) and a class my kids hated at home (writing) are in their top choices. Now, if I can only get these darn lesson plans done I will be able to breathe easier.
Isaac is adjusting to life at a brick and mortar school. He doesn't love it as much as I was hoping, but it is only the first week and so I know he needs more time to get used to it. I am trying to remember when I was "the new student" in seventh grade and how long it took me to like it. Tracy D., do you remember our early days at OES? I know I didn't love it at first, but after I got into the swing of things I adored it! I always liked school as a kid. I am hoping Isaac will begin to appreciate the awesomeness of his situation soon.
The other kids are still homeschooling three days a week when LMCA doesn't meet.
James is doing a 6th/7th grade curriculum. In addition to his LMCA school work he is doing Teaching Textbooks pre-algebra. This is our first year with Teaching Textbooks. So far I love it because I don't actually have to "teach" the math. James seems to be liking it as well. For grammar James is doing Growing with Grammar and Essentials in Writing. Both are excellent programs. He is still taking piano and doing Latin and Greek. I have the Art of Poetry program which we might pick up again this year. We are looking into a language program for him as well.
Henry is still doing A Beka for math. He is also completing assignments in Growing with Grammar and Essentials in Writing for grammar. He does Soaring with Spelling and I am looking for a handwriting program that might actually improve his script. All my boys have lousy handwriting. We have tried five different programs. It might be genetic. Latin, Greek, and piano are all part of his school day as well.
Margie is going PAL reading and writing for language arts. These are the programs we do at home as part of her LMCA program. She is also doing Logic of English and ABeCeDarian for extra phonics practice. LMCA does not have kindergarten and so she is behind the other students in the first grade classroom. "Doing school" is still a novelty for her so I thought we would take advantage of it as long as it lasts. A Beka for math for her. She is starting Song School Latin at LMCA and is now in piano lessons with her brothers. Boy, that is not a bill I want to think about!
Malcolm is as cute as ever. Good thing because he can be so. much. work. We are starting him on some new supplements to hopefully help his crankiness. I know diet has a lot to do with his behavior, but how do you convince a strong-willed two year old to each fruits and veggies? The more language he gets the better he behaves, but the more strong-willed he gets.
I am enjoying all the "new school year" posts with what folks are doing for subjects. I would love to read about yours if you leave me the blog address in the comment section.

Sunday, September 1, 2013