Monday, July 25, 2016

Last Weekend

This was our last weekend with Mr. Lego around.

He leaves tomorrow for Basic Military Training in the air force reserves in Lackland, Texas. He graduates in September, then goes onto another air force base in northern Texas to train until late December.

Needless to say, our home is going to feel different for the next few months.

So this last weekend we headed up to South Lake Tahoe with friends. Our absolute favorite beach there is Pope Beach.

We spent time swimming.....


and playing volleyball.

All the kids buried the youngest two in sand,

and then tortured them for a bit.

After lunch it was more volleyball and swimming.

I love how our older children interact with the younger ones.

For dinner we made tri tip in a cast iron oven. There were also lots of other yummy things to eat too.

I love this man.

As the sun set, we packed up to leave.

One last hug.

Sunday after church, we had our summer church picnic.

One last time holding his little friend.

More volleyball.....

One last afternoon with these friends.

I know he is not gone too long and he'll be back in 5 short months. But these are precious memories we are making.

Sweet moments.

I am savoring them.

I love you, son.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Life Lessons

We just got back from 5 days at the California State Fair.

My good friend and I always go together. We love this fair, because at both of our county fairs we are in charge of things and are running around like crazy people. At my fair I lead both sheep and goat projects from my club and at hers she is in charge of their entire sheep and goat barn. So to only be in charge of our own children (we only had 7 of them competing) and our own animals (there were 9 total), this fair is a breeze.

And as always, we learned lots of life lessons this year.

Bookworm, Dasher, and Nutsy participated in Champion Challenge. This is a written test that they take about their species.

Bookworm made it into the next round but the other two did not. And then Bookworm didn't make it into the 3rd round.

Lesson learned? Study harder.

We didn't do so great in our competitions. In market we didn't place at all.

And in showmanship, my girls, in their different classes, were one of the first three to be called out.

This is state fair, and the competition is very tough.

Lessons learned?

Be a gracious and humble loser.

The kids spent time bathing their goats, walking them, and fitting them. While they do this, the general public is milling around and watching what they do.

Nutsy's goat Pepper does NOT like to walk around at all, so she really has to coax him and sometimes needs to tug on his tail a bit.  One lady, who obviously did not know anything about livestock, stopped Nutsy when she was trying to walk him and told her she was mean. Nutsy explained that she did need to walk her goat and the lady replied, "Well, you are still being very mean to that goat."

We also had someone speak rudely to another of our 4-H kids, and then even one of the fair managers got testy with Bookworm for something that was not her fault.

Lesson learned? People are going to say unkind things to you all your life. Brush it off.

We had silly moments, neck rubs, and hair braiding contests.

We also spent an afternoon touring around the fair a bit.

And the younger kids did Read to Ride and got me a ticket so I could do a ride with them.

 Lesson Learned? Have fun no matter what.

The highlight of our time last week was on Monday and was the Best of County show. This is where each county sends their top master showman -  the one that won Senior Master Showmanship.

They compete here and are judged, and then one winner, the top showman in the state, is picked.

And my friend's daughter won the Best of County!

You might recognize the girl who won in FFA; she is from our county and helped Nutsy when she competed in Junior Masters. Both of these girls are AMAZING showmen, and deserved to win the coveted golden bear.

 Lesson Learned? Hard work pays off.

So we learned a lot this week. And had a great time.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

My Week In Images

My Week....

 {yummy treats at a friend's bridal shower}

 {watching Finding Dory with friends}

 {watching the Battle of the Bay - A's vs. Giants}

 {taking it easy at the pool, since I had donated blood that day}

{baseball with friends in the foothills}

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

{Schoolhouse Review} ~ Veritas Press

Recently, I was given the opportunity to review a product from Veritas Press. This company is a great resource for classical Christian education. I received the Self-Paced Bible: Old Testament 1: Genesis to Joshua.

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review

What It Is:

This is a Bible course that is completely online. There are 128 lessons to watch, that each take 20 minutes to a half hour to complete. By the end of the lessons of Old Testament 1, your child will have learned all about the first 32 major events of the Bible, and have a timeline of these events memorized.

Four lessons are used to teach each event. The course begins at the beginning, with Creation. Then it moves into The Fall, Cain and Abel, Enoch and Methuselah, and so on. The lessons are interactive and very engaging.

In the video lessons, we were introduced to Abigail and Asher, two people that re-told the Bible story. They also interacted with a couple of cartoon characters as well. You also meet their parents and other family members.

Throughout the lesson are small quizzes, matching exercises, moving correct answers into boxes, and scripture verses. Some of the activities were looking up verses and answering questions, others were questions based on what Asher and Abigail had taught them in the lesson.

There are also graded tests throughout the lessons as well - one aspect of the program that I liked is that the screen would reflect that the test was graded, so that the student was aware, and be that much more careful answering questions.

The lessons also show what typical life was like in Bible times. Asher and Abigail are processing corn in one lesson, and in another, Abigail is helping in the kitchen. There are also lessons that include art history, and show depictions of Biblical events in art.

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review

How We Used This and What We Thought:

I decided to have Nutsy use this. She is 10 now, and at a good age for this program. I loved that she could independently work through the lessons.She would get her Bible, set it next to the computer, and sign herself into the program. I would listen in to the lessons at times, and really liked the way they presented the events. There is an animated cat and gnat that follow along as well which she wasn't too excited about - she has a thing for animals that talk.

But she did like Abigail and Asher, and really listened well during the lessons.

There were a few times when I needed to help her with some words in the questions. And when she needed to read a Bible passage, if it was a long one, we would trade off and each read every other verse.

As she progressed through the lessons, I was very happy with the amount of review that is done in subsequent lessons. Even in later lessons, she is asked in one of the activities to put the days of Creation in the correct order. I felt that the program was very thorough and did just the right amount of reviewing.

Years ago I had done the hardback version of Veritas Bible, so I do own the Veritas Press Bible Flashcards. The Bible events correspond to these flashcards and the timeline the students memorize (And learn a song too!) is based on the flashcards. The flashcards are not included but are sold separately, but don't feel like you need them to use the Self-Paced Bible; there are interactive online ones that you can access during the lesson.

Nutsy though, did like having the cards in her hands, and would put them in the correct order as she sung the timeline song.

I really was quite impressed with the Self-Paced Bible, and how it covered the events of the Bible completely. We are actually finishing up with our schooling this week (except for Crew review items) and I do plan on having Nutsy continue to use this as her Bible curriculum next year.

There are other levels that Crew members also reviewed, plus some of them reviewed a subscription to Check out what they thought by clicking below.

Old and New Testament Online Self-Paced Bible Veritas Review

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, June 27, 2016

Monday Musings

Wow, it has been a LONG time since I have done one of these!

So long, that it took me some time to find where I had saved my template of questions that I use.

Anyways, here is what I am thinking about today.....

What I'm thinking: That our family is going to change a bit in the next month. Last December Mr. Lego enlisted in the Air Force Reserves. He leaves at the end of July for 8 weeks of BMT, or Basic Military Training, and then another 4 months of tech school. All in Texas. All on his own.

What I'm reading: Not much right now. I am halfway through the 5th Harry Potter book, but haven't picked it up in a couple of weeks.

What I'm listening to: Pandora is playing some Little Big Town right now.

What we're learning: This is our last week of school! We have been on a modified school schedule since fair ended, and only doing math, Bible, reading/phonics, and Crew review stuff.

What I'm watching: Last week the kids showed us The Finest Hour. It is the true story of an amazing sea rescue by the Coast Guard and a good movie to watch.

What's cooking: This week I am making a Chicken Broccoli Stir Fry, Japanese Curry, and Spaghetti. Tomorrow I am making BLT's so we don't have to heat up the kitchen....we are in day 3 of temps over 100 with the whole week looking like it it going to be that hot.

What I'm buying: Flip flops at Old Navy. Right now they are only $2 a pair.

What I'm thankful for: I am so thankful to be a wife and mother. I am humbled, awed, convicted, sanctified and loved by these amazing people that I call my family.

What I'm creating: Well, I am helping the girls prepare their 4-H record books. They fill in all they did in community service, leadership, communication, and write a biography, fill in project reports and expense sheets. It is lots of work, but necessary and shows the importance of keeping good records.

What I'm planning: State fair is in 12 days. This is not even as busy or as crazy as county fair, but the girls still work with their animals to prepare. So I am planning times when we can get up to my friend's house to see the goats.

What we did this last weekend: The girls and I attended a wedding shower for a dear friend's daughter on Saturday. Then Sunday we went to church and heard an excellent sermon on Matthew, then to a park to brave the heat for our church picnic. Then some friends came over to jump in the pool.

What I'm looking forward to: We have dear friends coming from across the country to visit this weekend, and then our annual 4th of July party up at our friends house with other church families.

Pictures to share:

 {Nutsy doing the dishes in her swimming suit. Yep, it is summer here.}

 {On a date with My Sweetie.}

 {Working with their goats.}

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

{Schoolhouse Review} ~ LearnBop

Math is such an important skill to learn. And algebra is a must for my high school students. Bookworm is coming to the end of her required learning, so when the opportunity came up to review LearnBop, I decided she would use it to study algebra.

LearnBop for Families Review

I received LearnBop For Families. I chose the Single Student Plan and its 12 month online subscription. They also have an option for a Family Plan, with access for two to four students.

What It Is:

I did have a higher math level in mind when I was selected for this, but LearnBop actually has levels from 3rd grade through high school. There are some activities that those in 1st and 2nd grade can do as well. The high school courses offered are algebra 1, algebra 2, and geometry.

    Setting up the account was very easy. On the teacher dashboard I chose her level as algebra. Then Bookworm got on and chose her own avatar (a celebrity chef) and took an assessment to see where she should be placed in algebra. The program then set up a Road Map for her to follow, based on how she answered questions on the assessment.

    There are thirteen units in algebra. Within these units are unit concepts. To go through the concepts, students watch numerous videos and then have Bops to solve. A Bop is basically a set of questions that cumulatively teach the concept.

    LearnBop for Families Review

    The website is very easy to navigate - at the top of the dashboard there are these tabs:
    •  Learning Roadmap - here you can see all units of algebra 1, and exactly where your student is on the map.
    • My Progress - this shows some very specific stats: all concepts the student has learned, when they accessed it, how long they spent, and the percentage of mastery of the concept.
    • Achievements - this tab shows what achievements, or medals, your students has earned. You can earn these by completing units, working for certain amounts of time in one sitting, and mastering concepts.

    How We Used This and What We Thought:

     Bookworm began the program by watching some videos. She really thought that they did a great job of explaining the concepts and giving a good understanding of the problems. There were a few videos to watch, but each one built on the previous one.

    As she began to do problems, we ran into a few issues. She was getting lots of wrong answers, even though she believed they were correct. LearnBop assumes that higher level students are working independently, so there is a button they can select if the student feels there is an error in the program. She did this, and explained the issue in the comment box. This came directly to my email inbox, and then I was able to click on a link and see her exact answer in the problem. I looked over the problem, and realized that the error was with the program. The student email has an email address in it that I then sent the issue to.

    I did like this feature; many times a student might feel that they are correct, and this way, the parent can go over their answer and confirm whether or not the student is right.

    LearnBop was very prompt in responding. They did fix that issue very quickly and she was able to move on with the concepts.

    Unfortunately, we continued to run into errors. These were not grammatical errors, but ones where she was marked incorrect when she had entered the correct answer into the field.

    The support staff was very prompt in trying to help us and did try to fix each error we found. The only problem was that they could not go in and re-do her answers, so this did drag her mastery percentage down very low.

    One thing that both she and I loved about this program were the helps. If a student got the answer wrong, the program then walked them through each of the steps or hints, of the problem. Many online programs either say "incorrect" and have the student re-try, or, just give the right answer. But LearnBop walks students through each step, in a very interactive way. This is HUGE in algebra! You can very easily miss something in one of the many steps to solve a problem, and being walked through it step by step is the best way to master concepts. This is where I felt that LearnBop really helped her to understand algebraic concepts.

    I do hope that they can work through the bugs of their program. We were unable to finish the unit because of all of the issues, but I do feel that this online math company is on the right track.

    Other Crew members reviewed other grade levels and I don't believe had as many issues as we did. Click below to see what they thought!

    LearnBop for Families Review

    Crew Disclaimer

    Wednesday, June 15, 2016

    {Schoolhouse Review} ~ Progeny Press

    Literature is a huge part of our schooling. And I love using unit study-type learning when I teach. This particular study comes from Progeny Press and is focused on the book Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater. The product is Mr. Popper's Penguins E-Guide and it comes as a digital download.

    You might recognize Progeny Press; I went back into my blog archives and I have reviewed three other different literature studies by them over the years:

    What It Is:

    This is a literature study meant for grades 4th through 6th. Mr. Popper's Penguins is a lovely story about an ordinary house painter who loves anything Antarctica. His dream comes true when someone offers him a male penguin from the South Pole. That leads to getting another penguin, a female, and then yup, soon there are ten more little penguins running around. The twelve penguins are eating them out of their home so Mr. Popper decides to train them to do a circus act. The story follows them through their adventures and finally ends when the Poppers realize that the penguins will be most happy in a new home in the North Pole. This timeless story was written in 1938 and continues to be a read aloud favorite.

    Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}
    The book is not included in the E-Guide, but can be purchased from Progeny Press.

    Mr. Popper's Penguins E-Guide is opened with Adobe Acrobat. I received two downloads - one was the actual study and the other was the answer key. I really appreciated there being two separate files; my kids are smart homeschoolers and can easily look up answers if the answer key is in the same file. Having separate files keeps that temptation at bay.

    The guide is interactive, meaning that students can either enter answers into the computer, or print out the worksheet pages and write it in by hand. In the study guide, the book is divided into 6 sections. Each sections covers 4 chapters of the139 page book.

    Each section has sub sections as follows:

    Vocabulary - Activities include putting a vocabulary word into a sentence, determining from context the meaning of words, looking up words in a dictionary, matching words, and more. Some words are: debris, neglected, ventilating, stupor, and predict.

    Questions - short answer questions about the story line that can be answered in a sentence or two.

    Think About the Story - These questions are more thought-type questions that can be answered in two to three sentences.

    Dig Deeper - These questions focus on the characters and the reasoning of their actions. Many times these questions asked the students to look up a verse or two of scripture and compare it to the actions in the book.

    Optional Activities - Hands on learning is the best! In this section there are suggestions that range from making maps, writing assignments, historical notes and suggestions for further study, and discussion ideas.

    The study is meant to be completed in about ten weeks.

    How We Used This:

    I decided to use this with the younger two girls. The guide suggests having your child read the book in its entirety before beginning the sections. But since Nutsy is right at the 3rd-4th grade reading level I decided that I wanted to use this as a read-aloud, so we went through the sections as we read through the book.

    Literature time is one of my "School Musts", and along with Bible and Math, needs to happen every day we do school. So it was very easy to plop ourselves on the couch and read for a good 20 minutes. The girls would draw pictures of what I was reading.

    After we read the first four chapters, we started in on section one. I loved learning the vocabulary words that we had just been reading in the story. Some days I required the girls to hand write their answers and other days we did the questions orally. We aimed to do one page of the study guide per day. One day, the vocabulary section asked them to write a sentence using the words, so I had them do it as their handwriting for the day.

    And I did ask all of the Dig Deeper questions orally - we found that it did encourage conversations and further thinking about the story.

    One question had the students examine Mr. Popper's prideful attitude about his penguins. Good pride (in Christ, in faith) and bad pride (before men, or pride in sin) is discussed. There is section where there are Bible verses listed - and are conveniently written out - that the students read and then decide if they are talking about good or bad pride.

    What We Thought:

    Going over the above Bible lesson as part of the lesson is why I love Progeny Press. When I teach, I cannot imagine not examining everything to scripture. And Progeny Press is an excellent tool that studies high quality literature but yet also focuses on the Bible.

    My girls loved doing this study. Looking back at the other titles I have reviewed I did notice that I usually taught Progeny Press at the higher levels (middles school or high school). This was the first elementary one I have reviewed and I did notice one thing. I realized as we moved through the guide that I was hoping for more hands-on activities. There were a few scattered throughout - my girls loved making a map of the world and playing a fun penguin egg game - but I did wish there were more suggestions for hands-on learning.

    There are suggestions to make some items, such as a poster board or display, but I would have loved to have seen templates for such a board and more hands-on, artsy activities.

    But honestly that is really a small thing. Progeny Press does such a great job of making literature come alive and through the questions, incredible discussions come about. I loved the depth of the vocabulary words and the variety of the worksheets. And I especially loved the focus on scripture and good character.

    At the end of the study is an overview, which can used as a test. There are also pages of additional suggested activities that can be used to further study Antarctica, penguins, historical explorers, and 1930's America.

    I was quite happy once again with Progeny Press! They do an amazing job of creating literature studies with new ones coming out every month.

    There are many other titles that other Crew members reviewed that range from Early Elementary all the way through High School. Click below to read what they all thought too!

    Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}

    Crew Disclaimer