Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Happenings of a Homeschool Family - Coming Up

Whew!  There are a lot of things going on and a lot of things coming up!  The summer flew by so incredibly fast.  Schools in this area started last week and the big yellow school bus has rumbled down our street 3 or 4 times now.  Thankfully we are not feeling a sense of longing over NOT going to "regular" school this year.  In fact if you interviewed Kayley she would give you a full run-down on why homeschooling is so much better.  I think her biggest reason right now is that we are able to do all kinds of trips that we would be unable to do if she were away all day in class.  It's so true.  We have been counting down the days, waiting for the kids to go back to school so that we can head out to Bass Pro and look at the fish, enjoy the zoo or Discovery Center, or whatever we choose...without the hassle of a million other kids there.  

Although this year, we bought a small swimming pool...which has been SO fun.   It kept us busy in the summer evenings and we hung out a lot more together!  It has been nice to have this as the drought has gotten worse and worse.  I guess if we get thirsty and desperate we can start drinking our pool.  LOL.

With the drought we are seeing an awful lot of this:

Our backyard catches a lot of runoff so we have a really lovely green patch plus the pond.  We are seeing a lot of deer...and for whatever reason we are seeing a mama deer with 3 little ones.  I don't know if she is "babysitting" or if one of these little's have lost their mama but this summer I have been so grateful for our little piece of property and the protection it is providing for the wildlife.    

This goes for our beautiful butterfly bush in the front yard as well...
While I have let everything else go, due to the drought, I have worked hard to keep my butterfly bush alive.  I think the butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, bees and such thank me.  At any given time you can walk outside and see upwards of 20 butterflies on the out, they dive bomb you when you walk by!  Keeping the mulch damp has provided homes to at least 2 different lizards as well. --and unfortunately a couple of hornets too.  (Sorry--I sprayed them, don't need my girls getting attacked by hornets.)  Just this amazing bush alone has provided hours of entertainment for Kayley.

In other news:  we went to the parent orientation for Classical Conversations on Monday afternoon.  I don't know how to describe my feelings toward CC yet.  Kayley will be giving presentations every week, our family will give a large group presentation in November, Maggie will go to a nursery, a lot-lot-lot of memory work, and in general I am mostly terrified and I walked away from the co-op orientation with a sense of "what did I get myself into?"  and "have I completely lost my mind???"

I keep reminding myself that it is for Kayley and it is literally all about meeting people and making friends -- not really academics in our case.  As homeschoolers we have to be intentional in making connections with others and I am making it happen.  I am not really a "go hang out with a bunch of skinny, trendy women" kind of person so if anyone has trouble fitting in and making is going to be me.  On the upside.  It is not school.  If I don't like it, if Kayley doesn't like it, we can walk away with no strings attached.  Anyway, we start on September 12th and I'm already losing sleep over it.  Ugh!  

Yeah, I think I have it narrowed down to the part where: I don't like being out of my comfort zone.  This definitely takes me outside that safety bubble.  It's been a long time that I've challenged myself in this way and it leaves me feeling insecure and freaking-out-ish.  I'm a bit nervous about losing complete autonomy over curriculum choices, sweating over how challenging it might be to memorize all that stuff, and the fact that I will HAVE to be someplace at a certain time on a certain day.  Not to mention Kayley is very, very hard on herself to be the best at what she does and this program will be extremely challenging for her...and I think, for the first time, she may not be the best.

Either way, I keep reminding myself that it is one year at a time and we do not have to go back next year if it wasn't a good fit for us.  I will still have flexibility.

With that being said, we are wrapping up a few remaining loose items this week from 1st grade.  We will be "officially" starting second grade on Monday, but honestly, grade levels at our house is relative.  We will be doing 2A/2B in Singapore Math, we are already midway through 2nd grade grammar & handwriting and we will be moving into 3rd grade Reading in about 2 weeks.  Kayley has expressed an interest in Astronomy so we will be enjoying Apologia's Exploring Creation - Astronomy series and she is also interested in learning cursive this year so we will be starting that too.  I hope it is a fun will be busy for sure.

This week is also our local Rhea Lana sale.  If you haven't ever had a chance to go to one you should check it out.  Rhea Lana is a consignment sale.   I listed 85 items and so far in the first day I have made over $100.00!  Yay!  Of course, I spent $60.00 so I didn't really make all that much in the end.  LOL.

I have several reviews coming up...Everyday Homemaking, Reading Kingdom, SpeeKee TV, Marshall Publishing, Family Time Fitness, BeeYoutiful, Scripture Power CD, Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day, 17 Miracles DVD & book, Music Together and ZooWhiz.

Depending on how CC goes we may or may not consider bailing out of the "reviewing business".  There is a definite plus to it, I enjoy trying, sharing, recommending new products but I find that I am getting overwhelmed this season by the amount of work I'm putting into it...  plus it has made blogging more of a chore and taken over my blog.  I'm still debating on this one.  ;)  We'll see.

Oh, I am also planning a few field trips including Titanic, Silver Dollar City Homeschool Days, Sight & Sound Theater to see Joseph, and the Butterfly Palace (I won free tickets!)  There is also, possibly, a trip to DisneyWorld again before the end of the year --fingers crossed!  I'd love to go again!

I think that is a pretty decent update of what is happening here...  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Beautiful World - Justin Cash --Deseret Book CD Review [Giveaway!}

I rarely buy church music.  Ok, ok, I'll admit that I rarely buy any music.  I think that it takes something extraordinary about that singer or that song that would make me want to shell out actual money to buy a CD.   I'm not sure why - music is pretty amazing - and music can make you feel so many emotions.  I know it makes chores go faster!  Finding music that is OK for the whole family is pretty tough too.  I remember when my daughter was small that I was listening to the radio and I was suddenly slapped with the realization that not all music is good.  I was suddenly hearing the bad words through a different lens, I heard that suggestive lyrics and from that day on... I stopped listening to the radio all together.  I decided that if it wasn't appropriate for my 4 year old, it wasn't appropriate for me either.  

Now, I do still listen to music.  Of course I do.  I've just had to work harder at finding good music that we can all enjoy as a family.  What?  You would like to find some good music too?  Great!  I'm excited that I can introduce you to one of my new favorites singer/songwriters:  Justin Cash!

Who is this guy?
Justin Cash is a husband of 10 years and dad of three little boys.   A regular, family-guy -- and this shows in his bluesy-jazzy music!  Fun, feel-good, family-friendly songs that you can relax to, be-bop to, and my personal favorite - do chores to!  His song-writing is heavily inspired by his children, his views on the world, and his faith.  You can learn more about Justin by reading his bio!

What do we think of Beautiful World?
Let me put it this way - it has been playing on repeat for the last several days.   My personal favorite is the title song, Beautiful girls are partial to Rain, Rain!  You can listen to snippets of Justin's music on his webpage: or enjoy this great song: If You Try...

Get to Know Justin:
Justin tells us that music is a gift that you can give your kids for their entire lives.  In this video he shares how you can give this gift to your children and what has worked for him and his family...   He insists that music a lost art that, when given to our children, will keep our culture vibrant and alive!  Check it out! 

Beautiful World retails at Deseret Book for $15.28 as a CD or $10.99 as an MP3 Download.

Here is a great deal!  I have been given the opportunity to giveaway one copy of Beautiful World to a lucky reader!  If you would like to enter to win a copy fill out the Rafflecopter below.  Drawing ends on Monday, August 27th at midnight.  Good luck!

Disclaimer:  I received Beautiful World free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Bible in 90 Days

Last year I participated in a program through MomsToolbox where we read the entire Bible in 90 Days.  It was challenging but rewarding.  I'm excited to participate again this year!  I just barely caught it!  It starts today!  If you are interested in participating, visit the link below!  
B90D here I come!  Again!  ;0)
Bible in 90 Days

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist - Schoolhouse Crew Review

Christians today often struggle with answering the questions of "why" they believe in God, "how" they know that He exists, and "what" to do when people ask about their beliefs.  I know sometimes I squirm when people start asking those questions.  I get confused and I don't know what to say.   I wish I did --and soon I will!  Thanks to the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I have been blessed to review an amazing Christian Worldview curriculum that is brand new from Apologia aimed at High Schoolers!  I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek offers the student a deep look into the Christian faith and address the myth that religion is only a matter of faith - when in reality it is a matter of fact.  Utilizing their "Twelve Points that Show that Christianity is true" Geisler and Turek maintain, "once one looks at the evidence, it takes more faith to be an atheist than it does to be a Christian."

Together the workbook and text are amazing.  The workbook is what you would expect from Apologia.  Very thorough, very organized, very easy to use. 
Nicely spiral bound the workbook addressed key topics that include:
1.  Key terms/vocabulary
2.  Hook Questions - warm up questions to remind you about the text discussion.
3.  Biographies & excerpts from the lives of influential Christians through out the world.
4.  Ideas for further research and reflection
5.  Assignment suggestions including writing prompts and research paper recommendations.
6.  What Do I Do Now?  How to use the information that you are gleaning from the text.

The main content of each chapter is presented in four sections:
Hook - questions to get your brain juices flowing and get you hooked in to the information.
Book - takes you deeper into the text and testing your knowledge and comprehension.
Look - builds on your knowledge with research assignments
Took - summarize and "take away" of the concepts you have studied.

Each workbook section repeats this pattern for each corresponding text reading.

Some of the workbook questions were tough enough that I had to spend several days re-reading to formulate an opinion.  This study offers a lot of ideas and concepts I have never questioned or pondered.  Such as:  "Can you think of any areas in your life where you aren't as careful as you should be about discovering the truth?  Explain."  Like I mention later, it took me over a week just to read through the introduction and decide where I stand on the worldview spectrum.

In the book Geisler and Turek share the three major religious worldviews.  Comprehending how others view God and the world relative to Christianity adds to the idea that it takes much more faith to believe that there is NO God at all than it does to believe that there is a supreme being responsible for the creation of all things. 

The text is quite incredible.  Beware!  It is a LOT.  It is meaty.  It literally took nearly two weeks to just read through the introduction and first chapter alone - and that is without getting started on the workbook.  I am not scholarly by any means (it has been a while since I have done any schoolwork above a 2nd grade level!) and it is a well written book - not above my head.  It is just so much to absorb and it is all so valuable.  I felt like I was parched for the evidence that supported my beliefs and finally, finally I was given a cool drink.  Reading this study, pondering, reflecting and praying over the questions in the workbook are slowly, but surely, rehydrating my dry soul.  Amazing.  Truly Amazing.  Looking back at my book there are tabs and sticky notes decorating the pages.  Reminders of things that I wanted to read again (and maybe again and again) and then share with my husband!

While this study is geared toward High Schoolers please believe me when I say that this study has been incredible for me as an adult as well.  It has been so long since I have taken a college course and this really fed my love of learning.  This series challenges even the oldest student to learn the evidence and arguments that support Christianity.   It forces you to take a hard look at what you believe and defend it.  I enjoyed using this book daily as a part of my regular scripture study and then I would typically finish up my study while my daughter worked on her own schoolwork.  It is recommended that each chapter take 2 to 3 weeks although I can see how I may want to slow down even more and really absorb the material.  My husband and I have enjoyed some lively discussions based on the reading and I hope that I can convince him to begin this study with me! 

I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist retails for $16.00 and the workbook for $33.00 and can be purchased on the Products page.

You can download a sample chapter from the text or a sample chapter from the workbook to get a feel for this program.  Here is the table of contents:
Don't worry, for those Type A parents like me -- Apologia also offers a password inside the workbook to download free chapter tests and answer keys plus the answer key for the workbook from their website for a well-rounded Bible/Apologetics course for your high schooler! 

I know that several of my crewmates had an opportunity to review this product, to read their thoughts click the link below!

Disclaimer:  I received I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.

Pretty Darn Funny CD - Deseret Book Review {and Giveaway!}

Pretty Darn Funny!

Pretty Darn Funny is a comedy web series that follows Gracie Moore, a mom who gets more than she bargains for when she forms an all-female comedy troupe in efforts to clean up the local comedy scene. It features a cast of colorful, loveable characters. It will make you laugh. It might make you cry (from laughing so hard). However you spin it, we know you'll think it's Pretty Darn Awesome.
Each new “bite-sized” 6-8 minute webisode is released weekly and is designed for your busy lifestyle. (Meaning you can watch it in-between picking up your kids from soccer, making a fabulous meal that half of your kids will probably refuse to eat, and composing what is sure to be the best blog post ever written in the history of the world. You know, in all your free time.)

In April, Deseret Book launched a new web series called Pretty Darn Funny.  And it is -- Pretty Darn Funny!  Now available from Deseret Book is the Pretty Darn Funny music CD inspired by the original web series!   Featuring Mercy River, Catherine Papworth, Stephanie Mabey, Caelee Reed, and more, this CD of 11 fun and inspirational songs are sure to be one of your favorites.  This CD includes a FAVORITE of my kiddo's a remix of Popcorn Popping by April Meservy.  My girls dance around the living room and ask me to play this song again and again and again!

Pretty Darn Funny retails at Deseret Book for $16.98 as a CD, or for $9.99 as an MP3 download.

Enjoy the interactive player below to hear samples!  

You can also view the original webisodes on for free!

Do you like what you hear, would you like to enjoy your own copy of Pretty Darn Funny?   Thanks to Deseret Book I am able to share one copy with one of my readers!  Enter to Win!  Contest ends August 22nd at Midnight! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer:  I was given Pretty Darn Funny free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own!  Thank YOU Deseret Book!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Thomas Jefferson Education, This Week in History -- Schoolhouse Crew Review

We love history and it is always fun to catch snippets of what happened on this day in history.  A Thomas Jefferson Education has made finding out about what happened each day in history convenient and easy with their new program:  This Week In History.  Thanks to the Schoolhouse Review Crew and TJEd for an opportunity to try out several weeks!  It has been an enjoyable experience!

What is A Thomas Jefferson Education?
"Discovered and articulated by Oliver and Rachel DeMille, Thomas Jefferson Education, or “TJEd,” (pronounced “tee-jay-ED”) is an educational philosophy and a methodology by which great individuals throughout history have been educated."  Using the Seven Keys of Great Teaching and The Four Pillars of Learning, TJEd offers a methodology of teaching your children using the great classics and mentors.  It is known as the way great figures in history were taught.  You can learn more about the foundations of TJEd by clicking HERE.

About This Week In History (TWIH):
Delivered right to your email in-box weekly or accessed via the TWIH Blog, a subscription to This Week In History presents daily resources including math, science, language skills, geography, current events, the arts and much more.  Each subject is tied to an event that happened on that day in history.   Jam-packed with so many fun and interesting activities it is like having a dozen unit studies each week!  Do a little, do a lot, it doesn't matter - they are all fun and educational for ALL AGES!

What did we think of This Week In History?
--No matter which week I received, every week there was always something that directly coincided with what we were studying in homeschool that week.
--Super comprehensive!  For example in one week alone there were:  picture studies, links for further study, discussion questions, research activities, craft ideas, project recommendations, poems, writing prompts and narration suggestions and coloring pages!
--Having the links available was great, I really recommend checking them out in advance because some of them had some confusing navigation issues to deal with before getting to the actual information.

You can view a sample week if you'd like to get a better feel for the program.

This Week in History retails for $9.99 per month.  

You can purchase TWIH by clicking HERE. accepts Paypal and major credit cards.

Want to find out what my fellow crewmates thought about This Week in History?  Click the icon below to read more reviews...

Disclaimer: I received This Week In History free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed herein are my own.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Math Made Easy - Addition Teaching & Learning -- Schoolhouse Crew Review

When I was a child I did not memorize my addition facts.  In fact, I can remember having "Math Minute" where for 60 seconds we would scramble to complete as many addition problems as we could.  My fingers (for counting, not writing) could only move so fast...and of course, by the 5th grade or so trying to hide your fingers under your desk slowed me down even more!  Needless to say, I was never very quick with the addition problems.  I am always looking for a program that will help my kids fly through math facts!  Thanks to Math Made Easy and the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we had a chance to review Addition Teaching and Learning Made Easy- Homeschool Edition.

About Math Made Easy:
When I first received this book I gave it a look-over and it struck me as an older type of something I would've used in school in the 80s.  Comb-bound and very unassuming the first page tells the teacher right up front, "a new way to teach an old subject."  I, quite honestly, was thinking this was going to be like every other workbook I have picked up and never used.  Boy, was I wrong! 

Primarily recommended for kids in the K-2nd grade range, Addition Made Easy utilizes a teaching method that allows kids to easily memorize their first addition facts, then quickly start eliminating what they learn.   Once kids learn the addends to zero and one they can can start moving on to tougher word problems.  Teaching the communicative property early (4+2 is the same as 2+4) mitigates unnecessary busy work that children often deal with in typical workbooks.

Using an addition table children mark off what they have learned up to 36 math facts.  Recommended pace is learning 6 math facts per week completing the entire program, memorizing all 36 facts in only 6 weeks! 

Addition Made Easy offers a simple easy to follow lesson plan for the teacher, a pre-test and post-test, 45 worksheet pages, and several fun math-review activities including oversized flash cards and games.  You can get a closer look by checking out their sample pages.

What did we think of Math Made Easy?
-It is truly an easy way to memorize math facts.  A systematic and logical approach to learning.
-Unfortunately Kayley did NOT learn all of her math facts using this program.  I don't know if it was just her...or me...but we could not keep up with 6 math facts each week, but that is ok.  We are still progressing though the program.
-The top of each page was listed with days of the week...and while that is a good idea...we often skip school during a week day and do some school on Saturday or sometimes only school 4 days a week.  Listed as a Day 1, Day 2, etc...would've been a little less confusing for us.
-The "Math Problem of the Week" offered on Fridays were awesome!  Out-of-the-box questions that really had her using what she learned.
-Hands-On activities were different than any I had seen in other workbooks.  It's always fun to try a new way to learn the same old stuff! 

Purchasing Math Made Easy:

Addition Made Easy retails for $24.95 and can be purchased HERE.

Visit their website at:

Many of my crewmates also reviewed Addition Made Easy, but several also reviewed Multiplication Made Easy!  You can read their reviews by clicking the icon below:

Disclaimer:  We received Math Made Easy free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All the opinions expressed herein are my own...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop Day 4 - Co-ops


Today is already the last day the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop!  I've had a lot of fun posting about our homeschool experience and I'm grateful to those that stopped by!  Todays topic is Co-ops!  I've been eluding to this topic in several postings this week because this is a area that is about to change for us!

Some background:
The first year we homeschooled I tried to get into 2 different co-ops in our area.  Both rejected us due to the facts that we are Latter-day Saints.  Citing "incompatible religious differences" in both cases they told us in polite terms that we were not welcome there.  It was hurtful.  I cried.  It seems that many people (at least in this area) are concerned with the fact that Latter-day Saints are not Christian.  Excuse me?  For the record Latter-day Saints, (aka the Mormons) are really, and truly, Christians.  There is a lot of misinformation floating around in the media right now and a lot of mainstream church leaders and politicians are feeding the public fear of Mitt Romney and the evil Mormons.  Just for the sake of clarity, we believe in God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost and in doing good works & sharing the good news.  So.    If that doesn't make us Christians then I am confused as to how one defines a "real" Christian?  Well, either way, I digress and that is a posting for another day.

We did have one co-op offer us a spot but told me up front that we were welcome to attend as long I understood I would not be allowed to teach in any capacity.  Oh, well, ok then....  I wasn't really gunning to teach anyway.  In then end it was kind of a far drive and I wasn't sure how badly we needed the social interaction so we decided to just forge ahead - sans co-op.

The second year we homeschooled I said "no way" to co-ops.  I was enjoying the flexibility of not having to be anywhere on a certain day at a certain time.  It was also nice that I wasn't at the mercy of someone else's curriculum for a semester or more.

This year...Kayley and I had a heart-felt talk in which she expressed that she was lonely.  I can see why.  Her only little girl-friend in church moved away, leaving her in a class of boys.  And as she is getting bigger...she wants to do girly things and play dates with the boys aren't fun anymore.  I could have just as easily enrolled her in swimming lessons, music/dance, etc but in the end I decided to take a chance and try the co-op idea one more time.

What did we decide?
Well, long-story-short:  Classical Conversations.   We are Charlotte Mason all the way - but when it comes down to our options for co-ops in this area our choices are limited.  I had been looking at the Classical Method and there are some aspects of it that I really like.  Mainly that the kids turn out to be brilliant!   :)

We went to an open house for CC about a month ago and were blown away.  The hubby thought it looked amazing, I had been leaning toward it a bit in our homeschool anyway.  We had already started doing some memory work at home working on character qualities and the Articles of Faith and I was seeing the value of memorizing scripture and other sing/song things to help Kayley remember days of the week, days in a month, and so on.

At the open house the director told the group up front:  "We let anyone in regardless of religious affiliation.  Part of being a good Christian is sharing the gospel.  How can we do that if we don't let non-Christians into our co-op?"  BAM!  I instantly loved her!

We went home and prayed about it and signed up about 4 days later.

Classical Conversations:
We are pretty nervous.  Classical Conversations requires a lot of memory work and it will be very busy.  But-I think Kayley will love it.  She will have a chance to meet other kids - hopefully girls - and learn a lot in the process.  I hope I get to meet some other Moms and maybe even make friends.  Maggie will get to go too.  CC has a nursery for the littles.  I will be blogging about this new adventure throughout the year so check back to see how it is going.  We start mid-September!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop 4: Our "Classroom"


Day 4 of the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop is sharing what our "classrooms" are like.  I know when I first started homeschooling I wondered what homeschooling looked like in every one else's house.  Some people had everything from re-created classrooms, complete with desks in a row and chalkboard.  Some people used the whole house as their classroom with science in the kitchen, reading in the living room, spelling in the kitchen, etc. 

We've tried it both ways now and I'll admit that I much prefer to have a designated area set up specifically for school work...  When my girls are older and can work more independently I don't see any reason that they couldn't do their school work wherever they wanted, but for now, we will stay together.

Originally, we started out with school stuff in the spare bedroom, but we didn't like it, it was too dark and lonely back there.  Then we moved into the kitchen, and that worked out great but we found that we ended up packing everything up, and putting it away, to stop for lunch and then dragging it all back out again.  We were also constantly shuffling things/piles around once the day was over.  We couldn't add any more shelving because of the doors and windows in the kitchen.  I wanted an area that we could leave out art projects to dry or spread out our math, etc.  I also wanted more wall space for maps and a white board.  So we took over the dining room.  It wasn't being used anyway...we always eat in the kitchen unless we have company.

So, to make things interesting I thought I would give you a virtual tour of our dining room!

In the big picture you can see Mom Central on the left...  Back left is Maggie's School Shelf and back right is Kayley's School Shelf.  The view out our back door is awesome.  I finally had room for a whiteboard, map, chorepacks, bulletin board, and calendar.   Maggie has the booster seat and she is always thrilled to join us at the table.

Here is a closer look at Maggie's Shelf.
I described workboxes yesterday.  As the girls get done with their work they put it in the "turn in box" and move on to what is next in their workbox.   Even Maggie has this figured out now and it is so easy to keep everything together.  Plus I can walk away to fix lunch and the girls can just grab what is next and turn it in when they are done.  The school supply boxes are just plastic shoe boxes the girls decorated with stickers.  Inside you have typical supplies: pencils, glue, crayons, etc.

Kayley's shelf has a lot more stuff.
In fact, I guess she has 2 shelves.  We are at the tail end of Core A in Sonlight and about to move into Core B so the smaller shelf holds all of our living books for both A and B.  Kayleys workbox system is Blue, (Maggie's was red).  The file box color coordinates.  I have to have several teachers guides for Kayley's school this year...although I admit this is my first year using them.  They are really necessary for spelling and Sonlight. 

Here is Mom Central.  Of course, my desk becomes the dumping ground for everything else in this room.  You can see my cubbies are overflowing with...well...I have no clue exactly what is in there right now.  During school my swivel chair turns around and faces the table.  During other times of the day it faces the computer and gets pushed in.

I think that is about it!  If you want to know what other homeschool families use as their classroom have fun clicking through the links below!  I know I will!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Perfect Brightness of Hope - Deseret Book Review

Are you or someone you know experiencing feelings of darkness and despair? Do you feel alone in your suffering? 

In this volume, A Perfect Brightness of Hope, author Davis S. Baxter brings light to those of us who feel beyond help and hope, reminding us that we are not alone, however alone we may feel. He testifies powerfully of the need each of us has to draw hope from the Atonement of Jesus Christ—hope for a future that's better than the life we're living right now.
Based on real-life experiences of family breakdown, disrupted childhood, severe financial trials, and life-threatening illness, Elder Baxter illuminates gospel principles and scriptural insights with inspiring stories from his own experiences. He describes how we can "act in hope" and outlines changes that will come into our lives as a result of that action. 

Through Elder Baxter's words and stories in A Perfect Brightness of Hope, you will find empathy, understanding, spirit-lifting counsel, and—most of all—real, lasting hope in the Savior, Jesus Christ. 
In this book Elder Baxter touches on a subject that is taboo to many people...Latter-day Saints included.  Depression and despair is very real, even in the church.  Even those individuals who have the gospel are not immune to Satan's lies that we are not good enough and that we should feel beaten down to the point of giving up.  After living a life of disappointment and abuse Elder Baxter created his own inspirational story by overcoming his despair and apathy and finding hope for the future.  This book provides insight into how you can do the same by taking advantage of the gifts of the Savior and finding peace.   A Perfect Brightness of Hope offers just that...a bright hope for those that are weary, discouraged and forlorn.  Well written and easy to understand all who read this will feel that enduring to the end is not only possible but desirable.  My husband and I read this together and enjoyed it immensely!

A Perfect Brightness of Hope retails for $22.49 at Deseret Book as a hardback or you can purchase the Bookshelf Edition for only $14.97.  You can also read the first chapter for free by clicking HERE.

Disclaimer:  Thank you to Deseret Book for providing me a free copy of A Perfect Brightness of Hope in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed herein are my own.


Back to Homeschool Blog Hop Day 3: Planning


Ok, so many of you are going to think I'm a total geek when I tell you that I LOVE planning.  Oh...I was born to plan!  When it comes to planning I am actually pretty darn organized or close to it anyway.  I am meticulous when it comes to picking curriculum, books, supplies, and so forth.  Now, with that being said I'll admit that sometimes I go a little over the top.  I've been known to become frozen with the analysis paralysis while trying to decide full subject matters.  Take History for instance...whatever we choose for history will impact all our other subjects.  I view homeschooling as a piece of a whole, not just something we do for a couple of hours a day.  I freaked out over history for months before finally deciding on Sonlight.  It was rough!  LOL!  I've also been known to buy something, look at it for several days and return it or resell it because I decided it wasn't going to be a good fit for our family.  I absolutely refuse to use something that we are not going to enjoy.

Now, when it comes to planning our homeschool day I do NOT follow a schedule.  I wish I could, but I found myself stressing out over being "on time" so I quickly dropped the schedule idea and now I just follow a general "sequence of events."  So our typical homeschool day looks a bit like this:

7:00/8:00 Kids up & Dressed
8:30 Breakfast
9:00 Start Schoolwork
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Finish up any remaining schoolwork
1:30(ish)-4:00 Naps/Quiet Time
4:00-5:30 Free Time
5:30:  Clean Up
6:00 Daddy gets home/Dinner

You may notice that "chores" are not part of our school day.  Cough-cough...we are working on that.  Right now laundry gets done during breaks in the morning routine and other things just happen as needed.  We do have one morning a week (it fluctuates) where we have "house cleaning day" and start school a little later and sometimes a second morning where we run errands and go to the library.  We only do 4 full school days per week and on Fridays (for now) we usually only do Math, Spelling and Electives keeping school to about an hour.  (This will be changing in September when we join a (GULP) Co-op!!).

For me part of planning to be flexible.  But--I have to, absolutely HAVE TO, be organized or I will go into crisis mode.  Using Sonlight has been simple, they have a wonderful daily schedule to follow (but it's flexible, do a little or a lot...and it is NOT strict).  I do use it faithfully.  It keeps me on target and provides a great tracking tool for our file that shows what we have accomplished.  I liked the Sonlight planning pages so much that I created my own.  It looks like this:

So, tell it to me straight.  Am I obsessed?  ;)

Yes.  The subjects are color coordinated and do match up with same-colored folders and binders.  I couldn't help it.

Notice that I did end up naming our homeschool...  It was past due, everytime I filled out a Book-It form I was tired of just listing "homeschool" and I wanted to have a name on my Teacher ID for all the groovy discounts I get in town!  LOL.

Also notice that I tacked "classical" onto our name...  I think it is the wave of the future in our homeschool.  (A blog posting for Friday will explain all of this).  Like I mentioned in my last posting, we are Charlotte Mason lovers and will continue to use Sonlight...but we are definitely making moves toward a Classical Education.   Hence the Latin in our planner.

So, notice the planner page is NOT a schedule.  Merely a sequence of events and a great way to track what lessons we did on which days.  Here in Missouri we have to "do school" for 1,000 hours per year.  600 from Core Subjects (400 of which have to be in the child's home location) and 400 hours from Elective Subjects.  We have to keep a portfolio of the child's work.  Now, I know a lot of people who probably don't do this...but I do.  Just in Case.  You never know.

So, at this point maybe you are wondering how I keep the kids organized?

Workboxes my friends.  Workboxes.


I bought these handy little organizational dealies at Mardel about 2 years ago.  They are made out of a sturdy cardboard.  I load up the workboxes with schoolwork the night before and this gives the girls autonomy in getting their schoolwork done.  They can see, up front, all that has to be done and they have the gratification of watching their workboxes empty as they put their completed work in the "turn in box."  We usually tackle hardest subjects first then let them get easier through the morning as Kayley wears out.

I didn't forget Maggie!  She has her own workbox already too.  For 2 years old she has already gotten into the groove of joining us at the table for part of the morning.  She loves it!

Of course they are color coordinated.  I couldn't help it.  The file box on the bottom is for filing completed work.  At the end of the year I just stack it up, put a big rubber band around it, label it and put it in the big box in the attic.  So easy!

So now you know how I plan what we do each day, maybe you'd like to get an idea of how I plan our topics for the year?  That is the easiest part!  I try really hard to follow Kayley's interests.  I give her choices and run with it.  I do not sit down and plan out a whole years worth of material at a time.  I don't think they would make an eraser large enough to help me with all the changes I would want to make when we decided to run down a rabbit trail.  For example, in August in Branson the Titanic Museum offers special rates and activities for I think we will study the Titanic in August.  I may plan out a few weeks and that'll be it.  By September I may find something else that we want to do?  or Not.  Kayley has become interested in learning about Space so we will be trying out Apologia's Exploring Creation with Astronomy series...  Maybe she'll like it, maybe she won't.  Child-directed learning is a good thing and I try to encourage it as much as possible.  Unfortunately for Kayley, some things are non-negotiable.  Like Math.  Spelling.  Reading.  Brushing Teeth.  But, I am flexible in areas where we can and I think it helps make our days more fun!

Well!  I think that about sums it up!  Tomorrow we will be blogging about our homeschool "classrooms" or lack of!  :)

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