Thursday, October 20, 2016

Home Sweet Life ~ Week in Review

homeschool week in review, Scripture Writing, homeschooling High School

What have you been doing all week? Is it your normal routine, or did you try something new this week? I don't think we have had a "normal" routine any time in the past three years. Does that sound odd to you? It is just how life happens here at Home Sweet Life. 

We officially start school here every year the day after Labor Day. That means we are about 6 weeks into our year. This is Emily's last semester of High School. She will be graduating in December. She just needs to finish her last 2 courses, so her schedule is not like anyone else's "normal." It is just her own combination of schoolwork, housework, and job interviews. I think that is typical of an 18 year old...maybe? 

Arlene is hard at work on her Junior year of High School. Ok, she's not hard at work right this minute, right now she is playing a game on her iPad. But earlier today, she was hard at work. Since we're a few weeks in, we spent some time on Monday making sure she was getting the correct amount of work done each week in her courses for this Fall to make sure she finishes what needs done before Christmas. Most of her classes will continue into the Spring semester, but we wanted to do a check-up as to where she is now.

Arlene and I have been using the Worldviews in Conflict set from Master Books. It is SO good! I was a little hesitant at first, wondering if it would be a good fit for her, and so far it is. We have loved Master Books since she was little and this title is no exception! Since Emily is graduating I wanted to have something that Arlene and I would do together, not just something for her to do on her own. As a working and homeschooling Mama, I usually choose curriculum that she can mostly do on her own, so we can keep our limited together time for things where she needs real help. This course has been a great use of our together time, as we take turns reading the text out loud, and then discussing it. If you have been considering it for your High School Junior or Senior - get it! Here is a small warning- only get it for your 15 year old or older as it is quite in depth and requires some real maturity. While I know a lot of homeschoolers start their students in High School at 13, this one worth waiting until they are older so they can really discuss it with you. This is NOT a do it alone course!

We continue to work our way through Algebra. Yes, this has been a multi-year project, but it is worth it to take as much time as Arlene needs to understand it. With her dysgraphia it simply takes her longer than it does for most other students. She would much rather just do story problems all day, but she needs the Algebra  to graduate, so we keep plugging along. She is also currently working through Geometry - both from Math-U-See.

Science?  Yes! Actually two of them right now because she is using Science Shepherd's Biology, plus we are reviewing a superb Chemistry DVD set from Chemistry 101. She sent me to work on Wednesday with a directive to bring home a balloon so she could do the experiment. I guess that is one drawback of having older students... you have less balloons and play-doh around the house and more reference books. Thanks to my friend Amanda for providing the balloon!

We decided Arlene could take a break from History for the rest of the month as she had been deep in the throes of it for the first six  weeks solid and had accomplished more than I thought she would get done by now. But, in a funny turn of events, I got home from work early yesterday and she wanted to go to the read a history book! :)

Tomorrow we're taking another field trip of sorts ... the local Historical Society is preparing for a quilt show next month, and since Arlene entered her checkerboard quilt she made for 4-H this year, she is going to spend the afternoon helping the ladies with checking in the other quilts that are being brought in for the show. I know a lot of homeschooler might think that isn't really schoolwork - so what?! This is preparing her for real life, and isn't that the point of an education anyway?! Our 16 year old voluntarily read a legislative law book from the 1800's yesterday, she can have fun with quilts tomorrow! Balance, and fun, definitely fun.

Yes, this is how we roll in our homeschool, never the same day twice. It is really much more fun than following a groove that becomes a rut. I call it eclectic experiential education, and it has served both girls well so far. :)

What will next week hold? I'm not sure, but I do know that God will let us know if HE has plans for us that are different than what we might have in mind. 

I've been active helping get the word out that the Homeschool Review Crew is accepting applications for the 2017 Crew year. You'll see some posts from me, as well as several from my friends on our Social Media pages for the next week or so. If you're interested, click on over and find out more.

Oh yeah, we've been listening to Cootie McCay's Nativity from The Familyman's Christmas Treasury over and over again this week- it is our favorite story of the eight available- you should get it!

I'll be linking up with my friend Kym on her Homeschool Highlights posts over at Homeschool Coffee Break. If you click over, you'll have an opportunity to find out how other families spend they weeks educating and living with their children. Lots of fun, lots of ideas, quite a bit of encouragement will be found over the next few months. I'll try to actually get a post up each week about what we've been doing here at Home Sweet Life. Until next time, know that I'll have Scripture Writing posts every week, and we have a super cool review item to tell you about next week!

Have a fantastic weekend!

Linking up with friends for Homeschool Highlights!

Homeschool Coffee Break


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Homeschool Review Crew ~ What It Means To Me

Homeschool Review Crew, #Crewapp17, Homeschool reviews

This week I've been asked to share a little with you about how being a part of The Old Schoolhouse's Homeschool Review Crew has impacted me, and our family. There is so much I could say, and a lot I will say, but you also have a life... so I'll limit myself. :) Be sure to read to the end as I'll share about how you can find out more information if you are interested in applying to join the Crew for 2017.

I was first introduced to the Homeschool Review Crew (I'll just call it the Crew from now on,) back in early 2012 by my friend Sharra. I had only been blogging for a few months, but she suggested I apply to join the Crew for two reasons A- I like to share what we have done in our homeschool journey, and B- it would give us an opportunity to try out some new curriculum as we did the reviews.

Fast Forward to 2016

Our oldest daughter Emily is getting ready to graduate High School this December, and our youngest has recently started her Junior year of High School. Why are we still on the Crew? Because we love it!!! Even though Emily has only helped with a couple select reviews this year, there are still so many wonderful opportunities for Arlene and I to explore new things with the Crew. Right now we are learning to play a new game, and studying Chemistry because of the Crew. Just in case you somehow missed it - Arlene LOVES the Audio Theater CD's we have reviewed from Heirloom Audio Productions!

What else have we reviewed this year? A wide variety of things! Arlene and I learned how to tap our maple trees and make Maple Syrup, we've both read really good books, we've found a Biology Curriculum that is working well for Arlene, we've watched movies, and we've both learned how to be better writers. (I'll bet you're glad for that last one!)

Maybe by now you've seen that we have the opportunity to review cool things. Not everything we review ends up making it into the regular lineup of courses the girls have completed for High School, but plenty of them have. But there is SO MUCH MORE to the Crew than just reviewing products!

What does the Crew mean to me?

I would be remiss if I didn't tell you a little about what goes on behind the scenes of the Crew. We have a terrific Leadership Team that helps us become better bloggers. There is a Q&A section where we can go and ask for help with technical aspects of our blogs (like how to improve our graphics,) or ask for someone to mentor us in our writing and presentation style. Personally, my favorite part is getting to know the other Homeschooling Moms, and a Dad, who are on the Crew and the fellowship we have together. We encourage one another, we pray for one another, and when tragedy or life mishaps happen, we support each other.

If there is a homeschool convention or event going on near us, we try to meet up in person. There are Crew members all over the United States, plus several foreign countries. Our girls have decided that they want to be exchange students and visit my friends in Australia, England, and Canada. So if any of you want to fund their trips, just let me know. :)

How has the Crew Impacted me?

Being on the Crew over the past 5 years has really challenged me to be a better writer, and a more organized Mom. I'll be the first to admit that we live a relaxed homeschooling life. It's a good thing our homeschool is relaxed, because the rest of our life is FULL. We have always followed Charlotte Mason's methods of gentle learning, with an emphasis on Living Books, Nature Study, and Narration. The Crew has offered us a chance to see how these methods can be effectively used all the way through High School. There are several curriculum companies out there that offer quality materials. I know as a Mom on a budget it was always difficult to decide if what was offered would fit our style and our budget. When we write our reviews, we try to be as honest as possible about how a curriculum A- is designed to work, B- if it works like that, and C- if it can easily be adapted to fit other teaching or learning styles.

Most of Arlene's High School coursework is done independently. As a working and homeschooling Mama, it is important that she is not always waiting on me to get home to teach her something. The Crew has offered several DVD based curriculums (like the Chemistry we are doing now,) and textbook based, yet still student-led curriculums (like  the Biology we reviewed earlier this year.)

Interested in Joining the Crew?

The Crew year runs January-December, with the last reviews posting in Mid-Novemebr so we always have plenty of time off for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I want to encourage you to learn more about joining the Crew for 2017. There are some basic requirements, but if you are regularly blogging and sharing your posts to Social Media of some kind you should be able to meet them all. Then, if you're interested, submit an application to join the Crew for 2017.

Even if being on the Crew isn't something you're interested in for 2017, know that we are planning to remain on the Crew as part of the High School reviewers. Stick around and read about all the fun we have, and learn something new about all the cool curriculum that is out there!

One last thing... the Crew has helped me be a more organized Mama. We have had several opportunities to review planners of various kinds, both print and digital, and I've even learned how to write my posts early and schedule them. While this may not seem like a big deal to you, it is to me! It has allowed me more time to do the Scripture Writing that I love, and share it with you all. We also have some awesome Road Trip posts to share with you soon thanks to learning how to be better organized! We've always been taking Field Trips, I just haven't always gotten around to telling you about them.

Have a wonderful week! 

Homeschool Review Crew, #Crewapp17

If you fill out an application, tell them I sent you. :)

What being on the Crew means ...

Matthew 6:9-10

Matthew 6:9-10, Scripture Writing


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection ~ A Crew Review

In just two short months it will be Christmas! Now is a terrific time to be turning our families' hearts and minds towards the true meaning of Christmas - the celebration of Jesus' birth. Arlene and I have been reviewing a fantastic resource for getting our hearts ready for Christmas as a part of the Homeschool Review Crew, The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection. This collection is six of the eight Christmas stories Todd Wilson has written in CD format. The Familyman also has the stories available as Digital Downloads.

For our review we received all eight of these stories as digital downloads, plus one of them on a CD. Arlene (16) and I listened to all of the stories several times. Kurt was kind enough to transfer my downloads to a thumb drive so I could listen to them in the car. Arlene mostly listened to them on her iPod while doing her housework. 

We both enjoyed listening to these stories that always point back to Christ as the center of Christmas. The stories are great listening for all ages, whether in the car or at home. Several of them are told from the point of view of the kids in the story, so they should resonate with your children.

Many people are familiar with Todd Wilson, The Familyman, from hearing him speak around the USA. These stories he has written include some of his trademark humor, and a lot of real-life settings. Not that my children have ever grumbled, or I've ever lost my focus -LOL! Trust me, you'll enjoy them all!

Here is more from Arlene to whet your appetite for these fun and faith-filled stories:

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection is a delightful audio book set of Todd Wilson’s Christmas Treasury books read by Jim Hodges.  You may remember Mr. Hodges from one of our earlier reviews as he reads the unabridged G.A. Henty stories.  The audio collection is six of the eight books in the series on CD’s, we also received audio versions of the other two stories. 

The stories are all  different and all fun but they all have one thing in common. Christ is the center of Christmas.

I loved each of the stories. So you know what you are getting here is a bit about each:

Cootie McCay’s Nativity is a fun story that takes place in the 1950’s. In a small Midwest town where shortly after Christmas the town Nativity gets run over by one of the town's elderly residents. That night a conference is held to see what they will do to have a nativity for the next year. It is finally decided to ask Cootie McCay, a man whose only work is literally to turn trash into treasure, even thought they are all afraid that they will have the worst Nativity in the state. No one in town really talks to Cootie so when he is asked he admits that he has never heard the story of the birth of Jesus. Over the course of the year, with frequent help from his neighbors, Cootie learns the story of Jesus from birth to death to resurrection. The town waits on edge all year until… Well, you have to find out for yourself! I will say that this is my favorite of all the stories.

Captain Chaos and the Manger Blaster is about a boy named Jason who is tired of the boring Christmas story and decides to add some fun by adding in Captain Chaos while he and his sister are playing with the family nativity. Jason's sister complains to their mother that he was ruining the story. Jason's mother sends him to his room. He starts complaining to himself and then Captain Chaos arrives and upon hearing Jason’s complaints blasts the manger away. Jason wakes up the next morning to find no Christmas tree, no holiday decorations, and no baby Jesus. Which means a sad world with no way to Heaven. Eventually however… Well I'll let you listen yourself and find out.

The Stranger is about a visiting strong man who has gone around to all of the houses of the members of a small church. He knocks on their doors, but no one lets him in, even though it is almost Christmas and cold outside. Eventually one family lets him in even though their power is out and the dog ate part of their Nativity. The stranger, whose name is Jesse is very kind and polite and starts to carve them the missing pieces. When they wake up the next morning Jesse is gone and the family Nativity is… Are you beginning to see a pattern here? The ends will be kept from this review so that you have to get copies if you want to know what happens.

The Bishop's Dream is about Nicholas, a kind old man who loves children and brings them gifts and love. One night after spending all day with the children, he has a strange dream, of a strange place where people are celebrating something called Christmas. Nicholas doesn’t know what it is but he knows the words Christ and Mass so he assumes that they are celebrating the Savior. He smiles as he see children having fun with a man in a red suite that they call Santa Claus. But he is worried that there is so little about Jesus. He meets a pastor who tells him where the story of Santa came from, and Nicholas realizes that Santa is based off of… Well you might be able to guess this one - but Nicholas is simply sad that Christmas is not all about Jesus.

Harold Grubbs and the Christmas Vest is about a young boy’s father who wears a vest that the boy thinks is ugly every Christmas. When the boy asks his father where he got it he tells the boy the story of Mr. Grubbs. A grumpy old man who didn’t like anyone after his wife died, but who one day started coming to church. Mr. Grubbs eventually came to trust Jesus, and how after that he always wore that vest every Christmas. The boy keeps asking his father how he got it and he explains that…

Gladys Remembers Christmas is the story of an older woman who is cleaning out her father's house after he moves to a nursing home. Gladys finds the love of Christmas that she hadn't had since she was a little girl before her mother died. While looking for a box that her father wants she is transported back to a time before her mother died where Christmas cookies still baked in the oven and decorations were put up every year. Gladys finds the nativity that her Father got her mother on their first Christmas for $5, which her mother always reminded her was a lot of money back then. Gladys takes it down stairs from the attic and…

The Secret of Snow Village is about a girl who loves Christmas but has always felt like there was something missing to the holiday. Then one year while at her Grandparents' house she is transported into her favorite decoration: the ceramic village in the living room. She has fun with the children there. They go iceskating and have snowball fights, but then everyone starts heading towards the little white church. There she sees and learns the true meaning of Christmas and…

It’s Called Christmas is a message from the future from a boy named Nook who tells of a world with people living on Mars, no sickness… and no pepperoni pizza. There’s also no Christmas, they have a non specific winter holiday. While shopping for a gift for his brother, an old man tells Nook that its called Christmas. Nook wonders what he means and so looks the word up. But Nook can’t find the word anywhere. No one, not even his parents or his history teacher knows what it means. So Nook goes and finds the man who tells him more about Jesus and what its all about. The man invites him to meet with other people to talk about Christmas. A few weeks after the meeting a girl he met there tells him that the old man has disappeared. He left Nook his Bible however and eventually…

Well they are all fun so get your own copies today in time for Christmas.

Connect with The Familyman on Google+, Pinterest, Facebook, or Todd's Blog 

To read more reviews from other Crew families, click the banner below! Merry Christmas!

The Familyman's Christmas Treasury - Audio Collection {The Familyman} Reviews

Crew Disclaimer