Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday Musings - They're Back

Life has settled down from the summer and I did really miss writing these, so they are back for the time being.

What I'm thinking: That the home schooling has changed a bit this year. Mr. Lego is gone now each morning from about 8:30 until 10:30, for his Spanish college class. Then he leaves almost each weekday from 11:30 to 2:30 to work at his job, where he is a meal server. Needless to say he is studying all afternoon and in between his going in-and-out....this has made our Together School to only consist of Bible, and be in the late afternoons. But this is a good thing; I have found it is making me focus more on Dasher and Nutsy, and is exactly what they need this year.

What I'm reading: Today I started reading a new book to the girls, The Hidden Treasure of Glaston but Eleanor M Jewett. We are studying the Middle Ages in history and this book of historical fiction comes highly recommended by a friend.

What we're learning: School is in full swing, now that co-op has started. This week we are learning about the Celtics in history, reading an overview of biology (older two) and anatomy (younger two), and the older two have their first writing assignments of the new school year.

What I'm watching: Over the weekend my Sweetie and I watch Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds....every time we watch that movie I find myself looking at the birds that sit on the wires, fences....and keeping an eye on them.....

What's cooking: This week I am making beef tacos, Tostadas, and Won Tons. Later today I hope to get into the kitchen and make my weekly whole wheat bread too....

What I'm thankful for: I am so thankful for the family trip we were able to take a couple of weeks ago. What a blessing for our family to go to such fun places!

What I'm creating: I have some ideas of a crafty way to memorialize some of the things we got at Disneyland.....I am usually not a creative person so we will see how this turns out.

What I'm praying: I am praying that the King fire would be put out soon; my dear friend came close to being evacuated but then the fire changed direction. And we have not had any smoke problems yet even though I can see it each day; it is making for some spectacular sunrises and sunsets.

What I'm planning: I am teaching biology to eight high school students in our co-op (Yes, it has grown this year.) I have planned out the first couple of lessons and need to get cracking with the rest.

What we did this last weekend: On Saturday we volunteered at the grange breakfast to help our 4H club, then went to a friend's house to a gender reveal party. (It's a girl!) Then to church yesterday, friends came over for the afternoon, then back for our monthly meeting. Our pastor is going through I John each month and I am enjoying the discussions.

What I'm looking forward to: I am looking forward to organizing our school room this week. I plan to move a shelf around and am going to go through the whole room. We'll see if I can get it all done this week!

A picture to share:

~What is on my dining room table right now.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sea World {Family Vacation - Journal Entry}

{Another one of my journaling entries written for my family.....of a fun filled week.}

Last week we surprised the kids and took them down to LA for a week.

We woke them up early on Sunday and got them eating breakfast at the table. Kids are very intuitive, and at least a couple were wondering why we had gotten them up so early, or why dad kept looking at mom, or why I kept fiddling with my camera (Trying to get it to record.)

My Sweetie then picked up a magazine that had a Disney ad in it, and asked if they wanted to go.

We must mess around with our kids a lot, because it took us a full ten minutes to convince them that we were quite serious about leaving as soon as they had packed. (One child said she did not believe us until halfway down I-5, and thought we were having her pack up her clothes so their room was clean.)

We heard:

"The real Disneyland?"

"You mean right now, in my pajamas?"

"On a Sunday?"

and, "Are you kidding with us?", about fifteen times.

{I do have a video, but there wasn't an Aha moment for them and it is about 7 minutes long so too boring to show.)

{Somewhere in the vast, boring expansiveness of I-5}

We drove all the way to San Diego,  dumped our stuff at our hotel, and made our way to Mission Beach, and to a taco stand we found on Yelp.

I really liked San Diego. The weather difference between LA and SD was amazing; there were so many more palm trees in San Diego and a bit more humidity. And if you know me, you know I love that kind of weather.

My Sweetie liked SD for a different reason....his beloved Chargers were playing on MNF that week, so we saw this everywhere.

As he told me, he was among his own people.

Next we hit Mission Beach and saw the most amazing sunset.

And yes, my Northern California friends, the water here is way warmer.

The colors were breathtaking.

We were smart and stayed in hotels that had breakfasts included...the hotel in San Diego had this nice patio among ferns and palm trees.

Monday morning was Sea World.

One of our first moments there was a neat one; as we waited for the park to completely open at 10 am, they played the Star Spangled Banner, which they do every single morning. It was neat standing there, with all the other guests with our hats off, remembering our freedom.

The rides at Sea World were good ones.

This was our first one, Journey to Atlantis.

 I don't want to give anything away, but this is truly a combination ride, with both roller coaster and water flume parts.

We headed over to the Manta; none of the girls had really been on roller coasters before so we didn't really prep them, just told them they could handle it.

They loved this one; Dasher told me later that if she had really stopped and watched it before riding on it, she wouldn't have gone.

The park was very uncrowded; at one point on Manta, they told us we could ride again and just switch seats.

We went on this thing at least 6 times.

{You can see Mr. Lego and Bookworm in the front row}

The Bayside Skyride was cool and went out over the Bay.

Shipwreck Rapids was a water run ride and yes, we got wet.

The Shamu show was the best one there, and I was pretty impressed with what they could get the killer whales to do.

Another neat thing they do every day at the Shamu show is to ask all active and retired military to stand; they show some of their faces on the gigantic video tron while we all applaud and show them our thanks.

These whales were huge.

We sat in the Splash Zone, since it was 85 degrees out, and thought it would be nice to get "splashed".

And then we saw this coming towards us....

Um, .....we got SOAKED. The trainer sent that massive beast over to our section 3 times, and we all looked like we had buckets of sea water poured over our heads.

The other show we watched were the dolphins. Aside from the corny storyline, the dolphins themselves were beautiful.

And it wasn't just dolphins but trained birds flew around (too quick for my point and shoot camera) and some high diving too.

This was cool; she put a ring on one dolphins nose and rode them around the pool.

The dolphin synchronization was amazing, and fun to watch.

Other things we saw:

Shark Encounter - very cool tube you walk through with sharks swimming all around

Fish Aquarium - where we saw piranhas being fed

 And Wild Arctic - you take a ride in a helicopter (motion simulator) to the Arctic, which opens into a replica of a research station. You wind through the station, seeing polar bears, beluga whales, and penguins. (Real animals, in case you were wondering.)

The only problem with this place was that they really want you to feel like you are in the Arctic so they kept the temperature pretty cold. (There is even an ice tunnel!) We had just done Shamu and were all very wet and so walked through this exhibit pretty quickly.

After we rode all the rides one more time, it was time for the park to close.

Looking back......Sea World has some great shows. There are only 3 major rides there; plus 3 others, one of which was closed. (Plus a younger kids area too.) But we did fill the day and weren't bored. It is basically an amusement park wrapped into an aquarium/zoo and has stuff for both the older and younger crowd. The food was not that great and seemed overpriced for what you got.

After Sea World we headed to another hole-in-the-wall place we had heard about, Mr. Ruriberto's Taco Shop.

This place had the. best. tacos. ever.

Then back to Mission Beach for a short visit to the beach to jump in the waves before we headed up to Anaheim.

{I plan on writing more in the coming weeks about the other places we visited....thanks for putting up with my journaling}

{Crew Review} My Student Logbook

Do you ever wonder how you can keep things together with your homeschooling? Do you wish for a system that can not only keep track of everything your child does, but also tells them what to do?

Then read on, and learn more about My Student Logbook.

My Student Logbook Review

What It Is:

My Student Logbook is simply a way to schedule and give assignments. You can choose from a variety of covers; I decided to have Dasher, who is 13, do this and since she loves animals I got her the 2014-15 Dated Sea Life one.

My Student Logbook Review

Inside the first few pages are the instructions. This product is very simple to use; simply tear out a Checklist page and wrap it around the first week you plan to begin. You can secure it with tape; we had run out of tape so I stapled the page to the calendar and it worked fine. You can see a YouTube tutorial here that explains how to set up and use the Logbook.

Then, list the subjects your child should do each week.

 There are quite a few blank Checklist pages, so if your subjects change you can just tear out another Checklist page and attach it to that next Calendar week.

On the Checklist page there is space to put 20 different things; you definitely won't run out of lines! There is also a space on the right labeled "Time"; this is a spot where you can indicate how long your student should spend on a certain task. This is something I use a lot; for both Nusty and Dasher they are required to read for a certain amount of time each day.

 You can see that there is not a space to put specific assignments; this is where I did want a place to put page numbers or exact assignments for the kiddos.

So after a week, I decided to use the space under each day to put specific assignments. This worked pretty well and told Dasher what pages she needed to do in handwriting, geography, and grammar.

She liked being able to see her schedule at a glance and being able to check off the things one by one. I could see how younger children could use this, as well as my senior in high school; this schedule can definitely be used by all ages.

Speaking of high school students the author of My Student Logbook, Corina Abbott, has a guide in the beginning of the Logbook that gives helpful hints for high school transcripts, credits, grading, and counting work done outside of class hours. This was especially helpful since I have TWO high school students this year, and transcripts is something I am dealing with.

What You Get:

Each of these Logbooks comes spiral bound, with a protective plastic cover, and is a standard 8x11". They are $15 each, and come in different formats:

  • Undated (You fill in the dates on each Calendar page)
  • Dated (Aug 2014-Aug. 2015) 
  • Calendar Year (Jan-Dec. 2015)
  • PDF (all of the above versions, for $10-20)

 There are also some bonus pages in the back:

  • All About Me - this page has fun questions for your student to answer. Favorite subject, color, animal, things to do, and other interests are asked. This is a great keepsake from year to year to have.
  • Prayers And Goals - a lined page to fill in.
  • Bible Verses Memorized - again, a lined page to list the references of verses learned.
  • Books Read - 3 lined pages with a space for the title, author, time spent reading, and subjects covered.
  • Events, Projects, Field Trips, Activities, Etc. - a place to put all of those things that you do outside of the classroom.
  • Test Records - on these pages there is a space for the date, test and score.
  • Year Highlights - a page to record memories and special moments. 
Covers just about everything, doesn't it?

How We Used This And What We Thought:

Like I said above, I had Dasher use this book. I went ahead and filled out her subjects on the Checklist page.

The first week was hard because really, all the schedule told her to do was math, or grammar. She was constantly coming to me, asking me what page numbers she needed to do. So that second week I decided to write in each of the day boxes, the page numbers she needed to do.

For those subjects that she did not do every day, I would put a box, so she would know to do it on that day. She would then X the box when she completed the task.

This worked really well and was how we continued to use this; I do realize that for older students that small box might not be enough space to put their more complicated assignments.

The third week I noticed all of the space I was not using towards the bottom of the Checklist and had an AH-HA moment....why not use this as a chore list too?

The calendar at the top of the page goes Sunday through Saturday, so putting chores on here was very easy. I could put laundry on certain days, her vacuuming chore which is on Fridays.... all on this nifty schedule that tells her what to do.

Even though there were times when I did wish that there was more space to write specific assignments, I really liked this student planner. Dasher is a highly visual child and loved seeing the boxes being checked off, one by one. I loved it that I could sit down and in an afternoon, plan out a semester of her schooling. And by keeping this book, we have a record of what she has done this year, plus all of those fun pages in the back.

You can follow My Student Logbook on Facebook too.

Check out what others from the Crew thought by clicking below!

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Saturday, September 6, 2014

My Week In Images

 These crazy kids......

because I love how they are all good friends.

These red strawberries.....

because they made delicious shortcakes.

This dear friend....

because she is such an encouragement to me.

This morning glory....

because I love looking out my kitchen window and seeing them.

This bowl of cold water....

because revenge is sweet.

Friday, August 29, 2014

My Week In Images

 Images of my week.....

This crazy ride.....

because we had a great time and didn't get dumped off.

These beautiful feet......

because looking down at it made me smile.

 This fearless little girl.....

because that is why I call her Nutsy.

Great friends......

because I am truly grateful for them.

These four students......

because this is the last year that I will be teaching all four of them. {Mr. Lego is a senior!}

Monday, August 25, 2014

{Crew Review} UberSmart Math Facts

Looking for a way to review those math facts? Then UberSmart Software might be just the thing for you.

UberSmart Math Facts Review

What It Is:

UberSmart Software has a wonderful math review program called UberSmart Math Facts. Meant for ages K-6th, this no-frills math review system is perfect for homeschoolers.

Before you begin, you create an account for each of your students. This way, you can create a custom set of math flashcards for each of them to work through.

How does this work?

Learn: This section of the program teaches the math facts. There are two sub-sections: Beginner and Intermediate.The Beginner flashcards are dots, which look like the dots on a dice. Your student will see the problem come up on the screen, with multiple choices for the answer. They will select "show", and then the correct dice top is left remaining.

UberSmart Math Facts Review
{In this example the dice showing 3 is the correct answer}

In Intermediate, the math fact is shown (5+5; or 6+7) and then when "show" is clicked, the answer is given.

Practice: This part focuses on repetition of the facts. You can choose from three different ways to do this. The first is Dot Cards (Beginner). These appear exactly as they did in the Learn section, but now, your child must choose which of the dice shows the correct amount. The second practice option is Keyboard Entry (Beginner). On the screen a one or two digit number will appear, and your child must enter the same number using the keyboard.

UberSmart Math Facts Review

The third way to use Practice is Flash Cards (Intermediate). The math facts are given in flashcard fashion and the student will enter the correct answer using the keyboard. All of these exercises are timed so this can give added incentive to your kiddos.

Test: There are two different types of tests to take: Assessment Test (Beginner) and Mastery Test (Intermediate). Both of these are assessment type tests. They vary in length, depending on how many facts your child can recall. At the end of the assessment is a report; this tell you in what sections they excelled, where they had problems, and which sections they could not complete based on their ability. The Mastery Test covers all four math areas; addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Compete: This section is a timed flash card exercise. Your student chooses their age range (elementary, middle school, high school, or adult) and what math facts area they want to be tested in. Then the timer begins and the math facts start. At the end of the exercise, they are told in what percentage they fall with the average population.

UberSmart Math Facts Review

What You Get:

With your download, you will receive access for up to eight math students. And for only $24.95 this is really a great deal. You can also purchase a Professional Version for classroom schools. And it conveniently works with Windows 7, 8, XP, and Vista.

You can customize each of your students accounts, and after the Assessment Test, will know exactly what they need to work on. On the home screen is a Report Tab; here you can see their progress in all areas, how quickly they answered questions, and their percentage of correct answers. You can also change small things within each account under the Maintain Tab, such as the seconds per problem, or the upper limit of the multiplication and division questions. The multiplication and division problems do go from 9's to 20's.

How We Used This And What We Thought:

I had both of the younger girls using this the last month or so. It was the perfect time to be reviewing our math facts....those facts that I didn't want to lose during the summer. I went in and customized each of their accounts so that they were working right where they had left off when we stopped school for the summer. 

Nusty was working on her addition and subtraction facts. I had her take the assessment which showed that she needed help with subtraction. This was the perfect fit for her; repetitiveness is key with math facts and I saw a marked improvement in her speed. She really liked the timed exercises in the Compete sections and kept trying to get a better percentage.

Dasher is struggling right now with her multiplication facts. This was where I did like being in control of what she worked on; she works best when working with just the x2 facts, or x10 facts, so I would go in and enter what I wanted her to work on. She did not care for the timed sections of this product; those type of things make her nervous and she gets upset when she can't think of the answer and has the clock counting down for her. This was where I was very appreciative of the ability to turn off the clock (even though it did keep running and told me how long it took her). I was also able to go in and adjust how long she was given to answer the questions.

Now if I would have asked my girls what they thought of this product, there would have probably been some groans. But seriously, who enjoys going over math facts? This is one of the many things that we have to learn, and like it or not, it is a part of our school life. I really did like the no-frills way that UberSmart helped my girls become more proficient at their math facts.

Other Crew members reviewed this product; check out what they thought by clicking below.

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Church Camping Trip 2014

Last week we had our 2014 Church Camping Trip.

We headed to the same place we have gone to in the past, but to a different section of the campground.

Lots more trees and flat places to put our tents.

One of the other big differences was that there was none of this:

Because of the drought here in CA, the water was super low, and the jump would have been close to 50 feet, so no bridge jumping this year.

Instead we found a place to put up our volleyball net.

The first day a bunch of people went over to the opposite shore to get a couple of logs to play with.

This was tons of fun.....the trick being to see how long you could stay up.

This happened.....

and then a second later it looked like this.

One afternoon a bunch of us headed across the spillway to the other side to explore. I didn't bring my camera because I wanted to swim back, but we found lots of cool rocks, did some cliff climbing, and found this amazing mud beach.

Seriously, when we would step into it we would sink up to our thighs in mud. Which led to an insane mud fight, of course. When looking at all the boys I literally could not recognize them, they were so covered in mud.

We had our usually yumminess for food......

And each evening we would stay up late playing games.

With the ever present Gummy Bears.....

One night all the ladies played a crazy game of Wits and Wagers....

In the mornings our pastor led us in devotions where we talked about being content. There were some very good lessons learned.

Lots of good friends {purple friends},



And smiles.

Our last night was a Skit Night.

Nutsy was in a couple of them...

And we adults made up our own song titled "If You Go A-Camping".

The only mishap happened when we saw this guy at the edge of the campground.

And one morning we found this.

And guess what that big bugger did; he ate all of my bread. And get this - he bypassed a whole bag of processed, store-bought bagels and ate every single crumb of my homemade bread.

Another camping year gone, but such good memories made.

{My camping peeps}