Kristen

Mar 272018
 

Disclosure – I received a free copy of Mexico Coloring Book & Geography study in order to write this review. I was compensated for this post, but I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Geography Study

I consider myself to be fairly knowledgable in the subject of geography. As a family, we’re committed to Raising Map Nuts. We make up geography games and quiz each other on the what state our tortilla chip looks like. We’ve visited all 100 county seats in our home state of North Carolina, and we have a goal of visiting every state capital.

Mexico Geography StudyWhen I received the Mexico Coloring Book & Geography Study by Tap and Katie Hornor, I was a bit ashamed to discover how little I know about the country of Mexico. I know all the provinces of Canada, but I not only didn’t know the names of the Mexican states, I didn’t even know how many there are! (There are 31 plus 1 federal district, in case you’re wondering.)

About the Book

The Mexico Coloring Book & Geography Study includes a black line map of each state. The capital city is marked for the student to label as well as the major rivers. Each map page also includes a small map of Mexico with the individual state marked for reference. On the bottom of the page is a catalog of facts about the state. These facts include the state motto, shield, area, capital, and other interesting facts. Each of the state pages is included in both English and Spanish.

Also included (in both English and Spanish) are notebook pages for compiling the data on the Mexican states. There are pages for Biography, Demographics, Coat of Arms and Motto, Geography, State History, and Historical Monuments. The entire booklet is reproducible for use within your family.

Suggested Uses

This resource would be a great spine for a full study on the country of Mexico. I think it would also be a great resource for Spanish teachers as a springboard for studying Mexican geography, culture, and related topics. You can purchase the book from Paradise Praises through Amazon for $14.97.

Feb 262018
 

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Bible Activities Genesis to Revelation in order to complete this review. I was compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own, and I was not required to publish a positive review.

Over the years, we have chosen a variety of different approaches to teaching Bible in our homeschool. Some years we’ve used a formal Bible program. Other times our Bible learning has been tied to our history program. During yet other times, we’ve not had a formal Bible curriculum, instead have used various devotionals and listened to Scripture. All are excellent ways of studying the Bible with our children. The most important thing is that we teach the Bible to our children in some way.

Bible Activities Genesis to Revelation

I was interested in reviewing Bible Activities Genesis to Revelation because we’re at one of those in between times without a formal Bible curriculum, and I thought it might be a good “extra” for Andrew to work in when I’m busy with other children.

 

What Bible Activities Genesis to Revelation IS

  • A collection of a variety of activities to enhance any Bible curriculum or study
  • 64 pages of activities
  • Appealing to elementary aged children

What Bible Activities Genesis to Revelation is NOT

  • NOT a curriculum
  • NOT a Bible study

In Bible Activities Genesis to Revelation, you will find word searches, crossword puzzles, coloring pages, mazes, code puzzles, sequencing activities, and more. With activities spanning the whole Bible it could be a useful addition to any Bible curriculum.

My suggested uses for Bible Activities Genesis to Revelation

  • Bible time at home
  • Sunday afternoon quiet time for children
  • Sunday school
  • Children’s church
  • Activity to use in child care during Women’s Bible Study

My thoughts on Bible Activities Genesis to Revelation

This is an average activity book. I don’t find it particularly unique except that it does contain activities for more than just the most common Bible stories. For example there is a word scramble for the book of Judges and a page on Naaman’s cleansing from leprosy. It also has a good variety of types of activities, but I can’t personally see myself using this as a supplement to a Bible curriculum. I can see its possible value in working with children in Sunday School or at a time when you have a group children with no set activities. (To use in a group other than your family would require either a group license or multiple copies of the book. Please contact the author at Paradise Praises if you would like to use in a group setting.) I will most likely give this to my youngest and allow him to work through it as he chooses. I think during my Sunday afternoon nap time it will be great!

 

Feb 062018
 

Disclosure: I received a free 16X20 canvas from Canvas Press in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Recently I was given the opportunity to review Canvas Press. I jumped at the chance because I love canvas prints, but rarely purchase them because they tend to be expensive.

Ordering Process

This was the first time I’ve used Canvas Press, and I was very pleased with the simple ordering process. The hardest part for me was deciding on a picture!

The first step in the design process is deciding on the thickness of the wrapped canvas. The options are 0.75″, 1.5″ and 2.0″. I selected the 1.5″ because one of the other canvases that we have is that width, and I prefer the way it looks compared to the thinner one that we have.

Next, upload the image. You can use an image from your computer or Flickr. When the image appears, it is easy to center the image and crop it. I like that the wrapped edges are shown in the preview.

Then select the size of canvas to purchase. You can use one of the preset standard sizes or create a custom size. On the next screen, there are options to select different finishes, color options, and enhancements. You can even request minor or major enhancements like changes in background or removal of large objects for an additional cost.

I chose the standard options because I had my son do some minor color enhancement on the image that I selected before I uploaded it.

Print Quality Indicator

I think that the most helpful feature on the site is the print quality indicator. The first image I uploaded was one that I downloaded from my on-line photo storage account because I couldn’t find the original.

Simple Canvas Prints

I looked at the print quality indicator and it was midway in the green area, so I was pleased. However, my son, who is very particular about images, asked me where I had found the image. He said he could see some data compression in it. After that I managed to find the original image and used it instead of the downloaded one. Notice the difference in the print quality indicator below.

Canvas Press Review

Although I personally couldn’t tell the difference looking at the images, and I doubt that I would have been able to see much difference had I used the first image file, I am impressed  that the site’s indicator is that sensitive. It’s hard to tell what an image will look like when it’s enlarged, so having an indicator is a necessity for customers to receive quality prints that they’re happy with.

Final Results

I received my order in just over 1 week! I am so pleased with the results. If you’re looking for simple canvas prints, I recommend Canvas Press.

Canvas Press Bryce Canyon print

Now if I could just decide where to hang it!

 

Jan 222018
 

Virtual Homeschool FairThis is week 3 of the Virtual Homeschool Fair and the topic this week is

Homeschool Curriculum – How do we cover it all?

Which leads me to the age-old question.

How can we avoid gaps in education?

The short answer is —

You can’t.

Does that mean we don’t try to provide our students with a well-rounded education?

Of course not.

How To Avoid Gaps in Education

But here are some questions to consider.

Is there a standard amount of knowledge that someone needs to have to be considered educated?

How do you even know what a gap is?

Who are we comparing our students to?

These are all questions that have to be decided by the individual family. Some states have certain requirements for what subjects should be taught. Others, including mine, do not. Our family has chosen to try to cover all the standard courses that would found in a typical high school curriculum. We do this for 2 basic reasons.

  1. It increases the likelihood of acceptance into college
  2. The “standard” high school curriculum covers a wide variety of subjects providing an introduction to those subjects. Exposure to a lot of different subjects enables students to discover topics that they like and dislike and can help provide direction for future studies.

But does that mean there won’t be gaps?

Do students who graduate from public high school have no gaps?

No, everyone has gaps in their education! Even if there were a way to teach with no gaps, do we truly believe that any student is going to remember every fact they were taught?

Our children are not going to graduate from our homeschools as experts in math, history, science, and literature, while being superb athletes, computer geniuses, and musical prodigies. So while it’s good to give our children a taste of many different subjects and activities, we have to recognize that the more thinly we spread, the less depth there will be.

Finding Balance

How do we provide a student a well-rounded education while still allowing for depth?

What does this look like in our homeschool?

Short(ish) Lessons

While I would not consider our homeschool delight-directed, I do seek to allow time for my children to delve deeply into things that interest them. Our formal homeschool lesson time is relatively short (assuming cooperation from the student). The expected time spent on school work does increase as the children get older, but still I hope that by homeschooling, they can have free time to explore interests even in high school.

Ample Resources for Independent Study

In our home we provide opportunities for natural learning with hundreds books, science equipment, puzzles, games, maps, educational videos, etc.

Model Life-long Learning

My husband and I read for enjoyment. We spend time outside in nature with the family. Our vacations are often spent hiking, visiting museums and historical sites. We like learning new things and we have always brought the kids along with us.

Find ways to combine “school” with students’ interests

When David was in middle school, he really wasn’t interested in history. I struggled to force him to read and have discussions about the reading. His primary interest was making videos. So I started assigning him video projects for his history.

 

Our Curriculum Choices

Disclosure: Some of the following product links are affiliate links.

1st Grade

My first grade son Andrew is using the following curriculum. It leaves plenty of time in his day for playing, drawing, building, or playing games.

6th grade

We have a classical leaning in our homeschool, so I try to include a rigorous study of Latin. Lizzie, in sixth grade, especially loves reading so I’ve been using the Memoria Press Literature Guides with her. She has a gift for music, so she spends a lot of time practicing both violin and piano.

9th grade

With William, our ninth grader, I’ve had to do everything differently. He struggled to learn to read and still has poor reading comprehension skills. It has been hard to find a way to teach content subjects with him now that he’s in high school. (For the most part we skipped them before high school just focusing on the 3R’s.) This year one of my biggest goals is helping him improve his computer skills. Here’s the current plan with him.

  • Word Up – Greek and Latin roots program from Compass Classroom. He watches the videos and then works on Quizlet sets for mastery
  • No Nonsense Algebra – This course has video instruction for every section that is included with the book!
  • Balance Math – A great supplement from The Critical Thinking Company
  • Earth Science from SchoolhouseTeachers.com – Video instruction with accompanying worksheets and tests
  • Drive Through Ancient History from SchoolhouseTeachers.com – Video instruction with worksheets
  • Typing.com – Free typing lessons.

My senior, though technically homeschooled, is taking 2 classes at a homeschool co-op and the rest of her courses at the local community college as a dual-enrolled student so I haven’t included her curriculum here.

 

Looking for more curriculum ideas? Visit my fellow homeschool bloggers!

Note: all posts will be live after 8 am EST on Monday, Jan. 22nd.

Our Homeschool Plan for 3rd, 6th, 8th, & 12th Grades by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Our 10th Grade Plans by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Planning Out Our Unschooling Studies by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool

The Details of Curriculum by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays

Reflections of a Curriculum Junkie by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Freedom through nature journaling. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

How I pull together a homeschool curriculum without packaged curriculum by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool

Our Favorite Curriculum and Resources – An Annotated Bibliography by Sabrina @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ

Our 2018 Homeschool Curriculum Choices by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool

Top Home Educating Resources by Sarah @ DeliveringGrace

Homeschooling Curriculum We Are Using This Year by Laura O @ Day by Day in Our World

Use the Force and Complete the Course by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

Choices, choices – how to choose your curriculum wisely by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home

Our Curriculum Needs – grade seven by Annette @ A Net in Time

The Heart of Our School by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

Curriculum We Have Loved Using – Virtual Homeschool Fair -Week 3 by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

How to Avoid Gaps in Education by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

Tricky Subjects and Starting the Decision Making Process by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

High School Syllabus by TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy @ GoldenGrasses

Jan 152018
 

Virtual Homeschool FairWelcome to Week 2 of the Virtual Homeschool Fair. This week’s topic is Our Method of Homeschooling.

When I consider the many years of homeschooling we have already done, and the many years we still have to go, I like to relate our adventure to a really long road trip. Just like a road trip, you have to start somewhere or you will never get anywhere. In addition, just like a road trip much of the fun happens along the way, so don’t make your homeschooling adventure just about the destination. So as I look in the rearview mirror of what has been our homeschooling road trip thus far, here is what I see.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on the link, I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price.

1. Choose a Direction

I count 2003 as the official start of our homeschool, the year that my oldest son started kindergarten. But I had been researching and studying homeschool methods and curriculum for quite a while before jumping in. I was always a good student and for the most part, I liked school. However, I was never interested in a “school at home” approach to schooling. I didn’t want “boring” textbooks. I was initially drawn to the idea of a literature-based approach (i.e. Sonlight). I pored through the Sonlight catalog and could hardly wait to start reading all those great books so we purchased most of the preschool collection. At that time, there wasn’t a schedule (Or if there was I didn’t buy it.) so it was just a collection of really nice books to read.

2. Keep looking at the Map (Never Stop Researching)

After deciding on Sonlight, I joined several Sonlight Yahoo groups. (Boy, I’m really dating myself!) I’m fairly certain that it was on those groups that I begin seeing people referring to combining Sonlight with the Well-Trained Mind. Here was something else to look into! I bought The Well-Trained Mind and read it cover to cover. Classical Education became our new plan.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Detour

In those early years, we used many Well-Trained Mind recommended resources like Story of the World and First Language Lessons. (I’m actually using these two resources again with my youngest.) We started Latin. I thoroughly read The Well-Trained Mind forums daily. My two older children were progressing through the curriculum fairly well.

4. Join AAA (Find Support)

Then I heard about Tapestry of Grace (probably in all my reading on the WTM forum). After one pass through the 4-history cycle using Story of the World, it was time to start over. The recommendations in the Well Trained Mind for the dialectic stage in history were not appealing to me, and I loved the concept of multi-level teaching in Tapestry of Grace. In addition, there was a small group of families wanting to start a Tapestry of Grace Year 1 co-op. Sign us up!

5. Take a side trip if it looks promising (Keep an Open Mind)

Right around that same time, I found another way to feed my curriculum addiction. I become a member of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. As a member of the Crew for several years, I received many products to review that I never would have considered trying. Three of those that are now on my short list of all-time favorite curricula are All About Spelling, Memoria Press Latin, and Institute for Excellence in Writing.

6. Take a U- Turn when it’s necessary (It’s OK to Admit Defeat)

Our co-op only lasted one year, and I wasn’t able to maintain my dedication to Tapestry of Grace without the accountability of a group to stay on schedule and to keep us doing activities. Another problem we had with Tapestry of Grace was the discussions. Discussions are an integral part of the program for older students and my oldest was really not interested in having them. Forcing discussions like that just doesn’t work. So while I loved the idea of Tapestry of Grace, it was not a good fit for our family at that time with my very techie, analytical son.

7. Allow your family to engage in different activities while on the road

As we moved into high school, I shifted to the very thing I wanted to avoid at the beginning. Textbooks. I found that with college on the horizon, there were some subjects that just needed to get done. Ideally, we would have enjoyed time learning together as a whole family. But realistically I had to admit it wasn’t going to happen. We didn’t have the personalities suited to that, and I didn’t have the time to make it work. We began to seek more and more outside classes for our teens. My daughter who is graduating this spring has taken all of her classes during her junior and senior years either with other homeschoolers or at community college. So during high school, I have become the overseer of my teens’ education, but not actually their teacher.

8. Keep the Road Trip Going (Revisit favorite places with younger children)

This year, I’m graduating my second student. But I still have one student just starting high school, one student starting middle school, and one in the first grade. I am going to be repeating this process more than once. This year, our two youngest joined a classical co-op. I have loved the having the accountability to stick to the schedule for both myself and my daughter.  If I had to pick one constant thing about our homeschool method, it would be change.

 

What do my fellow homeschool bloggers have to say about their Homeschool Method? Go visit them to find out!

 

How Our Academic Co-op Completes Our Eclectic Homeschool by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

A Method to Our Madness by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays

Finding Our Homeschool Method by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

How We Homeschool by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool

Give Us…. by Annette @ A Net in Time

A day in our Home by Sarah@DeliveringGrace

Lit-Based Education: How We Homeschool by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter

Overhauling Our Homeschool – Adjusting our “How” to fit our “Why” by Sabrina Scheerer @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ

A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler: Expectation Vs. Reality by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road

How Charlotte Mason Transformed Our Homeschool by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Captain’s Log, Supplemental – Our Homeschool Days by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

How we get it done. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

How to Organize Daily Curriculum with the School Cart by Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine

Learning For LIfe by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

Eclectic Homeschooling: When It All Comes Together by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool

A Typical Day? by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home

This is the Way We Do Our School, So Early in the Morning by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

A Little of This and a Little of That: Eclectic Homeschooling by Laura O @ Day by Day in Our World

Still Classically Educating After All These Years by True North Homeschool Academy

So what exactly is Life Led Homeschooling? by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool

The way we learn ~ 2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair by Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning

Our Homeschool Routine by Joelle @Homeschooling For His Glory

 

Jan 082018
 

 

Virtual Homeschool FairWelcome to Week 1 of the Virtual Homeschool Fair, hosted by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts and Minds. This week’s topic is Why We Homeschool.

As I began to think about this topic, I remembered that I have written about this before. You can read the reasons that my husband and I chose to homeschool. We came up with this list of 12 reasons at the beginning of our homeschool journey. I shared the list almost 8-1/2 years ago at the beginning of our seventh year of homeschooling. That means that we are now in the middle of our 15th year of homeschooling!

Our reasons are still valid, and I think that all the outcomes that we hoped to achieve by homeschooling have been realized, at least to some degree. We have

  • Taught from a Christian worldview.
  • Been able to customize the education of each child.
  • Spent more time with our children, and they have spent more time with each other. Our two older children have developed very sweet and special relationships with our two youngest.
  • Successfully graduated one student and will graduate our second student in May.

Why We Homeschool

However, the reason that we homeschool now is because we’re homeschoolers – it’s what we do.

When we embarked on our homeschooling journey, we were convinced it was what we were called to do. It was never an experiment or something we were going to try. We were committed to giving it our full effort. As a result, we’ve persevered.

Has every day been easy? (Has ANY day been easy?) Absolutely not!

Have I wanted to quit? Yes, I have called my husband in tears asking to send one particular child to school. More than once.

But here’s the thing. Homeschooling is not just a big part of our lives – it affects every part of our lives. It has become part of our identity. We look at everything as a possible educational opportunity. I am always thinking about different ways to teach things, how better to schedule our days, and the best ways to organize our increasingly enormous stash of books.

Are there valid reasons for some people to quit homeschooling? Absolutely!

Should all Christians homeschool? I cannot be presumptuous and be the voice of God in this area. I do think that all  Christians should seek God’s guidance in schooling decisions.

Are we going to homeschool all of our children all the way until graduation? I don’t know the future, but I will assume that is what we’re going to do until there is a compelling reason to change the plan. Eventually we will be done homeschooling though, and I am sure it will be a huge adjustment for me.

As I look back at the last 15 years there have been a lot of changes in our home. We’ve added 2 children to our family. We’ve moved. My husband has switched jobs – twice. We’ve changed churches and participated in a wide variety of activities. But one thing hasn’t changed.

We homeschool.

 

Now, let’s see what my fellow homeschool bloggers have to say about The Reasons We Homeschool.

Note: all posts will be live after 8 am EST.

5 Reasons to Homeschool High School by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Weird Homeschoolers by Kim R. @ Good Sweet Love

How We Make Homeschooling a Lifestyle by Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine

Our Ever Evolving Homeschool Story by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

5 Reasons You Will Want to Homeschool by Michele@ Family, Faith and Fridays

How Our Homeschool Came To Be (and why we continue) by Sabrina @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ

Home Education – 10 Reasons we keep going…even when it’s hard by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home

So… Tell Me Again Why You Homeschool? by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road

Virtual Homeschool Fair 2018 – Week 1 – Why do I Homeschool  by Joelle@Homeschooling For His Glory

Homeschool Reasons: Bullies, Faith and More by Annette @ A Net In Time

In Pursuit of Purpose by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

A Long Time Ago . . . Why We Decided To Homeschool by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

The Why Behind Hopkins Homeschool by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool

5 Reasons We Love Homeschooling by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Why We Homeschool – It’s What We Do by Kristen H @ Sunrise to Sunset

Why we Home Educate and Extra Benefits by Sarah@Delivering Grace

Homeschooling: The Big WHY? by Lisa @ True North Homeschool Academy at Golden Grasses

Regaining Your Homeschool Focus by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool

Why do we homeschool? by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool

Our ìHomeschoolî Why by Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning

It’s Worth it! Why We Homeschool, Even After All These Years by Hillary @ Walking Fruitfully

Because Life is Precious by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

1998 vs. 2018: Why We Homeschool by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter

Jan 042018
 

Winter Blahs?

Are you looking for something new in your homeschool?

Are you dreading starting back to school after a long Christmas break? (We’re attempting it today. Not going so well…)

Winter Blahs

How about trying something different while you get back in the swing of things?

The Presidents of the United States Video Based Unit Study from Paradise Praises might be just what you’re looking for.

Disclosure – I received compensation and a free copy of this study to write this review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review. Post contains affiliate links.

Presidents of the United States Video Based Unit Study

This digital unit study, available as a downloadable pdf, consists of a one page chart for each president and an appendix. Each chart contains key facts like the years the president held office and who was the vice president. There are also video links and book suggestions for each president as well as geography tie-ins, field trip ideas, art and other suggested activities for many. The appendix contains suggestions for additional resources, a blank US Map, blank notebooking template pages, and vocabulary lists.

The schedule suggests studying 1 president per day. That provides 9 weeks of study including a final day for studying the first ladies. If you started next week, you’d be over halfway finished by President’s Day!

My Thoughts

This a simple unit study. There are not a lot of extras built in though there are plenty of ideas in the resource section. It’s essentially a plan of videos to watch, books to read, and appropriate activities.

Could you find all this yourself? Yes.

Would you do it? Speaking from my own experience, probably not. Sure, you might start well, but to actually keep going and make it through all the presidents? I’d end up with something more pressing. I wouldn’t have time to find a video one day. We’d skip that day. That would turn into a week and eventually my great idea of studying each of the presidents would be abandoned. (I hope I’m not the only one this happens too!)

The biggest value that I see in this product is that it’s ready to go. You don’t have to search for an appropriate YouTube video. The work is already done for you. You don’t have to decide which library books to order. They’re on the chart. This product is ideal for the homeschool mom who needs something that the kids can do independently while she works with another student, cooks, cleans, takes a nap, or whatever she needs to do.

You might enjoy this product if…

  • You are looking for something straightforward and easy-to-implement.
  • You don’t have the time and/or desire to put together your own studies.
  • Your children are familiar enough with a computer to open files and click links unassisted.
  • You have a good library system to order books.

This probably isn’t for you if…

  • You frequently create and enjoy creating your own unit studies.
  • You don’t want your children to watch YouTube videos about the U.S. Presidents. (Or go to YouTube at all.)
  • You are looking for something that includes reading and comprehension questions.

How I would use this –

I think this is a great addition to any elementary American History curriculum. Instead of studying 1 president per day, I would probably study 1 president per week that roughly corresponds to the time period in history we’re studying. We’re using Story of the World Volume 3 this year and this is the perfect time to start the Presidents of the United States Unit Study since we’ve completed up to the start of the American Revolution in our history studies.

Interested?

You can view samples and purchase this product at Paradise Praises.

Have you started back to school yet? Do you start everything at once or ease into it? Do you like to change things around for the new semester?

 

Dec 312017
 

2017 is almost over. I’ll be honest. It wasn’t one of my best years.

There were a lot of unexpected expenses. This year we had to replace the washing machine, the refrigerator, and the dishwasher. We also purchased a new MacBook to replace my old machine that was unable to type the letter l. I continued to use it over a year after the problem started, but finally decided it was time to get a new computer.

In March, my 90 year old father-in-law was taken to the hospital where he spent several weeks, followed by several months in a nursing home. He was able to go back to his home at the end of August, but his declining health has added a lot of stress and work for my husband and me. We are thankfully not responsible for providing his care, just overseeing that and their finances.

The additional work, the extra expenses, plus impending pay cuts in addition to our regular life managing the schedules of 4 kids at home, homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, laundry, working part time, and volunteering have been exhausting. Plus all the stress has made it difficult to get enough sleep. So much of this year has been pure survival.

Homeschool

Even though it was a year of survival, we still have accomplished some things in our homeschool.

  1. We joined a co-op with my youngest 2 children. That has been a great source of structure and accountability for our homeschool this fall.
  2. My oldest daughter has completed one semester dual enrolled at community college. She completed college applications and was accepted into all 4 colleges she applied.
  3. My middle son has learned a lot about using the computer for daily tasks. We set up an email account and I’ve emailed him assignments and links to give him practice.

Spiritual

I have risen early most mornings to spend time reading my Bible and getting a peaceful start to my day. I am hooked on the Professor Horner reading plan and my ESV Journaling Bible.(This is an affiliate link. I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price if you purchase.) I hesitate to recommend a Bible reading plan, but this one has been such a help to me that I want to share. I also love this Bible and Staedtler fineliners for marking key words.

Organizing

My house, though far from spotless, is mostly cleanish. I have good systems in place for keeping up with the laundry, the dishes, and the basic cleaning. I have been consistently keeping a Bullet Journal for a year and a half. I hope to share more about how I do it and how I combine Bullet Journaling with on-line apps to keep things running smoothly.

 

There are some big areas that I want to improve this year.

Exercise

Yes, I know that’s on everyone’s list. I also know that I don’t have a plan yet and that by not having a plan, I am destined to fail. So I am publicly saying that I need to make a plan to exercise and then follow through with the plan.

Blogging

I have essentially taken a break from blogging this year. I did post a few times in January during the Virtual Curriculum Fair. I will be participating in that again. It has been renamed and revamped with new post topics. I’m looking forward to jump starting my blogging this year with those new topics.

Virtual Homeschool Fair

 

I also have some reviews that I have scheduled. I am pondering and have been pondering a shift in focus for my blog. What I haven’t decided is if I want to shift this blog to a focus on organization or if I want to start a new organization blog.

Those are my areas for improvement this year. I won’t even call them goals yet because they aren’t specific. I will be making more concrete achievable goals.

How has your 2017 been?

 

Oct 302017
 

Screen Addiction?

My kids are growing up in a different world than I did. Think about life before the internet. And now think about life before smart phones.

Our daily activities were different when we were kids, weren’t they? When I was a small child, the only screen we had was television. And that was hard to get addicted to with only 3 channels and an antenna on the roof. Technology changed dramatically between the time my oldest was a toddler and my youngest was a toddler. We had a computer with games for our older children, but there were no touch screens. Now smart  phones and tablets are commonplace. I see children in strollers playing on tablets while their parents walk!

Screen Addiction

Child Girl Screen Time by R. Nial Bradshaw is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

I personally love  and benefit from much of the technology in the information age in which we live. I enjoy being able to almost instantly find out the answer to a random obscure question. (We have a lot of those.) I am able to work from home and homeschool my children all because of the internet. I’m extremely grateful for that.

But we as a society have a problem.

We’ve become addicted to our phones and not connected enough with real, live people. Even without meaning to, we pick up our phones and look at them INSTEAD of looking at our family and friends. Even when they’re talking TO US. It’s become such a habit that we pick up our phones and start scrolling without even thinking of it.

However, there is help for screen addiction. To start with, I recommend reading Calm, Cool, and Connected.

Calm, Cool, and Connected: A Review

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

Screen Addiction?When I received the invitation to review Calm, Cool, and Connected by Arlene Pellicane, this was the opening paragraph of the invitation.

Do you ever find yourself mindlessly scrolling through social media, sometimes late into the night? Or maybe you’re prone to answer “just one more text,” even though your child is desperately waiting to speak with you. Perhaps your phone is the first thing you reach for in the morning, a Netflix binge is on your nightly agenda, and you’ve caught yourself texting at red lights. Has technology taken over your life?

I read that and knew immediately that I needed to read this book!

Calm, Cool, and Connected is a short, quick, and easy to read book. It is structured around the acronym HABIT.

H – Hold Down the Off Button

A – Always Put People First

B – Brush Daily: Live with a Clean Conscience

I – I Will Go Online with Purpose

T – Take a Hike

Making Changes

Though it is easy to read, it is not easy to implement. It has challenged me to make changes in my use of technology. I have caught myself repeatedly not looking up from my phone or computer when my kids have come to me with a question. I was unaware of this behavior before reading the book. There should always be a reason for going on-line. Without a specific purpose, I will get sucked into social media. I have been convicted about how much time that I waste looking at social media and playing games on my phone. I talk about how busy I am and use being tired as an excuse for not getting more work done, but I have a lot more time to be productive than I was admitting. If I don’t want to use my spare time to be more productive, I can use it to truly relax. Playing on my phone is NOT relaxing.

If you or your family struggle with screen addiction, I highly recommend reading Calm, Cool, and Connected. I think you’ll be glad you did!

screen addiction

Calm, Cool, and Connected is available at ChristianBook.com and other major booksellers.

This is an affiliate link. If you make a purchase after clicking this link, I will receive a small percentage.

Jul 132017
 

 

Borax SnowflakeI did the neatest Christmas craft project with my 6 year old this week.  We made a snowflake out of pipe cleaners and Borax. Here is a direct link to the printable instructions for making a Borax snowflake.

Materials:

    • pipe cleaner
    • string
    • boiling water
    • wide mouth jar
    • Borax
    • pencil
    • blue food coloring (optional)

 

The first step is to cut a pipe cleaner into 3 pieces.  Then twist them together in the middle to form a 6-pointed figure.

Borax Snowflake

Next, take string and wind it around each of the points of the pipe cleaner. Leave a long piece at the end.

Borax Snowflake

Tie the end of the string to a pencil.

Borax Snowflake

Next, get your wide mouth jar.

Borax Snowflake


and your Borax.

Borax Snowflake

Pour 1 cup of boiling water into the jar. Add 3 tablespoons of Borax and stir.

Borax Snowflake

Add a couple of drops of blue food coloring if desired.

Borax Snowflake

Lower ornament into the jar.

Borax Snowflake

 

Borax Snowflake

 

Leave ornament in Borax solution overnight. Remove from solution and you will have a beautiful snowflake covered with crystals.

Borax Snowflake