Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Mr Airman Lego Update

It has been a few weeks since I blogged about Mr. Lego Airman's Air Force journey, and I thought we needed an update.

What He's Doing and Learning:

A week after he graduated from BMT he was transferred to his new AFB. This one is also in Texas,  but a bit further north. The first few days were spent in processing. He said there were lots of orientations, or as the airmen called it, Death By Power Point. He also settled into his dorm room, which when he first moved in, he shared with two other airmen. At the time of this writing, one has finished and moved out, so he got the single bed seen below.

{his dorm}

The next week he began his classes. The main reason he is here is to learn, learn, learn, so they are on a pretty rigorous schedule.

His class day starts at 3pm and goes until midnight. They do get a short break for dinner, but the majority of that time is spent in the classroom. He unwinds and is in bed by 1am. PT is for an hour from 9-10am, and then he has a few hours to do homework and eat lunch, before beginning the whole thing all over again.

The Air Force takes this quite seriously and he is tested regularly (called block tests). There is no room for failure, so two failed tests and you are asked to leave, and not just leave tech school and try again, but leave the Air Force completely. He keeps us updated pretty regularly and last week he passed his first block test!

He does get weekends off and has base liberty - town liberty comes when they have passed all their inspections, at least a month into tech school.

What We're Learning and Doing:

Well, there isn't too much we are figuring out at this point. It has been GREAT having contact with him each day. He usually messages us each morning to tell us how his day went. But only for a short while since he has lots of homework. They are not allowed to take their phones to class so we can't contact him for the rest of the day.

We have also been able to Facetime him and had a tour of his dorm. and seen some funny videos he has sent us.

We still send mail but not nearly as much as we were when he was at BMT. The big thing we can now send is PACKAGES.

We have sent him his laptop, some clothes, fun snacks, and the girls pitched in and bought him a Niners mug. We also sent some "just add water" things since he does have a microwave.....instant potatoes, flavored water packets, instant noodles, soups..... things that, by the way, we usually don't eat here at home.

Candy, turkey jerky, microwave popcorn, crackers, and cookies rounded out box.

We have also been exploring fun care package ideas.

The first package we sent, the girls decorated the flaps that opened. Bookworm is going to try to make him some baked goods which should survive the trip. And I found a way to bake a cake in a mason jar, which is a great way to get fresh goodies to him.

There is an extensive list here of other fun things to send.

What's in the Future:

Tech school will go on for a couple more months. As always with the military, dates are never set in stone so the exact timing of things is not known. Because Mr. Lego Airman is a Reservist, he will come back here after his schooling is complete and do some on the job training here, at a local base.

He also has a friend at tech school - his very good friend that lives near us, just graduated from BMT and arrived at the very same tech school. They are in different fields so are sperated during the week, but they can hang out together on the weekends.

{A horrible photo I know, but here is Mr Lego Airman behind his good friend.
They had just finished a bowling game and were headed back to their dorms}

In the meantime we are praying for him, encouraging him with notes and messages, and are excited for his future.

Thank you for your prayers! As always they are appreciated. If you feel compelled to send him something, let me know and I'll share his address with you.

Monday, October 17, 2016

{Homeschool Review Crew} ~ Educeri

Online education is definitely a part of our education. I appreciate it because it can cater to many different learning styles and sometimes, does a better job of explaining things than I can. So when Educeri came up for review I decided to try it out with my girls.

Educeri .......  Educeri a division of DataWORKS was generous and gave me the Educeri Lesson Subscription Service. This is twelve months of access to the plethora of lessons on this educational website.

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service Reviews

What It Is:

Educeri is an online learning resource. There are lessons for grades K -12 in:

  • Math (grades K-12)
  • Language Arts (grades K-12)
  • Science (grades 7-12)
  • History (grades 5th-12)

I spent some time one afternoon a few weeks ago, looking through the site. Right away I noticed that this program is not intended to be a complete curriculum, but rather supplement these subjects. The site is very easy to navigate. You can see all topics in each subject, or see each subject by grade.

To view a lesson you simply click on it and begin. The lessons are set up like a power point presentation. You click the forward button with your mouse which leads you through the lesson. There is usually some short sentences to read at the top, and then as you continue to click the mouse, the problem is solved step by step.

Here is the lesson on subtracting whole numbers. The first screen is shown below.

Then, with each click of the mouse, a step of the problem is solved.

There are marker tools that you can select - a pen, highlighter, and eraser. All three are controlled by the mouse which means you can really only circle or highlight things - it is too awkward to actually solve problems on the screen. There is also no audio in the lessons - you or your child must read the words to understand how to solve correctly.

I found the lessons to be very detailed. These are aligned with common core and so the objectives and codes for common code are listed throughout the lesson. I do struggle with some concepts of common core but the lessons we chose were not difficult to teach and I did understand *how* they were teaching the concepts.

I also realized as we moved through some lessons that these were meant more for the teacher, and to be used as a way to show the how of teaching concepts. I actually really appreciated that. You know those times when you are explaining how to solve something, and your child is just not understanding the concept? This resource is perfect for those situations, and gives you another way to explain the problem.

How We Used This And What We Thought:

It is no secret that I don't like math, so I planned to use this as we came upon math issues in our current curriculum.

Of course that first week we had some issues with addition and regrouping.

I watched the lesson, and while it really didn't give me any new ways of teaching, it did show with blocks how all of the ones can come together and make a ten in the ones column. I sat with Nutsy and we watched a few problems.

Even though I have used manipulatives in the past, watching this did make sense to her and helped her with the concept.

Some of the lessons have printable worksheets. After we watched the lesson, I printed some off for her. Be aware, the answers are not included in the downloadable worksheets.

We also watched a lesson together on telling time.

When the lesson was showing 1:00 and 1:30, the hands actually moved around the clock from 1:00-1:30, and didn't just skip. This was helpful for her in understanding real time.

I went ahead and looked at some of the other topics in Educeri.

Dasher and I did a lesson on state capitals. I liked how they reviewed and moved through the lesson.

I will say that this was where I really did wish that the student could fill in the blank, or at least drag a capital name into the correct space. She lost interest pretty quickly because it was just clicking, clicking, and watching the lesson progress. I did have her say the capital that was coming next, but she really wanted to be able to write in the answers. This lesson was one of the few that did not have printable worksheets.

I also had Bookworm do some algebra problems.

This was where I think the program helped us the most. It was easy for her to choose a topic she was struggling with, and then watch the lesson.

She would have been annoyed if it was an audio program, and liked the way it showed the solution.

So I liked aspects of this program but then other parts I didn't care for. For younger children, this is definitely not a thing you are going to let them do on their own - you do need to be there watching with them. And it can be frustrating for them when they are unable to fill in the answers on their won, but instead click the mouse and see them appear.

But my older daughter really liked the way this program worked. Especially in math, she does well when she sees step by step instructions, and this program definitely delivered this.

I was amazed by the depth of topics, especially in the high school levels. Some of which included analyzing literature, cellular respiration, analyzing the Greek Awakenings, and the life cycle of stars. This program is meant for classroom teaching so some of the resources for teachers are not applicable, but there is still some good information on there.

I do see us using this site when we come upon issues in our schooling, and I also plan to have Bookworm look through some of the language art lessons.

check out what other Crew members thought by clicking below!

Educeri Lesson Subscription Service

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Images of My Week

Our week in images.....

This plate of poke nachos.....

because I thought it would be weird but it was amazing.

These violin lessons.....

because each week so she slowly getting better.

This Moscow Mule.....

It hit the spot on a warm day.

My house on a Sunday.....

because it is a happy place to be.

This science experiment in co-op....

 because I love it when their faces light up.

This view out my window.....

because fall is coming.

Friday, October 7, 2016

{Homeschool Review Crew} ~ Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting

I have pretty much finished teaching my last little one to read. She has struggled with it a bit, and has definitely not enjoyed handwriting. So when the opportunity came up to review Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting from Everyday Education, LLC I was quite excited to try it out and see what we thought.

What It Is:

This program is meant to teach both reading and handwriting. It is based on the Charlotte Mason method of teaching, which encourages teaching the whole person of the student by using short lesson sessions, hands-on learning, and quality literature.

The downloadable book begins with 29 pages of instruction. This part was gold. It really explained how to teach the lessons, and how to adjust for different levels of students. There are also sections that stress the importance of reading aloud (very Charlotte Masonish!) and how important handwriting is.

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

This book is meant for four types of students:

  • Those learning to read and write
  • Those with learning delays in reading
  • To teach beautiful handwriting to our children
  • To improve our own handwriting

The reading lessons are phonetic based and italic is the style of handwriting that is taught. One of the advantages to writing in the italic style is that out of the 26 letters, 20 of them are made with one stroke. This is a much easier way to first learn how to write!

Following the introduction are some helpful teaching tips. After I had spent a couple of afternoons reading through all of this I did feel ready to tackle the program.

There are 60 lessons. They are grouped into four learning chapters:

  •  Alphabet Recognition (1 worksheet per letter) - these are simple half sheets, that show the correctly written letter.
  • Beginning Reading Lessons (lessons 2-23) - Each of these lessons focuses on a different phonetic concept. Some of these include blends, adding s or e, compound words, magic e.
  • More Reading Lessons (lessons 24-41) - In this section the student learns ee and ea, oi, oy and ow, and long o combinations, to name a few.
  • Even More Reading Lessons (lessons 42-60) - Here they are taught silent letters, word endings, and soft letter sounds.

There is a final 50-page chapter that deals with only handwriting and has lots of worksheets to practice with.

How We Used This:

I originally was going to have Nutsy do this. She reads at about the 3rd grade level so I planned to focus more on the handwriting side of the program. I began by having her do a few alphabet pages, to get used to italic writing.

Each of the reading lessons begins with an extensive word list. We would go down and read one column of words each day and then she would copy them out. The program conveniently  has pages to make copies of for this purpose.

Then there are sentences to copy that use words from the word list.

We skipped around a bit; I would choose word lists that had word combinations that she struggled with. Along with the lists there are pages where the student can copy words directly below.

As we progressed and as I reviewed the introduction, I realized that Dasher might glean from this as well. She does not have very good handwriting and really struggled transitioning to cursive. She does read well now so I skipped into the last chapter that focuses solely on handwriting.

We did a few pages to familiarize her with italic writing. The Night Before Christmas is in its entirety and there to copy. There are pages that focus on proper slant, as you can see below.

And then the focus goes into making your letters smaller. This was harder for her but I did see her handwriting improving. Joining letters is also addressed; the goal through this section is to have beautiful handwriting that people can read. I do know that sometimes I read handwriting that is so slanted and loopy in its cursive style that it is very hard to read.

As we moved through this last chapter she was thrilled to see edged pen writing. Bookworm is taking an art class this year at our nearby college and purchased a calligraphy pen and nibs set so both of my older girls were happy to see these pages.

What We Thought:

I began this a little skeptical about the italic style of handwriting. But after seeing the improvement in both of the younger girls, I realized that this, for them, was much easier to handle. Especially Dasher, who I have suspected does have some sort of learning disability. She was able to legibly write in italics, and was not confused by letter formation as she was when we studied cursive.

I did only use the handwriting aspect of this program - I do wish I had a young one to teach how to read so that I could try this out on them! I loved the simplicity of the program and the way it was formatted. And because this comes as a downloadable document, you can make as many copies for your family as you need.

There were two other products that members of The Crew were given to review: Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers and Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert. Check out what they thought by clicking below!

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

{Journal Entry} Two Last Days in Texas

Our last two days were a Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday we picked up our airman at the bowling alley on base promptly at 9 am. That was a convenient place to meet up; he just needed to walk across the street to his dorm and it was less crowded than the Reception Center parking lot.

Today he had decided to go to Sea World. Sea World is very supportive of the military, and offers each member of the military three complimentary tickets for family members per year.

The reason we went here was quite simple: the rides. And not the kiddie rides but the stomach dropping, dipping, fast ones.

Like this one:

This one was good, but a bit jerky.

The other good ride there was the kind where your feet dangle.

And yes, we did go upside down a few times.

 Mr. Lego Airman and I went on each of these twice, before we headed over to a mild water ride - Journey to Atlantis. There was another water ride in the park, but Mr. Lego Airman did not want to get his blues wet.

On another note, we had been to Sea World in San Diego, and thought that their Atlantis ride was much better. Really, this was just a glorified log ride.

The entertaining part of the ride though was not the ride.... each time a boat came down the slide, an amazing amount of water would shoot into this area. The corner was the best - see My Sweetie below? Really, you can just see his arms. And he got soaked.

The park was not at all crowded and we were done with the rides we wanted by 11:30.

Since we were in Texas and we are big In-N-Out fans we decided to find a Whataburger to try.

I split a double with My Sweetie.

They were actually pretty good, but I must say that In-N-Out takes first place.

Next, we headed to the Tower of the Americas. This thing was actually very close to our hotel so we parked there and then walked to it.

It is 750 feet tall, and after the stratosphere in Vegas, the tallest freestanding tower in the US.

Pretty tall. Good thing I am not afraid of heights.

In our elevator though, there was this sweet Hispanic lady that about had a panic attack as we went up in the glass elevator. She hunched into the corner, started mumbling in Spanish (probably swearing), and tried to hide behind the elevator attendant.

Looking at the sights.

San Antonio, Texas.

You could walk all around the tower and we spent a few minutes checking it out.

The very week that Mr. Lego Airman started BMT the Bourne movie came out. So we found one movie theater, right inside the 1604 loop, that was playing it. The 1604 loop is a freeway that surrounds San Antonio, and is the limit to where your airman can go on town liberty.

We all really liked this movie and I was glad we were able to see it in the theaters. 

We were really packing in lots of stuff and still needed to get dinner before the 8pm time to get back to base. Really the time to get back is 7:30. You could get in traffic, have a flat, so many things, and if your airman is late he gets in huge trouble.

Dinner was a quick bite of appetizers at Chili's on the Riverwalk, which was very close to our hotel.

That evening My Sweetie and I decided to go back up the tower. We had wristbands that let us go up as many times as we wanted that day, so we decided to go get drinks at the restaurant at the top.

We didn't realize it, but to get into the bar or restaurant, you don't need to pay an admission fee. The view was lovely and we had a nice time.

When we went to get on the elevator to go down, the attendant noticed our admission wristbands. He asked if we wanted to go up to the observation deck and we thought, "Why not?"

It was very windy up there, on the outdoor level, but the lights were pretty. As we were walking around I noticed lots of people in the upper level. After a bit we decided it was getting late so headed for the elevator.

All of those people waiting on the upper level were in a long line, that wrapped around, waiting for the elevator. And the elevator was taking its sweet time. After about 20 minutes My Sweetie went to see if there was any faster way to get down and he could not find one employee in the entire two levels. At one point the elevator did not come for about 10 minutes and people started talking about calling the bottom, since no one was around.

The people behind us said that they had worked at the Tower, and that the elevators are notorious for breaking down. Lovely information to hear, when you think you are stuck 750 feet up in the air, and you are thinking you have to walk down 75 stories with a busted ankle.

Finally, 45 minutes later, we got on an elevator. So be warned, if you head up at night, you might be up there for a while. At least we had a view to look at while we were waiting.

The next day Mr. Lego Airman really wanted us to attend church on base with him. Most of his flight went each week and enjoyed sitting together there. You enter in the most orderly fashion, escorted by your airman. Airmen sit in the back  with their parents, while the rest of the church is taken up by other trainees. There were at least 1000 people in there.

At the beginning they did something neat. They had the graduated airman stand, and then their parents, while everyone cheered and did their Hooah's. Then, starting with Week 6, each week stood up and shouted "Praise the Lord!"

Photography was forbidden so no photos.

The day before, Mr. Lego Airman had told us that he wanted to watch the Niner game in our hotel room. But we were not in California anymore but in Texas, and it wasn't on our channels.

So instead we walked Riverwalk, looking for a place that had the game. Surprisingly, most places were not able to get it and we ended up back at Chili's watching the game and eating nachos and cheese fries.

We didn't have too much time after it ended so we headed back to base.

Lackland AFB. It definitely had a different feel to it, just the way the streets and buildings were laid out.

Driving by those massive dorms.

We had some time so we headed to the parade grounds, where there were lots of planes on display.

Our Airman.

One last photo.

It had been a fun four days together. I realized during this trip that the last time it was just the three of us was 16 years before, so it was really neat to just be with our firstborn.

After dropping him off I had a few tears. But I knew he had done his best and really felt part of the Air Force family.

My Sweetie and I headed to Riverwalk one last time.We found a cute place down a bit where we ordered salsa and chips. I had my first Mexican Mule. Yum.

Then we walked a bit, and found a place to split a plate of fajitas.

A perfectly lovely ending to a fabulous trip.

And the next day, this. On the way home.